Companies send reviewers boatloads of free products, often before they are released to the general public, with the hope they will write a detailed review. Studies show that Amazon customers are attracted to products with multiple reviews (even if they're not all good).
Ali Julia is the Boston engineer who is the number one ranked reviewer on Amazon.com, which makes her the head of a very secretive club that wields huge influence over the nation's shopping habits.
Julia's first big hit was an irreverent take on a portable heater - she called it the Window to Hell - and she shot quickly up the rankings. Soon, she was being inundated with free products and admits she became a little addicted to the power. One company revamped a product after she gave it a bad review. When she moved to a new home, she basically furnished it free of charge in exchange for reviews. (Amazon prohibits reselling the freebies.)
Julia started slowly with eight reviews in 2008 and is up to nearly 3,000 today, averaging three or four reviews per day. Those reviews have established a signature - a thorough, snark-free review of how a product actually works. She reviewed products that were relevant to her after back surgery, including the Long Reach Comfort Wipe - and when 97 of 101 people found that review helpful, she became a sensation.
Julia is also a big knitter and in 2012 she got her yarn in a bunch about a book that promised to teach the secret to knitting two socks at the same time. In her opinion, it most certainly did not and took to Amazon to vent her extreme displeasure with the methods.
How one earns the "#1 Reviewer" badge next to his or her name is a mystery, even to those who hold the title. The ranking algorithm is a company secret, though top reviewers - who obsess over the algorithm in the Amazon forums - believe the key is to get readers to click "Yes" on the button at the end of each review that asks if the review was helpful. "No" votes are believed to kill a ranking, and as such they are the preferred weapon in the wars that break out between rival reviewers.