Aug 11 2014
What do YOU, Gandhi, the Queen of England, and Joseph Stalin ALL have in common?
Believe it or not, all of these figures were named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year at some time or another. In 2006, the publication named YOU as its annual choice, to reflect the rise of individual content creator on the internet.
Although Time was criticized for this choice, the magazine stood by its decision, and recognized the millions who contributed user-generated content to YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia and all the other Web 2.0 powerhouses.
Eight years have passed, but it looks like user generated content (UGC) is as essential as ever. It’s also one of the greatest SEO tools for any company, even if many businesses aren’t too sure how to utilize all of its benefits.
Making the most of UGC can increase your search visibility online and allow your customers to help GROW your business brand from the ground up.
- Improved SEO
- Better consumer-brand relations
- “Free” marketing
- More conversions
- MORE SALES
Here’s how UGC can transform your SEO…
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MOST USED UGC PLATFORMS?
Think Yahoo! Answers, ChaCha, Answerbag, Ask.com etc.
Wikipedia is the most popular here (although their strict policies will only enable content about the most recognized brands), but there are a wealth of niche-specific wikis online.
Examples include Catawiki (for people who collect stamps, coins, trading cards and the like), and even city-specific wikis like DavisWiki (full of useful local info for the people of Davis, California).
Yes, even if a customer leaves a comment on your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram, it’s STILL user generated content.
Other types of UGC include blogs, review websites, and YouTube… anywhere where your customers can collaborate with one another and connect with your brand.
They might want to ask a question about one of your products or services, give their opinion on your customer service, or share a link that your company might be interested in.
According to Raven Market Internet Tools, 32 million people were thought to have engaged in some type of user generated content AT LEAST once a month from 2008 to 2013. It seems more people are willing to express themselves online and give their opinions – much more so than in “real life”.
1. UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE BETTER
UGC can help you to understand your audience a lot better. You’ll be able to fine-tune your SEO strategy based on the type of information the majority of your users are interested in.
This can lead to a more informed SEO strategy and likely to better results on the SERP.
This is particularly useful when it comes to new tech like mobile. If your customers tells you that your website has a glitch, or that they’re unable to access it from their smartphone, you’ll be able to adapt your pages in lightning-speed.
UGC can create a much better overall experience for your visitors, and will enable them to ENGAGE with your website on a regular basis.
No longer are brands “faceless” – instead, they form one half of a meaningful relationship with the consumer.
This relationship works both ways; your customers will experience greater satisfaction knowing that they contact you if you have a problem, and you’ll be able to find out more about what your visitors really WANT.
You can then use this information to create new SEO strategies to attract even more like-minded individuals.
Letting your customers leave a comment, image, GIF, video, or review on your site can also enable you to identify new long tail words that you can use for future search optimization.
2. MORE CONTENT = MORE SEARCH INDEXING
UGC is a win-win for both you and Google.
Creating more high quality, relevant niche-specific content provides plenty of food for Google’s hungry spiders, and they’ll be MORE key phrases, concepts, and even tags for them to crawl through.
Google is giving prominence to social content more than it ever has before, so encouraging your readers to generate content of their own is a great idea.
In fact, studies show that UGC speaks directly to audiences who use social media over more traditional web platforms.
It’s clear UGC can really compliment a social marketing campaign.
With Google’s recent algorithm updates (Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird…), social SEO is becoming VITAL. User generated content helps to increase your brand’s social signal, as well as your online visibility.
It’s not unusual anymore that a company’s social profiles outrank their own website for the brand’s name in the SERPs.
You wouldn’t be able to have the same results if you do it all alone.
With the help of your customers, you’ll be able to create relevant content that targets highly relevant keywords that your buyers are interested in.
As The Beatles once sang, “I get by without a little help from my friends…”
3. CREATING TRUST
User generated content is great for developing TRUST between you and your customers.
In fact, a study conducted by Bazaar Voice revealed that 51% of Americans trust UGC more than other information posted on a company website.
Well, it probably reflects the “them and us” culture, and that users are more likely to trust other customers than corporate brands (regardless of how nice and fluffy they appear to be).
This can have a snowball effect, and will encourage more readers to leave their own content on your pages.
Positive customer testimonials and reviews give Google the content it needs to evaluate your website properly.
UGC tells the search engine that your website is active, trustworthy, and providing an essential service in your particular niche.
This is a major advantage over your competitors’ sites that don’t leave their content open for comment.
User generated content is fairly cheap and simple to implement into your pages.
If you haven’t done it already, it should definitely be something to consider.
Remember – Google relies on a continuous stream of content from your pages for you to rank for a growing number of keywords on the SERP.
Sometimes this just isn’t possible unless you ask for some help.
Encouraging your users to generate content for your pages will make your pages more attractive to the search bots.
Here are a couple more benefits of UGC to leave you with…
+ Creating a stronger community – UGC can contribute to open discussions about your business brand on your website, especially if you have a forum on your site. Forum moderators can even award “badges” or other privileges to encourage customers to come back and generate content more frequently.
+ Increase the amount of time your customers spend on your pages with UGC. Providing an opportunity for your visitors to leave content will keep them on your pages for longer, especially if they want to leave a lengthy product review or post a picture of themselves with one of your products.
Rob Walling runs popular long tail keyword tool HitTail and he wrote the book on small software startups. In his spare time, he co-hosts one of the leading podcasts for bootstrapped startups, called Startups for the Rest of Us.