Don’t Fear the User: Benefits of User-Generated Content

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Don’t Fear the User: Benefits of User-Generated Content

Posted by Kristina Zaremba, SEO Analyst

Businesses can easily optimize for long-tail search traffic by capitalizing on user-generated content (UGC). The most common type of UGC is customer reviews of a product or place.

Tell Me About It
In their reviews, people use a wider variety of words and phrases to talk about their experiences with a brand than marketers do in their optimized descriptions. Users speak with authority about their feelings and impressions of a brand. Users also may use obscure or misspelled language to describe a product, which will help their review rank for similar long-tail queries.

Do You See What Searchers See?
To see the vast difference in the language used by marketers and their customers, you can compare a word cloud of optimized on-site copy written by marketers with one of organic customer reviews. The words that appear largest in each cloud will be different (and rightly so), but not unrelated.

These clouds will illustrate how alternative, organic descriptions from users naturally add long-tail keywords to a page with virtually no effort on your end.

User reviews also keep normally static pages fresh by adding new content for search bots to regularly crawl and index.

Better UX, Better ROI
Users are also great at answering each other’s questions, which lessens the burden on your customer service reps. The best UGC responses can even be archived and organized into an FAQ section.

Most importantly, incorporating reviews into your site attracts searchers who are in the advanced stages of the buying cycle. However, these searchers are not likely to buy until they have read a sufficient number of genuine reviews. By presenting them with reviews, you fulfill their needs and move them further down the buying cycle without forcing them off-site.

Own the Negativity
Many marketers fear that users will write negative reviews. No product or place receives a 100 percent satisfaction rating, however; so negative reviews actually heighten authenticity and credibility. Negative reviews will exist on- and off-site, so it’s better to keep users on-site rather than driving them to non-moderated blogs and forums instead.

In the end, it’s better to know what your customers think of your product—take the flaws that users identify as constructive criticism.

Types of User-Generated Content

  • Customer reviews
  • Q&A
  • Photos and stories of brand experience
  • Videos
  • Recipes
  • Guest blog entries

Benefits of User-Generated Content

  • Enriches descriptions and generates long-tail traffic
  • Keeps your site fresh and appealing to search engine crawlers
  • Attracts searchers looking for product reviews; allows SEM team to bid on “_____ reviews”
  • Keeps marketers in touch with user after purchase is made
  • Little to no maintenance after set up
  • Provides free original content

Best Practices for Implementing User-Generated Content

  • Allow reviews to be indexed
  • Permit negative reviews
  • Sort by “Most Helpful”
  • Screen entries for obscene content before they are published

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