User-Generated Content (UGC) is hot topic these days because it’s a relatively cost effective way to close the sale, create customer loyalty, and boost SEO.
In case you’re just getting started let me take a step back. UGC refers to any content that users create for your site. UGC can be large-scale (like Wikipedia and YouTube, where all of the site’s content is generated by users) or it can be small-scale (like customer reviews on a shopping site, where users just add to content that is already there). UGC is very affordable, because in most cases it’s free. It’s also viewed very highly by search engine algorithms, making it a vital piece of an overall SEO strategy.
A recent webinar by Bazaarvoice on UGC reminded us of five key aspects of UGC that even the most seasoned professionals can sometimes forget or overlook:
- SEO Isn’t #1
While it’s easy to tout the SEO benefits of UGC, the primary purpose of UGC is to improve user experience. Why is this distinction important?
As a business if you handle UGC as an SEO-related activity you are categorizing it as a marketing effort to benefit your business. If you handle UGC as you should, as part of user experience, you are categorizing it as an activity to benefit your customer.
In the end, both will contribute to the bottom line but having the right focus means that the parameters set for business decisions will be appropriate.
- Reviews and… What Else?
UGC is not just a fancy way of saying “customer reviews.” While customer reviews are the most widely used form of UGC for ecommerce businesses other UGC includes videos and images. Companies that best utilize these forms of UGC are ones that encourage users to take pictures/make videos of their products in use.
- Even the Bad Is Good
The beauty of UGC is that even the bad is good. Well… mostly. In terms of product reviews, some companies go to great lengths to make sure all feedback that is displayed about a product is positive. In reality, however, showing the good alongside with the bad is better for establishing consumer trust and loyalty.
If the feedback presented to a consumer conveys both positive and negative experiences it’s easier for a consumer to trust that the company in question is authentic, because even the best products on earth will have at least some people that don’t like them. Pretending your products are perfect for everyone in every way appears fake- consumers see right through that.
- Can You See Me Now?
“But wait!” I hear you say, “You said images were a form of UGC!” Well images are a form of UGC that will be counted toward image searches. Just remember that if all you have in the way of UGC are images, currently, you will not be getting much at all boost in the regular search category. The best solution is to have users contribute images with image titles and captions to help you rank in both search contexts.
- Run and Tell the Others
Using social media is a great way to help your UGC compound. Allowing users to share information they read or products they find with their social networks instantly opens your store up to a whole new set of potential contributors, as well as potential customers.
Just remember, the more indexing opportunities you have, the more likely consumers are to find your site. And once a consumer has found you, that’s just the beginning; leverage your UGC well and you may have a loyal customer for life!
-Kate Pierce eCommerce Specialist