If you're looking for better ways to drive traffic to your e-commerce website, then you should consider user-generated content (UGC).
Ecommerce brands require a lot more effort to stand out because of the fierce competition in the industry.
But with UGC, you can beat the competition, generate organic traffic, influence purchasing decisions, and improve conversion rates.
Want to learn how?
We’ll show you in this article.
Specifically, you’ll find out:
- What is UGC in SEO?
- How does UGC benefit SEO?
- How to leverage UGC for SEO?
What Is UGC in SEO?
User-generated content (UGC) is simply online content created by customers and users of a product or service about the brand and its offerings.
There are specific types of UGC relevant for SEO. These include:
- Customer reviews and ratings: They are especially important for eCommerce shops.
Reviews help build trust and credibility as search engines identify reviews and ratings as a ranking factor. Positive reviews can increase click through rates.
- Discussion forums and comments: Blog comments inspire conversation about your brand and enhance on-site SEO.
These forum threads increase user engagement and build a community for your brand.
They reduce the workload for your support staff, inspire social shares and backlinks, and drive traffic to your site.
An example of this type of UGC is the customer questions and answers section on Amazon’s product pages.
Users can easily find answers to their questions which increases customer satisfaction.
- Images and videos: These visual types of UGC are shareable and increase brand visibility and reach through images on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
These visuals show more than tell how your product should be used and so improve the user experience of visitors on your site.
All these UGC formats affect SEO by making the website credible and relevant enough for search engines to recommend to your target audience.
This brings us to the next question. Is UGC good for SEO?
You’ll find out in the next section.
Is UGC good for SEO?
This isn’t a trick question.
The answer is simple and straightforward. Yes, UGC is great for SEO.
According to this research by Search Engine Journal, organic page visits increased significantly for 500 brands in the 9 months after they added customer reviews to their sites.
UGC also enhances link building as relevant UGC (customer reviews, comments, and posts) can be shared and serve as backlinks for comparison posts, how-to blogs, listicles, etc.
These are the reasons why UGC should be one of the pillars of your digital marketing strategy.
If you’re not totally convinced, the next section will show you specific ways that UGC can impact SEO.
How User-Generated Content Benefits SEO
We’re about to answer the most important question. How exactly does UGC benefit SEO?
How do regular users drive traffic to your website?
It’s simple. Read on to unravel the answers.
Provides fresh, authentic, and relevant content
A key part of SEO is content marketing. With UGC, content marketing takes on a new dimension. A brand’s social and website content becomes new and relevant—it’s not just the same old recycled stuff.
Because UGC comes from people, it’s more authentic and creative compared to branded promotional content.
Users share new perspectives in a relatable way and this appeals to the rest of the audience.
Depending on the posting frequency, these user reviews are important for guiding new customers and for SEO.
Most of the time, UGC satisfies search intent because it’s written from the user’s perspective, meaning it’s very likely to answer the questions that people search for.
So, UGC ensures that a Google search is met with relevant content which can reduce bounce rates.
Naturally includes product-centric links and keywords
The best way to find out what keywords people are searching for is to ask them. Or, let the UGC ask for you.
When users leave comments, they naturally talk about your brand using the typical language that people search for. These are keywords that your site can be optimized for. They could also include links to other pages on the website.
These spontaneous UGC keywords are product-centric rather than brand-focused, which you may be tempted to use when you talk about your product.
They are important as they boost your SEO ranking on search engines. When people search for those keywords, your brand shows up.
Can help your site rank for long-tail keywords
Keyword research can be really exhausting especially when you want to rank for long-tail keywords.
Long-tail keywords aren’t keywords that contain more words. They are tailored and product-specific keywords which have low search volume, low competition, and higher conversion rates.
For instance, a fashion brand may want to rank for female suits. However, this would have a lot more competition compared to ‘suits for plus-sized women’ or ‘bespoke female suits’ which are both more specific.
UGC helps with finding and ranking for long-tail keywords. Customer reviews, product reviews, and online positive feedback about your product highlights your brand together with effective long tail keywords that appear in specific search queries for your product.
Provides content for your social media channels
A great driver of SEO is effective social media marketing. Google also brings out social media results for search and you can boost social SEO with UGC.
Users can talk about your brand while using relevant hashtags that people search for.
When you find these hashtags and repost the tagged content, your social media posts would drive people within your social network to your site.
You can also put the links to your website on your Instagram stories when you repost story UGC.
In the example shown above, they created an Instagram post as well as giving a shout-out to the customer.
Sharing user reviews, testimonials, and UGC on your social media channels is one of the best ways to drive engagement and sales.
Just remember to ask for permission before you share someone’s review. You can also provide a link or credit the original source.
Invaluable for both automatic and manual optimization
Automatic optimization takes into account search engine crawlers that rate a website based on available customer product reviews and user testimonials.
But Google also has search quality raters that manually rate the site quality.
UGC helps to boost site credibility, authenticity, and relevance; and these are the factors both algorithms and manual raters look out for.
The next step is to find out how to leverage UGC for SEO. Are there any best practices? Any rules, tips, or guidelines to follow?
Stay here. We’ll find out in the next section.
How to Leverage UGC for SEO
UGC is important for SEO but, to enjoy the benefits, there are best practices to follow. Here’s what they are:
1. Create UGC
The first step to using UGC for SEO is obviously to create the user-generated content. However, it may not be so easy to get users to create it and you may be wondering how to encourage them.
There are several ways to encourage users to create UGC such as:
- Contests: UGC contests are very effective and can create a lot of buzz in a short time.
These contests require users to create and submit content about your brand. You can repost the winning entries on your website and give a prize.
- Giveaways: These contests require users to follow simple instructions like following the brand or typing a word into the comment section.
The winner is randomly selected or selected based on the number of likes on their comment. The gifts are usually products.
- Hashtag campaigns: This is also similar to UGC contests. Users create content with a specific branded hashtag and post it on their social media channels. The goal is for the hashtag to trend.
- Crowd support forums: These are platforms where customers come to share their wins, and ask and answer questions about the industry.
They can participate in discussions and offer solutions to one another.
- Asking for UGC: You can ask customers for reviews and video testimonials, as well as photos.
- Influencer marketplace: You can look to influencer marketplaces like Insense to find vetted influencers for your UGC campaigns and to incorporate UGC into your website.
Here’s how Insense works:
Insense works by helping you find suitable influencers from a marketplace of about 20,000 influencers. It also helps you collaborate with them effectively by simplifying the briefing process.
- Asking for contributor posts or blogs from users: You can put out a memo on your social media platforms for guest posts from real users of your product and include their bylines on the published pieces.
2. Eliminate spam and low-quality content
Just like positive, high-quality UGC boosts SEO, negative, spammy, and low-quality UGC makes your website rank lower on search engines.
According to this Google Search Central Advanced SEO documentation, sites with UGC spam rank lower in search results or don’t appear at all.
So, you have to put in place quality control measures even on Q&A sections to avoid low-quality content affecting your page ranking.
One way to ensure this quality control is by applying nofollow tags to all the external links in your UGC, (not internal links) to show crawlers that you don’t vouch for the random links people put there.
Also, monitor accounts that respond super fast with no new content. Most times bots are programmed to respond with the same old garbage and you can identify the repetitive pattern of responses.
This may require a lot of human effort, especially if it's an entire blog or contributor posts.
You can also use an anti-spam plugin that reveals linked URLs to automate the process.
3. Configure your UGC
Because UGC is very important, some companies create fake UGC and that is even worse for SEO. Search engines look out for this fake UGC and penalize the sites for them.
So, you have to ensure that the reviews (image, visual, or textual) you have are not and do not look fake. Here are some ways to do that:
- Allow users to rate reviews
- Provide a visible confirmation that a review was left by a verified buyer
- You can structure your data with schema markup to ensure that the review rating is visible in the search results just like in this screenshot
Once you have put these measures in place, you can go ahead and expect your eCommerce site traffic and organic search metrics to go up a notch.
Start Boosting Your SEO With UGC
Like we stated earlier, the best way to start is by creating high-quality UGC.
All you have to do is encourage your users to create content about your brand through contests, giveaways and, most importantly, by using influencer marketplaces like Insense.
Want to get started?
You can try out Insense to find the right influencers to execute your UGC strategy.