10 Minute Read

User-Generated Content: Why You Should Hack Customer Reviews to Improve SEO

By Nick Fountain:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a dynamic field that is important in digital marketing for both desktop and mobile platforms. SEO is exactly what its acronym proclaims, the act (some might say art) of optimizing your website for search engines. Many use Google as their single source of truth but a great SEO professional will learn how to hone his craft on:

  • Bing
  • Yahoo
  • Ask.com
  • AOL
  • Baidu
  • WolframAlpha

Since SEO is so dynamic, Google and other search engines are constantly updating how they crawl data and rank websites. Google has become more conversational content focused instead of keyword oriented. Understanding semantics, syntax and how people speak to one another is a big improvement to how Google crawls content. In short, people search how they talk and Google and its brethren are catching up.

The robots are learning! Google’s crawlers can now understand semantics of the #content on your site, so you need to be ahead of the game! @NickRBM explains how UGC can bolster your content! Click To Tweet

All of the robot movies were right… machines are capable of understanding context and conversations. They are learning! That’s why UGC is so important.

What is UGC and also Who Cares?

Since machines are learning the semantics of content, UGC has become vital to ranking in search engines. User-generated content (UGC), simply put, is “free publicity”. If you want the technical term, it is any content produced by unpaid contributors. Everyone loves free stuff, therefore it is a great way to gain ranking and traffic. Comments, reviews, rankings and even guest posts can all serve to boost your SEO ranking.

robot movies were right machines understand context and conversationsUGC is effective because it utilizes the psychological response of “social proof”. Social proof is where people assume actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior in a given circumstance. So, if there is a positive Yelp review for a local burger joint, then people will be drawn to the restaurant because they will do what others did because they perceive it to be correct.

Social proof is a type of conformity because those who read the content will go along with whoever wrote it because the writer has more knowledge on the topic than the reader. UGC is also psychological because people often listen and consider advice from their peers. You’d probably watch the new Netflix original if your friend said it was awesome, right? Social Proof.

UGC is the tipping point to making the sale or, in this case, gain more traffic for your website. The simple addition of a review page for a product or service or a Q&A page for your company can be the difference between being top dog or in the dog house.

Why Should You Care?

Well if the idea of increasing sales and traffic isn’t enough for you, try these smart reasons on for size:

Strangers in the Night

UGC pages allow strangers to establish a mutual need to find the answer to a problem. This brings them closer and establishes a relationship, which helps boost your SEO. How, you ask? Well, in order to be more reliable, users will backlink to your website, thus strengthening your website.

Backlinking is when sources link to your content because you are an established, credible source that people trust. Whether you have folks in your industry linking to your research or you get an article shared on Reddit, you’re going to reap the traffic benefits.

Authentic Content Wins

A major factor in today’s SEO is if the content on your site is authentic or not. Semantics are a big factor in how Google crawls your site, so it must be crucial that you are writing content for readers and not the search engine. Have you ever looked up something you really wanted to learn the answer for, only to be taken to a site that just mentions the keyword a bunch of times and gives you little to no information? The increased focus on UGC is (in theory) going to prevent that.

UGC helps with this because the commenters are people who are passionate about the product, service, company, or topic, so they want to relay their experiences, making the content more conversational for Google or Bing to pick up on and rank it higher. (There is a dark side to this as well, ask any company who’s been trolled on Yelp or bashed on Glassdoor, with little to no recourse.)

user generated content is free publicity

Saves the Day and Cheddar

Allowing customers to post on a review page generates authentic content and helps you generate backlinks as well. It also saves your SEO team time and money! Who doesn’t love that?

UGC naturally generates SEO because consumers are doing all of the work by posting links to related products or other review pages that your team does not have to post or research. For B2B cases, implementing case studies from your clients can be a huge boost for authentic reactions and plugs from people you have worked with. Of course, it’s not just products that can be reviewed, try these ideas:

  • Offer a T-Shirt for an unbiased review
  • Build a review request into your CRM
  • Send out a client survey with instructions on how to leave a review or an open text field
  • Share your review wish list with your hiring managers
  • Weaponize your employee ambassadors with a contest to see who can get the most (honest) reviews
  • If you are working with another business, see if you can trade reviews. These are instant wins for both parties and you must like each other because you’re working together!

It’s the Size(s) that Count!

Obviously, allowing customers to post on product-focused boards helps solidify keywords for search engines. But it also strengthens your company’s “chunky middle” and “long tail” keyword phrases as well.

Struggling to comprehend how User-Generated Content can help with your site rankings? @NickRBM will explain what UGC is and how you can utilize it in your #SEO campaign! Click To Tweet

If someone has a specific query (or “question” to you humans), they can type out that whole phrase to find what they want. If they find what they are looking for, they will more than likely add a post about that specific problem because, let’s be honest, if you have a question or problem with a product or service, someone else does, too. That boosts the strength of that specific keyword phrase, making you rank higher as the source to go to with a specific answer to a question.

Word-of-mouth was a powerful tool for marketing in the past and will continue to be king as the most effective way to market a product. People are drawn to what others have experienced from a product, therefore they will listen and take that content into consideration.

If you are interested in gaining exposure through User-Generated Content, then consider these simple yet effective ideas!

  • Add a “Customer Review” section to your website — especially for B2C firms, this can lead to passionate content, which is more authentic and helps your rankings!
  • Consider a “Q&A” page — allowing customers to interact with one another makes more conversational pieces, adding to your authentic content library.
  • Allow customers and clients to leave comments about your products or services to add to your site’s authenticity.
  • Create a fun or creative hashtag for social media for exposure and engage your prospects so they can promote for you!