How user-generated content improves SEO

Undoubtedly, business Michael LeBeouf was absolutely right when he said “Every company’s greatest assets are its customers, because without customers there is no company.” But this was a methodology he was preaching throughout the 80s and 90s.

While customers have remained a good company’s priority, user-generated content has now become important not just for customer satisfaction but also for the improvement of your website’s SEO. Because people trust people more than a company they don’t have a productive professional relationship with (yet), it’s a great idea to tap into what people are searching for. This means that you can tailor your company to provide the most accurate and high-quality products and services that internet users are looking for, before new customers have even clicked onto your website.

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What is user-generated content?

Unlike this article you’re reading right now, user-generated content refers to content shared by users or consumers about a company rather than by a company. Like with the unpaid nature of organic traffic generated through high rankings borne out of an effective SEO strategy, user-generated content tends to be shared or produced by individuals who are not necessarily paid, but who are voluntarily expressing their opinions about your product – whether positive or negative – on the internet.

Before you shy away from potential business growth for fear of a bad Google review, remember that even the negative comments demonstrate that you’ve left a lasting impact. Although of course the aim should be ringing endorsements all around through top-quality content and customer service, it’s always worth remembering Marilyn Suttle, who advised, “Thank your customer for complaining and mean it. Most will never bother to complain. They’ll just walk away.”

With that in mind, user-generated content can take the form of text, images, videos, and reviews, and helps the company build backlinks. This then feeds into a cycle of increasing search engine rankings and organic website traffic, which leads to higher conversions, more sales, and the creation of yet more glowing customer reviews from satisfied customers.

A deeper dive into the types of user-generated content

One of the places where you’re most likely to have come across user-generated content is while you’re scrolling through your favourite social media platform. You might think your brain is switched off, but product reviews, or even just the appearance of certain products in video content on TikTok or Instagram reels for example, could make you more likely to engage with a company’s product and therefore be more likely to buy it.

In particular, shopping hauls, product reviews, workout videos, or even things like “A Day in the Life” video diaries are ways that you could be engaging with products and services without even realising it. The same goes for images and other forms of visual content.

Other examples include community or discussion forums such as Reddit, Student Room or Mumsnet, where users both seek out and share their views on certain products and topics. Reviews also play a big part in consumer decision-making and can have a huge impact on whether or not you’re presenting the sort of service a user is likely to buy.

How does user-generated content improve SEO?

User-created content that is external to your company is useful to SEO because it presents unique and honest (and therefore more trustworthy) content for potential new customers. Part of the reason why it is so useful for optimisation is because it’s new, fresh and relevant, but also because it appeals to authenticity which is highly prized by potential customers. These are exactly the sort of qualities Google crawlers are looking for.

The higher diversity of this content from a wider user demographic than just the (extremely eloquent) content creators within your company also means that this content is less likely to be in competition with existing web pages on your website.

In many ways, it’s the one thing that, no matter how good your content creators may be, your business just can’t do for itself to the same effect as there’s no way of convincing a user you’re not endorsing your product just to make a sale, rather than due to the high quality and merit of the product itself.

The creation of backlinks is also an incredibly important part of using UGC in order to boost your site’s SEO. By creating links between your company’s website and other online platforms/sources, you’ll boost rankings and build social signals which are likely to lead to increased organic traffic flow to your site.

Another reason why UGC is useful is due to the platform it provides for customer engagement and freedom of expression so that users can share their thoughts and experiences. This helps with the formation of a loyal and trustworthy customer community as people rely on other people’s actions and reactions as the correct thing to do, known as social proof.

In fact, according to Search Engine Journal, “people who look at UGC are converting 161 per cent more than people who are not looking at UGC”.

How to incorporate user-generated content into your optimisation strategy

As much as any publicity is good publicity to an extent, in order for UGC to have a positive impact on your SEO strategy, it’s important to have high-quality, relevant content that will enhance your website’s visibility. An essential part of SEO advantageous content should also include keywords likely to generate a high search volume and meta tags that provide accurate and useful additional context to your webpage.

However, there are also ways in which you can incorporate UGC directly into the design of your website in order to use it to your advantage. For example:

1. UGC embedded into webpages

One of the easiest ways to utilise user content is often to accompany high-quality content in the form of an informative blog post or “About Us” page for example with reviews and testimonials. By incorporating UGC alongside other content, the user is able to make a more immediate link between your service, or the specific element of it that they’re interested in, and trustworthy and reliable testimonials. Popular platforms for seamlessly integrated UGC include:

  • Google
  • Trustpilot
  • Amazon Customer Reviews

2. A UGC landing page

Alternatively, some websites have pages dedicated to completely embedded UGC, such as social media integrations through internal links. This provides social signals to search engines so that crawlers can respond to active user engagement by increasing your site’s visibility. Examples might include:

3. Community portals

Community portals are a great way for users to share insights or opinions on your product or service without leaving your website. They can also provide a reliable hub for user support, allowing potential customers to troubleshoot any issues they might have run into, or discuss features.

4. UGC-influenced content

Content that is directly influenced by user experience can also be incredibly useful for boosting your site’s SEO. Even if you’re not sure you want to integrate user content directly into your site’s design or format, you can still make use of people’s views and opinions by carrying out your own research of online discussions across social media platforms, community forums, or platforms like Google business.

By engaging with customer enquiries or reviews, you’ll develop a better understanding of what users are looking for and how to tailor your content to those demands. If you’re noticing that a lot of the same questions are being raised, you could translate this data into an FAQ (frequently asked questions) page on your website. Not only will this improve rankings, but, like with community portals, it will make people more likely to remain on your website, where they can find the answers they need directly from the source.

Give the people what they want

In conclusion, in order to build up your customer base and expand your business, you need to make sure that you’re tailoring your content and services to what people actually want. By combining this attention to detail with customers (both potential and existing) with an effective SEO strategy which boasts strong links, high-ranking keywords and high-quality, reliable and accessible content, you’re sure to be able to give the people what they want.

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