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How user generated content is changing SEO

User generated content is any content created by customers in regard to your business. One benefit of UGC is that it helps provide social proof that your brand is trustworthy. In addition to that, it can positively impact your SEO campaign. If you’re wondering whether all this is just talk, then you want to keep reading, as we take a look at how user generated content is changing SEO.

Table of contents

  1. What is user generated content?
  2. How user generated content is changing SEO
    1. It provides you with quality content
    2. It shapes basic SEO attributes naturally
    3. It helps your website rank for long-tail keywords
    4. It optimises your site for semantic search
    5. It boosts social optimisation
    6. It builds trust with Google
  3. 3 tips to maximise the SEO impact of user generated content
    1. Consolidate user generated content
    2. Enable user reviews
    3. Curate user generated content

What is user generated content?

User generated content refers to content that your audience has created for your brand, either directly on your digital marketing channels or on third-part sites.

UGC can include photos, social media posts, videos, reviews, captions and polls. It is usually driven by an incentive, such as the chance to win or be acknolwedged.

Any time a brand asks its audience to submit photos, posts or provide captains, you’re seeing a user generate content marketing plan in action.

Some of the most well-known online marketing campaigns encourage user generated content to help them get the word out about a fundraising campaign or launch. Hubspot shares some examples here.

How user generated content is changing SEO

Here are six ways UGC is impacting the world of SEO:

1. It provides you with quality content

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Constantly creating new and exciting content can be challenging for brands for a number of reasons. For starters, content creation can be costly. If you are on a tight budget, user generated content gives you access to quality content without having to spend exorbitant amounts of money. Most user generated content is free, but you may have to incentivise customers with gifts or discounts in some cases.

Secondly, It is easy to run out of content ideas, especially if you handle marketing alone. If you don’t have new ideas for your content, turn to your audience.

Lastly, there’s a high demand for authentic content that resonates with customers. While brand content marketing is essential to your marketing strategy, consumers have become aware of the practice, making it less effective.

2. It shapes basic SEO attributes naturally

As any copywriter knows, it’s best practice to optimise your content for SEO using keywords, backlinks, internal links and titles. However, when it comes to user generated content such as reviews, your customers do the legwork for you.

Since reviews and testimonials tend to be product-centric, customers naturally include links associated with the product as well as long-tail keywords. These are the terms that they themselves, and other customers like them, are specifically using to define (and find) your product, all of which help strengthen your ranking.

3. It helps your website rank for long-tail keywords

Following on from above, keywords are, without a doubt, one of the most important elements of SEO. Incorporating user generated content in your marketing strategy allows you to rank for long-tail keywords that you would normally not think of including.

These keywords consist of lengthy phrases containing more than three words, which make it easier for search engines to pinpoint customers’ search intent. They help attract qualified leads that are genuinely interested in your offering and are ready to make a purchase.

Long-tail keywords may have a low search volume but they also have low competition, which helps increase your chances of ranking highly on search engine result pages for these specific phrases. While they may not bring in masses of traffic, the traffic that they do deliver will be more likely to want exactly what you’re offering.

4. It optimises your site for semantic search

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SEO has dramatically changed over the years. While keywords and backlinks are still important, the focus has shifted to understanding the intent and context behind a search.

Semantic search has become very popular over the past few years, especially with the development of voice search devices. Semantic search aims to generate the most accurate SERP results by understanding natural language the way humans do.

If you want to optimise for semantic search, user generated content can help you find phrases and keywords that customers use in their natural language. Reviews and testimonials will help you better optimise your SEO campaign, so you can rank higher in SERPS and attract more qualified leads.

5. It boosts social optimisation

While social media marketing and search engine optimisation are two very different strategies, they complement each to benefit your business.

Signals from social media platforms can help improve your SEO by increasing traffic to your website. When your followers interact with your business on social media, commenting on your posts or creating content about your brand, others can see their interaction. This helps new people discover your brand and allows them to check your website for more information about your business.

In addition to that, search engines such as Google have started to use social media sharing data to influence their search rankings. Therefore, it is crucial that you have social media sharing buttons on your website. These buttons will encourage visitors to share photos and reviews of your products on social media, therefore increasing traffic and improving your ranking.

6. It builds trust with Google

Google is keen on providing users with valuable content that can be trusted. Therefore, to rank highly on search engine result pages, you must build your website’s trust and authority.

Backlinks are one way to do this, but earning them can be a bit challenging, which is where user generated content comes in. Reviews and feedback from clients are testaments that people find your site to be helpful. The more positive reviews you get, the higher your site will rank.

3 tips to maximise the SEO impact of user generated content

You have to be strategic when using user generated content for SEO. While UGC has the potential to improve your SEO, it can be redundant, low quality and spammy, therefore diluting your website’s authority.

Here’s how to leverage your user generated content for positive results:

1. Consolidate user generated content

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Usually, Google ranks pages with long-form content higher on SERPs. When it comes to user generated content, comprehensiveness can be a hit or miss, creating an issue of varying depth and quality. Some customers will write a long essay on your product or brand, while others will summarise their review in one sentence. In such a case, it is best to consolidate related content from multiple discussions onto a single page.

2. Enable user reviews

If you run an ecommerce website, you should strongly consider adding user reviews to your product pages or on your site. Reviews benefit your SEO in two ways:

Firstly, like consolidation, reviews improve the word count on your pages, giving search engines more information to work with.

Secondly, reviews align very well with Google’s quality rater guidelines. They help build trust and authority, making it easier for visitors to convert into customers. Most people are wary about adding reviews on their websites for fear of getting anything less than a five-star rating. This fear is largely unfounded. Customers do not expect you to have a perfect rating, and in many cases, excessively high ratings are seen as suspicious.

3. Curate user generated content

Content curation is the process of collecting, categorising and republishing content created by others. It allows you to pick and choose what user generated content you want to use to boost your SEO campaign. You need to engage with and incentivise your audience to create a wide range of content for you, so it might be time to revisit your social media strategy.

✏️ Of course, you want to make sure your user generated content fits into your content marketing plan. Find out how to create a content marketing plan on the Copify blog.


Header image: Mimi Thian

Embedded images: AbsolutVision, Kaleidico, Taras Shypka

Alison Fordy

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