Internet is all about freedom and Google is all about prioritizing users’ needs. Amidst all this, search marketers often struggle to keep up with the evolving SEO trends. But there’s one trend that most SEO professionals end up overlooking: User-generated content.
Traditionally, SEO has mostly focused on content publishing and most marketers are now rushing towards blogging and other forms of content marketing.
But it’s time you shifted the focus on the users and instead of creating content for them, let them create content for you and your brand.
Billions of people have access to internet and a majority of them are accessing your website, social media pages, local listings, advertisements and content on their smartphones. So, why not make engage them better by letting them drive your brand and contribute to your content campaign?
You may be wondering why a user will produce content for you and your brand in the first place. To understand the answer to this question, let’s first take a look what does the term “user-generated content” denote?
User-generated content is content produced by people who used a specific brand/company’s product or service without getting paid for it. In simpler words, user-generated content is what your fans make for your brand.
Now, the million dollar question is what’s so special about it and why do you need it for better SEO results?
We will get to the user-generated content for SEO part in a while but before that, let’s learn about few more basics.
Have you heard of social proof? It’s basic to marketing, online or not.
Social Proof refers to the idea that people will conform to the actions of the masses and let the actions of the masses influence their decisions.
The rating system works on and promotes the idea of social proof. If 9 out of 10 people say that Nike make the best shoes then it must be true.
Advertisers often leverage the power of “monkey see, monkey do” in their campaigns. People see and then conform. While the idea of social proof and influence psychology has been manipulated in marketing extensively, you can really use user-generated content to begin engaging your target audience better and improve your ranking on search engines.
Now that you know that user-generated content has the power of influencing your prospective customers, it’s time you learned how to use it to squeeze the most out of your SEO campaign.
Encourage your customers to produce content for you
The unsaid rule of SEO is that you steadily supply your readers healthy and valuable content frequently. But content creators know the struggle of coming up with innovative and truly valuable content. Most content marketers affirm that consistent content creation is among the biggest challenges they face.
However, why not just get your super-happy fans to create the content for you?
Think about this. Real people advocating your brand and making content (blogs, videos, testimonials, reviews, etc) solely because you made them happy. Yes, this could be a huge help for your brand, not only the SEO campaign.
Moreover, Google as a search engine focuses on prioritizing authentic, valuable content that gives relevant information to the users making search queries. Can you think of anyone more authentic and valuable content creator than the people who actually bought your product or hired your services?
Semantic Search and trustworthiness are among the biggest factors that influence your website’s rankings on Google. User-generated content contributes to both of these thus empowering your website and the brand.
User generated content will help you earn:
- Higher visibility with more user engagement
User-generated content will give you higher visibility as it cuts through the noise and confirms that the brand indeed delivers what it promises. A customer claiming that a restaurant serves amazing food is far more impactful and authentic than the restaurant claiming that they serve amazing food. Google is always hunting for new content that’s relevant to the search queries.
User-generated content in the form of videos, forum discussions with brand mentions, images, brief or long reviews, testimonials, etc indicate to Google that the brand enjoys a two-dialogue with the users. If the users don’t respond to you or show some love, it means that you are really just talking at them which is as good as talking to a wall.
As you encourage more users to participate in the conversation, search engines and social media channels will give you higher visibility.
Since, these users are real people, the content cuts through the noise and gets priority from Google thanks to the relevancy and authenticity.
- Higher conversions
Trust and reputation is crucial to a brand and a website to make it to the top of Google search results. Social Proof in content like testimonials, ratings, reviews, personal online recommendations, etc helps you positively influence more prospects. There are actual proven statistics claiming that a business with zero or bad reviews risks losing customers. A good review can help you convert prospects as most people form an opinion about a brand after going through 2-3 reviews.
- Better understanding of your customers
Your marketers can initiate a user-generated content campaign to draw a better understand of how your customers participate in the conversation. It’s possible that initially, you may not get a big reaction and participation from the users or fans. However, whatever participation you receive will give you a brief idea of specific aspects of your product, service or even the whole brand in itself that people are talking about.
Even if you just go through plenty of authentic reviews, testimonials and feedback your products and services receive, you will get the core idea of what your customers are actually looking for. Based on this, you can design a better content strategy, address their pain points and spark another high-engagement conversation.
Moreover, if you do it right, you may just end up finding new, profitable keywords with a high commercial intent along with numerous long-tail queries.
Using user-generated content to your SEO advantage
Let’s take a look at the different ways you can implement the trend of user-generated content to improve your SEO Campaign output:
Let your customers do the talking instead of making obscenely superfluous pitches. People are often skeptical about believing what you have to say about your brand. This is why they look for personal recommendations. Testimonials work as personal recommendations and are indispensable for a business. Moreover, you can start using authentic and relevant testimonials to improve the output of your SEO campaign by optimizing these testimonials for keywords like your brand + testimonials, your brand + reviews, etc.
Most people avoid browsing through the entire website and prioritize just reading through the reviews to get an idea of the quality your offer. If the first two reviews a prospect reads are negative, the prospect will make a negative mindset about you.
Positive testimonials from happy customers will elicit a positive response from prospects.
Make a separate testimonial page on your website and use specific, and keyword oriented H1 tag to help people find it. Make the page more authentic and believable by furnishing complete information such as full name and brief project details of people writing testimonials for you. The transparency will help people trust you more.
- Forums (Q&A)
Ever wonder what resources your SEO professionals use when they can’t figure something about search engine rankings? Most SEO professionals trust the SEO webmaster forum and guidelines. They keep contributing to the questions and the questions are often answered by professionals from Google’s team and sometimes by experienced and established SEO professionals.
You can adopt the similar model and begin your own forum or Q-A space where you can encourage your prospects to contribute in the form of questions. As we said before, these questions will have long tail keyword queries that will help you rank better since most new prospects will have similar queries. So, when the new ones type those on Google, they will get the forum results. It goes without saying that you mustn’t leave the queries unsolved or unanswered. Always, answer them to perfection and be polite in your approach.
- Encourage people to comment
Comments are great for your blogs, the engagement you receive from people reading your blog on your website or third party publishers or your posts on social media is what gives you attention.
Also, its important that you know that the comments on your blog section are counted as part of the main content by Google. So, using them fully to your advantage by responding politely will surely help. Moreover, it’s an absolute necessity that you focus on only encouraging non-spammy and relevant comments. Always report the spam comments as some black hat SEO professionals may even be trying to use your comment section as an opportunity to get some links.
- Foster your social media community
Everyone from lifestyle brands, musicians to luxury sports cars is leveraging the power of social media. The growing engagement on social media sites is indicative of its potential to spart a conversation. As part of your user-generated content strategy, you can start expanding, fostering your user community on social media and initiate trends to further demand their interaction.
You can design campaigns by narrowing down your audience and designing specific content for them that invites them to share their experience or participate. You can start asking for creative inputs for your brand or even start a contest.
There’s nothing new about the user-generated content trend. It’s always been around; SEO professionals and business owners, branding professionals have always encouraged it. However, given the growing competition and noise in the market, you need to evolve your approach and design more sophisticated ways to engage your customers to create the content for you.
User-generated content will help you supply fresh and brand-relevant content to search engines thus help you rankings. Moreover, you can use the testimonials and reviews to your advantage by optimizing and creating a transparent funnel of feedback between your users/customers and you.
Another major benefit is by following a dedicated user-generated content approach, your customers will feel heard. By reaching out to them and let them stay in the spotlight, you will be better able to influence your prospects to make positive decisions regarding your brand.