How User-Generated Content and Engagement Can Help Boost Your SEO

May 22nd, 2019 by Courtney Cummins

As we continue moving toward an increasingly digital world, the importance of user-generated content, and the engagement that it produces, is becoming more prevalent in the realm of SEO. What users say about your brand, and how often, can have a real impact on your online visibility. How you promote, engage, and moderate this content is equally important. Below, we’ll look at the good and the bad while also finding ways to use this sort of content to the benefit of your business.

So What Is User-Generated Content?

User-generated content (UGC) is as straightforward as it sounds—any content that is created by a user and shared on an online platform. This content can include reviews, testimonials, images, and comments that are shared on platforms such as social media, blogs, or internet forums. Think product reviews on YouTube or reviews of a restaurant on Yelp. Additionally, this type of content can also be shared directly on your business’s website (we’ll go into that more later).

Eric Cartman walking down the halls in a Yelp Critic shirt

What Are the Benefits of UGC?

The most obvious benefit of UGC is the publicity of your brand, products, and/or services. But what does this mean in terms of SEO? For starters, it provides more information and context for search crawlers. Search engines can provide a user with results from both your website and other platforms that mention your brand. For example, a Twitter user’s tweet praising a good experience with your company’s customer service could show up on search engine result pages (SERPS). More content means more opportunities for search engines to find your brand and provide that information to users.

As mentioned earlier, user-generated content doesn’t have to come from outside sources. There are ample opportunities to obtain UGC directly from your website. In a Reddit AMA last year, Google’s own John Mueller suggested that allowing users to make comments (say, for instance, on your website’s blog entries) is one way of getting more content onto your website. Allowing users to make comments and engage in a discussion will give crawlers more content to consume, thus providing them with more context. Want to share positive feedback from some of your customers or clients? Consider adding a testimonials section to your website that highlights this feedback to impress other potential customers.

Woman at computer approves and thinks this user generated content is legit

Another benefit of user-generated content is that it brings authenticity to a brand. According to Stackla, 90% of consumers (a 4% increase in just two years!) believe authenticity to be an important factor when deciding which brands to support, while 61% of marketers say this is what makes content marketing most effective. Authenticity is what drives and encourages engagement from potential customers. Users are 28% more likely to engage when given UGC such as product videos and official brand authorized content. If users are engaged, this will result in more time spent on a site and a higher likelihood that this will result in conversions.

Are There Any Downsides to UGC?

Unfortunately, there is a glaring disadvantage to user-generated content if it’s not handled appropriately: People won’t always give your business glowing reviews. We’ve all seen scathing Yelp reviews or tweets go viral. Are they always warranted? Not necessarily, but search engines don’t know that, and they sure don’t discriminate. Just as positive content about your business can give you an advantage in SEO, conversely, negative content can result in poor SEO performance. You may not always be able to do away with the critics, but there are certainly ways to help combat that type of content.

How to Manage UGC

So what can you due to limit or control this sort of content? One of the easiest and most obvious ways is to hire someone with the knowledge and know-how to manage it for you. Keeping up with and finding ways to control user-generated content can be incredibly time-consuming, so giving that responsibility to experienced professionals will not only save you time but will also ensure that it’s done in a thoughtful and SEO-friendly way. Finding ways to incorporate user-generated content on your website is one of the easiest ways of managing content since it gives you complete control over the type of content that is shown. Allowing users to submit review videos to your site or to offer a testimonial of their experience are just two ways to get more authentic content onto your site.

It’s important to keep in mind that user-generated content will happen whether you like it or not. How you choose to handle it is a critical decision for a successful, sustainable business. There are plenty of services available for your business to utilize to achieve the online success you desire. Ready to get started? Contact our team today to see how we can help grow your business.


Ilya Pavlov on Unsplash