User-generated content (UGC) is exactly the thing that marketers need to prove that their company’s products are great. Most marketers already know to use UGC – especially UGC that’s shared over social media – to generate trust among their customers and create a greater impact on their customers’ purchasing decisions. UGC, in the eyes of a consumer audience, is social proof that promotes a brand’s message and encourages stronger client relationships.
What plenty of marketers aren’t aware of, though, is that UGC can improve a company’s search engine optimization (SEO) efforts as well. UGC is crucial to generating peer recommendations. Peer recommendations for UGC increase as companies publish a greater amount of useful and authentic content that resonates with an audience. And the more a brand’s content is engaged with and recommended by other users, the more likely it becomes for search engines to rank a company’s site more highly on its search engine results pages (SERPs).
The value of SEO can’t be overstated — the wrong SEO strategies, though, won’t do much to boost a brand’s content higher up a search engine’s SERPs. What’s more is that search engine optimization has changed dramatically in recent years, which means that brands need to use the latest and most current strategies to improve their rankings. To that end, let’s take a quick look at how brands can take advantage of their UGC to improve their rankings among SERPs and better leverage that UGC to improve their SEO efforts.
Spark keyword-centric conversations among consumers
There are a few different methods that websites may use to approach their UGC. Certain sites have website managers and moderators that generate conversation topics for discussions among users, while others tend to sit back and let their audience talk about what interests them most. Although both methods have their merits, the former approach makes it easier to solicit discussions from a consumer audience about topics that relate heavily to a brand’s set of target keywords.
Using website managers and moderators to come up with topics for discussion themselves gives a brand control over the direction of conversations on their website. When managers and moderators can steer a discussion in the direction they see fit, they can generate more buzz around keywords that are important building blocks to their sellers’ purchasing journey online. Otherwise, a consumer audience may easily get off-topic and discuss topics that are neither relevant to a set of target keywords nor meaningful to a brand and its UGC.
It’s essential that a brand uses its team of website managers or moderators to steer user discussions away from non-relevant topics and, instead, toward topics relevant to target keywords. Companies can, for example, consider generating a larger number of social media posts that center around brand-centric issues and sharing videos and other types of UGC.
This strategy becomes exponentially easier when brands decide to outsource content creation, work and rely on writers and content creators from the outside, considering that the process of hiring content creators tends to be quite expensive. Companies may consider investing in project management and collaboration software that comes with critical features like web-based centralized storage for project files widgets to share images and files with team members, no matter where they’re based. There are many freelance writers and content creators who are more than capable of taking a regular workload and delivering quality UGC, so long as a project management software solution is in place to organize their progress and activities.
Solicit UGC from outside contributors and influencers
Brands should be mindful to encourage the most talented and well-liked contributors and outside social media and content creation influencers to share their company’s UGC. Not all contributors and outside influencers are created equal, and some of them are more likely to provide value to your website and its UGC than others. The very best contributors can generate a larger volume of content that’s authentic, relevant, and likable, which is more likely to reflect well on your brand and improve your rankings among your target SERPs.
It’s recommended that you build relationships with top-performing contributors and outside influences to generate the best content possible. This content is guaranteed to keep adding value to your site and also affords the influencers with whom you work an opportunity to help them build their brand and get their name out in the process. You may even consider encouraging the relevant influencers and contributors with whom you work to share their content so that they can expedite the process of generating more buzz around their name and their content.
Brands should keep in mind that influencer and contributor marketing is a relatively new concept that can be frightening to certain companies. This is primarily because entrusting your message to others can be somewhat of a risk. However, the current digital environment encourages the targeting of niche demographics with entertaining and relevant posts that relatable voices can deliver. It’s therefore crucial that your brand spends the appropriate amount of time vetting and hand-picking only the most talented and trustworthy influencers and contributors, even if, at the end of the day, they are communicating your brand message with their own amateur content.
Reward users that provide valuable content
Last but not least is the importance of rewarding users that provide your brand with valuable UGC that benefits your consumer audience. It’s not uncommon for some companies to share UGC simply because they want to be helpful or are trying to generate more notice around their brand message. However, your company stands to benefit from its UGC even more if you provide the proper rewards to users that generate valuable content.
Before you bemoan the idea of spending lots of money simply to encourage users to generate their own UGC, remember that you can motivate your own customers to contribute their own content. For example, some brands may choose to hold a contest for people who contribute social media stories or videos and reward the best contributor with a gift card — in this case, you don’t even need to spend any money in the first place. Certain users may be motivated to share their content if you simply give them a shout out on your company blog or social media platform, too.
The value of SEO cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, the wrong SEO strategies won’t help much. It doesn’t help that search engine optimization has changed dramatically in recent years. Fortunately, strategies such as soliciting discussions about keyword-relevant topics from your consumer audience, encouraging talented contributors to share their content, and rewarding users to provide their own amateur content can improve your search engine ranks as well as your SEO over the long term.