Consumers are your best advocates. The great thing about this is that they also create free content for you — almost every day. These are called user-generated content (UGC).
Some forms of user-generated content are reviews, comments, testimonials, YouTube reviews and social shares or posts. It works best as a marketing tool because it can be likened to word-of-mouth, which is the most trusted form of marketing.
Studies have shown that 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as they do friends.
In a nutshell, UGC makes consumers more confident in making decisions. Not only does it inspire other users to test your product or services, but it’s also an effective way to boost search engine rankings.
Users trust search engines, and claiming the top spot on the results will tell users that your site is a credible source. Note that 71 percent of search traffic clicks (even amounting to as high as 92 percent) have been captured on the first page of Google.
User-generated reviews matter. This is why you have to be proactive in creating a way to encourage your clients to leave feedback as well as have a process that can monitor the content they leave. Instead of promoting your business on your own, you are letting others do it for you. Whether they’re celebrities, influencers, experts, or happy customers.
Types of User-Generated Content
- Customer Reviews and Testimonials. These are customer reviews that consumers write on your website or other online listings like Yelp, Google My Business, and TripAdvisor.).
- Blog Posts. These are articles that users post on their own websites. If your product or brand gets featured in the form of a “how-to” blog post of a product review post, then that’s considered as UGC, too.
- Social Media Post. These are photos, videos and texts that people post and share on social media platforms. A UGC is images or messages users post about you.
- Video Reviews. User-generated YouTube video reviews are now a huge part of the buying process with 52 percent of users saying that they watch product videos to help them make the right decision. This is also applicable to Instagram Stories, Facebook videos and other video hosting platforms.
- Forum Comments. Most people head over to forums, like Quora or Reddit to do research on a particular product. Some of the more popular topics revolve around health, beauty and tech. If a
user is interested in a brand, they will likely go to these forums and see what a collective group of people is saying about it.
The Connection Between UGC and SERP Ranking
Here’s how user-generated content can boost your rankings and conversion.
UGC Provides Instant Social Proof
Social proof is a psychological effect in which users rely on the wisdom of the many to make the best possible decisions. It’s a way of making your business more credible and trustworthy by showcasing what past clients think of it. It also allows potential clients to know what your brand is about and confirm it through existing customers.
UGC Helps SEO
Users now head to Google as soon as they need information about something. This makes Google very important for brands. The higher you rank in the search engine results pages (SERPS) the more traffic your website gets.
User-generated content counts as fresh content, and search engines like Google love it. Whether you’re showcasing snippets of user reviews on your site frequently or you have other sites mentioning your brand where they link back to your site, these updates will increase the relevance of your website. In turn, search engines will be recommending your website more to searchers.
It Naturally Increases Your Website Rankings and Authority
Website authority or Domain Authority (as popularized by Moz) is a search engine grading system that predicts how likely a website will rank on search engine results pages.
When Google prioritizes your website, more people will click on it. Since UGC engages users and urges them to try your products and services, visitors will stay on your site longer, and Google will view this as a signal of credibility.
With search engines noticing the growing popularity of your website, it will then see this as an increase in authority in your field and your website.
UGC Helps Stretch Your Marketing Funds
Aside from comments and reviews, UGC can also be in the form of social media posts. Once a user raves about your product on social media, your brand is automatically seen by their followers, friends, family and acquaintances.
When someone shares a post, then you’re automatically exposed to another set of audiences. More people will discover your business and learn more about your brand. Chances are, people
who are in need of your products or services will contact you. This makes UGC one of the most cost-effective ways of gaining exposure.
Then there are user-generated visuals. These are photos and videos that your users have taken and are posting on social media. Not only do you get free publicity, but you also get free visuals. The great thing about this is that if a user takes professional-looking shots of your products or creates professional-looking videos, you can ask permission from the user and post it on your website or social media account.
UGC Boosts Customer Acquisition
Reviews and other social proofs are more influential on purchasing choices than traditional marketing. This is because UGC is free and non-incentivized, which means people are most likely raving about the product or service because they’re moved by them. They don’t have anything to gain by leaving reviews, so more people trust it.
It Increases Sales and Promotes Brand Values
UGC isn’t only useful for product discovery and lead generation, it’s also effective in sales conversion.
Ratings and reviews influence consumers’ buying decisions. A research by Moz shows that when making a major purchase, online reviews impact 67.7 percent of the respondents’ purchasing choices. Meanwhile, 54 percent agreed that online reviews are a crucial part of their decision-making process.
Companies need to take user-generated reviews seriously. Building a strong base for favorable reviews will help you boost your credibility as well as protect your brand against hurtful reviews in the future.
Here are some tactics you can use to inspire more UGC for your business:
- Prompt people to post photos on social media
People are always happy to share and post on their social media. It only takes some encouragement from you, so make sure that you express your excitement to see their posts.
- Show appreciation to people who share UGC
When people post, make sure that you acknowledge them. Show them that you’re seeing what they’re posting and what they’re saying is valuable. This can be shown through reposts, leaving a comment, or liking their posts.
- Reward them for sharing UGC
One of the most effective ways to inspire them to post UGCs is by giving rewards and prizes. You can host a photo contest or a writing contest. You can also inspire their creativity and enthusiasm by featuring their posts on their website or a marketing campaign. It can also lead more of their own followers to join, in the hopes of winning as well.
User-generated content is very effective; more consumers rely on it, so it’s important to know which form of UGC you want to nurture and use.
Make sure that you develop a process of generating and monitoring them, too. This falls in the realm of online reputation management, and you can get an internet marketing company to professionally manage this for you along with your other online marketing initiatives.
Also, make sure that you ask permission before showcasing and using a UGC (photos, videos, blogs, etc.) for your own projects.
By Paul Staten
Paul Staten is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO/Managing Director of SEO Werkz. The first business he created is a computer repair company that still serves clients today, 15 years after its creation. SEO Werkz was featured in the Inc 500 list of 2016, and Inc 5000 in 2017 and 2018.