It can be intimidating and frustrating when you’re told you need to boost SEO efforts. One needs extensive knowledge of effective keywords, the target audience, competitor analysis, website optimization, backlinks and more. And even if you take the time to perfect and implement these practices, you can’t guarantee your organic traffic will be where you want it to be.
But there’s an easy solution to this: Leverage the voices of your consumers through user-generated content (UGC).
Think about it this way: Search engines are very effective in driving purchases for brands. When consumers want to shop and buy something, many start an online search, whether via Google, Amazon or social media.
Specifically, shoppers use social media for inspiration, and Google for research and product comparisons; sometimes, it’s a product description page. In every case, UGC helps increase your brand and product visibility wherever shoppers are searching, online or offline.
Here’s my tip to brands and retailers: UGC boosts SEO in a multitude of ways, and there are several different types that can be utilized to improve SEO and effectively extend your digital shelf.
Ratings and Reviews
The first and most effective way is with product ratings and reviews. According to our survey of 500 brands and retailers, improved SEO performance is one of the top business benefits of ratings and reviews, with 63% of them relying on them to meet SEO goals.
Search engines love UGC. Google’s SEO ranking criteria highly favors fresh content, and with today’s always-on commerce, shoppers are leaving reviews every single day. In their reviews they tend to leave long-tail keywords or phrases that match what other shoppers are searching for. So when someone else is searching for a product using the same keywords, product pages with those reviews will appear in search results.
Simply put, more reviews give you a higher ranking, which increases your conversion and boosts your sales.
Implementing this on your website allows customers and prospects to leave questions about a product right on the page. Your team can then answer the question, helping not only that shopper but anyone in the future with the same question.
We’ve found a Q&A function can achieve a 98% average conversion lift for brands and retailers. And just like with reviews, they produce keyword-rich content that matches shoppers’ searches, thus increasing organic traffic.
They also organically provide content for your FAQ page. There, you can compile the most common and necessary customer questions with your brand’s answers and solutions all in one place. This is not only an incredibly useful customer service tool but also provides content for Google to rank in search results.
This includes authentic photos and videos that shoppers have taken wearing or using a product. This type of content plays just as big of a role in SEO as text. Google returns images and videos for approximately 25% of search queries.
Alongside ratings and reviews and questions and answers, be sure to showcase plenty of your customers’ photos and videos on your product pages and social feeds for search engines to pull from.
Not only is visual content a huge help with SEO, it’s what consumers want in today’s connected marketplace. They want to see content from other shoppers because it’s considered more authentic and relatable than professional photography. Also, seeing someone just like themselves using or wearing a product helps them more easily envision themselves doing the same thing.
They love it so much that visitors to websites that include UGC galleries spend 90% more time on the site. Google loves that – the more time shoppers spend on your site helps boost your SEO rating.
When you’re pulling visual content from social media sites, you can also include the user’s caption along with the photo or video. These are often full of those valuable long-tail keywords. If you want to display even more, the comments on those photos and videos are likely full of keyword opportunities as well.
Organic search is by far the biggest source of ecommerce traffic. To capture that traffic, you need an effective UGC strategy. Because while UGC has a multitude of benefits and uses, SEO is one of the best. By our count, there are 24 ways that UGC boosts SEO.
Implementing even one form of UGC on your product pages and beyond will work wonders for your organic traffic, but all three together is an unbeatable force. Featuring this content not only ensures you stand out in search, but provides shoppers with the inspiration to make purchases.
Zarina Lam Stanford is CMO of Bazaarvoice