Shimon Sandler

Leveraging User-Generated Content

According to Forrester Research, User-generated content (UGC) is being created by approximately one-quarter of online consumers. In my opinion, UGC can be used as an SEO tactic, and can take the form of product reviews, discussion boards, comments on blogs, etc.

Besides being a way for big brands to engage with their consumers, UGC can also add relevant content to a webpage, thereby optimizing the content for Search. There are several methods that User Generated Content can boost SEO. Did you ever wonder which type of UGC carries the most trust?

The trust factor of UGC can be seen by the chart below. Interestingly, an online review by a blogger has the lowest trust rank.


Methods that User Generated Content can boost SEO:

Onsite optimization:
1. Product reviews will definitely add relevant content to your webpages.
2. However, uploading video (Butterfinger UGC campaign) will not.
3. JetBlue enables travelers to share their story.
4. Ebay has a wiki.
5. Media sites like CNET and enable comments on articles to solicit feedback from readers.
6. Companies have initiated corporate blogs, like General Motors’ FastLane blog, and Wells Fargo started their own mini blog network.
7. And, let’s not forget blog comments. They are great. I love’m. Whether they disagree, agree, or just have something to add to the conversation ( except of course for spam).

Offsite optimization:
1. Review Sites like ReviewMe, Sponsored Reviews, and PayPerPost are useful for generating buzz, and links.
2. Other sites like CurrentTV add branding value, but do nothing for SEO.
3. Just recruit bloggers like Vespa did.
4. Some advertisers are getting their own MySpace profile like Honda.
5. Leverage your own UGC community. Reward participation, even if they say things you don’t like. Respond with appropriate product and service changes — and thank them for the advice.
6. Consider social networking sites like Digg.

For companies concerned about brand or reputation management there are services and/or software that allows for monitoring consumer generated content regarding your brand. Nielsen BuzzMetrics, and Cymfony collect and analyze data. Or, Netpinions can be used to monitor over 35,000 discussion boards and forums. Alternately, you can use a simple tactic such as Technorati, or an automated Google Alert.

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  1. User generated content is used for SEO but I don’t think it’ll really help you if your trying to sell products, because its a younger demographic using social networking sites.

  2. Most real “unique” user generated content is located on forums. With forums, you typically have 90% or more of the content being generated by the users. I run several successful forums myself like Sprint Users, Cruise Line Fans, and Earners Forum. I also blog often about forums and user generated content at my blog.

  3. Yeah, sure, user generated content won’t help sell products. Tell that to Amazon.

  4. I agree with Butterslinger, although social networks seem to be spreading to older population lately

  5. I think that it will eventually become one of those things where if you don’t have it you will start to lose people. Sort of like online banking now. Before it was a way to entice people to your bank but now, if you don’t have it, you are losing out on a lot of potential customers. Once the advertising industry really figures out how to harness the words of the masses, it will become a must.



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