Google Does Not Treat User Generated Content Differently From the Main Content
What Is User-Generated Content and Why Is It Important for Businesses?
User-generated content (UGС) is any kind of content created by users of online platforms. It can be product photos, video reviews, comments mentioning a brand or a specific product, and so on. They have a positive effect on the level of loyalty of the target audience and trust in the company, which leads to an increase in the number of sales in the future.
According to the results of the research, more than a third of users shop online using search engines rather than visiting the website of a specific brand directly. And 81% of the audience checks reviews of other customers on a vendor or specialist before they make an order. Due to the Caffeine algorithm, the Google search engine gives preference to fresh and relevant content; therefore, the site will have a good chance of increasing its ranking through regular UGC publications.
According to surveys, 85% of users consider user-generated content to be more influential than that created by brands or influencers.
Besides, user-generated content will be able to ensure the growth of targeted requests. According to the research of the Dimensional Research agency, 90% of consumers say their decision to contact a company was influenced by a comment or product review online.
User-generated content helps save budget, which is crucial for a business. UGC is a powerful advertising tool that you can get absolutely for free or provide a small bonus for your clients. Also, using visual effects, most users can create high-quality, unique, and attractive content that will have a positive impact on website traffic. You do not have to spend money on professional video filming and will not incur other expenses.
By integrating user-generated content into your SEO strategy, you can significantly increase traffic and behavioral factors on your site. In the future, this will have a positive effect on the results of the resource ranking in search engines.
Тypes of User-Generated Content
1. Content from social media
Every day, users generate a large amount of content on social networks, and a high percentage are mentions of cooperation or products of a brand, comments about hotels, and specialists’ services. It can significantly increase traffic to the website of a company.
2. Reviews and comments
Whether users leave reviews on your site or third-party platforms such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, and so on, this all refers to user content.
3. Comments in blogs
It seems that blog comments are a format that suits B2C companies more than B2B. Many marketers and other professionals prioritize user reviews over researchers or field-specific articles. It helps assess how other experts consider the opinion of the company to be authoritative, and if its information is reliable and useful. Based on this data, decisions on cooperation are made.
If users share their opinions, give practical recommendations, or leave thanks on your blog, this also refers to user-generated content.
4. Video content
This format of UGC content includes GoPro videos, posts and stories on social networks, video reviews of goods published on the website, or another online platform.
It also includes live broadcasts mentioning brand names, web resources, and products.
If you do not pay to create such videos, then all this can qualify as user-generated content.
How UGC Influences SEO
1. You provide users with the relevant content
On his Reddit account, John Mueller encourages SEO specialists to post more content on the page, including UGC. It helps make the content of the page more relevant, which is positively assessed by search engines.
Updated user-generated content helps reduce the time it takes to create new targeted publications. Experts recommend generating 3-5 new publications per week to increase the amount of organic traffic and minimize financial costs for other promotional channels. Creating quality content in such volumes is problematic, so you can incorporate UGC. This way, you do not have to risk constantly testing new formats and looking for ideas, which might not resonate with your audience. With the right approach, this is practically a win-win option.
2. The ranking of the site in search results by LT key phrases increases
Long-tail keywords are KWs with low competition, for which it is easier to get high positions in the rankings of the site. At first glance, it may seem illogical to move on low-frequency queries, but they are the ones that prompt users to take action. An audience looking for data using such keywords intends to take targeted action. Read the article on the topic Long Tail Keywords: Secrets of Increasing Your Search Traffic.
By analyzing reviews, you can find out the problems of your audience, what exactly they would like to buy/order from you, as well as reduce the expenses of page promotion. Here is an example of how it works. Imagine that you are promoting a page with “eyebrow palette” products. This request is highly competitive. But if you promote a page for the keyword “pro eyebrow palette,” you can get more organic traffic without a significant investment in additional channels.
Let’s compare these two keywords using the service SemRush:
3. UGС boosts domain authority
Domain Authority (DA) is a score from the search engine developed by Moz. It shows how high a site will rank in the SERP. This tool allows you to compare the posted content. As you can see from the research above, high-quality UGC can increase engagement and page traffic, as well as reduce the bounce rate. It is a signal to search bots that the content is useful to users and can be rated highly.
In addition to bots, Google engages experts who manually review the content and provide an opinion on the reliability and usefulness of the data. User-generated content can give you extra points on both grading systems.
4. User-generated content helps shape core SEO attributes naturally
Website optimization includes the main attributes: keywords, titles, URLs. When users write their reviews, they do all the work for you, adding links and keywords themselves.
5. User-generated content supports voice search optimization
According to the results of Adobe research, 48% of respondents said they use voice search. And according to analysts, these numbers will grow every year. In the Becoming Human article dedicated to the development of artificial intelligence technology, it is revealed that Google and Bing search engines are changing their search algorithms to display the most relevant results for voice searches. After all, the presence of colloquial expressions and slang in speech makes it difficult to find the necessary information, and developers have to work on improving the technology constantly.
By analyzing user-generated content, you will be able to identify the most popular phrases and speech patterns that will help optimize the semantic kernel. In the future, this will help users find your site more often when requested. accordingly.
6. Social optimization due to user-generated content
UGC has a positive impact on SEO by optimizing social media like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms. The more actively community members share comments and generate visual content, the higher the likelihood that target users will visit the site and the lower the bounce rate. Read the related article What is a Good Bounce Rate?
What Are the Risks of Using UGC in Your SEO Strategy?
User-generated content may harm your site. The ideal situation is when users leave extremely positive reviews about the brand, but this is utopian thinking. Every brand has dissatisfied customers whose comments can ruin the reputation of the site. Naturally, search bots will not take negative reviews into account when ranking, but this will affect the website traffic.
Another risk is related to spam. Such publications can harm SEO. The worst outcome is that a resource may fall under the sanctions of search engines, which will significantly reduce its position in search results. Read more on the topic in the article Google Algorithms That Affect SEO.
If your site is allowed to post videos and images without prior moderation, you may encounter inappropriate content. These actions can also negatively affect the traffic of the resource, and in the worst case, it will be subject to the filters.
How to Properly Use UGC for SEO
In his interview on May 19, 2020, John Mueller, a Google analyst, clarified that the search engine does not differentiate between branded and user-generated content:
“Google will index all content posted to the site. After all, if it is not closed from indexing, then you want it to appear in the search results. And its content will influence the ranking results. If you have a lot of user-generated content, make sure it is of high quality and will not harm the site.”
Based on this statement, webmasters need to control any user posting severely. Here is how to optimize your UGC for maximum SEO benefits:
1. Reduce spam
Removing spam manually is often very difficult, so there are special plugins that prevent it from appearing. The most popular way is to use CAPTCHA technology. It will help protect against attacks from malicious bots and significantly reduce the number of unwanted comments and links.
Otherwise, you will have to moderate user reviews and other content formats yourself. So, you can timely prevent negative consequences from the dishonest actions of competitors.
2. Identify duplicate and inappropriate content
Although there is no penalty for duplicate content, if its amount is high, search crawlers may suspect the site of negative manipulation. This can lead to the removal of pages from the search results.
Duplicate content can occur when users post a lot of similar content as asking the same question. To prevent a large number of identical publications in the SERP, search engines choose on their own which of them is most relevant. This can cause important content you create to compete with user-generated content.
Another likely result is a decrease in organic visibility on pages with duplicate content.
Also, low-quality or inappropriate content may appear on the site, which will negatively affect the ranking results and lower the ranking of the site.
John Mueller recommends webmasters to moderate their posts as follows:
“The best solution is to block pages with UGC content. You will be able to enable indexing after you verify its quality.
To make user-generated content not available for bots, use the noindex robots meta tag.
Some sites pre-collect data on how satisfied the audience is with the quality of the service, and only then make the function of publishing reviews available. This helps avoid the majority of problems.”
It is advisable to check the reviews for uniqueness. If users post stolen content on your site and you are contacted by the owner, you have to remove it immediately. It will help you avoid the problems related to copyright infringement.
3. Use UGC attribute for URLs
Back in 2019, Google insisted on using attributes when publishing links on a site. Especially when using user-generated content. Here is what Mueller said about this:
“Many sites prohibit posting links at all, but for those who enable this possibility, we recommend using the rel = «ugc» attribute. This will signal to search bots that they are referring to user-generated content. After all, when working with UGC, you cannot fully vouch for the added URLs.”
Alternatively, you can use the rel = «nofollow» attribute.
4. Combine UGC content
When transferring comments and closing inactive streams, it is recommended to add a 301 redirect to the merged pages. Read more information in the article: 301 vs. 302 Redirects: Complete SEO Guide to Implement.
5. Generate your own UGC content
By creating your user content, you can better control the quality of your posts. The generation of publications using a branded hashtag helps increase the awareness of a company and a web resource.
Contests and giveaways will also be a great motivation to create UGC. You will be able to fully control the content and comments that will be visible to other users and search bots. Read the related article Contests and Giveaways: How to Use to Get User-Generated Content.
6. Set the publication of user reviews and reviews correctly
The presence of a dedicated plugin or online platform will demonstrate to the audience that the publications were not created upon request. The rating system for the usefulness of posts will help you see which comments users have rated the most. Use this information and analyze it to identify key phrases to improve page optimization, get feedback on the work of the resource and the company as a whole.
We recommend using the scema.org micro-markup if you allow users to leave comments so that the star rating is displayed in the snippet.
It will not affect your rankings in any way, but it will help motivate users to click through to your page. And the better the behavioral factors on the site are, the higher is the likelihood of getting a good ranking in search results.
Whether you use UGC content for your site or not, it is up to you. Consider how much the benefits outweigh the risks. You should not do this if the company is going through hard times, and the likelihood of negative comments on the site is high. In other cases, with good post moderation, you can get more traffic with minimal costs.