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The author

Lu Jackson

Account Director

What’s going on in the office this month? I’m encouraging (well, bullying) many of my clients to stock up on User Generated Content. Most seem to be clear about the value of user reviews in the sales process, and how they can boost conversion rates, but few are as knowledgeable about the SEO benefits.

If you can kill two birds (conversions and rankings) with one stone (UCG), it’s surely a must.

INCREASED CONVERSION RATES

Ultimately, reviews increase the chance of a consumer making a purchase as they increase a user's trust in the site, and can help answer questions and remove doubt about a product. More reviews mean more conversion, as people have a broader range of opinion to draw from.  A big string of reviews can be made more digestible for the user by picking out the most useful positive and negative reviews, as Amazon does, to provide a summary. But UCG can do so much more than that...

IMPROVED RANKINGS

Search engine spiders are hungry for unique content that is frequently updated, and user reviews are a perfect example of this. UGC can be used to enrich any bog-standard product page by simply displaying the usual manufacturer descriptions, setting it apart from the direct competition and affiliates.  Pages become more useful to customers, and the chance of achieving high rankings in the SERPS is increased.

CAPTURING NEW RANKINGS

Reviews are an increasingly important part of the purchasing process for customers.  Many will even search specifically for the product name plus the word ‘review’ or ‘rating.’ With relevant content, your site will much more likely become visible for such search terms.

INCREASED CLICK THROUGH RATES

If your review content is formatted correctly, the snippets shown in the SERPS can help to increase click through rates by as much as 10 to 20%. See how the star rating in the rich snippet below makes one result stand out from the crowd:

TARGETING THE LONG TAIL

The content which user reviews create is in addition to the core content of your site and it tends to be a completely different style.  It is important that all questions and reviews are genuine so that you are capturing the user’s natural language, i.e. what people are searching for. The fact that words and phrases used by reviewers are often the same words and phrases used by searchers increases the change of ranking. Well, for long tail searches at least.

BUT DON’T FORGET...

  • Ensure your UGC is in text form in the HTML so that it’s visible to search engines.
  • Bits of the review can appear on a number of pages on the site, but make sure the full review has a single page and URL to avoid any duplicate content issues.

Encourage UGC throughout your site to achieve the best results, get started ASAP, and then let your customers do the hard work for you. Please leave your comments either here or on Twitter - @lujackson