One of the main drawbacks to SEO is the amount of time and effort required to rank above your competitors. Google’s search engine tends to prioritize sites that consistently produce new and relevant content. The issue becomes then, how much content can be realistically produced before your time and money are ill-spent. One potential answer is putting your customers to work for you.
We will discuss 3 common types of user-generated content:
- Consumer Reviews
- Blog Comments
- Social Media
When I think of user-generated content, reviews are the first thing that comes to mind. No matter what type of business, consumers love seeing reviews from other happy customers before making purchase decisions. Google and Yelp are two popular review platforms that consumers use to rate and review a business. For SEO purposes, since Google is the engine we are primarily trying to establish trust with, I would encourage focusing review efforts there. While Yelp and other listing style websites should not be ignored, and it does integrate nicely with Bing’s search engine, Google will continue to prioritize its own service over Yelp.
When someone searches “best SEO companies near me” Google will take into account the user’s location and cross-reference it with business reviews to deliver a list view of SEO companies sorted by review score along with the option to filter out results below a specified score. Google also ranks local businesses on their prominence. Via the Google My Business support page,
“Prominence refers to how well known a business is. Some places are more prominent in the offline world, and search results try to reflect this in local ranking. […] Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business, from across the web, like links, articles, and directories. Google review count and review score factor into local search ranking. More reviews and positive ratings can improve your business’ local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so search engine optimization (SEO) best practices apply.”
Reviews aside, Google My Business offers many features that significantly impact your domain’s visibility, so if you haven’t already it would be a good idea to set up a profile. Having an optimized GMB profile with positive reviews may also improve your click-through-rate.
Whether or not to allow commenting on blogs has been endlessly debated by top marketing professionals. Due to the nature of the internet, managing a comment section can get quite messy. With all the spam-bots and internet trolls, the number of low-quality comments will likely outweigh the positive, impactful ones. While having a comment section or not isn’t a direct ranking factor in Google’s algorithm, there are many positives in allowing comments. Allowing users to comment and engage with your site will give a better idea of what readers are taking away from your content and to better understand what additional content they would like to see in the future. Comments are also considered content on your page. Google considers the amount of content and keywords when ranking a page, so if your comment section adds more keywords and a few thousand to the word count it can really beef up a page with otherwise sparse original content.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are some of the most visited sites in the world. It would only make sense to attract consumers to your site through these platforms. When it comes to SEO, social media is important, but in a less direct manner. Google has confirmed that it does not consistently index social media websites and therefore does not use it as a ranking factor. What does impact SEO, is the increase in traffic, brand awareness, and user engagements. While it may not be indexed by Google, a link to your website creates another entrance for users to get to your website. In a similar fashion, having a presence on social media platforms can increase your brand awareness and get people talking about your business. We’ve already confirmed that prominence is a ranking factor. With Facebook having 2.6 billion monthly users, that is an audience too large to ignore. All major social media sites have a feature allowing users to share content with their local social network. Using visual content such as images, videos, and infographics for social media attention can be a powerful way to reach new audiences without paying for ads.
While leveraging user-engagement can be an effective way to improve website traffic and content freshness, it isn’t for everyone. Managing several social media, blog, and review platforms is time-consuming, so make sure the time invested isn’t outweighing the benefits. Prioritize engaging your audience in a way your competitors are not. Optimizing your website should still be the primary concern, so set up a proposal for your website today.