In order to be successful in today’s competitive world, businesses of all sizes need a killer user-generated content (UGC) strategy. In case you’re a bit unfamiliar with UGC, you’ll definitely want to give this post a thorough read.
88% of people trust online reviews by other consumers as much as they trust personal recommendations. 70% place greater emphasis on peer recommendations than professionally written copy. Product reviews by customers are trusted 12x more than marketing coming from the brand itself.
These stats can only suggest one thing: UGC is becoming more and more significant in the marketing world. If you haven’t incorporated it into your digital marketing strategy yet, there’s no better time than now to do it.
Most marketers are already well-aware of how massive of an impact UGC can bring to businesses. Especially over social media platforms, user-generated content is incredibly trusted by consumers, even affecting their purchasing decisions.
What many don’t realize, though, is the fact that UGC also plays an essential role in improving search engine optimization (SEO).
Social proof is actually one of the most crucial forms of user-generated content that boost SEO. By posting relevant, useful content that’s recommended by customers and engaged with by your target audience, you can expect Google and other engines to rank your website higher in search. This means more exposure for your brand, more organic traffic, and more conversions!
In this article, we’ll be tackling what UGC is, why it matters to brands, its different types, and examples, how it affects SEO, and how you can leverage UGC marketing to improve your eСommerce website’s search rankings.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
Table of Contents
What Is User-Generated Content?
In a nutshell, UGC is any original, brand-specific content created and published by real people on social media and other channels. It’s basically any unsponsored or unpaid social posts that customers share online to praise a brand for their product and/or service.
User-generated content can be in the form of images, videos, blog posts, social media posts, Q&A forums, testimonials, and reviews. Can you say that it’s a type of omnichannel marketing?
When you come across a TikTok video of a user raving on and on about a brand new pair of heels she just bought, that’s UGC. When a friend of yours tweets about a superb experience with an airline that he tried for the first time, that’s UGC. When you see a brand reposting Insta stories from their followers, that’s UGC.
Rather than putting forth your best efforts to promote your products and/or services on your own, you can also rely on your customers to spread the word about your eСommerce business. They’re using their social channels to tell the world how much they appreciate your offerings. And, because consumers trust their fellow consumers much more than the company, your odds of driving more sales are high.
Sure, a brand can brag about its products and/or services to entice its target audience, but the sentiment wouldn’t be as meaningful and authentic as compared to a review that comes from an actual customer. UGC fosters trust and credibility since it comes from real people, not businesses.
That’s exactly why media conglomerates and businesses across the world have now made user-generated content a top priority in their marketing strategy.
Example of UGC: Magento Marketplace
Why Is User-Generated Content So Important?
Now that you already have a clear idea of what UGC is, let’s talk about the things that make it a powerful marketing strategy for eСommerce businesses like you.
Below are six user-generated content benefits that will get your brand a step or two ahead of the competition:
UGC Establishes You as a Trustworthy Brand
Here’s a fact every company should know by now:
Customers resonate not with a brand but with another customer who’s satisfied with that brand. Their goal is to find a brand that can fulfill their needs or solve a problem.
So, when they read mostly good reviews about a certain company, they become more trusting of it. Because UGC is created by happy shoppers and brand advocates, these opinions are often viewed as genuine and unbiased. People perceive UGC as a trust signal. In the same manner, they go to their friends and family for an opinion.
Let these numbers speak for themselves:
- 93% of consumers turn to customer reviews and recommendations before making a purchase.
- Millennials trust user-generated content 50% more than any original content published by brands.
- 90% of people say authenticity is instrumental in deciding which brands they advocate.
- Instagram photos of a product influence more than 72% of buyers.
- 75% of marketers agree that UGC boosts the brand’s authenticity.
In conclusion, consumers trust user-generated content more than regular branded content.
There’s no sales pitch involved, proving it to be 100% legitimate. That’s what people are looking for.
UGC Puts Your Customers Front and Center
If you were to think about it, UGC is a win-win situation for both you and your customers.
They promote your brand for free through word-of-mouth marketing on social media and trusted review platforms, and you get to show them how much you value their opinion by reposting their content. In other words, you’re giving them the spotlight you think they deserve and a voice to freely express how they feel about you.
Plus, when your audience sees that you’re sharing posts from your customers, some of them may be tempted to give you a shoutout on their social media platforms. Trust us, that happens a lot!
Also, if your primary audience happens to be coming from the Gen Z range, user-generated content should totally be your best friend. 84% of them tend to trust brands that have actual customers, and 35% wholeheartedly believe that UGC is always more credible than any content created by the company.
No Gen Z marketing is without UGC marketing.
UGC Encourages Personalization
80% of consumers claim they’re more likely to buy from a brand that serves them with personalized content, and guess what?
You can bet on user-generated content when it comes to providing personalization!
But first, what’s the deal with personalization? Well, when done properly, personalization makes for happier customers, which can then result in increased brand loyalty and greater profits.
Understanding what resonates with your target audience is the only way to get their eyes and attention to your brand.
This is where UGC comes in.
With user-generated content, you can enhance your marketing strategy by assessing the type of content your followers are sharing from their social accounts. You’ll be able to repurpose marketing materials that can truly elicit a positive response from your prospective and existing customers.
What’s more, marketers understand that UGC boosted by personalization can lead to higher conversion rates. Brands that will achieve the greatest success in leveraging user-generated content are those that ensure their content is eye-catching, engaging, and of course, relatable to the audience they’re trying to win over.
UGC Expands Social Media Reach
UGC campaigns and social media platforms go hand-in-hand and complement each other perfectly. By combining their forces, you’ll be seeing your social media reach growing like never before. You’ll be doing your eСommerce business a huge favor.
Increasing your social traffic through a compelling UGC campaign can bring you tons of benefits — from a higher follower base and increased brand awareness to extended reach and more web traffic. Not to mention, it can boost social metrics such as likes, comments, shares, and retweets.
UGC Helps You Gain Audience Insights
Engaging with your followers consistently and analyzing the content they post about your brand enables you to gain a deeper understanding of who they are and what keeps them engaged. You’ll know what they like most about your brand and what doesn’t seem to float their boat.
All the insights you’ve gathered, especially when you apply the principles of a data-driven content marketing strategy, can help generate more qualified leads and sales. At the same time, you can work on the products and/or services highlighted by your customers. Always bear in mind that constructive criticisms are meant to motivate you to tweak whatever needs tweaking.
UGC Is More Cost-Effective Than Influencer Marketing
Believe it or not, hiring an influencer can cost you an average of millions of dollars. How crazy is that? Unless you’re a multibillion-dollar business owner who could care less about burning a colossal hole in your pocket, you might as well go for it if you’re aiming to get those sales numbers up.
Then again, why bother spending a fortune when you can always count on your customers and brand advocates to do the advertising for you? The cost? Very little to nothing!
With user-generated content, you don’t have to worry about shelling out a big chunk of money to hire a creative agency anymore. Offering reward points isn’t necessary either. It’s no doubt one of the most cost-effective ways to scale your eСommerce business while introducing a new marketing tactic to the mix.
All you have to do is connect with the most valuable people in your business: your customers. They’ll catch themselves smiling from ear to ear when one of their favorite brands not only notices them but features their content.
What Are the Different Types of User-Generated Content?
As mentioned somewhere in this post, UGC can come in various forms. This section will be focusing on each of them, or at least, the most common ones.
Social Media Content
Every day, thousands and thousands of people go to social media to flaunt an item they’ve just purchased or a service that really impressed them. They either post an image of it on Facebook along with a positive caption, tweet about it, or show it off on their IG Stories.
Regardless of how your customers proclaim their love for your products and/or services, however, what matters the most is that they tag you. That way, you can repost it as social proof, giving others, particularly those who aren’t unfamiliar with your business, the reassurance that you’re a high-quality brand.
Gone are the days when blogging was merely considered as online journaling. Today, blogging has turned into a profession, with bloggers earning a living by promoting a business, making an honest review of the products or services they offer, or creating “how to” tutorials.
Imagine one day stumbling upon a blog post where your latest product is the topic. That will make you really happy, won’t it? Now, imagine that it was written by a prominent blogger and shared on their social media. That’s a surefire way to increase your followers and boost your sales!
Reviews & Testimonials
Think of customer reviews as the internet’s version of word-of-mouth marketing. They’re there to help interested prospects learn more about the brand before they can even head over to the store. Their authenticity is what makes people trust them more than branded ads.
There’s a vast number of platforms available for consumers to leave their reviews regarding a business. Aside from the company’s website, users can go to third-party sites like Yelp, BBB (Better Business Bureau), Trip Advisor, Trustpilot, Amazon, and Angies List.
In terms of video content, YouTube and Instagram are the places to be. How come? Simple: Each month, there are two billion users on YouTube and one billion on Instagram.
With these outstanding numbers, both platforms have become the top sources for user-generated content. It doesn’t mean that they’re the only platforms though, as you can still count on others like Facebook and TikTok.
Let’s say you’re on YouTube just browsing through some videos out of boredom, and you see one wherein a satisfied customer talks highly about a brand. You’d certainly wish you were that brand, wouldn’t you?
It’s not an uncommon practice for brands nowadays to post surveys before launching a new product or service in the market. That’s because they first want to gain a better understanding of the needs of their target market.
Based on the results gathered from their surveys, brands tend to become more efficient at catering to the needs of their prospects and customers.
In the world of marketing, a case study is used as social proof.
A detailed quantitative and qualitative study of a specific product, it’s what marketers use to provide potential buyers the context to determine whether making a purchase is a choice they won’t regret.
When a customer of yours posts an exhaustive review explaining the features of your newly released product, along with its pros and cons, you can use the content to influence prospective buyers.
Case studies somehow stand out from the other types of user-generated content in a way that they appear to be more formal and educational. Although we must admit that not everyone will read such long-form content from start to finish, we can assure you that it will increase audience reach.
How Does UGC & SEO Relate to Each Other?
As you may already be aware, Google algorithms constantly evolve just so the search engine can serve its users in the best possible way. It always seeks to offer its searchers the most valuable, relevant content.
In fact, Google has emphasized that improving SEO and growth requires your content to possess the following traits:
- Trustworthy and original
- Useful and informative
- High-quality instead of just keyword-filled
- More valuable than that of the competitors
- Engaging, appealing, and interactive
In most cases, the issue has to do with branded content being too promotional, as opposed to being customer-centric. People don’t also find it as engaging, authentic, and reliable as UGC.
Since user-generated content is driven by real-life customer experiences, it adds a realistic value to the content; hence, satisfying Google’s concept of SEO-friendly content.
How Does UGC Help Your SEO Campaign?
Google gets smarter with each passing day. It’s now capable of recognizing natural language, understanding user intent, and identifying content that will engage humans. It favors websites that consistently post high-quality content, rewarding them with good rankings.
More often than not, these are sites that infuse UGC into their SEO strategies. You’re about to find out why as we discuss in detail several reasons that make user-generated content a vital tool for search engine optimization:
1. UGC Implements Basic SEO
Among the basic attributes to consider when we’re talking about SEO are keywords, backlinks, internal links, and titles.
This is the part where we tell you about the role user-generated content plays in this aspect.
Because online reviews and testimonials are typically centered on the products or services offered by a brand, customers would use phrases and links associated with them, thus boosting SEO. It’s safe to say that UGC greatly helps shape SEO using relevant keywords and links.
2. UGC Helps Rank Long-Tail Keywords
Keywords are the backbone of SEO. They’re what people use when searching for information online. And, the longer and more specific they are, the higher the odds are of these searchers converting.
For instance, women planning to buy running shoes would normally type in keywords like “best running shoes for women,” “Nike shoes for running,” or “stores nearby that sell running shoes.” Sites that target any of these keywords would be the first to show up on the search results, giving them the upper hand over those that don’t use the phrases.
Though long-tail keywords have less search volume traffic, they’re known to have a higher conversion value as they’re more precise. Targeting them makes it easier for you to rank, allowing you to gain more traffic organically.
By collecting UGC, you’ll discover what your customers love about your business. You’ll gain valuable insights into what they frequently search for, as well as their pain points. You’ll be able to understand what type of long-term keywords or search queries they make from which you can craft an SEO strategy around those keywords.
3. UGC Leads to Fresh & Valuable Content
Content creation is a major part of search engine optimization. Just ask Google. It loves high-quality content so much that it has made it a top-ranking factor.
The more quality content you post regularly on your site, the higher you’ll rank. The higher you rank, the more traffic, leads, and sales you generate. That’s the power of content.
Pumping out new content can get really challenging, especially if you have a business to run. Unless you have a content team, then that shouldn’t be worrisome.
If not, you can always turn to your loyal customers and use the content they’ve created about your brand. UGC helps you constantly publish content on your site that bots can crawl and index.
Posting authentic and reliable UGC that benefits your audience is a solid ranking factor. You give Google the notion that you’re all about providing searchers with content that answers their questions and solves their pain points.
4. UGC Establishes Credibility & Relevance
It goes without saying that user-generated content is the most trustworthy and genuine form of content, with nine out of 10 users trusting customer reviews and testimonials to make a purchase decision.
And, it’s common knowledge that reputable brands attract more potential buyers. Once your prospects go over those remarkable reviews about you, they’ll perceive you as a business they can trust to tend to their needs. You won’t find it hard to turn them into customers.
Not only that, but these forms of user-generated content can also help take your search rankings to the top. Aside from keywords and quality content, testimonials and reviews are also ranking factors.
Take Google Reviews, for instance. Every time your customers leave a review to your Google Business Profile, that review will automatically appear on your listing for everyone to see, including Google. If it sees mostly praises, the search engine will commend you with a higher local search ranking.
5. UGC Boosts Social Signals
While there’s still zero evidence showing the direct impact of social media engagement to SEO, there are signs confirming that social signals help boost SEO by driving more traffic.
With user-generated content mostly found on social channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok, you’ll absolutely want to leverage UGC marketing.
Besides equipping you with fresh social media content to publish almost every day, UGC can increase social engagement, brand mentions, and social media listening. It’s also a great way to encourage your community to interact with your content by liking, commenting, and sharing.
6. UGC Lowers Bounce Rate
A bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors who exit your site without bothering to explore the rest of your pages. A high rate tells you that many of your audience aren’t so thrilled with what they see on your website, causing them to leave quickly.
The good news is, bounce rates aren’t meant to be permanent. There are a couple of ways to reduce them, and if you’re guessing that sharing UGC is one of them, you definitely got that right.
People need a reason to trust a brand. If they’re not interested to browse other pages within your website, it might be because it lacks important trust elements. They might want to read what others are saying about your business first before they can navigate entirely.
Including user-generated content in the forms of images, videos, and testimonials should be your best bet here. Doing so can leave a lasting impression on your visitors, lower your bounce rate, and even keep them coming back for more.
Sometimes, it only takes a user-generated content website to give your business the boost it badly needs.
Try asking for marketing tips from some of the biggest players in your industry, and we’re pretty sure they’ll mention UGC. After all, consumers are always on the hunt for authentic sources.
Shay Berman is the founder and president of Digital Resource, a full-service digital marketing agency located in South Florida. Shay’s clear-cut approach to internet marketing has driven his clients’ businesses to new heights and landed Digital Resource on the Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies in America for two consecutive years. Digital Resource provides custom solutions in social media marketing, search engine optimization, responsive website design, digital advertising, and more.