What if I told you there was a way to acquire free promotion for your website with no gimmicks? Sounds like an advertisement doesn’t it? But by hosting user-generated content (UGC) on your website and social media account you can gather free promotion that also sends positive signals back to Google. It’s having your cake and eating it, too.

User-generated content is exactly what it sounds like, content other people post relating to your products or business. User-generated content may come in many forms, the most familiar being:

  • Guest blogging
  • Testimonials
  • Online reviews
  • Forum discussions
  • Comments sections (yes, even Youtube comments have an effect on SEO)
  • Wiki pages
  • Social media shares/ mentions  

All quality content impacts search rankings and all of the key performance indicators associated with it. UGC most notably provides leads for your business and can help grow your community as a result. Check out these five benefits to user-generated content that you ignore.

5 User-Generated Content Benefits

1. Trustworthy

Online reviews impact your organic rankings in one way or another. Whether Google factors online reviews into its algorithm is irrelevant when online reviews represent a major link in your conversion funnel.

One survey from 2016 found that 85% of respondents thought online reviews were trustworthy. Research from Econsultancy found that 61% of online shoppers read a review before making a purchase. 63% of shoppers also reported they were more likely to purchase from a website with reviews.

User-generated content provides an objective evaluation of your product or service that no amount of advertising would be able to do. Get brand loyalists to write reviews or testimonials for your business to post on your website. Building trust among the community translates to increased engagement and awareness.  

2. Increases Awareness

User-generated content increases your brand exposure over user social circles. Since this exposure is free, it will increase your return on investment.

You could significantly increase your brand exposure by hiring guest bloggers to post on your website or contacting influencers to endorse your brand. These individuals will drive a greater quantity of traffic to your website, as well as more relevant traffic. This traffic will bring better leads because they are already very active in your niche.

A solid review from an influencer with a large following will increase your conversions and make your products appear more desirable. Plus, it’s much more cost-effective to hire a freelance guest blogger than a full-time content specialist.

3. Interactive

Inserting a forum or comments section on your website makes your website interactive. Users who post on your website and engage in forums will stay on your website longer, making them more likely to make a purchase.

Hosting promotions, polls, and contests that encourages engagement will increase your social shares and brand exposure. User-generated content is also more relatable than branded content and social shares equal positive signals to search engines.

4. SEO Organic Benefits  

All of these benefits contribute to positive key performance indicators for your domain. Comments sections, testimonials and reviews give you a better understanding of your consumers and the keywords they search with.

Sites with comments sections are also indexed higher than sites without a comments section. A survey by Search Engine Land found that domains with a comments section enabled were indexed 200% more with a 250% broader keyword reach and 200% more organic traffic. Your website will also be indexed for the key phrases that users write in comments section, which are thematically linked to your keyword strategy as is.

Guest blogs and social media shares also present valuable backlink opportunities. Best of all, these links will most like be “follow” links increasing the link juice pouring through your domain.

5. Fosters Niche Community

Finally, hosting user-generated content allows you to engage with a niche community or your target audience. This builds trust within the community and builds connections, which will be valuable for your social media and backlink strategies.

Get connected with like-minded individuals who actively participate with brands in your niche. Acquiring positive user-generated content also positions your brand as a thought leader in your niche.

How to Promote User-Generated Content

User-generated content can come in many forms and you can actively promote UGC through polls and engaging questions over social media. Producing quality content will also encourage comments and debate on your webpage.

Be sure to host promotions consistently so that you can build anticipation toward the next promotion. Consider opening forums on your website and enabling comments section, even if they are hosted on a separate webpage.

Research has shown that hosting UGC in videos, images and social media shares has a much higher return on investment than through long-form blog posts.

Be sure to always honor feedback and engage with individuals who engage with your brand. Promote UGC over social media to encourage further participation. Don’t fear negative feedback because negative feedback allows you the opportunity to improve your customer experience.