Optimizing your e-commerce website for search engines can be grueling, time-devouring, brain-draining work. At times, you may feel like you spend more time blogging, doing keyword research, and tweaking your website than actually selling stuff.
It’s not easy work, especially if you’re doing all the heavy lifting.
But there’s a silver lining: you don’t have to do all the work yourself, nor do you necessarily need to invest in some high-end agency to do it for you.
E-commerce stores of all sorts are getting a boost from passive SEO efforts fueled by user-generated content. Let’s explore what this looks like for a website and how you take advantage of its benefits:
What Is User-Generated Content?
Content creation can take up the bulk of your SEO efforts, especially if you’re relying on blog traffic and social media audiences. But you should know that your customers are likely creating content on your behalf (for free!), and all you need to do is find out how to tap into it.
User-generated content (UGC) is the collective term for anything related to your business that your customers create for you and is made publicly available. This type of content usually takes the form of reviews, testimonials, unboxing videos, product demonstration videos, blog posts that backlink to your website or products, photos that show people using your product, and social media mentions, shares, likes, and comments.
In other words, you have people promoting your brand in a variety of ways, even if you didn’t ask them to. Not only can this be a powerful form of marketing (Yotpo found that people who look at UGC convert 161% more than folks who don’t), it can also give you a boost in the SEO department.
User-generated content is social proof. Just like you would heed someone’s advice that a route was blocked by a fallen tree and should redirect your course, UGC gives you insider knowledge of something you didn’t previously know and can influence your decision.
You can say your products are great, but many people are more likely to believe third-party users that have experienced your products for themselves and have no stake in your success. Because of this level of authenticity, UGC is responsible for increasing website traffic, clicks, and ultimately purchases – all of which can positively impact your search rankings.
How to Leverage Third Party Content for E-Commerce Success
UGC is everywhere your brand lives, from social media channels to Google, even on your website, if you’ve opened up comments and reviews.
It’s there for the taking, if you know how to take it. Here are a few easy ways you can take advantages of user-generated content for your own benefit:
Schema.org has been around for years, but many e-commerce websites are still not leveraging its unique abilities and the value it brings to search engine optimization.
This platform is used by Google, Yahoo, and Bing to display additional information, called Rich Snippets, within search results that can help fuel organic traffic. It was developed as a standard way to structure data within a website and make it easier for search bots to crawl your content.
You can learn more about schema.org’s unique language and how to leverage it for your product pages here. You can also set up your website to include user reviews and star ratings to pop up in search results alongside your business listing. Seeing a testimonial for testament to your product can instill trust in prospective buyers and encourage them to click through to your product page.
Your customers or potential customers will would be happy to share your products on social media – if you make it easy for them.
Social sharing has become a common practice for users. They like showing their friends and family their unique finds. They like recommending products to others. And your products can be among them with a little encouragement and ease of sharing.
To do this, make sure every product page has social media share buttons that allow for one-click sharing on users’ social networks. Companies like AddThis.com and ShareThis.com offer free tools that make it easy to gain social shares with one-click features and grow your audience. These tools are also optimized for mobile devices to help you reap the benefits of both digital worlds.
Testimonials and Reviews
Collecting user reviews and testimonials deserve a place in your strategy for two reasons:
First, it gives you an inside look at what people think about your company and products. This is a direct connection to your buyers and you can use their feedback to improve your services.
And second, you can share this content with others to build trust and increase sales.
Consumers love reading reviews. In fact, over 88% of buyers consider an online review or testimonial as legitimate as a recommendation from a friend or family member. This form of UGC can produce higher website traffic and healthier conversions, which can lead to a bump in search rankings.
Use Schema.org to incorporate reviews into your search listing. Also, you can sign up for the free Google Customer Reviews service that reaches out to buyers on your behalf to collect post-purchase feedback.
Guest blogging is a huge missed opportunity for e-Commerce websites, but it’s a A-list player in driving website traffic and showing off your products in a single tactic.
You can encourage buyers or bloggers to write a by-lined guest blog post for your website that details their experience with your products. This could take the form of a long-form review, an unboxing video, product highlights, or anything else that can help you earn trust and gain sales.
By giving the writer a by-line, you’re encouraging them to share their blog post on their own social channels or give you a backlink on their own blog, both of which gives you brand exposure and additional website traffic. You can also link to products within the blog post to keep readers on your website longer.
Guest blogging doesn’t have to cost you a thing other than a few minutes’ time to moderate the article and post it to your website.
How Will You Use UGC?
If you’re not using UGC on your own website, it’s never too late to start. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. The sooner you start sourcing user content, the sooner you can put it to good use.