User Generated Content in e-commerce and SEO [Basic]

20 July 2020

Gemius Report E-commerce in Poland" reports that 62% of Poles already shop online. On the Internet, Internet users also look for knowledge and opinions about the products they plan to purchase. Making an online purchase is determined not only by convenience, lower price and transaction security, but also to a large extent by the position, i.e. the visibility of the store in the Google search engine. It has long been known thathaving unique content on a website is a very important factor in the positioning of websites by the search engine.

The competition on the e-commerce market is very high, and the fight for a high position in Google is constant. At the same time, it is difficult for online stores to generate a large amount of unique and valuable content. Hundreds of pages contain duplicate descriptions of the products offered, often borrowed from manufacturers. Often the same description appears not only on competing websites, but also within the same store, e.g. in different color versions of the same product. Google treats such descriptions as duplicate content, which may reduce the chances of appearing high in organic search results for many queries.

The solution to this problem is User Generated Content, i.e. putting content creation in the hands of the user.

Example of the same description appearing on multiple pages for the product PHILIPS SERIES 5000 S5420/06





User Generated Content — what is it?

User Generated Content (UGC) is all content created and posted on the Internet by users. These include: photos, posts, videos, blog articles, reviews, comments, ratings and tests. It is not difficult to guess that UGC has great potential as a marketing tool that builds trust in the brand and its products. The use of UGC in the form of product opinions, comments and reviews is also an opportunity for many smaller e-commerce market players to fight for a higher position in search results.

Why does UGC benefit SEO?

The advantages of using UGC are many. So let's focus only on the advantages of activities that are particularly important from the point of view of the e-commerce industry, i.e. opinions and comments regarding products.

UGC benefits SEO because:

  1. Provides fresh and valuable content that can be positively received by search engine robots,
  2. It does not generate additional costs of constantly acquiring large amounts of unique content. Enabling visitors to comment, leave ratings or add reviews is a so-called crowd-sourcing for your website,
  3. Users naturally ensure that long-tail phrases appear on the website
  4. Helps keep the website up to date (also important from an SEO point of view).
  5. Allows you to increase the uniqueness of content on product pages with copied descriptions. Which, in turn, translates into a better evaluation of the website by search engine robots,
  6. Has a positive impact on user satisfaction

This is confirmed by data from a report by TINT, a provider of a platform for acquiring and managing UGC content “User Generated Content Marketing Report”. The experiences of surveyed marketing specialists show that UGC:

  • influences the use on consumers' assessment of the authenticity of the content (75%),
  • positively affects the visibility of the website and online content (59%)

Do user opinions actually influence the positions of e-commerce websites?

A quick look at several dozen top search results for product phrases from the cosmetics and consumer electronics/household appliances categories, e.g. Remington Your Style D5219 hair dryer or OLD SPICE Od antiperspirantor Blocker Fresh.

The analysis of 10 selected phrases shows that in the TOP 10 search results:

  • 86% of websites used UGC in the form of consumer reviews
  • 51% of the websites were online stores, of which as many as 81% used UGC.

Of course, the analysis of 10 phrases does not in any way confirm the clickbait headline? but it shows that e-commerce sites that appear high in search results think about UGC.

Does UGC always have a positive impact on SEO?

Like any activity, in addition to the benefits, it carries some risks. When deciding to use opinions and comments, it is worth being aware of the partial loss of control over the content that appears on the website. Any loophole that gives users the opportunity to publish also leaves an open door to spam and duplicate content, which, if left unchecked, can seriously damage the site's reputation.

The solution to the problem is, of course, moderation of published content, but this cannot go too far. Examples of sites that, despite the presence of UGC, have significantly lost their importance are online forums and classifieds sites. Short descriptions, perfunctory answers, and the presence of comments considered spam mean that this type of content added by users is perceived by search engines as low-quality content.

User Generated Content — yes or no?

If after reading the article you are still wondering whether UGC is for you, let me tell you that definitely YES. The use of UGC in the form of product opinions, comments and reviews is undoubtedly an opportunity to improve the position of e-commerce websites in search results.

When you decide to implement the ability for users to add opinions on the website, remember to:

  1. Actively encouragevisitors to interact, e.g. leave product reviews
  2. Prepare for both positive and negative opinions of consumers (the latter also increase the credibility of the website),
  3. Moderate content to avoid spam and duplicate content
  4. Make sure that ratings and opinions are visible and well read by the search engine (have appropriate tags),
  5. Observe the activities of the competition and imitate the best.

Finally, an example of using UGC to support SEO activities and at the same time build the authenticity of the store.

empik — Become an expert and add a review!

The activities used by empik as part of the UGC strategy are:

  • actively encouraging customers to leave opinions

  • possibility to filter products by ratings
  • location of stars presenting the average rating, clearly visible to the user,

  • intuitive and simple adding reviews,
  • the ability to evaluate the usefulness of reviews by other users.

On the website, users can add their opinions about products. Each opinion requires approval by the moderator before publication. The website allows you to filter products based on the ratings they have received, and visitors can assess whether another user's review was helpful and adequate. Additionally, empik uses mailings to encourage users who have made transactions to review the purchased products.

Also read

Local SEO – what you need to know

Local SEO – what you need to know

Local SEO is crucial for smaller companies that operate on a regional rather than national level.

11 March 2021