Blog post

How can UGC help with your SEO [2024]

Date of post

2 April 2024

Read time

9 mins
Mel Healy and Matt Janaway preparing to record a podcast on UGC

When it comes to SEO, the words “user-generated content” or UGC seldom come up. You always hear about ranking factors, link building, content creation, on-page optimisation, and so on.

While these components are crucial to SEO success, UGC can give you an edge no one else has. If that sounds promising, read on to learn all about UGC and the many ways it can elevate your SEO efforts. 

What is user-generated content (UGC)?

User-generated content is any piece of content submitted by users in which the key talking point is a particular product or brand. This includes customer reviews, social media posts, forum posts, and product unboxing clips. 

Think of UGC as the digital form of word of mouth – the voice of an online crowd declaring whether or not your business is worth the money. 

Keep reading: What is user-generated content, and why is it important? 

How UGC can help with your SEO

UGC has plenty of marketing benefits for businesses. 

One good review can reward you with referral traffic, raise buyer confidence, and drive up your conversion rate. 

With the right tactics, UGC also unlocks opportunities for SEO growth. 

Here’s how.

1. Feature UGC in linkbait content

The true value of UGC lies in people’s propensity to trust them. 

Not only does it make your content more believable and compelling, but UGC also boosts its “linkworthiness.”  

This is especially true if you combine UGC with survey reports, polls, case studies, statistic roundups, ebooks, and data-driven infographics. 

Also called link magnets, this kind of content can improve your SEO by attracting a ton of backlinks over time.

In this example, Atradius Collections combines statistics, infographics, and a user review to create something link-worthy.

Example screenshot from a website that uses a customer review alongside an infographic to create link worthy content.

Don’t forget to tell your customers whenever you feature them in a link magnet. This should kickstart your content’s link-generation effect. 

2. Unlimited supply of fresh content ideas

To win at SEO, you need a lot of content. Loads and loads of great content. UGC will help keep your content ideation engines going. 

You can extract fresh content ideas by delving into the content your customers are sharing in places like:

  • Blog comments
  • Social media groups
  • Google Business Profile reviews
  • Online forums and communities
  • Content streaming platforms

A straightforward approach is to run a Google search. 

Use the “site” operator, along with relevant or branded keywords, to find content on specific channels. Just run a query like the one below to get the ideas you need. 

Using the site parameter tool to find keywords on a specific website

The results should be a nice mix of useful content ideas from users – ripe for the picking.

Screenshot showing search results for the key phrase 'infant clothing' from the Reddit site

Simply modify the “site” search operator to the platform from which you want to obtain UGC. For example:

  • site:facebook.com
  • site:twitter.com
  • site:trustpilot.com

Discover more by visiting the pages themselves and analysing the conversation. This will help you gauge the overall sentiment from users and obtain unique insights based on their experiences. 

If you need more information, dig deeper using other ways to research blog ideas, like using keyword research tools and conducting competitor analysis.  

3. Naturally weave SEO keywords into your content

One of the most challenging aspects of SEO, especially when it comes to content creation, is keyword optimisation. 

The rules sound straightforward on paper: research your target keywords and insert them into your content as naturally as possible. 

Easier said than done. 

Remember, you need to target multiple keywords to maximise your content’s rankings. The problem is it can be tricky to weave multiple keywords into one article without sounding awkward or even forced.

Example of overusing keywords

UGC is helpful because users will naturally mention your target keywords in their reviews, forum posts, and testimonials, so you don’t have to find a way to shoehorn them in somewhere!

Example of customer testimonials that mention a keyword.

Pro tip: If you plan to feature multiple UGCs of the same type on one page, make it more scannable with subheadings. Take a meaningful line from the UGC and use it as the subheading text. 

4. Unique visual content 

Over the years, visual content has become an integral piece of the SEO pie.

It mostly involves enhancing the user experience, which bolsters engagement metrics like session duration, conversion rate, scroll depth, and so on. 

Visual content also opens up more opportunities for keyword optimisation (e.g., alt tags, descriptions, and file names) as well as backlink generation. Done right, visuals will help your website appear in Google image searches. 

Screenshot of search results for images on Google

According to Semrush’s Content Marketing Survey, posts with images get 25% more backlinks than posts without. 

That’s not all – images are also proven to increase social media shares by 30%. These posts can rack up 150% more engagement from users.

A widely accepted practice used by SEO content writers is to include an image every few hundred words. 

With UGC, you have all the visual content you need. 

Some examples are: 

  • Screenshots of reviews or comments
  • Data visualisations 
  • Image quotes 

Consider using tools like Canva to make UGC more eye-catching and shareable. Aside from drag-and-drop design features, you can also use templates to whip up professional-looking visual content in minutes.

Screenshot showing example templates on Canva

You can feature UGC-based visuals in blog posts, social media ads, product pages, and newsletters. To maximise the SEO benefits of your visual content, enrich your images with data to attract backlinks from other publishers. 

Keep in mind that other content creators in your industry need data, too. 

It’s a common practice for bloggers and industry news sites to source data visualisations from other websites. If they use your graphic in their content, expect them to provide a backlink in return. 

Screenshot of infographic with a link back to the source website

Again, self-service graphic design tools like Canva have everything you need to create data visualisations from scratch. The ideal strategy, however, is to hire a team of expert designers — be it in-house or outsourced — to create scroll-stopping graphics for you. 

5. Maximise engagement metrics

Focusing on UGC helps with the golden rules of boosting blog engagement

Need an attention-grabbing headline? Mention an intriguing quote or statistic from UGC. 

Looking for a “story hook”? Let UGC tell your audience why they should stick around and click your call-to-action (CTA) button. 

Google favours content that gives users a memorable, empowering experience, and to see if your content fits the bill, they look at user engagement metrics, such as:

  • Pageviews: How many people saw your content?
  • Average session duration: How long do users stay on your page?
  • Scroll depth: How far down the page do your users scroll?
  • Pages per session: How many pages does the average user open in one session?

These metrics can be monitored for free using Google Analytics 4. By tracking them, you’ll be able to gauge the effectiveness of small website changes and make better data-driven decisions in the future. 

6. Social media optimisation 

UGC, such as customer reviews, product unboxing videos, and polls, is highly shareable on social media, leading to better social signals such as shares, likes, comments, and follows.

How do social signals impact SEO? 

Time and time again, Google reminds us that social signals have no direct effect on rankings. 

That’s fair. 

But if you look at the compounding benefits of social signals for SEO, they might as well be among the top direct ranking factors. 

Social signals directly affect the traffic potential of your website and how users interact with your content. They also increase your content’s exposure to potential link sources, especially true if you often share memorable stats and relatable quotes from other users. 

You can use native sharing tools to exploit UGC for social media optimisation. You can also use graphic design tools to convert UGC into social media posts to squeeze evergreen value out of it.

Image that uses a client review on Instagram

To make the most out of UGC for social signals, consider the following best practices: 

  • Use plenty of relevant hashtags. Using hashtags on your social media posts is one of the best ways to drive more traffic. The good news is that social media apps like Instagram come outfitted with built-in hashtag discovery features – just start writing hashtags and watch the suggestions pop up. 
  • Respond to the comments. Replying to comments encourages other users to chip in with their thoughts. A simple tactic is to publish your post with a “first comment” already planned, like a question, interesting fact, or CTA. 
  • Track social media mentions with listening tools. Platforms like CoSchedule, Hootsuite, and Buffer include social media listening tools that help you find relevant conversations for you to tap into. 

7. Encourage brand advocacy

UGC’s benefits range from boosting your authority to encouraging brand advocacy (in other words, your audience is more than happy to promote your product via their channels). 

Showing your appreciation can foster more of the same great benefits. 

It highlights that you care about your customers’ or clients’ success and actively seek their feedback. In turn, this will make customers more likely to refer your business to other prospects.

Screenshot of Marketing Labs replying to a Google review from a client

To further cultivate brand advocacy through UGC, remember the following: 

  • Incentivise UGC. Host a social media contest (caption contest, hashtag contest, etc.) to encourage more customers to post about your brand. 
  • Prioritise customer service. Great customer service leads to happy customers, resulting in more UGC and brand advocates. 
  • Build your own communities. Create social media groups or message boards on your website to give customers a sense of community. 
  • Embrace trends. If a customer uses a unique hashtag or popular content format in their content, adopt their strategy to connect with more audiences and nurture your community. 
  • Make social sharing easier. Embed social media sharing buttons on your website to streamline your audience’s sharing process.

Tips to increase UGC 

A single positive review or testimonial can encourage onlookers to buy from you or help spread the word about how great your business is. 

Imagine what you could do if you had dozens or even hundreds at your disposal. 

Apart from building your community and running contests, here are additional strategies to assemble an impressive library of UGC for your business: 

  • Automate review request emails. Set up automated review request emails to customers to get their feedback and passively acquire UGC while you close transactions. 
  • Create pop-up feedback forms. Use tools like OptinMonster to create pop-up surveys or feedback forms for your website visitors. 
  • Run social media polls. Host polls on platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram to get first-party data, which can be upgraded into shareable UGC. 
  • Share your Google Business Profile review link. Embed your Google Business Profile review link into touchpoints like your website footer, newsletters, and blog articles. 
  • Ask for reviews directly. Don’t beat about the bush; ask your most active customers for reviews directly. 
  • Curate content that resonates with your audience. On social media, share popular posts to spark conversations on your page.

Let us help you figure out the UGC puzzle

Just like with everything in marketing, it takes experience, skills, and the right tools to leverage UGC successfully – especially when it comes to reaping the rewards for SEO. 

That’s where we come in. 

Reach out to us here, and we’ll gladly assist you in developing a UGC-SEO strategy that works. 

Good luck!

Post author

Mel left university with a first-class degree in English Language and Linguistics and after more than ten years as a marketing manager working for organisations across various industries, she left employment behind and struck out on her own as a freelance writer.

Table of contents

More content like this

Get in touch with Marketing Labs®

Recent blog posts

Psst! Did you know we’ve got our very own podcast?