Live from #seschi 2011: Strategic Use of User-Generated Content (UGC) for SEO

By Avelyn Austin | Nov 15, 2011
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Fed, fresh and caffeinated, #seschi sends us back to the session rooms for more learning. The first afternoon session I attended was Strategic Use of User-Generated Content (UGC) for SEO presented by Michael DeHaven, Sr Product Manager SEO of Bazaarvoice.  Prior to starting the session, DeHaven gave away Ghiradelli chocolates to 5 attendees within the session and gave them the instructions to eat the chocolate immediately and write a review of their experience.

Find out how the chocolate and more importantly the reviews were used within this session:

DeHaven jumped straight in by asking the 5 reviewers to stand up and tell the audience their reviews. (On a side note, I love that DeHaven is moving around the room, right now he’s standing next to me and I feel awkward that I’m typing, but I hope he’ll appreciate my live post of his session). DeHaven then read the description of the chocolate from the back of the bag, needless to say the reviews were very different from the description.

Turns out, 80-90% of content on e-commerce sites are written by end-users through reviews and comments, not the marketers who try to improve the SEO of the sites through targeted content and keywords.

How does the content of end-users differ from marketers? Language style is the biggest difference, i.e. keywords are very different. So how do you determine what keywords you should be using on your website:

  • Keywords Discovery via Meditation
  • Keywords Discovery via Auto-Suggest
  • Keywords Discovery via AdWords – DeHaven suggests using exact match (I fully support this, to make sure that you get the best data possible from the tool

7 Principles of User Generated SEO:

  1. Don’t Forget SEO Fundamentals! – Content optimization, link building, etc.
  2. Search Engines Get Bored – When the same content is served day after day to the search engine bots, they get bored. DeHaven gave the example of eating the same food dish for every meal for a week, you get bored. This example takes me back to college and the law of diminishing return.
  3. The Primanti Principle – You know, like the sandwiches with french fries.  The key is to have the right amount of french fries. How does this relate to your content?  Don’t stuff your content with the same keywords.
  4. Beware of Dilution – Be Strategic – You still need to have keywords density, this is the other extreme of the Primanti Principle.
  5. Unlock the Long-Tail Vault – When DeHaven asked the audience who focuses on long tailed keywords, I was one of the few that raised my hand… WOW!
    • Top-Level or Subdomain? – DeHaven suggests pulling the fresh content, typically put on a subdomain, back to the top-level website to increase freshness
  6. Ask for Content at Relevant Times – Ask for the content when it’s appropriate. For example, TicketMaster should ask users to take pictures at the concert before the concert, Rosetta Stone should ask for reviews six months after the purchase because it takes time to use the product, and hotels should ask for a review during the customer’s stay.
  7. Convert Reviewers into Advocates – After someone engages with a review, ask them to answer a few questions when you have their attention.
Three Strategic Targets:
  1. Target Keywords (UGC on the product page) – add reviews to the product pages to add freshness. Sounds simple, but are you doing it?  DeHaven shows an example where there was  23% increase in search traffic within 4 weeks of adding reviews to the product pages.
  2. Target Keywords plus Reviews (archive/paging) – 80/20 split with 80% of content created by users and 20% created by marketers for freshness. DeHaven suggests adding 7 to 8 reviews to a product page, but to add the other reviews on separate pages.
  3. Extreme Long Tail (archive/paging) – The other reviews should be added to separate pages (40 reviews per page was suggested) to increase the keyword footprint of the website. With the fresh content and long tailed terms these additional pages of content have the ability to be ranked within the search engine results pages (SERPs) for long tailed terms.
Great presentation from Michael DeHaven.  Thank you for sharing your knowledge and insights to user-generated content (UGC) for SEO.

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