4 Reasons Customer-Created Content Boosts Your Search Engine Rankings
Reason #1) It's Consistent
Search engines take the frequency with which you publish content into consideration when ranking your website. The more regular your publishing schedule, the more reliable you appear to search engines.
If you've already done the work to create an active and engaged online customer community, the creation of the content may become almost automatic in its consistency. Every time a customer posts in discussion forums, uploads a file, or publishes a new blog post, they're contributing to your content bank. With this content added to your online community daily and weekly, search engines will see that you have a steady stream of fresh content and factor that into your ranking.
Encourage consistent content creation by adding participation badges and incentives to make blogging and answering community questions worthwhile for your customers. Make sure community member questions and comments receive responses as well. This will help show members that their contributions are noticed and valued, and will encourage them to continue participating.
Reason #2) It's Cost Effective
Search engines don't directly consider how cost effective your content is, but they do evaluate content volume. The more content you have, the more the search engine has to look through and give to searchers.
More expensive content strategies that involve hiring a writer or outsourcing to a firm force your content volume to be limited by your budget. In contrast, customer and community-created content is extremely cost effective, meaning that you get larger volumes of content with no direct extra cost.
Drive more user-generated content by providing outlets such as blogs where customers can create long-form content. Include discussion forums for in-depth peer-to-peer conversations, or consider adding a dedicated Q&A section to encourage regular, high-volume conversations about inquiries and best practices.
Reason #3) It's Timely
The age of your content matters. Search engines will give you a higher ranking if your content and pages are kept current or published recently. Like consistent content, this is all about finding content that's updated and relevant to searchers.
Since the discussions and uploaded content in your online customer community are happening in real time, you know your content will always be on top of the latest trends and news stories. You won't have to worry about putting out new content at the right time—your customers will generate it for you.
If your customers are engaging consistently, then they're already creating timely content. To jumpstart any lagging sections of your online community, you could also post questions or blogs about recent events to give your members timely content to discuss.
Reason #4) Search Engines Love the Phrasing
Content in a community often has syntax that can score you brownie points with search engines. Search engines are starting to give extra weight to content where the main SEO factors align with how people search. Here's an example:
'How can I upgrade my Windows 3.0 OS?'
'Everything You Need to Know About Upgrading Windows 3.0'
The first form is ideal because many prospects type similar questions into the search bar. Your discussion forum posts are often also phrased as questions and written in the first person, matching those searches. For instance, if someone searches 'how can I upgrade my Windows 3.0 OS?' then your online community may have a discussion post that addresses that exact question, verbatim. The more closely your content matches Google searches, the better it will rank.
Make sure your customers have plenty of areas where they can post these kinds of questions. Discussion forums, advice columns, and Q&As are good sections to build out in your platform.