The Benefits of User Generated Content and How to Implement It

This week, we’ve decided to try something a bit different and bring to you our very first ever video blog! In this week’s episode, we explain just why user generated content is so important for a website, especially in ecommerce, and how and where you can implement it on your own website for maximum benefit. Sit back, watch and enjoy!

Video Transcript:

Hi guys, I’m MacKenzie Liptak from Mountain Media and today I’ll be talking about user generated content in the world of internet marketing.

Often abbreviated as UGC, user generated content covers a fairly broad range of words, images and videos that you see and hear on the internet. A great example of UGC is Wikipedia, the human-created encyclopedia.

Why is UGC important? Well, it has the capacity to influence purchase decisions, brand affinity and brand loyalty.

Here at MM, we work with a lot of ecommerce clients, so I’m going to talk about the benefits of UGC in regards to your website. The first benefit of UGC is increased user engagement. When people have a place to speak their mind on your website, they tend to stick around longer. Also, people want to read about what others are saying about your products and services, therefore UGC has the potential of creating a great community for your online audience.

Another benefit of UGC is a more effective marketing strategy. As people, we tend to trust reviews more than we trust traditional marketing tactics. Therefore, if you can get a customer to write a review about your products or services, be that good or bad, it’s going to be a lot more effective than you telling customers how great your products or services are.

The third and final benefit of UGC is improved SEO. Of course, fresh content is good for your website, and your search engine optimization. With UGC, you get new content uploaded daily to your website, and you don’t have to do a thing – search engines like that!

Where do people find user generated content? Well, the number one place people find UGC is on social media. This includes Facebook, Twitter, blogs and review sites. The second most prevalent place people find UGC is search engines – that would be your Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Now that you’ve learned a little bit about UGC, here’s what you can do to include it on your website. For starters, you can make it easier for customers to write reviews on your products or services. You can do this by enabling comment functions on your blog or under your products, you can provide a star ratings system, which will allow people to vote on the quality of your products and you can also create customer forums, where people can post questions daily regarding your products or services.

Another thing you can do in regards to UGC is ask for customer testimonials or case studies. This is a form of supplement user generated content because it highlights a customer’s opinion. It’s still beneficial.

The next thing you can do in regards to UGC is to encourage social discussion. This means using social media to encourage discussion among your fans and followers. Ask people to share their experiences with your products and/or services. Talk about what they like and what they don’t like. Seeing your social network engaging with you will paint you in a very positive light.

Lastly, when it comes to UGC, it’s important to be transparent. Let’s face it, it’s inevitable that people will say something negative regarding your brand. Rather than deleting the comment, take this opportunity to connect with that customer. Respond quickly and in public, stay positive and deal with the details privately.

Thanks for stopping by the Mountain Media blog – I hope you found this video helpful and learned a little bit about user generated content. Stop by daily for some more helpful web tips.

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5 Reasons to Use Google+ in 2013

Google Plus logoTo all you Google+ haters, I want to start this article off by begging you – don’t give up on this social network just yet. As you may know already, Facebook and Twitter are most certainly the frontrunners in the Social Media world, but just because they’re the most used doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the most valuable. If you’re going to do anything right this year, you should definitely start by understanding the importance of Google+ and what it has to offer you and your business.

Google+ is professional

Let’s first compare Google+ to the monster that is Facebook. Most of us spend an embarrassing amount of time on Facebook, and many of us know that this network has grown into a portal for users to express anything from what’s going on in society to what’s happening in their personal lives.

On the contrary, users on Google+ tend to be slightly more buttoned up and dare I say more mature, focusing on people who are looking to have intellectual conversations about serious topics, including work, politics or art. When it comes down to it, Facebook is a great resource for keeping up with the lives of family and friends, but when you’re looking to have an in-depth and intelligent discussion, Google+ is the place to go.

Group hangouts

While Facebook does indeed have the group chat function, it’s capabilities are not even comparable to those of Google+. Google Hangouts allows you to professionally conduct meetings, complete with video, text and even screen sharing. In addition to these awesome features mentioned above, there’s also a sketchpad feature allowing you to draw a whiteboard in real-time with others and a notes feature, providing the opportunity for collaboration across a group of users in real-time. In fact, Google Hangouts is so dominant from a business perspective that Facebook isn’t even a real competitor to them, but powerhouses such as GoToMeeting and WebEx are.

The best privacy features to protect your online reputation

Once you make the shift from college to the real-world, there’s a reality check in terms of how you utilize your social media and how important understanding your privacy features is. Because of the circles feature in Google+, you can pick and choose exactly who you share with each time you post something. You can share extremely private posts with just family or friends and you can also share a professional or business related post with just your co-workers.

Build your brand

Building a reputation isn’t always easy, especially when your name is new to the online world. In order to show your knowledge in whatever industry you’re interested in joining, adding a +1 to relevant articles and sites can help show that you’re engaged.

Say a business looking to hire an SEO professional is searching for “keyword research”. If you’ve done your research and added a +1 to articles surrounding this topic, your face will show up next to some of the results, which will help send the message that you’re a thought leader, and not just another self-proclaimed SEO guru.

There’s a notification for everything

Have you heard of Google+ Notifications? You know what I’m talking about – that box that sits in the upper left hand corner of your screen when you’re using a Google service and notifies you when you’ve been tagged in a post with a +1. The problem is, if you’re not using a Google service, you don’t get these notifications, right? Wrong!

There just so happens to be a Chrome browser extension called Google+ Notifications that puts the notification bug next to the address bar so you can get alerts even when you’re not using Google. This is a huge benefit for those who are expected to see and respond immediately to comments but hate to always have their Google+ profile pulled up on their desktop.

When I said earlier that Google+ is underestimated by many, I wasn’t kidding. This Social Media platform can be used to greatly benefit you as a person, your business or your brand. By truly understanding the benefits of Google+, you’ll quickly come to discover that the functionality is far superior to that of any of the other Social Media networks, and certainly shouldn’t be forgotten.

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3 Places for Video Love on Your Website

Most businesses know that their website should have video content, somewhere, somehow. But where many people get stuck is exactly there – “I know I need it, but how do I get it, where do I put it on my website and what exactly do I do with it?”

While some of the common video questions business owners have get into highly detailed and technical responses, there are always the basics to go over, and that includes where to play your video content on your website. There are tons of options for placement that will help increase your site’s engagement and interactivity, but 3 places on your site in particular will help you right off the bat in terms of optimizing your site with video content.

So get the content made, and start posting in these places as soon as possible!

Your Homepage

First and foremost, you know the importance of good, quality text and images on your homepage, along with a good, functional design and easy navigation menus (check out this post by our friends at HubSpot that outlines the key elements of a good page). These are all the basic elements of a good website in general – so I’m simply adding to the list by mentioning video content on your homepage.

If you’re working to increase brand awareness, which every business should be focused on throughout their marketing strategies, especially online, a company overview video is a great way to introduce people to who you are and what you do. The benefit of sharing this information in video form is that people don’t get bored reading paragraphs of text on your company, and instead they get a great visual representation of your company.

Think of it this way – an IT company, for example, might have some issues explaining to potential clients exactly the services that they offer. Many people may not want to read a bunch of text trying to explain the purpose or mission statement of the company, but people will want to see a video of the people behind the company, and see a visual explanation of the services that they offer.

A video on your homepage can help introduce your company and encourage customers to take a look around the rest of your site, which can help decrease your bounce rate (which can also affect your overall SEO metrics – read about how here).

Category Pages

Your website’s category pages are the next logical step for video content. Once you have quality content to place on the homepage, move on to the top category levels that drive a good amount of traffic and/or business for your site.

Video content on category pages are great because, when optimized correctly, they can benefit the power of that particular page so much. For starters, once again, you’re giving potential customers valuable information in a more entertaining and engaging way than text alone, so you’ll encourage them to stay on the page and check out more of what you have to offer.

In addition to this, when properly optimized for SEO benefit, a video on a category page can produce some of the strongest rich snippets results we’ve tested and seen here at Mountain Media. Here’s an example – we’ve posted a video on our category page for our guest blogging (check it out!), optimized it for SEO and watched as our search rankings have steadily climbed. Here’s why:

That little video thumbnail next to our search result increases our click through rate (CTR) and helps build trust to the page, which Google sees and in turn ranks us higher for. And since you’re optimizing a category page with this, you’re giving the visitor further opportunities to explore deeper into the site, or contact you for information.

Product Pages

On an Ecommerce site, this is the next progression where video content makes sense. Again, when optimized properly, a product page video can help increase your search engine rankings, click through rates and user engagement once the visitor reaches your product page.

The content of a product video, though, would be much different than the content of a homepage or even category page video. A product video should be seen as your last chance to sell a product to your online customer – think about when people call your business and ask for more information on a product. You have about 1:00 to catch the person’s attention before they hang up the phone on you. Or when a customer comes into your storefront location looking to buy a product, but they want to know more about it before they make a purchase, you give them your one last sales pitch before they either leave your store or buy your product.

Your product videos are going to give you this same chance to “sell” your online customer one last time before they leave your store, or in this case, your website. Product videos are meant to be kind of boring – in other words, they’re not shareable, simply because the content of the video is directed specifically to a person who is already interested in something that you have on your website.

Check out Zappos‘ page for great examples of product videos. These guys do it right – over 50,000 product videos in under a year! And while you don’t necessarily have to implement product videos in this sort of volume, having any kind of this rich content on your site can help improve so many performance numbers that the costs associated with producing and implementing these videos will prove to be well worth it.

The first step in all of this, obviously, is to get your video content made. Know which area of your site you’re tailoring the content to, and create your videos around that. In general, good web videos are one or more of the following:

  • Entertaining
  • Shareable
  • Informative
  • Link-worthy
  • Sales-ey (yes, I think I just made that word up.)

When the content is made, find the appropriate place for it on your website, and do not hesitate to post it – especially now that you know where to do so!

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PR & SEO: A Match Made In Cyber Heaven

MarriageAs of late, SEOs have pointed out the benefits of working with public relations (PR) professionals. More specifically, Ken McGaffin of Search Engine Watch pointed out ten reasons why PR should be on your radar in 2013. As Ken mentions, the latest Google Panda and Penguin updates have put an emphasis on high quality websites that include unique content and powerful backlinks, as well as how partnering with PR is a great business tactic.

I can empathize with the groans of frustration from SEOs around the world. Why would Google do this to us?? The answer is simple: Search engines want to provide the best user experience possible, period. Therefore, sites that offer little value to users or include duplicate content from other websites are going to drop significantly in rankings (as we’ve already seen). Contrarily, high-quality websites that offer original content and useful information to users will see a spike in search engine rankings.

The Power Couple

While many SEOs rack their brains as to how they can overcome Google’s latest changes, the easiest and most beneficial option for everyone would be to develop content that is both human and search engine friendly…hence the collaboration with PR. Many of you are probably thinking how can SEO benefit from PR? Or, you may have a negative perception of PR altogether. For instance, PR practitioners are all liars and spin-doctors (thanks a lot Edward Bernays). However, with a background in PR, I am here to put your fears to rest and tell you that is not the case. PR practitioners are actually skilled storytellers and content generators. And their primary function is to build mutually beneficial relationships.

SEOs on the other hand, have a strong background in coding, keyword research and link building. For the most part, their efforts are done behind the scenes, which can make them, how do I put this nicely? Not the most engaging copywriters. Hey, I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum! But together, PR and SEO make quite the power couple.

Call to Action

The Panda/Penguin updates call for unique content that is linked to by quality sites. Therefore, there is a strong need for quality content that can interest new viewers. There is also a need for authentic and engaging social media posts. In addition, press releases can attract the attention of authoritative websites through blogger outreach and media relations. SEOs must also learn how to build relationships rather than links. By combining the skills of PR and SEO, we can produce engaging, keyword friendly web content and powerful backlinks, ultimately creating high-quality websites.

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