At Groove Commerce, when we analyze websites we are always thinking in a multi-pronged way. One is of course, the visual look and feel of the site. Do the colors work, are columns aligned correctly, are images captivating? The next is usability and conversion. Is the navigation hierarchy optimal, are there clear calls to action, is the font readable? And last but certainly not least, we are thinking about SEO. The search engine rankings of a site are perhaps the most important aspect of the site design because as we commonly say, you may have the most beautiful and high converting site in the world but if no one can find it, it will never generate revenue.
There are tons of SEO blogs, best practices and industry standards out there but there is no secret formula that will work for every business. Though one thing can’t be denied, on-site content is key to search engine rankings.
One great way to increase and improve your on-site content is through user generated content (UGC). For ecommerce businesses in particular, there is a benefit for UGC. The Google Farmer Update has made unique content king because simply inserting a manufacturer’s product description is no longer a viable way to rank for any certain product. If your business doesn’t have internal copy-writers, this may have left you buried under hours of product description writing in order to regain your search engine rankings for specific keywords and products.
This is where product reviews, FAQ forums, blog comments, and discussion boards come in. These features will allow your customers to write your content for you! Not only will this extra content help drive increased search rankings, it will also provide a better shopping experience. Customers are influenced by reviews and comments from their peers and they look to others who have used a product for unbiased guidance. According to a recent whitepaper from PowerReviews, 58% of shoppers surveyed visit Amazon to find product reviews and ratings when shopping online. Providing this information directly to potential buyers without forcing them to look elsewhere may mean the difference in conversion.
According to PowerReviews, after product reviews and Q&A, shoppers are looking for “Likes”. Almost half of those surveyed said that the amount of “Likes” a product has influences their decision to buy. If you haven’t already added a Facebook integration feature that allows users to click the Like Button next to a specific product, it should be on your list of to-dos before the holiday shopping season. We like the Aheadworks Facebook Link extension for Magento.
If you already use the basic features for generating user content, you may want to consider some third party applications that take it the next level. Turnto has developed a great way to generate content through social Q&A called “Ask Owners”. With this program, shoppers can actually email someone (through the website – not a personal email address) who has opted in and recently purchased a specific product with their question, resulting in quality and personalized answers. In addition, all Q&A dialog is posted to the relevant product page which facilitates awesome customer engagement and on-site content at the same time.
Some ecommerce stores avoid user generated content altogether. The argument for this is that they believe customers may actually deter conversion through negative reviews and comments. With most review systems and discussion boards, site administrators are giving the ability to approve all comments, so with proper monitoring this system should not be causing issues. Also, if your customers are repeatedly complaining about or poorly rating your products – perhaps you should be considering the core issue instead of trying to hide content.
Creating unique, interesting, and helpful content can be a huge undertaking for any ecommerce business. It is both vitally important and time-consuming at the same time; that’s why allowing your loyal customers to write content for you is such a great method. You should make sure that you incorporate forums, social media, and reviews along with some custom or third party software to fully embrace the benefits of user generated content.