Content is King!
Yay for cliches!
Yes. Your web site needs content, in the end the Internet is nothing more than interlinking files containing content housed on servers worldwide.
Claiming content is important to success on the web is redundant.
This cliche does not give people the tools to create content that is meaningful.
Is meaningful content important?
What good is content if it doesn't lead to conversion? What good is your message if it is being submerged in your niche?
The problem is that not everyone is a writer.
Not everyone has the creativity to create great video.
But, if you are smart, you will utilize your user base to create some of your content for you.
User Generated Content is SWEET!
User generated content has benefit from a conversion and SEO perspective.
From the conversion perspective, UGC has been proven to be an effective tool in swaying users to buy products.
From an SEO standpoint, UGC has been proven to create fresh and unique content that is advantageous in helping crawl rate, and long tail traffic.
How do you benefit from the Sweetness?
You don't have to change your platform to benefit from UGC.
If you have a travel portal, you do not need to become a travel review site. However, you might want to think about allowing traveler reviews within the existing structure of your site.
Here are some basic tips to kick around:
1) Your blog is your best source of UGC. Create original, inquisitive, or even controversial blog topics, that will cut through the other posts in your niche and get people commenting.
2) Begin to offer a coupon or discount for reviews on products or services. If you have a web site that allows you to have phone conversations with customers, offer those customers the same incentive, and simply write down the positive reviews they tell you over the phone.
3) Check out cool video options like Seesmic.com, that allow for threaded video conversations. This will have less SEO benefit than conversion benefit, but in the end our job is to sell not just rank.
4) Add a Q&A section to your site. Update this section frequently, as you receive customer questions.
Monitor all of your UGC efforts.
With the good, will come the bad.
If you are allowing people to post reviews on your site, be ready for negative reviews, and do not silence the voice of those consumers as you may spark something much harder to deal with.
Use analytics and common sense in regards to UGC, and shape it to meet your goals.
Is the project increasing conversion?
In the end, that is the only question that needs answering.
Add your tips on adding user generated content to your site to increase the effectiveness of your campaign in the comments below.
P.S. I just tricked you into UGC. In your face!