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Your Website is a Discovery Vehicle and UGC is the Engine

Written by Michael Assad on June 28, 2012

This Monday, I spoke at the Brightcove Play conference alongside Steve Hulford from Filemobile and David Czarnecki from Major League Gaming. We each did a fifteen minute presentation and then fielded questions as a panel. 

The theme of the session was ‘Best Practices for User Generated Content’ and my topic was ‘Your Website is your Primary Discovery Vehicle and User Generated Content is the engine’

Here is a short video that summarizes my presentation:

Your Website is Used for Discovery

While mobile and tablets are all the rage right now, your website is still the primary discovery vehicle for your audience. Your website is available on the public internet across computers, phones, tablets and TVs. Everyone can access it whether at home, on the train or at work. Your website is automatically discovered by search engines and it is where all links from the web, apps and social media sites link back to.

Your website is the most accessible form of your content and is the hub for everything else you do.

How do you get discovered?

Websites are primarily discovered through search engines and sharing on social media sites. But in order for these two distributions channels to work, your site must have compelling content. More and more, Google and other search engines are using quality content as a driver for rank, alongside of the traditional metrics of keywords and links. Matt Cutts, the Google spam chief says that creating great content is really all you need to worry about if you want to rank well on Google.

Nowadays, everyone is a publisher. The most commonly cited case is Red Bull and that is because they do an exceptional job. They invent their own sports! Talk about owning your vertical. But you don’t have to be Red Bull to create great content for your brand or publication.

You don’t have to be Red Bull to create great content for your brand or publication.

How do you generate great content?

If you have a Red Bull sized budget, you can start your own production company and hire professional writers, directors and producers. If you’re like the other 99%, there is no shortage of freelance writers. A lot of brands and publications hire freelancers overseas for $5 per article. You can get a good amount of volume for cheap, but it often comes at the cost of quality.

Here’s an idea – why not tap into your loyal user base! It’s free!

UGC as a Content Source

The knee-jerk reaction to User Generated Content is that it’s low quality and unsuitable for most viewers. That may be the case if you’re talking about YouTube as a whole. But most of the time, your audience can create great content for you. For one thing, they know your brand or subject matter very well and are extremely passionate about it. 

User Generated Content is relevant to your audience by default.

Quality is relative – if I’m into surfing and someone in your surfer magazine community posts a video of riding a 10’ wave, I’m going to think it’s pretty gnarly – even if it was shot on a cell phone.

UGC is also inherently viral.

No one knows better about what content they want than your audience! When someone contributes content, of course they will want to share it with their friends, family and co-workers. 

User Generated Content is also relevant to your audience by default.

UGC is mass quantity

By tapping into your audience, you can generate mass amounts of content at almost no cost. Then, you can spend your time and money curating and enhancing the best content, rather than hiring general purpose writers who will deliver mixed results.

What is the User Generated Content workflow?

To get started with UGC, you obviously need to have a facility on your website to accept it. Chances are, your content management system will have the ability to accept and moderate UGC. A web developer can then build a module for your site and wire it up to your CMS. If your CMS doesn’t accept custom UGC, it might be time for a new one. There’s no shortage of those either!

Set up UGC within your CMS

Once your site is all wired up, users can log in and contribute content – whether it’s text, images or video. Content goes into your CMS back-end where it can be reviewed and moderated by your staff. It’s important to keep users posted on what’s happening with their content – even if you don’t publish it to the site. If I post an article to your magazine site, I’m probably going to check back every day to see if it was posted. If I don’t see it up there, or hear anything from your staff, I’m probably going to give up after a couple of weeks and never come back.

Keep your users engaged so they keep coming back.


How do you maximize your UGC SEO?

There are several tricks to maximize the search engine optimization and reach of user generated content.

First of all, the curation process is critical – quality content is still the number one consideration.

Assuming the content is great, the two ways to boost the overall SEO effectiveness of your UGC is by using keywords and links.

Long tail keywords are the most important aspect of keyword optimization. Long tail keyword are typically longer search phrases that narrow a searcher’s focus down to a specific thing. For example, a long tail variation of ‘surfing’ would be ‘long board surfing in Hawaii’.

Why not insert long tail keywords into your UGC during the curation process?

In terms of link building, the best place to start is to list your site on free directories. Try searching on Google for directories that are related to your brand or publication. Chances are it is free to list on them.

A longer term strategy for link building is to establish a network of influencers in your industry who have a loyal audience. A great way to reach these influencers is to promote their content by commenting on it, sharing it and re-tweeting it. Over time, these folks will learn about who you are and will gladly link back to your content when you ask.

A link to your site from an influential site can go a long way to boost your PageRank.

When it comes to user generated video, Brightcove is the best place to store it. You might think that YouTube is the best place for UGC because it’s owned by Google. But the problem with YouTube is that all links and embeds point back to them. With Brightcove, your website is the primary source of the content, so links point back to you which provides the maximum PageRank benefit.

Some magazines are finding Pinterest, StumbleUpon and Reddit to be a better source of traffic than Google.

What about Content Marketing for UGC?

Content Marketing is vying for the top buzzword of the year and for good reason. Publishers and brands alike are waking up each day to huge numbers on their sites thanks to content being shared on email and social media. Facebook and Twitter are probably the best known sources of social media referrals, but they are by no means the only ones. 

Some magazines are finding Pinterest, StumbleUpon and Reddit to be a better source of traffic than Google.

In order to seed this viral sharing, it’s important to make your content easy to share. With easy-to-use sharing tools from ShareThis and AddThis, there are no excuses. You can customize sharing buttons and have them up on your site in minutes without spending a cent.

It’s important to establish the networks where YOUR audience is most active to get the most bang for your content marketing buck.

Put UGC to work on your site and get tons of quality content for free!


Written by Michael Assad| June 28, 2012

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