Case Study: How UGC increased organic traffic 228%
User-generated content helped a healthcare network nonprofit cut down time spent sourcing unique copy, while engaging their audience and increasing organic traffic by 200+%.
In the Quality Evaluator Guidelines, Google shares that high-quality informational content is original, accurate, comprehensive and should reflect expert consensus as appropriate.
The problem is: not all brands have the time, budget or strategy to create this quality of content. Or so they think.
Using UGC, we helped our nonprofit client publish more than two dozen informational articles and increase their blog’s organic traffic by 200+% in 12 months.
Read on to see our full process, the results and a few more options for implementing UGC for SEO on your own site.
Challenges: Lack of strategy + resources
Our client faced two oh-so-common content marketing challenges: a lack of SEO strategy and limited resources for content creation. As a result, their resources section didn’t have a strong organic search presence.
This healthcare support network focused content creation mostly on inspirational stories, which performed well on social but had little impact in search. Their blog was missing informational resources for people affected by medical trials.
Since the organization is a nonprofit, we had to be especially mindful of the resources we allocated to new content creation. The goal was to create high-quality articles without demanding too much of the content team’s already limited time.
Our strategy: Content from users, for users
Instead of competing with sites like Mayo Clinic for competitive medical terms, we focused on building authority for the emotional, spiritual and familial topics that arise during a medical event. CaringBridge refers to this as the “health journey.”
To source content ideas, we analyzed close competitors and held a brainstorm with the content team, then prioritized keywords by relevance and volume.
Once we had our topics, we needed expert input to source ideas from. In this case, we realized that people with firsthand experience are the true experts for this content. Most of the organization’s audience has experienced the effects of a health crisis; they understand better than anyone what is helpful in these difficult situations.
So we turned to its 311,000 Facebook followers, prompting them for ideas on each topic. We created/updated 28 informational articles, sourcing ideas and including the real comments from our Facebook prompts.
Here’s an example of a prompt we used, and a snippet from the related article:
We concluded articles with a CTA to comment on more ideas, and hundreds of comments cropped up across the posts. Comments – when indexable and moderated – can add more relevant content to the page and boost quality. And with all the new ideas from the comments, we can easily keep content fresh by revamping it with the community’s input.
This process engaged the audience and minimized the effort needed to create helpful resources.
The UGC gave us relevant, unique content that earned first page rankings for a handful of our target keywords.
In the last year, the resources section grew from a nearly invisible organic search presence to the fastest-growing organic site section:
- 228% Y/Y increase in organic users
- 79% Y/Y increase in site creations
- 303% Y/Y increase in Facebook traffic
- 76% Y/Y increase in email traffic
These results go beyond numbers: hundreds of positive sentiments were expressed by its community on these articles.
“Very helpful listing, I like the quotes. The concept for your site is amazing!”
“These ideas will help me to be able to help my sister. She lives far away so the [gift] package idea will be fun.”
“WOW, these sentiments are spot on… from one who is battling lymphoma. Listening to the patient is so vital as well, it truly is the simple things in life that are the best meds of all!”
More ways to incorporate UGC
Facebook comments aren’t the only place to source content from your user base. Here are a few other UGC ideas:
- Reviews: A crucial aspect of driving sales, reviews can also add relevant content on-site. If this makes you nervous, Google’s guidelines remind site owners that one negative review won’t hurt: “A single encounter should not be considered negative reputation information.” However, you should still moderate spam or inappropriate reviews, and reply to negative feedback when you can.
- Comments: Like the page’s main content, high-quality comments can be quite valuable, while low-quality can drag your page down. Ensure you’re moderating responsibly, and that your quality comments are being indexed.
- Embed tweets: Prompt your Twitter followers to answer your keyword’s question. You can use their feedback to quickly source content ideas, and embed the tweets in the article to add content and promote community engagement.
Note: Valid concerns arise around UGC, many of which involve spam or inappropriate content. Check out these strategies from Google to ensure all the content on your site is authentic, appropriate and relevant.
And if you don’t have the resources to moderate your UGC, don’t worry. Manually uploading content (as shown in this case study) can be a good option since you’ll have full control over the content used.
Finally, consider asking your audience for permission to put their responses on your site. The more transparent you can be in this process, the better.
From the start, look to your audience for topic ideas. Send a prompt on social or email asking your followers what they want to know. Get FAQs from your customer service and product teams. Read your blog comments to find common themes or questions. From there, you can conduct keyword research to understand how users are searching for these topics.
You definitely don’t need thousands of followers to harness the power of UGC. Many of these strategies are feasible for brands of all sizes – try testing different methods to find which produce the best engagement and performance. When you write with your audience top of mind, you’ll see the results.
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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
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