Are You Using UGC?

Also known as User Generated Content, UGC is the online version of ‘Word-of-Mouth’ marketing and can be found on popular retail sites such as  In fact, a book I recently read (Eats, Shoots & Leaves) has generated 546 Amazon reviews to date.

Another web property leveraging UGC is Google.  For example, a Google search for ‘Hotels Toronto’  profiles 10 ‘Local Listings’ on the first page.  To the right of these listings are reviews, with the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel boasting 614 Google local reviews to date.

Any website offering a product or service can benefit from Used Generated Content. As Nielsen Online notes, “Consumers place far more trust in fellow consumers than they do in traditional marketers and advertisers.” extols the virtues of UGC in various case studies.  Benefits can include higher search engine rankings, enhanced usability, longer visits and higher conversion rates.

Naturally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the ugly side of UGC.  For instance, companies that fail to meet consumer expectations, or ignore complaints, can easily become UGC refugees.  Case in point:  Consumer complaint sites like The Squeaky Wheel, forums and blogs provide public outlets for consumers to vent.  Worse yet, online complaints often appear in search engine results for everyone to see, including prospects, potential employees and more.

For those that earn the wrath of irate bloggers and posters, consider reading Radically Transparent: Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online (14 Amazon reviews to date). For those interested in building UGC into their content mix, consider applications such as Forums, Blogs and Interactive FAQ’s.

Ray Litvak
Search Engine Writer ~ Toronto, Ontario Canada