Online reviews can be a divisive idea among marketers. Some welcome the user-generated keyword-rich content and increased transparency. Others argue that they have to be censored or you risk negative comments and even legal challenges.
So who’s right? This article takes a look at why you’d benefit from publishing reviews, what the risks are and how to mitigate them.
The rise and rise of UGC
UGC, or user-generated content is a fairly recent phenomenon of web marketing, and serves several of the major demands of SEO (at least in terms of how Google defines ‘optimised’ website content).
For a start, reviews are helpful to other visitors to your website – as long as they are honest. They offer an independent assessment of the quality of a product or service. No material written directly for marketing purposes can inspire that much trust.
Updating a page by posting a new review onto it shows Google (and other search engines) that the page and the website as a whole are still ‘alive’. Regularly updating a website is still one of the best ways to get it to the top of the search rankings.
On top of all of these things, like any text content added to your website, reviews contain plain, search-visible text; it may not be professionally keyworded or optimised, but it can still help you to rank higher for product names, and associated technical terms and phrases.
What are the risks?
One of the reasons why UGC is so popular is that it seems very low-risk – once you’ve added the capability to write reviews to your website, each user who posts their opinion is effectively providing you with search-visible content for free.