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May 5, 2010 | 3 minute read

10 Considerations for User Generated Content

written by Linda Bustos

If your ecommerce site has (or is thinking of adding) user generated content (UGC) like product reviews, questions and answers, forums, knowledge bases, photos, video, blogs, comments and social tags, here are 9 things to keep in mind:

1. What’s Right for You?

Just because Amazon is doing user-submitted video and photos or product tagging doesn’t mean it’s right for your business. It's important to consider what makes sense for the types of products you’re selling, your customer behavior and even sales volume. If Amazon's ratio of purchases to traditional product reviews (slide 31) is 1,300 to 1, imagine how high it would be for video and photo, which take a lot more time and computer savvy from customers than text reviews.

2. "Everything in Moderation"

To protect your brand integrity, you really do have to moderate everything - whether product reviews, video, photos or comments. Make sure you have the resources and processes to moderate in a timely manner.

3. Privacy

Customers want to have confidence that you respect their privacy as an aggregator of their contributed content.

4. Content Ownership

Think carefully whether you or your customer owns content. Keep in mind some third party platforms like customer reviews and even web analytics may actually own contributed content. You may not be able to take it with you if you switch platforms, so make sure you own the content when choosing a vendor.

5. Storage

User generated content may "live" in your CMS, custom database or in variety of third party, hosted applications. Whenever possible, consolidate this content so it's easy to access in one place.

6. In-site Search

User generated content is ideally indexed by your site search tool to appear in search results. If data exists in multiple places, this becomes more difficult. Sophisticated systems may use federated search to solve the problem.

7. SEO and Indexing

The major search engines realize the value that videos, images and reviews deliver to searchers. Google has even partnered with Bazaarvoice recently to deliver product reviews in search snippets.

Fresher content may also give your page a boost in search engines, as will more content (more text means more opportunities your page text will match a search query. Also, customers will use synonyms and misspellings that you don't use in your product copy. But you can't benefit from UGC unless search engines index it. Avoid using Javascript or frames to deliver content (common practice with third party platforms), as search engines will ignore it.

8. Syndication and Extended Usage

Consider whether you want your content syndicated to other sites like shopping engines and review aggregators. The benefit might be more reach, but at the expense of search engine traffic (duplicate text on multiple sites, the aggregator may rank higher because of higher trust in search engines, more links, etc).

On the flip side, you may decide to aggregate content from external sites on your page like reviews, blog posts, images and even Youtube video. Quality control and moderation are important if you go this route.

9. Profile Integration and Upload Process

It's important the customer only need to log in once to upload content for a seamless experience.

10. Platform vs. Build In House

Because of the considerations above, you may decide an in-house build better meets your requirements for control, integration or innovation.

These tips are taken from our latest webinar: Managing online content across markets and channels: The role of PIM and CMS in ecommerce (PIM stands for Product Information Management, and CMS stands for Content Management System) with Elastic Path's Peter Sheldon. If you missed it, you can watch the replay on-demand or peruse the slide deck below:

Managing online content across markets and channels

View more presentations from Elastic Path.