User Generated Content: What It Is, Why You Want It, How To Get It

User generated content for SEO
Good user generated content can be optimized to boost your search engine rankings.

User generated content is simply the comments, reviews and feedback left by visitors to your site.

So, why is it so important?

First, it’s free content for your site or blog. You didn’t have to write it or take the time to come up with the ideas.

Second, those impassioned contributors are actually free marketers for your site (so you want to nurture them and cultivate them!).

Third, it generates credibility and demonstrates the usefulness for your site. As SEOs tend to preach, content is king and the more good user generated content the search engines find, the better they consider the quality of your site.

Fourth, the search engines love it because it feeds them rather than competes with them. In other words, more content equals more crawling.

Fifth, it provides a longtail solution for keywords. No more keyword stuffing to try to catch the longtail!

Sixth, quality user generated content makes it easier to get link love.

Finally, did I mention it’s FREE?!

So, now that you’ve got an idea as to why you should be adding user generated content to your SEO toolkit (If you haven’t, you’re going to fall behind the pack fast, so get with it!), how do you go about optimizing your site to make the most of it? Continue reading

Yahoo! Open Search Platform

For the first time in front of a public group, Yahoo! presented its new Open Search Platform at a special presentation at SMX West 2008 in Santa Clara. Basically a way for users and site owners to customize search results, the Open Search Platform will allow use of plugins for personalization.

For instance, a site owner can create a plugin with information relevant to the site including images, phone numbers, links and other data such as reviews. A user can load the plugin from a gallery so that when the site comes up in a search result, the link will not just be a link to the site, but sort of a blended result with an image and additional links similar to what Google now serves up as One Box results.

Sort of personalized universal search results.

Yahoo! Open Search Platform will focus on “completing tasks” rather than dishing out results. Users can share results with others, add or remove enhancements or even report sites as abusers of trust.

According to Yahoo!, it’s “All about users choice.”

Site owners can add buttons, galleries and marketing info to create a richer experience for visitors. The new service, which is free, will be open to all sites by way of an API or feed upload.

More information, including example images can be found at http://tools.search.yahoo.com/open . Also see the Yahoo blog for updates.

Google – The Next Big Brother?

Something interesting I noticed last night. If I sign into Google with my user name and password and then search for “eyeglasses” in the Google search box, my employer, FramesDirect.com, comes up #1. If I log out and run the same search, we’re back behind a competitor. I tried this numerous times on different PCs and browsers and every time I ran the search signed in, we were #1. As soon as I logged out, the results reverted.Of course, I had initially hoped that Google was going through an algo shift or update and that we would stay in the #1 position. I even went to to the old Google Dance page at http://www.seochat.com/googledance/ to see where we were on the www, www2 and www3 servers. Same thing. We showed at #1. Then I opened Firefox and got totally different results from what I was seeing in Internet Explorer 7. In Firefox, we were still behind the competitor. I moved to several different computers in the house (doesn’t everyone have several?) and could not repeat our #1 ranking on any of them.It was then that I happened to look up at the open Internet Explorer window that showed the #1 rank. I was logged into my Google account without realizing it. I went around and logged into the account of the other PCs and, voila, we were #1.

Not as good as actually being in the #1 spot, but at least I now know what was going on.

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Yahoo and Javascript Drop Downs

Yahoo informed us a while back that they had problems with our navigation at FramesDirect.com. Apparently, on the bottom of some of our catalog pages we had links to “More designer eyeglasses” where we would list other brands. Say for instance someone is looking at Ray Ban eyeglasses on our Ray Ban catalog page. At the bottom, we’d have a section for “Other designer eyeglasses” and list Rodenstock and others that came close alphabetically. We figured it was handy for the user and is pretty standard. Heck, even Amazon.com does it.

Yahoo, however, considered the practice to be spammy and redundant. Of course, when you try to ask what they mean, they basically just repeat themselves (look at our guidelines, etc.) and won’t give you any information.

We couldn’t figure out why they felt this way. Our competition is doing the same thing (and a lot worse) and Yahoo wasn’t giving them any grief.

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