Marketing 3 min read

Google Treats User-Generated Content and Main Content Alike

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What is User-Generated Content (UGC)?

User-generated content (UGC) refers to any content that users add to a page after the page was initially published. These include reviews, videos, photos, questions, answers, and comments.

Along with supplying more information to help search crawlers understand your page, UGC also creates a sense of community. It provides an opportunity to collect feedback and helps your audience learn directly from their peers.

So, how does Google handle UGC? That’s the million dollars question.

In a recent episode of the Ask Google Webmasters video series on YouTube, a site owner asked:

“Google ranks web pages based on content relevancy & quality (among other factors). Does this apply in the case of User Generated Content as well?”

Here is Google’s John Mueller‘s response.

Google Treats User-Generated Content and Main Content Similarly

According to Mueller, the search engine treats all the content on your site the same way.

Whether it’s your article or a user’s comment, if you publish it on your site, Google will assume that you want to share it online. So, it’ll consider the main content as well as the UGC when ranking the page.

Here’s what Mueller said:

“Overall, Google doesn’t differentiate between the content you wrote and content your users wrote. If you publish it on your site, we’ll see it as content that you want to have published. And that’s what we’ll use for ranking.”

That’s why proper moderation is essential. Your site’s UGC must meet a specific publishing standard to prevent it from impacting your search ranking.

One way to do this, according to Mueller, is to block pages with UGC from Google’s index until they’ve undergone a quality check. The webmaster trend analyst suggested using a noindex robots meta tag, which you can remove once you’re satisfied with the quality.

Use UGC Attribute for Links

To wrap up, Mueller recommends that site owners take precautions when dealing with user-generated content that contains links.

Many sites that accept UGC reject links altogether. But for those that do allow links, Muller points out that using the UGC link attribute is probably a good idea.

He said:

“Finally, one thing to keep in mind with UGV is that, by default, you probably can’t vouch for the added links. For these, we have a way of telling us that these links are user-generated content with therel= “ugc” attribute.”

Read More: How To Grow Your Business With User-Generated Content

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