Should I ban user generated content on my website?

Posted on June 18, 2010

 

One question that many website owners have for their SEO company, particularly when they have been burned in the past, concerns user generated content on their website. By user generated content, we mean comments on blog posts, reviews on products and services and even whole forums.

The problem is, that unless the content is moderated you never know what will be added. Spammers and automated bots love to leave their mark on websites that allow them to, resulting in comments and forums filling up with rubbish – often including content and links to websites that you, the website owner, would rather didn’t exist on your website.

As well as being unpleasant for your website’s visitors to see, it’s also dangerous for SEO as Google isn’t going to recommend a website that features links to unpleasant websites.

Of course, the key word in all of this was ‘moderated’. You should, no… you must ensure that all content on your website is moderated. Whether you have added the content or not, your website will be held accountable by the search engines (and everyone else) for the content it contains.

Moderating content takes time however, and many website owners don’t have this sort of time to spare when they’re running their business. Therefore they often take the stance of not allowing comments, not featuring reviews and never considering the benefits of a forum. This is a mistake, because user generated content is one of the best forms of SEO. You’re receiving regularly updated content, all of it relevant to your website and each page, for free. You can’t put a price on this sort of content, and stopping it before it starts will prove very expensive in the level of SEO and marketing that you will need to do in order to make up the ground.

Don’t ring-fence your website from user generated content – embrace it. Just keep an eye on it and don’t allow any offensive, irrelevant or spam content to be added.

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