Guest blogs can drive traffic, but small businesses must develop these strategies with an eye to quality.

For small businesses using content marketing, creating enough articles or blog posts to achieve goals can be difficult. In fact, producing enough content is cited as a challenge for 20 percent of businesses, according to the Content Marketing Institute. Whether the goal of content is generating leads, boosting site traffic or driving conversions, pegging the amount of content required to achieve end results an inexact science.

Despite this, the potential benefits of writing, posting and sharing high-quality, engaging articles are numerous. Increasing the amount of pages on a site with news content marketing campaigns can help an SMB improve search standing and authority in their niche. Part of website content’s appeal is driving conversation and engagement with prospects.

For both B2B and B2C companies, building audience interaction is an important part of creating digital content. Some opt to use social media marketing, which improves visibility and allows prospects to ask questions or speak directly to an SMB. While this should be a part of most new media marketing efforts, a B2C coffee retailer campaign offers a lesson in others ways to improve customer engagement.

Implementing a user-generated content element to website content helped Coffee For Less increase the success of its marketing campaigns. Most notably, the company saw its conversion rate jump 125 percent among website visitors that accessed the content.

MarketingSherpa highlighted Coffee For Less’ campaign, detailing the myriad benefits of adding user-generated content to a website. While creating and sharing original articles and website content is important, allowing prospects to interact with each other and your company can keep visitors on a website longer and drive them closer to conversion.

Encouraging the kind of user-generated content that generates demand

While any small business can employ user-generated content to make it more compelling for users, B2C small businesses are doing so most effectively. In MarketingSherpa’s analysis of Coffee For Less’ campaigns, a comprehensive effort aimed at engaging customers showed that users were genuinely interested in discussing products with others. Your audiences are likely interested in talking about your offerings as well, but you have to give them the chance. You should also set the tone for comments that will be useful to prospects and provide referrals or other valuable feedback for your business.

The articles and other kinds of content on a website are the most important element of any campaigns. SMBs need to be sure that thoughtful articles and other information about products and services are present to inform readers and serve as a starting point for conversations among customers.

Coffee For Less found that encouraging users to share their experiences, both positive and negative, directly on the site made their pages more engaging and informative. Aside from the 125 percent higher conversion rate that the site experienced among those that accessed user-generated content, review readers spent 157 more time on the website than average, familiarizing themselves with the company and its offerings by way of fellow users’ comments..

Articles written by professional, SEO content writers can initially attract the customers looking for products or services. The reviews and other user-generated content lead them to deepen their on-site research and can move them further through a conversion funnel. Try to cultivate your own user-generated content:

End blog posts with questions that ask your audiences to comment on what they think of industry trends so they can speak directly to the insights you share. Positive responses are a good way to show other visitors that your company is a credible thought leader, and negative ones can be addressed to show you care about customers’ opinions.

On product pages, make it easy for users to leave comments. Even customers that don’t enjoy a particular item can be effective when encouraged to write detailed reviews. A negative review might have more to do with an individual’s needs than the quality of the product or service, itself, and more detailed reviews can help make this distinction. For example, with Coffee For Less, a particularly strong kind of coffee may not be ideal for everyone, so telling users to be specific and recommend a product for the type of audience that can use it will ensure all reviews are beneficial.

There is risk, of course, with user-generated content in terms of low-quality or inappropriate content. This is where moderating comments is important. Advise users against leaving this type of content with a “sharing guide” published on your site, and remove any that violate the conditions you set. While moderating for quality is also important, a misspelled word or two isn’t going to hurt your website in terms of search. A Of course, any content the you create on behalf of your SMB should be of a professional quality.

Maximize user-generated content to drive SEO

The fear for some SMBs may be that allowing comments on content marketing material will result in excessively negative feedback from consumers. Like we touched on earlier, encouraging the right kind of comments along with moderation will eliminate most of this.

Allowing search crawlers to access these reviews can also help SMBs improve their search standing. An Econsultancy report indicates that Google has long been crawling third-party comment apps to count toward a page’s SEO value. Aside from the technical side of things, more content on the site and the thoughtful reviews that help guide the purchase process will make sites more appealing to search engines because they’ll be more relevant to users.

MarketingSherpa said that Coffee For Less opened its reviews to search engines and has successfully improved its SEO standing. Part of the dynamic searchscape is bringing quality content to users. Articles written as part of content marketing campaigns result in high-quality content for crawlers to come across. Adding the element of user-generated content can be equally valuable for SMBs.

For SMBs hoping for an SEO lift as a result, showing some strong examples of high-quality reviews or other kinds of user-generated content is critical. Perhaps more than any other factor, low-quality content can hurt a small business’ standing in search rankings. Just as you’ll want to eliminate spammy comments that won’t appeal to users, you’ll want to get rid of really thin comments that seem to come from bots so you won’t raise red flags with search crawlers.

More lessons from Coffee For Less’ success

Coffee For Less improved the appeal of its website and engagement with customers by allowing them to post feedback. As a result, the company saw great improvements in the web metrics they rely on as well as conversions. The content users contribute to the Coffee For Less is fairly simple, discussing products, their uses and the reasons a shopper was satisfied or dissatisfied. While you can set up some prompts to invite the user-generated content you’d like, take a cue from Coffee For Less and let your audience drive the direction of the conversation.

Further benefits of the user-generated include social sharing. Coffee For Less placed a Facebook widget on its pages. This let their website visitors share product landing pages, and you can also add sharing buttons to get user advocacy on web pages while also improving the visibility and success of social media marketing campaigns.

Coffee For Less also gave commenters the option to post the content they contributed to their own Facebook pages. By making this an option, you let people share their own content (which helps them look like thought leaders, too) while also building opportunities to get their friends and contacts to interact with your business.

A great deal of content marketing’s value comes from the improved engagement it offers. Typically, this interaction comes on social platforms, which is great, but, like Coffee For Less showed, a good strategy can turn your site into a hub for prospect interactions.