Indexation is the less glamorous but all too critical side of user-generated content. While UGC can be a catapult in scaling SEO, it’s a matter of surfacing the user submissions that best support your goals. Some may be spammy, low-quality, or even damaging to your brand.
Quality is the crux of indexation
Additional tech SEO concerns are at play when determining what content Google should crawl and index. One of the most common and detrimental issues is thin content, which dilutes your SEO over time. Exhausting your crawl budget can also become a problem at a certain scale, which happens quickly as UGC gains traction.
To consistently achieve the desired quality level, audit your UGC forms and optimize fields to collect the content you want to index. For example, you can include required fields, ask the right questions, and enforce character-count minimums to ensure users provide adequate information.
It’s a delicate balance to determine requirements to maximize the quality AND rate of user submissions. For example, you don’t want to require many fields that discourage users from submitting. It’s worth considering automatically deindexing content that doesn’t meet your required minimums, as opposed to not allowing users to upload it in the first place.
Build automation into your indexation strategy
Improving the system you use to source content can create a more robust pool of UGC quality. Since low-quality UGC can slip through the cracks, building automation into your indexation strategy is essential.
The meta robots directive is one of the most vital tools at your disposal, which tells Google whether to index a page via an “index” or “noindex” tag. One potential approach to avoid thin content issues is automatically setting the meta robots tag on new UGC pages. You can base this on quality control factors like the number of fields the user filled out, the character count of specific crucial fields, or similar conditions.