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Google’s Guide To User Generated Content (UGC)

Google's user generated content (UGC) guide outlines the proper methods for incorporating content submitted by website visitors.

A new Google guide explains how to incorporate user-generated content (UGC) on your website while adhering to the company’s guidelines.

Google has created an infographic with a yes/no flowchart and an interactive troubleshooter to assist websites with the proper use of UGC.

Knowing how to use this type of content correctly is critical because Google treats it the same as the main content of a webpage.

As a result, low-quality user-generated content can degrade the overall quality of the webpage.

Worse, if spammy UGC is not moderated, it may result in a Google penalty.

If you run ads on your website, you must also pay close attention to the content that users submit, as Google explains:

“But if a publisher wants to run ads on pages where user comments appear, all of the content on those pages — including comments — must follow our Publisher Policies.

Publishers are responsible for ensuring that comment sections, forums, social media postings or anything else that users generate on their site or app are compliant with our Program Policies. This content is also subject to our Publisher Restrictions.”

Websites are not required to allow UGC, and there is no inherent benefit to doing so.

User-submitted comments, on the other hand, can be an effective way to drive discussion and engagement around articles, and many publishers choose to allow them.

Allowing content from website visitors has advantages and disadvantages, and Google’s flowchart can help you decide whether it’s worth the effort.

Should I Allow User Generated Content on My Website?

Google’s flowchart begins with the question, “Are you going to incorporate user-generated content?

If you answered yes, Google suggests you consider the following:

“As a publisher, you are responsible for ensuring that all content on your site or app complies with all of our applicable program policies on all of the pages where Google ad code appears. This includes comments that are added to your pages by users.”

With that in mind, Google inquires, “Am I going to handle this myself?”

If you answered yes, Google wants you to think about how much work is involved in moderating it.

Google has compiled a list of UGC management strategies to assist you in your efforts.

6 UGC Management Techniques

  1. Create a content policy: Your users should be informed of what is and is not permitted.
  2. Identify and hire user moderators: Enlist the help of the community in flagging inappropriate content.
  3. Regularly review UGC: Set aside some time to go over your pages.
  4. Include the following links for reporting inappropriate content: Add a “Report a Violation” button to allow your users to report inappropriate content.
  5. The moderation process can be automated: You can create filtering based on the type of content on your site to automatically detect specific content.
  6. Make use of a CAPTCHA: Before allowing users to submit content, use a CAPTCHA to ensure that they are human beings and not bots.

If you are unwilling or unable to strictly moderate the content that people submit to your site, Google says you can always change the design of your site.

Rather than displaying comments on the same page as the main content, you could have them open in a new window.

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