“Social is your superpower,” read this tagline on Hootsuite’s homepage and couldn’t agree anymore. Hootsuite – a tool that has been popular since the early days of social media helps businesses manage their accounts all across social media platforms, that too with ease and flow!
We are in 2022, and social media is more powerful than ever before. Videos, reels, posts, filters, live videos, etc make it easier for both small, and large businesses to reach the target audience with ease.
According to research, there are approximately 4.62 billion social media users today. So, how do we reach our ideal customer in such a huge influx of users? Get creative! When we say ‘get creative’ we mean getting creative in terms of how you put your message out there.
A great way could be to come up with unique visuals that appeal to your audience. Unique, creative content be it text, videos, images drive the audience’s attention and engage them well as compared to the boring content.
Without further ado, let’s get to some of the bright ideas that you must use when designing your social media strategy in 2022.
No. 1: Make the most of User Generated Content
People love online stores, they love to see and watch people doing the same thing before they could actually do it themselves. It gives them confidence. That’s why people love to read reviews or watch video testimonials before they could actually buy your product or service.
User-generated content does wonders particularly if you sell a product. Personally, I never buy anything before checking the reviews. A happy customer would always share his experience on his social media, or your product page. Make sure you repurpose that and place it on your website, landing page, or store.
A way to make the most of user-generated content is by promoting the testimonials with the hashtag #testimonialtuesday across all social media channels.
Check out this testimonial Tuesday post done by a real estate investor in order to promote her services, and honestly, the post is engaging quite a lot.
No. 2: Connect with the Audience, Emotionally
When you connect with your audience at an emotional level, you won. Know that your target audience always loves to be valued and care for. Therefore, the more personalized you get, and the better you connect with them at an emotional level, the better your social media campaigns will succeed.
So, here’s what the states looked like.
- The message inspired women significantly and there were more than 168,000 posts with the hashtag #SpeakBeautiful
- The campaign drove 800 million social media impressions, which is huge
No. 3: Create Content that Leaves the Reader Wanting More
Creating content that leaves your target audience wanting more could be the best thing you can do. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative and fun as you create this kind of content. If you have a food business, this formula can never get wrong.
We all snap good pictures of the delicious food before we could actually start eating it, and so does your target audience, just make use of that.
So, here’s what you can do further to make it possible.
- Show up on each social media platform to increase brand awareness and demonstrate your product through storytelling.
- Reach out to the industry influencers including niche-specific bloggers and collaborate with them.
- Ask your followers for a meet and greet session to share their experiences that will give brand recognition a little further.
Here’s what Nutella did.
Would you love to have more? Think again…
No. 4: Choose Strong Visuals
It goes without saying that strong visuals are crucial. Need some proof?
- Photo-based posts on Facebook get 53% more likes, 84% more clicks, and an astonishingly 104% more comments
- Tweets with great images have 3X engagement rates than others
- LinkedIn posts with images receive 98% more comments
Still not convinced?
According to Social Science Research Network, the human mind processes images 60,000 times faster than text. Now you must have a good reason to focus on visuals rather than just the text. Again, don’t shy away from getting a little creative and funny when it comes to creating visuals for your brand.
You can choose to create:
- Charts and graphs for data visualization
- Great product photos
Pro tip: besides using beautiful imagery on social media, your site also has to be well designed so it appears trustworthy.If not, all that sweet social referral traffic will hit the back button as soon as they see your site. And that is a terrible message to send to Google about the quality of your website.
No. 5: Create Social Media Content around a Trending Topic
Twitter is a game-changer when it comes to trending topics. Create a post around a hot topic under discussion, and boom your tweet will reach millions of audience. Therefore, it is great to keep eye on the topics under discussion and get creative around that to design that one crispy post which will reach millions of audiences.
In the same pattern, make sure you create content on another platform as well. It shows that your brand is well-informed about what’s going on in the world, and it shows you care about it.
Don’t just follow the trend, see if the matter in trend meshes up with your brand well, and come up with the best idea that you have.
Pro tip: though some AI content writers (for example Jasper AI assistant) have posts templates for all major social platforms, my advice is that you write social media posts yourself, or have your VA write it.
That’s because these AI tools spit out generic content that lacks fire and that won’t inspire your audience to take action.
No. 6: Occasion-Specific Campaigns are a Must
It’s when you have to mix and match everything you have learned so far to get the best out of your social media strategy for occasion-specific campaigns that include:
- New year
- Mother’s Day
- Father’s Day
- Valentines Day
- Holiday Season
Design a unique strategy for the specific occasion to promote your product/service to your audience. Use your campaign to help them celebrate the occasion in the best possible way with their loved ones.
Check out this campaign by Starbucks that smartly tries to improve social media engagement too by offering a reusable red cup for free.
No. 7: Measure Results
Numbers never lie! And, if you create a social media plan based on this rule, you will never fail. In order to achieve results, you have to set smart goals. It is an amateur mistake to shoot blindly without first knowing where the target is.
Don’t just say that you need to increase followers, however, your goal should be like, “We need to get 1000 targeted followers in one month.”
So, here’s what happens.
All the new followers that you will get are ideal customers, which means that you have a higher conversion rate on your social media. And, then you are a step closer to the goal i.e. to sell your product/service.
Alternatively, if you need to increase the number of sign-ups for a specific campaign. Look at how much you spent and how many sign-ups you get. And, increase your ad spending based on that.
Explore Meta Business Suite and dig deeper into the statistics for targeting and retargeting the ad campaigns. Once you do that, use a report maker to compile all the results about the social media campaign and share them with the marketing department.
Tapping into the analytics will help you,
- Understand user behavior at a deeper level
- Refine your strategy more effectively
- Understand which platform works best for your brand
- Identify the best times to post
- Analyze your competitors
There you have it, some of the bright ideas to ensure social media success. Get creative as you plan your social media strategy as you work on these seven bright ideas. Together this will ensure you have a successful social media strategy.
Do you think we have missed out on adding any important things here? Let us know in the comments section below.
How to Use Chrome to View a Website as Googlebot
The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.
Introduction to Googlebot spoofing
In this article, I’ll describe how and why to use Google Chrome (or Chrome Canary) to view a website as Googlebot.
We’ll set up a web browser specifically for Googlebot browsing. Using a user-agent browser extension is often close enough for SEO audits, but extra steps are needed to get as close as possible to emulating Googlebot.
Why should I view a website as Googlebot?
Originally, web servers sent complete websites (fully rendered HTML) to web browsers. These days, many websites are rendered client-side (in the web browser itself) – whether that’s Chrome, Safari, or whatever browser a search bot uses – meaning the user’s browser and device must do the work to render a webpage.
Attempting to get around potential SEO issues, some websites use dynamic rendering, so each page has two versions:
Viewing a website as Googlebot means we can see discrepancies between what a person sees and what a search bot sees. What Googlebot sees doesn’t need to be identical to what a person using a browser sees, but main navigation and the content you want the page to rank for should be the same.
That’s where this article comes in. For a proper technical SEO audit, we need to see what the most common search engine sees. In most English language-speaking countries, at least, that’s Google.
Why use Chrome (or Chrome Canary) to view websites as Googlebot?
Can we see exactly what Googlebot sees?
The aim is to emulate Googlebot’s mobile-first indexing as closely as possible.
When auditing, I use my Googlebot browser alongside Screaming Frog SEO Spider’s Googlebot spoofing and rendering, and Google’s own tools such as URL Inspection in Search Console (which can be automated using SEO Spider), and the render screenshot and code from the Mobile Friendly Test.
Even Google’s own publicly available tools aren’t 100% accurate in showing what Googlebot sees. But along with the Googlebot browser and SEO Spider, they can point towards issues and help with troubleshooting.
Why use a separate browser to view websites as Googlebot?
Having a dedicated browser saves time. Without relying on or waiting for other tools, I get an idea of how Googlebot sees a website in seconds.
While auditing a website that served different content to browsers and Googlebot, and where issues included inconsistent server responses, I needed to switch between the default browser user-agent and Googlebot more often than usual. But constant user-agent switching using a Chrome browser extension was inefficient.
Aside from having a coder who can code a headless Chrome solution, the “Googlebot browser” setup is an easy way to spoof Googlebot.
2. Improved accuracy
Browser extensions can impact how websites look and perform. This approach keeps the number of extensions in the Googlebot browser to a minimum.
It’s easy to forget to switch Googlebot spoofing off between browsing sessions, which can lead to websites not working as expected. I’ve even been blocked from websites for spoofing Googlebot, and had to email them with my IP to remove the block.
For which SEO audits are a Googlebot browser useful?
The most common use-case for SEO audits is likely websites using client-side rendering or dynamic rendering. You can easily compare what Googlebot sees to what a general website visitor sees.
Even with websites that don’t use dynamic rendering, you never know what you might find by spoofing Googlebot. After over eight years auditing e-commerce websites, I’m still surprised by issues I haven’t come across before.
Example Googlebot comparisons for technical SEO and content audits:
Is the main navigation different?
Is Googlebot seeing the content you want indexed?
Do URLs return different server responses? For example, incorrect URLs can return 200 OK for Googlebot but 404 Not Found for general website visitors.
Is the page layout different to what the general website visitor sees? For example, I often see links as blue text on a black background when spoofing Googlebot. While machines can read such text, we want to present something that looks user-friendly to Googlebot. If it can’t render your client-side website, how will it know? (Note: a website might display as expected in Google’s cache, but that isn’t the same as what Googlebot sees.)
Do websites redirect based on location? Googlebot mostly crawls from US-based IPs.
It depends how in-depth you want to go, but Chrome itself has many useful features for technical SEO audits. I sometimes compare its Console and Network tab data for a general visitor vs. a Googlebot visit (e.g. Googlebot might be blocked from files that are essential for page layout or are required to display certain content).
How to set up your Googlebot browser
Once set up (which takes about a half hour), the Googlebot browser solution makes it easy to quickly view webpages as Googlebot.
Step 1: Download and install Chrome or Canary
If Chrome isn’t your default browser, use it as your Googlebot browser.
If Chrome is your default browser, download and install Chrome Canary. Canary is a development version of Chrome where Google tests new features, and it can be installed and run separately to Chrome’s default version.
Named after the yellow canaries used to detect poisonous gases in mines, with its yellow icon, Canary is easy to spot in the Windows Taskbar:
As Canary is a development version of Chrome, Google warns that Canary “can be unstable.” But I’m yet to have issues using it as my Googlebot browser.
Step 2: Install browser extensions
I installed five browser extensions and a bookmarklet on my Googlebot browser. I’ll list the extensions, then advise on settings and why I use them.
For emulating Googlebot (the links are the same whether you use Chrome or Canary):
User-Agent Switcher extension
User-Agent Switcher does what it says on the tin: switches the browser’s user-agent. Chrome and Canary have a user-agent setting, but it only applies to the tab you’re using and resets if you close the browser.
I take the Googlebot user-agent string from Chrome’s browser settings, which at the time of writing will be the latest version of Chrome (note that below, I’m taking the user-agent from Chrome and not Canary).
To get the user-agent, access Chrome DevTools (by pressing F12 or using the hamburger menu to the top-right of the browser window, then navigating to More tools > Developer tools). See the screenshot below or follow these steps:
Go to the Network tab
From the top-right Network hamburger menu: More tools > Network conditions
Click the Network conditions tab that appears lower down the window
Untick “Use browser default”
- Select “Googlebot Smartphone” from the list, then copy and paste the user-agent from the field below the list into the User-Agent Switcher extension list (another screenshot below). Don’t forget to switch Chrome back to its default user-agent if it’s your main browser.
At this stage, if you’re using Chrome (and not Canary) as your Googlebot browser, you may as well tick “Disable cache” (more on that later).
To access User-Agent Switcher’s list, right-click its icon in the browser toolbar and click Options (see screenshot below). “Indicator Flag” is text that appears in the browser toolbar to show which user-agent has been selected — I chose GS to mean “Googlebot Smartphone:”
I added Googlebot Desktop and the bingbots to my list, too.
Why spoof Googlebot’s user agent?
Web servers detect what is browsing a website from a user-agent string. For example, the user-agent for a Windows 10 device using the Chrome browser at the time of writing is:
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/102.0.5005.115 Safari/537.36
If you’re interested in why other browsers seem to be named in the Chrome user-agent string, read History of the user-agent string.
Web Developer extension
Long answer: that would be a whole other article.
Windscribe (or another VPN)
Windscribe (or your choice of VPN) is used to spoof Googlebot’s US location. I use a pro Windscribe account, but the free account allows up to 2GB data transfer a month and includes US locations.
I don’t think the specific US location matters, but I pretend Gotham is a real place (in a time when Batman and co. have eliminated all villains):
Ensure settings that may impact how webpages display are disabled — Windscribe’s extension blocks ads by default. The two icons to the top-right should show a zero.
For the Googlebot browser scenario, I prefer a VPN browser extension to an application, because the extension is specific to my Googlebot browser.
Why spoof Googlebot’s location?
Googlebot mostly crawls websites from US IPs, and there are many reasons for spoofing Googlebot’s primary location.
Some websites block or show different content based on geolocation. If a website blocks US IPs, for example, Googlebot may never see the website and therefore cannot index it.
Another example: some websites redirect to different websites or URLs based on location. If a company had a website for customers in Asia and a website for customers in America, and redirected all US IPs to the US website, Googlebot would never see the Asian version of the website.
With Link Redirect Trace, I see at a glance what server response a URL returns.
The View Rendered Source extension enables easy comparison of raw HTML (what the web server delivers to the browser) and rendered HTML (the code rendered on the client-side browser).
Step 3: Configure browser settings to emulate Googlebot
Next, we’ll configure the Googlebot browser settings in line with what Googlebot doesn’t support when crawling a website.
What doesn’t Googlebot crawling support?
Service workers (because people clicking to a page from search results may never have visited before, so it doesn’t make sense to cache data for later visits).
Permission requests (e.g. push notifications, webcam, geolocation). If content relies on any of these, Googlebot will not see that content.
Googlebot is stateless so doesn’t support cookies, session storage, local storage, or IndexedDB. Data can be stored in these mechanisms but will be cleared before Googlebot crawls the next URL on a website.
These bullet points are summarized from an interview by Eric Enge with Google’s Martin Splitt:
Step 3a: DevTools settings
To open Developer Tools in Chrome or Canary, press F12, or using the hamburger menu to the top-right, navigate to More tools > Developer tools:
The Developer Tools window is generally docked within the browser window, but I sometimes prefer it in a separate window. For that, change the “Dock side” in the second hamburger menu:
If using normal Chrome as your Googlebot browser, you may have done this already.
Otherwise, via the DevTools hamburger menu, click to More tools > Network conditions and tick the “Disable cache” option:
Block service workers
To block service workers, go to the Application tab > Service Workers > tick “Bypass for network”:
Step 3b: General browser settings
In your Googlebot browser, navigate to Settings > Privacy and security > Cookies (or visit chrome://settings/cookies directly) and choose the “Block all cookies (not recommended)” option (isn’t it fun to do something “not recommended?”):
Also in the “Privacy and security” section, choose “Site settings” (or visit chrome://settings/content) and individually block Location, Camera, Microphone, Notifications, and Background sync (and likely anything that appears there in future versions of Chrome):
Step 4: Emulate a mobile device
Finally, as our aim is to emulate Googlebot’s mobile-first crawling, emulate a mobile device within your Googlebot browser.
Towards the top-left of DevTools, click the device toolbar toggle, then choose a device to emulate in the browser (you can add other devices too):
Whatever device you choose, Googlebot doesn’t scroll on webpages, and instead renders using a window with a long vertical height.
I recommend testing websites in desktop view, too, and on actual mobile devices if you have access to them.
How about viewing a website as bingbot?
To create a bingbot browser, use a recent version of Microsoft Edge with the bingbot user agent.
Bingbot is similar to Googlebot in terms of what it does and doesn’t support.
Yahoo! Search, DuckDuckGo, Ecosia, and other search engines are either powered by or based on Bing search, so Bing is responsible for a higher percentage of search than many people realize.
Summary and closing notes
So, there you have your very own Googlebot emulator.
Using an existing browser to emulate Googlebot is the easiest method to quickly view webpages as Googlebot. It’s also free, assuming you already use a desktop device that can install Chrome and/or Canary.
Questions? Something I missed? Tweet me @AlexHarfordSEO. Thanks for reading!
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