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11 Social Media Content Types & Examples

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11 Social Media Content Types & Examples

Social media has been at the forefront of digital marketing for quite some time, and it’s unlikely this will change in the near future.

In fact, we are still seeing new social media channels and platforms emerge – alongside a wide variety of content types, features, and formats.

This article will cover the top social media content types and which channels they are best suited for.

We will also highlight some of our favorite examples of how brands have excelled in each type of content.

Let’s dive in.

1. Short-Form Video

If you’ve spent any time on social media in the past few years, you know that short-form video has become one of the most common – and popular – types of social content.

Short-form video could be defined as any piece of video content that is under 10 minutes long, but typically, the shorter, the better. When I think of short-form video, I think of video content around 0-3 minutes long.

From Reels to TikTok to YouTube Shorts, short-form video has proven to be an incredibly effective format for reaching audiences on social media.

Why? Because, when done right, it packages compelling visual storytelling into a bite-sized, digestible piece of content – which is exactly what today’s increasingly distracted and busy users are looking for.

Short-form video is also versatile. You can use it to achieve different objectives, whether showcasing internal thought leadership, highlighting a customer case study, or featuring your product.

The Best Social Media Channels For Short-Form Video

Given the demand for short-form video, it works well across most social media platforms, from TikTok to LinkedIn. However, the following stand out as the best fit:

  • TikTok – This one should be obvious. As the most popular social media platform worldwide, TikTok is the leader in short-form video.
  • Instagram – With the introduction of Instagram Reels in 2020, the platform has leaned into short-form videos. If you create short videos on Instagram, the algorithm will likely reward you.
  • YouTube – While YouTube is better known for long-form videos, which we’ll dive into below, the platform has also been branching into short-form videos. It launched YouTube Shorts in 2020, which now has over 1.5 billion monthly users.
  • Snapchat – The pioneer of the ephemeral video story, Snapchat has somewhat faded into the background in terms of social media chatter. But don’t be fooled; it has over 530 million monthly active users.

Brand Example: Short-Form Video

Mediterranean fast casual food brand, CAVA, is a great example of a company that leverages short-form video on social media.

The brand has amassed over 87,000 TikTok followers by making fun, snappy video content that features CAVA’s products and often employs trending TikTok sounds or formats.

Here is an example of a video where CAVA used a comment by a customer to create video content.

@cava

Jeffrey stamp of approval ☝️ #CAVA #foodreaction #saladrecipe #foodreview

♬ Rich Flex Carter Walsh Remix – CarterWalsh

2. Long-Form Video

Long-form video is video content that is 10 minutes long or longer.

And while you may not see as much of it in your day-to-day social media activities, it definitely plays an important role in brand marketing.

Long-form video can be a powerful tool for more in-depth brand storytelling and content.

Some examples of long-form video content you may want to leverage for marketing purposes are documentaries, branded series, video profiles, interviews, and more.

The Best Social Media Channels For Long-Form Video

If you’re interested in distributing long-form video content on social media, YouTube is where you want to be.

YouTube is the leader when it comes to long-form videos, and you’re most likely to find your audience there.

While you can – and should – share shorter clips and cutdowns from your video on apps like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and TikTok, many of these platforms won’t even allow you to upload longer videos.

Brand Example: Long-Form Video

The team behind BuzzFeed’s Tasty knows what it takes to make great social videos, including long-form content.

Tasty’s YouTube channel features tons of video content, ranging from quick recipes and tips to series like “I Draw, You Cook” – an episode of which is featured below.

3. User-Generated Content (UGC)

User-generated content, or UGC, is content created by individuals unaffiliated with your brand about your brand – and it’s perfect proof of what makes social media content so powerful.

Over the past decade or so, UGC has become one of the most pervasive types of brand content on social media, and for good reason.

UGC leverages word-of-mouth marketing to build trust and community with your target audience. This is because people are more likely to trust a recommendation from their peers than believe in marketing directly from a brand.

UGC can come in many forms, from image or carousel posts to short videos, Instagram Stories, etc.

The Best Social Media Channels For UGC

Instagram is the obvious choice for sharing UGC.

It’s visual by nature, has a hyper-engaged user base, and provides different avenues and formats depending on the content itself – from Stories to Reels or posts on your grid.

X (previously known as Twitter) can also be a good platform for sharing UGC, depending on your industry and the audience you’re trying to reach.

Brand Example: UGC

Adobe features plenty of UGC made by customers on its various products. Here’s an example from the Adobe Creative Cloud Instagram account.

4. Live Streams

Live streaming has been on the rise in recent years, and brands are increasingly getting involved.

It’s become so popular that platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and even TikTok now have dedicated live video products.

Beyond this, new platforms built entirely around live streaming have popped up to cater to fans of this content format.

For brands, live streams provide an opportunity to engage in real-time with your community and offer a more authentic, “behind the scenes” look at your brand than produced content can.

The Best Social Media Channels For Live Streaming

As mentioned above, Instagram Live, YouTube Live, and TikTok Live are all great avenues for your live-stream content.

Where you choose to play will depend on where your target audience spends the most time and what form your content will take.

Depending on this, Twitch is another powerful platform for live streaming.

This live streaming service was initially built around video gaming content but now houses a variety of live content – and could be the best place to host your next live stream!

5. Polls & Questions

The best kind of social media content engages your audience and encourages them to interact with you.

Enter: audience polls and questions.

Whether you’re using a poll feature in a specific social platform, or asking an open-ended question, posing questions to your audience can be a simple way to drive engagement and collect helpful data.

Questions can cover things such as your brand, your product/s, industry trends, or even what kind of content your audience would like to see from you.

The Best Social Media Channels For Polls & Questions

Here are the best platforms when it comes to poll and question content:

  • Instagram – You can use Instagram Stories to create both polls and questions, as it has separate tools for each. You can also create an image asking your audience a question and upload that to your grid, and then people can answer in the comments section.
  • LinkedIn – LinkedIn also has a dedicated poll feature and lends itself well to posing questions where your audience might want to share their experience or opinion in a comment.
  • Twitter – Another platform with a poll feature, Twitter is a great place for any kind of question-related content due to its text-based nature.
  • Facebook – You can poll people in Facebook Groups or pose questions in any of your Facebook content.
  • Reddit – If your brand is active on Reddit, you should consider using the platform’s poll function or asking your audience questions.

Brand Example: Polls & Questions

Fortune is one example of a brand that frequently uses polls to engage its audience.

On LinkedIn, the company often leverages poll content to quiz followers on a specific topic before linking out to a related article for them to learn more.

Screenshot from LinkedIn, July 2023

6. Influencer Collaborations

By now, I’d guess there’s a decent chance that when you hear the words “social media,” you think of influencers.

Influencers really have “taken over” social media by building loyal communities that look to them for entertainment and inspiration, as well as recommendations and advice.

Partnering with influencers can boost your brand’s reach and give it exposure in front of an engaged audience.

Influencer collaborations can take many forms, but the key to doing it right is to find an authentic and natural connection between the influencer and your brand.

The Best Social Media Channels For Influencer Partnerships

If you’re looking to partner with an influencer, consider one of these channels:

  • Instagram – Given how connected Instagram creators are to their followers, it’s a top choice for influencer collaborations. It also provides different possibilities for how your partnership will come to life, e.g., an Instagram Live interview, a Stories feature, a carousel featuring a creator’s top 5 products from your brand, etc.
  • TikTok – As brands start to catch up to the TikTok hype, more and more are partnering with trending creators to get their company in front of the Gen Z consumer.
  • YouTube – Home to some of the world’s most beloved video creators and deeply engaged users, it’s no surprise that YouTube is a popular avenue for influencer partnerships.
  • Twitch – If your brand has any connection to gaming or wants to connect with that audience, Twitch is your platform. Twitch creators are amassing huge fanbases, and their live streams allow you to reach streamers at the right moment.

Brand Example: Influencer Collaborations

Dunkin’ is a brand well known for its influencer partnerships.

Perhaps one of its more well-known collaborations was with TikTok creator Charli D’Amelio – not just one of the platform’s most followed influencers but a known Dunkin’ fan.

@charlidamelio

the best part of any day @Dunkin’ dunkinpartner

♬ original sound – charli d’amelio

7. Infographics And Charts  

The best social media content can tell a story using only visuals.

Infographics and charts are great examples of this, which is perhaps why they have become a go-to content type for both individuals and brands alike.

These images allow you to synthesize information in a way that’s optimized for social audiences (meaning it’s digestible and clear).

The Best Social Media Channels For Infographics And Charts

If you’ve got an infographic, a chart, or a data visualization that you want to share, I recommend testing it out on any of the following channels:

  • Facebook.
  • Twitter.
  • Instagram.
  • Pinterest.
  • LinkedIn.

Brand Example: Infographics & Charts

Here is an example of an informative Instagram chart produced by HubSpot.

8. Memes 

What would social media be if not for memes?

These entertaining and relatable images, videos, and text catchphrases that iterate on a trending idea or topic are the “bread and butter” of social media content.

While brands should be mindful of which memes they use (ask yourself if you have something to add to the conversation), when leveraged correctly, memes can achieve a home-run marketing moment for you.

The Best Social Media Channels For Memes

Instagram and Twitter are the go-to spots for all your memes, though LinkedIn is fast on its heels with some more professional/work-related meme content.

For video memes, look to Instagram Reel and TikTok.

Brand Example: Memes

If you’re looking for a brand that knows how to use memes, look no further than Netflix.

The brand’s Instagram account often creates memes using clips from popular Netflix shows and movies, like this example.

9. GIFs

Graphics Interchange Format, more commonly known as GIFs, are small, soundless video or animation clips that are popular with social media users.

GIFs are typically used to represent how one feels or depict a particular situation and are often shared as a reaction to a piece of social content.

For brands, GIFs can be a fun and relatable tool when speaking directly to members of your social community.

The Best Social Media Channels For GIFs

Want to work GIFs into your social strategy? Twitter and Facebook have long been the place for that, though Instagram recently launched GIFs in comments.

If you want to create custom GIFs for your brand, consider creating a profile on GIPHY. Here, you can create a profile for your company that houses all your uploaded GIFs.

This will allow users all over the internet to use your GIFs through various GIPHY integrations with other platforms.

Brand Example: GIFs

Here is an interesting example of Salesforce leveraging a GIF to create a social-friendly meme.

10. Webinars & Events

Connecting with your audience on social media is all about providing them with valuable content. And what’s more valuable than an educational webinar or virtual event?

These types of content allow you to engage on a deeper level with your audience and reach a global user base.

While webinars are typically presentations that go deep on a specific topic – and often feature key speakers from external organizations – other events can cover anything from a digital conference to a workshop.

And these can all be live or pre-recorded.

The Best Social Media Channels For Webinars & Events

LinkedIn is the best platform for promoting and hosting your webinars and events.

Aside from offering all the functionality you need, it also has an audience that is more likely to be looking for educational and professional content.

Facebook and YouTube are also helpful platforms for hosting live video events.

Brand Example: Webinars & Events

Bizzabo is a brand that comes to mind when I think of webinars.

It often promotes and hosts informative virtual events for its followers on LinkedIn – which makes perfect sense, given that Bizzabo is an events company.

11 Social Media Content Types And ExamplesScreenshot from LinkedIn, July 2023

11. Contests And Giveaways

If you’re looking to get your followers excited and engaged, consider trying a contest or giveaway on social media.

This involves offering a special prize – whether that be a free product, money, or a trip – in exchange for specific interactions from your users (e.g., comment below, tag a friend, follow this account, like and share this post, etc.)

The Best Social Media Channels For Contests & Giveaways

Instagram is probably the most commonly used social channel for contests and giveaways.

However, you can also run them on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and even TikTok.

Brand Example: Contests & Giveaways

Plenty of brands execute contests and giveaways, especially around the holidays. Here is a recent example of a giveaway hosted by Escape Brooklyn.

In Summary

These are just some of the many social media content types to choose from. And with so many options, there are also several ways to approach social media marketing.

Understanding which formats work best for your brand – and resonate most with your audience – usually takes experimentation.

I recommend starting with a few of the content types we explored above based on your overarching content strategy, target platforms, and the resources available to you.

Then start posting and see what happens!

More resources: 


Featured Image: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock



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Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint: A Step-By-Step Guide

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Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint: A Step-By-Step Guide

This post was sponsored by DebugBear. The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor’s own.

Keeping your website fast is important for user experience and SEO.

The Core Web Vitals initiative by Google provides a set of metrics to help you understand the performance of your website.

The three Core Web Vitals metrics are:

This post focuses on the recently introduced INP metric and what you can do to improve it.

How Is Interaction To Next Paint Measured?

INP measures how quickly your website responds to user interactions – for example, a click on a button. More specifically, INP measures the time in milliseconds between the user input and when the browser has finished processing the interaction and is ready to display any visual updates on the page.

Your website needs to complete this process in under 200 milliseconds to get a “Good” score. Values over half a second are considered “Poor”. A poor score in a Core Web Vitals metric can negatively impact your search engine rankings.

Google collects INP data from real visitors on your website as part of the Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX). This CrUX data is what ultimately impacts rankings.

Image created by DebugBear, May 2024

How To Identify & Fix Slow INP Times

The factors causing poor Interaction to Next Paint can often be complex and hard to figure out. Follow this step-by-step guide to understand slow interactions on your website and find potential optimizations.

1. How To Identify A Page With Slow INP Times

Different pages on your website will have different Core Web Vitals scores. So you need to identify a slow page and then investigate what’s causing it to be slow.

Using Google Search Console

One easy way to check your INP scores is using the Core Web Vitals section in Google Search Console, which reports data based on the Google CrUX data we’ve discussed before.

By default, page URLs are grouped into URL groups that cover many different pages. Be careful here – not all pages might have the problem that Google is reporting. Instead, click on each URL group to see if URL-specific data is available for some pages and then focus on those.

1716368164 358 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of Google Search Console, May 2024

Using A Real-User Monitoring (RUM) Service

Google won’t report Core Web Vitals data for every page on your website, and it only provides the raw measurements without any details to help you understand and fix the issues. To get that you can use a real-user monitoring tool like DebugBear.

Real-user monitoring works by installing an analytics snippet on your website that measures how fast your website is for your visitors. Once that’s set up you’ll have access to an Interaction to Next Paint dashboard like this:

1716368164 404 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear Interaction to Next Paint dashboard, May 2024

You can identify pages you want to optimize in the list, hover over the URL, and click the funnel icon to look at data for that specific page only.

1716368164 975 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideImage created by DebugBear, May 2024

2. Figure Out What Element Interactions Are Slow

Different visitors on the same page will have different experiences. A lot of that depends on how they interact with the page: if they click on a background image there’s no risk of the page suddenly freezing, but if they click on a button that starts some heavy processing then that’s more likely. And users in that second scenario will experience much higher INP.

To help with that, RUM data provides a breakdown of what page elements users interacted with and how big the interaction delays were.

1716368164 348 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear INP Elements view, May 2024

The screenshot above shows different INP interactions sorted by how frequent these user interactions are. To make optimizations as easy as possible you’ll want to focus on a slow interaction that affects many users.

In DebugBear, you can click on the page element to add it to your filters and continue your investigation.

3. Identify What INP Component Contributes The Most To Slow Interactions

INP delays can be broken down into three different components:

  • Input Delay: Background code that blocks the interaction from being processed.
  • Processing Time: The time spent directly handling the interaction.
  • Presentation Delay: Displaying the visual updates to the screen.

You should focus on which INP component is the biggest contributor to the slow INP time, and ensure you keep that in mind during your investigation.

1716368164 193 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear INP Components, May 2024

In this scenario, Processing Time is the biggest contributor to the slow INP time for the set of pages you’re looking at, but you need to dig deeper to understand why.

High processing time indicates that there is code intercepting the user interaction and running slow performing code. If instead you saw a high input delay, that suggests that there are background tasks blocking the interaction from being processed, for example due to third-party scripts.

4. Check Which Scripts Are Contributing To Slow INP

Sometimes browsers report specific scripts that are contributing to a slow interaction. Your website likely contains both first-party and third-party scripts, both of which can contribute to slow INP times.

A RUM tool like DebugBear can collect and surface this data. The main thing you want to look at is whether you mostly see your own website code or code from third parties.

1716368164 369 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the INP Primary Script Domain Grouping in DebugBear, May 2024

Tip: When you see a script, or source code function marked as “N/A”, this can indicate that the script comes from a different origin and has additional security restrictions that prevent RUM tools from capturing more detailed information.

This now begins to tell a story: it appears that analytics/third-party scripts are the biggest contributors to the slow INP times.

5. Identify Why Those Scripts Are Running

At this point, you now have a strong suspicion that most of the INP delay, at least on the pages and elements you’re looking at, is due to third-party scripts. But how can you tell whether those are general tracking scripts or if they actually have a role in handling the interaction?

DebugBear offers a breakdown that helps see why the code is running, called the INP Primary Script Invoker breakdown. That’s a bit of a mouthful – multiple different scripts can be involved in slowing down an interaction, and here you just see the biggest contributor. The “Invoker” is just a value that the browser reports about what caused this code to run.

1716368165 263 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the INP Primary Script Invoker Grouping in DebugBear, May 2024

The following invoker names are examples of page-wide event handlers:

  • onclick
  • onmousedown
  • onpointerup

You can see those a lot in the screenshot above, which tells you that the analytics script is tracking clicks anywhere on the page.

In contrast, if you saw invoker names like these that would indicate event handlers for a specific element on the page:

  • .load_more.onclick
  • #logo.onclick

6. Review Specific Page Views

A lot of the data you’ve seen so far is aggregated. It’s now time to look at the individual INP events, to form a definitive conclusion about what’s causing slow INP in this example.

Real user monitoring tools like DebugBear generally offer a way to review specific user experiences. For example, you can see what browser they used, how big their screen is, and what element led to the slowest interaction.

1716368165 545 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of a Page View in DebugBear Real User Monitoring, May 2024

As mentioned before, multiple scripts can contribute to overall slow INP. The INP Scripts section shows you the scripts that were run during the INP interaction:

1716368165 981 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear INP script breakdown, May 2024

You can review each of these scripts in more detail to understand why they run and what’s causing them to take longer to finish.

7. Use The DevTools Profiler For More Information

Real user monitoring tools have access to a lot of data, but for performance and security reasons they can access nowhere near all the available data. That’s why it’s a good idea to also use Chrome DevTools to measure your page performance.

To debug INP in DevTools you can measure how the browser processes one of the slow interactions you’ve identified before. DevTools then shows you exactly how the browser is spending its time handling the interaction.

1716368165 526 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of a performance profile in Chrome DevTools, May 2024

How You Might Resolve This Issue

In this example, you or your development team could resolve this issue by:

  • Working with the third-party script provider to optimize their script.
  • Removing the script if it is not essential to the website, or finding an alternative provider.
  • Adjusting how your own code interacts with the script

How To Investigate High Input Delay

In the previous example most of the INP time was spent running code in response to the interaction. But often the browser is already busy running other code when a user interaction happens. When investigating the INP components you’ll then see a high input delay value.

This can happen for various reasons, for example:

  • The user interacted with the website while it was still loading.
  • A scheduled task is running on the page, for example an ongoing animation.
  • The page is loading and rendering new content.

To understand what’s happening, you can review the invoker name and the INP scripts section of individual user experiences.

1716368165 86 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the INP Component breakdown within DebugBear, May 2024

In this screenshot, you can see that a timer is running code that coincides with the start of a user interaction.

The script can be opened to reveal the exact code that is run:

1716368165 114 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of INP script details in DebugBear, May 2024

The source code shown in the previous screenshot comes from a third-party user tracking script that is running on the page.

At this stage, you and your development team can continue with the INP workflow presented earlier in this article. For example, debugging with browser DevTools or contacting the third-party provider for support.

How To Investigate High Presentation Delay

Presentation delay tends to be more difficult to debug than input delay or processing time. Often it’s caused by browser behavior rather than a specific script. But as before, you still start by identifying a specific page and a specific interaction.

You can see an example interaction with high presentation delay here:

1716368165 665 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the an interaction with high presentation delay, May 2024

You see that this happens when the user enters text into a form field. In this example, many visitors pasted large amounts of text that the browser had to process.

Here the fix was to delay the processing, show a “Waiting…” message to the user, and then complete the processing later on. You can see how the INP score improves from May 3:

1716368165 845 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of an Interaction to Next Paint timeline in DebugBear, May 2024

Get The Data You Need To Improve Interaction To Next Paint

Setting up real user monitoring helps you understand how users experience your website and what you can do to improve it. Try DebugBear now by signing up for a free 14-day trial.

1716368165 494 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear Core Web Vitals dashboard, May 2024

Google’s CrUX data is aggregated over a 28-day period, which means that it’ll take a while before you notice a regression. With real-user monitoring you can see the impact of website changes right away and get alerted automatically when there’s a big change.

DebugBear monitors lab data, CrUX data, and real user data. That way you have all the data you need to optimize your Core Web Vitals in one place.

This article has been sponsored by DebugBear, and the views presented herein represent the sponsor’s perspective.

Ready to start optimizing your website? Sign up for DebugBear and get the data you need to deliver great user experiences.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by Redesign.co. Used with permission.

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International SEO For 2024: 9-Point Checklist For Success

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International SEO For 2024: 9-Point Checklist For Success

Getting your international SEO strategy right can be an elusive feat.

There are a lot more factors at play than people give credit for, and it’s often a thankless job.

A successful international SEO strategy requires a deep knowledge of your company’s commercial strategy as well as technical SEO knowledge, cultural sensitivity, and excellent data skills.

Yet the industry often regards international SEO as just your hreflang setup.

In this article, I will distill the complexities of international SEO success into an actionable step-by-step list that will take you from beginner to advanced practitioner. Let’s begin!

Part I: Be Commercially Aware

1. Understand Why Your Company Is Going International

Companies can grow by expanding their products and services, focusing on gaining market penetration or expanding into new markets.

While your team’s goal might be traffic, leads, or revenue, the leadership team is likely working under a different set of parameters. Most of the time, leadership’s ultimate goal is to maximize shareholder value.

  • In founder-owned companies, growth goals might be slower and more sustainable, usually aimed at maintaining and growing profitability.
  • VC-owned companies have high growth goals because they must provide their investors with a return that’s higher than the stock market. This is what is known as the alpha, or your company’s ability to beat the market in growth.
  • Publicly traded companies are likely aiming to grow their share value.
  • Startups, depending on their maturity stage, are likely looking to prove product-market fit or expand their reach fast to show that their operations are scalable and have the potential to be profitable in the future. The goal of this is to aid in raising further capital from investors.

Understanding why businesses go international is essential for informing your SEO decisions. What’s best practice for SEO isn’t always what’s best for business.

You must adapt your strategy to your company’s growth model.

  • Companies choosing to grow sustainably and maintain profitability will likely expand more slowly to a market that resembles their core market.
  • VC-owned companies will be able to invest in a wider range of countries, with a smaller concern for providing their users with an experience on par with that of their core markets.
  • Startups can try to beat their competitors to market by expanding quickly and throwing a lot of money at the project, or they might be concerned with cash flow and try to expand fast but cut corners by using automatic translation.

2. Stack Rank Your Target Markets To Prioritize Your Investment

I promise I’ll get to hreflang implementation soon, but so much about international SEO has to do with commercial awareness – so bear with me; this will make you a better professional.

Many companies have different market tiers to reflect how much of a priority each market is. Market prioritization can happen using many different metrics, such as:

  • Average order value or lifetime customer value.
  • Amount of investment required.
  • Market size.
  • And market similarity.

American companies often prioritize developed English-speaking countries such as the UK, Canada, or Australia. These are most similar to their core market, and most of their market knowledge will be transferable.

After that, companies are likely to target large European economies, such as Germany and France. They might also target the LatAm market and Spain in the same effort.

The last prioritization tier can vary widely among companies, with a focus on the Nordic, Brazilian, or Asian markets.

Part II: Know Your Tech

3. Define Your International URL Structure

When doing international SEO, there are 4 different possible URL structures, each with its pros and cons.

ccTLD Structure

A ccTLD structure is set up to target different countries based on the domain type.

This structure is not ideal for companies that target different languages rather than different countries. For example, a .es website is targeting Spain, not the Spanish language.

An advantage to this kind of structure is that the ccTLD sends a very strong localization signal to search engines as to what market they are targeting, and they can lead to improved trust and CTR in your core country.

On the other hand, ccTLDs can dilute your site’s authority, as links will be spread across domains rather than concentrated on the .com.

gTLD With Subdirectories

This is my personal favorite when it comes to international SEO.

These URL structures can look like website.com/en if they’re targeting languages or website.com/en-gb if they’re targeting countries.

This configuration aggregates the authority you gain across your different territories into a single domain, it’s cheaper to maintain, and the .com TLD is widely recognizable by users worldwide.

On the other hand, this setup can look less personalized to people outside the US, who might wonder if you can service their markets.

gTLD With Subdomains

This setup involves placing international content on a subdomain like us.website.com. While once popular, it’s slipping in favor because it doesn’t bring anything unique to the table anymore.

This setup offers a clear signal to users and search engines about the intended audience of a specific subdomain.

However, subdomains often face issues with SEO, as Google tends to view them as separate entities. This separation can dilute link, similar to the ccTLD approach but without the geo-targeting advantages.

gTLD With Parameters

This is the setup where you add parameters at the end of the URL to indicate the language of the page, such as website.com/?lang=en.

I strongly advise against this setup, as it can present multiple technical SEO challenges and trust issues.

4. Understand Your Hreflang Setup

In the words of John Mueller: hreflang can be one of the most complex aspects of SEO.

Screenshot from Twitter, May 2024

Hreflang reminds me of a multilingual form of a canonical tag, where we tell search engines that one document is a version of the other and explain the relationship between them.

I find hreflang implementation very interesting from a technical point of view. Because development teams mostly manage it, and it can be very much hit or miss.

Often, hreflang is constructed from existing fields in your content management system (CMS) or content database.

You might find that your development team is pulling the HTML lang tag, which follows a different ISO standard than hreflang, leading to a broken implementation.

Other times, there is a field in your CMS that your development team pulls from to build your hreflang setup.

Finding out how your hreflang tags are generated can be extremely helpful in identifying the sources of different issues or mitigating potential risks.

So speak to your engineering team and ask them how you’re currently generating hreflang.

5. Implement Hreflang Without Errors

There are three ways to implement hreflang on your site:

  • On your sitemap.
  • Through your HTTP header.
  • On your HTML head.

The method most of us are most familiar with is the HTML head. And while you can use more than one method, they should match each other perfectly. Otherwise, you risk confusing search engines.

Here are some basic rules for getting it done correctly:

  • In your hreflang implementation, the URL must include domain and protocol.
  • You must follow the ISO 639-1 language codes – don’t go around making up your own.
  • Hreflang tags must be reciprocal. If the page you’re listing as a language alternative does not list you back, your implementation won’t work.
  • Audit your hreflang regularly. My favorite tool for this, since it added the hreflang cluster analysis and link graphs, is Ahrefs. For the record, Ahrefs is not paying me to say this; it’s a genuine recommendation and has helped me a lot in my work.
  • You should only have one page per language.
  • Your hreflang URLs should be self-canonicalizing and respond with a 200 code.

Follow the above rules, and you’ll avoid the most common hreflang mistakes that SEO pros make.

And if you’re interested in the technical SEO aspect beyond hreflang, I recommend reading Mind your language by Rob Owen.

Part III: Invest In Content Incrementally

6. Translate Your Top-performing Content Topics

Now that you have the basic commercial and technical knowledge covered, you’re ready to start creating a content strategy.

You likely have a wealth of content in your core market that can be recycled. But you want to focus on translating high-converting topics, not just any topic; otherwise, you might be wasting your budget!

Let’s go step by step.

Cluster Your Website’s Content By Topic

  • Crawl your site using your favorite SEO tool and extract the URL and H1.
  • Use ChatGPT to classify that list of URLs into topics. You might already know what you usually write about, so include those topics in your prompt. You don’t want to have a classification that’s too granular, so you can prompt chatGPT to only create groups with a minimum of 10 URLs (adjust this to reflect the size of your website) and class everything else as other. This is an example of what your prompt might look like: “I will provide you with a list of article titles and their corresponding URL. Classify this list into the following topics: survey best practices, research and analysis, employee surveys, market research and others. Return this in a table format with the URL, title and group name.”
  • Start a spreadsheet with all your URLs in the first column, titles in the second column, and the group they belong to in the third column.

Measure Your Performance By Topic

  • Export your GSC data and use a =VLOOKUP formula to match your clicks to your URLs.
  • Export your conversion data and use a =VLOOKUP formula to match your conversions (leads, sales, sign-ups, or revenue) to the right URL.
  • You can then copy your topics column onto a new sheet. Remove duplicates and use the =SUMIF formula to aggregate your click data and conversion data by topic.

Choose What Topics You’ll Be Translating First

Using this data, you can now choose what topics are most likely to drive conversions based on your core market data. Choose how many topics or pieces of content you’ll be translating based on your budget.

Personally, I like translating one topic at a time because I’ve found that generating topical authority on one specific topic makes it easier for me to rank on an adjacent topic that I write about next.

7. Localize Your English Content

Once you’re set up with all your key pages and a few content topics, it’s time to evaluate your investment and see where you could be getting a bigger return.

At this stage, many companies have translated their content into a few different languages and likely copied the US content into their UK and Australian sites. Now that you’ve done some translation, it’s time to work on localization.

If you’ve just copied your US content into your UK and Australian sites, your Google Search Console indexing report might be screaming at you, “Duplicate, Google selected a different canonical than the user.”

A very easy fix that could yield great returns is to localize your English content to the nuances of those English-speaking markets.

You will want to instruct your translation and localization providers to adapt the spellings of certain words, change the choice of words, introduce local expressions, and update any cited statistic for the US with their local equivalent.

For example, if I’m targeting a British audience, “analyze” becomes “analyse,” a “stroller” becomes a “pram,” and “soccer” becomes “football.”

8. Invest In In-market Content

Once you’ve got the basics in place, you can start tackling the specific needs of other markets. This strategy is expensive, and you should only use it in your priority markets, but it can really set you apart from your competitors.

For this, you will need to work with a local linguist to identify pain points, use cases, or needs exclusive to your target market.

For example, if France suddenly made it mandatory to run a diversity and inclusion study for companies with over 250 employees, I’d want to know this and create some content on DEI surveys at SurveyMonkey.

9. Integrate With Other Content Workflows

In step six, we evaluated our top-performing content, chose the best articles to translate, and got it all down. But wait. Some of these source articles have been updated. And there is even more content now!

To run a successful international SEO campaign you must integrate with all the other teams publishing content within your organization.

Usually, the teams creating content in an organization are SEO, content, PR, product marketing, demand generation, customer marketing, customer service, customer education, or solutions engineering.

That’s a lot, and you won’t be able to integrate with everyone all at once. Prioritize the teams that create the most revenue-generating content, such as SEO, content, or product marketing.

Working with these teams, you will have to establish a process for what happens when they create a new piece, update some content, or remove an existing piece.

These processes can differ for everyone, but I can tell you what I do with my team and hope it inspires you.

  • When a piece of content that’s already been localized into international markets is updated, we get the content in a queue to be re-localized the next quarter.
  • When they create a new piece of content, we evaluate its performance, and if it’s performing above average, we add it to a localization queue for the next quarter.
  • When they change the URL of a piece of content or delete it, all international sites must follow suit at the same time, since due to some technical limitations, not making the change globally would create some hreflang issues.

Wrapping Up

International SEO is vast and complex, and no article can cover it all, but many interesting resources have been created by SEO pros across the community for those who want to learn more.

Navigating the complexities of international SEO is no small feat. It’s an intricate dance of aligning commercial strategies with technical precision, cultural insights, and data-driven decisions.

From understanding your company’s core motives for global expansion to meticulously implementing hreflang tags and localizing content, every step plays a crucial role in building a successful international presence.

More resources: 


Featured Image: BritCats Studio/Shutterstock



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Google’s AI Vision Driven By Panic, Not Users: Former Product Manager

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Hand pressing the red button. vector illustration

A 16-year Google veteran is raising concerns about the company’s current focus on AI, labeling it a “panic reaction” driven by fear of falling behind competitors.

Scott Jenson, who left Google last month, took to LinkedIn to critique the tech giant’s AI projects as “poorly motivated and driven by this mindless panic that as long as it had ‘AI’ in it, it would be great.”

Veteran’s Criticism Of Google’s AI Focus

Jenson stated that Google’s vision of creating an AI assistant for its ecosystem is “pure catnip” fueled by the fear of letting someone else get there first.

He parallels the ill-fated Google+ product, which he calls a “similar hysterical reaction” to Facebook’s rise.

Jenson wrote:

“This exact thing happened 13 years ago with Google+ (I was there for that fiasco as well). That was a similar hysterical reaction but to Facebook.”

Lack Of User-Driven Motivation

Jenson argues that Google’s strategy lacks motivation driven by genuine user needs, a sentiment echoed by a recent Gizmodo article that described this year’s Google I/O developer conference as “the most boring ever.”

The article, which Jenson linked to in his post, criticized Google for failing to clarify how Gemini’s new AI technology would integrate into its existing products and enhance the user experience.

See Jenson’s full post below:

Can You Turn Off Google’s AI Overviews?

One prime example of Google’s AI overreach is the AI overviews feature, which generates summaries to directly answer search queries by ingesting information from across the web.

This controversial move has sparked legal battles, with publishers accusing Google of violating intellectual property rights and unfairly profiting from their content without permission.

Related: Google’s AI Overviews Documentation: Key SEO Insights

Turning Off AI Overviews

While Google doesn’t provide an official setting to turn off AI overviews, a viral article from Tom’s Hardware suggests using browser extensions.

Alternatively, you can configure Chrome to go directly to web search results, bypassing the AI-generated overviews.

Here are the steps:

  • Open Chrome settings by clicking the three dots in the top-right corner and selecting “Settings” from the menu.
  • In the Settings window, click on the “Search Engine” tab on the left side.
  • Under the “Search Engine” section, click “Manage search engines and site search.”
  • Scroll down to the “Site search” area and click “Add” to create a new entry.

In the new entry, enter the following details:

  • Name: Google (Web)
  • Shortcut: www.google.com
  • URL: {google:baseURL}/search?udm=14&q=%s
  • Click “Add
Screenshot from: chrome://settings/searchEngines, May 2024.

Lastly, click the three dots next to the new “Google (Web)” entry and select “Make default.”

1716224163 590 Googles AI Vision Driven By Panic Not Users Former ProductScreenshot from: chrome://settings/searchEngines, May 2024.

After following these steps, Chrome will now default to showing regular web search results instead of the AI overview summaries when you perform searches from the address bar.

Tensions Over Data Usage

The controversy surrounding AI overviews creates tension between tech companies and content creators over using online data for AI training.

Publishers argue that Google’s AI summaries could siphon website traffic, threatening independent creators’ revenue streams, which rely on search referrals.

The debate reflects the need for updated frameworks to balance innovation and fair compensation for content creators, maintaining a sustainable open internet ecosystem.


FAQ

What concerns has Scott Jenson raised about Google’s AI focus?

Scott Jenson, a former Google product manager, has expressed concerns that Google’s current AI focus is more of a “panic reaction” to stay ahead of competitors rather than addressing user needs. He critiques Google’s AI initiatives as poorly motivated and driven by a fear of letting others get ahead.

How does Scott Jenson compare Google’s AI strategy to past projects?

Jenson parallels Google’s current AI focus and the company’s response to Facebook years ago with Google+. He describes both as “hysterical reactions” driven by competition, which, in the case of Google+, resulted in a product that failed to meet its objectives.

Why are content creators concerned about Google’s AI overviews?

Content creators worry that Google’s AI overviews, which generate summaries by ingesting web content, could reduce site traffic. They argue that this practice is unfair as it uses their content without permission and impacts their revenue streams that rely on search referrals.

How can users turn off Google’s AI overviews in Chrome?

Although no official setting exists to disable AI overviews, users can use a workaround by enabling a specific Chrome setting or using a browser extension.

Here are the steps:

  • Open Chrome settings by clicking the three dots in the top-right corner and selecting “Settings” from the menu.
  • In the Settings window, click on the “Search Engine” tab on the left side.
  • Under the “Search Engine” section, click “Manage search engines and site search.”
  • Scroll down to the “Site search” area and click “Add” to create a new entry.

In the new entry, enter the following details:

    • Name: Google (Web)
    • Shortcut: www.google.com
    • URL: {google:baseURL}/search?udm=14&q=%s
    • Click “Add

This will force Chrome to skip AI-generated overviews and show the classic list of web links.


Featured Image: Sira Anamwong/Shutterstock

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