BuzzSumo:The Definitive Guide
This guide will teach you everything you need to know about BuzzSumo.
And four new case studies that I’ve never shared anywhere else before.
Let’s get started…
Chapter 1:Find Content Ideas
In this chapter you’ll learn how to use BuzzSumo to create better content.
Specifically, I’ll show you how to find proven content ideas that work GREAT.
(Including lots of real life examples of these steps in action)
Find Awesome Topics With a Keyword Search
This is BuzzSumo’s bread and butter feature.
Just enter a keyword related to your industry…
…and get a list of the most popular content on that topic.
Don’t let the simplicity fool you. This is a VERY powerful feature.
In fact, BuzzSumo’s keyword search helped me create one of my most successful posts of 2018 (so far): The Definitive Guide to Mobile SEO.
To date, this single piece of content has generated 2400 social shares, 351 comments and links from 90+ different domains.
Also, this post currently ranks in the top 3 for my target keyword “mobile SEO”.
And I got the idea for this post from BuzzSumo.
Here’s how it went down…
A few months back I did a BuzzSumo search for “SEO”:
That way, I could quickly find content in the SEO space that got lots of shares and links.
I also used a few filters to zero-in on relevant results.
(More on that later)
And I noticed that 4 of the top 20 pieces of content were about: mobile SEO.
When I dug deeper, I realized that 3 MORE of the top 20 posts at least touched on the topic of “mobile SEO”.
So in total:
7 out of 20 (35%) of the most popular posts in the entire world of SEO were about mobile optimization.
That’s when I realized: “I better get cracking on a mobile SEO post!”.
I also realized something else:
None of those 7 posts actually showed people how to optimize their site for mobile devices!
So I decided to fill in that content gap with a guide overflowing with actionable tips:
Because my content was based on a proven topic — and contained information no one else covered in one place — it did REALLY well.
Steal Your Competitor’s Best Content Ideas
Did you know you can search in BuzzSumo with a domain?
Well, you can. And it’s REALLY cool.
When you do, you’ll see that site’s best-performing content.
And this feature helped me create one of my best-performing pieces of content… ever.
Not only has this guide racked up a boatload of shares and links…
…but it’s consistently one of my 10 pages in terms of monthly organic traffic.
Let me walk you through the exact process that I used to develop and create that piece of content.
First, I popped Moz.com into BuzzSumo search.
And I noticed something surprising right away:
The #1 post from the Moz blog (out of 400+ posts) was about… SEO in 2018.
It gets better:
3 of their top 10 posts were on that exact same topic
At this point I had NEVER even considered writing an “SEO in 2018” post.
(Why? Most of them are lame prediction posts that provide zero value)
But considering how well that topic performed for Moz, I had to give it a shot.
Instead of a prediction post, I decided to include actual steps people could use to get their site ready for the upcoming year.
And like I mentioned earlier, that post absolutely crushed.
It got an initial wave of traffic in the first week…
…and even though the post is over 6 months old at this point, it still brings in a consistent stream of traffic from Google, social media and blogs:
Uncover Untapped Long Tail Keywords With “Question Analyzer”
This is one of my favorite new BuzzSumo features.
First, you can use the Question Analyzer to see the exact questions people are asking on Reddit, Quora and forums.
That way, you can get a list of burning questions in your industry.
Yup, that’s pretty cool.
But that’s not the main reason I use the Question Analyzer.
I mainly use this feature to find long tail keywords.
Well, when someone asks a question on Reddit, it usually means they Googled it first… and came up empty.
In other words:
Lots of people are searching for that question… but the results stink!
So if you can create a piece of content that answers that exact question, you can get boatloads of traffic.
Here’s a real-life example:
Earlier this year I decided to update this post.
So I added new screenshots, updated old content, and deleted outdated stuff:
I also realized that the title tag was leaving A LOT of traffic on the table.
You see, the old title tag was:
As you can probably guess, my target keyword for that page was: “YouTube SEO”.
And sure enough, my post ranked #1 in Google for that term:
But I also realized that I could get even MORE Google traffic to that page by including a long tail keyword in the title tag.
The question is:
What long tail keyword should I pick?
Well, back in the day, I would fire up the Google Keyword Planner and type “YouTube SEO” into it.
But that would only give me super-similar variations of “YouTube SEO”.
(And as you can see, most of these variations have really low search volume)
Instead, I logged into BuzzSumo and typed “YouTube SEO” into the Question Analyzer:
And I got a list of questions that people asked about that topic:
One particular question stood out right away: “How to rank youtube videos?”:
My post answered that question. But it wasn’t optimized around that term.
So I added a shortened version of that long tail keyword to my title tag:
And it quickly hit the #1 spot for that long tail keyword:
Which helped boost monthly organic traffic to that page by 23.49%.
Hack Facebook’s News Feed With
There’s no doubt about it:
It’s harder than ever to get your Facebook posts to appear in your follower’s NewsFeeds.
But there’s a simple way to get around this problem: BuzzSumo’s Facebook Analyzer.
This tool shows you content that’s working right now on Facebook.
That way, you can easily replicate unicorn posts that actually get organic reach.
Let’s say you run a Paleo diet blog.
You’d do a search for “Paleo”:
And you’ll see the exact Paleo-related posts that got the most interactions over that time period.
If you want to dig deeper, hit “Analyze Trends”:
This will show you what the most successful Facebook posts have in common (in terms of format, length, publishing time, and more).
For example, in the Paleo diet space, videos CRUSH other post formats:
You can also use this feature to analyze a specific Facebook page. That way, you can see what’s working for your direct competitors.
Get More Results From Your Content With
So you’ve found a proven topic.
The question is: what do you actually write?
Well, no tool is going write a post for you.
(AI is good, but not that good… yet 🙂)
That said, BuzzSumo’s “Content Analysis” can help you write stuff that actually works.
I’ll show you how this works with an example…
A while back I was sitting down to write my mobile SEO guide.
I already had an idea of how to structure and write the post.
But I used “Content Analysis” to make sure my content would actually work.
First, I looked at what content type worked best for this topic.
And sure enough, “How-to Articles” did best:
Which was PERFECT because I planned on writing a how-to guide.
I also noticed that longer content about mobile SEO performed best (in terms of social shares):
I tend to publish long content anyway. But it was nice to get confirmation that longer content worked well for this particular topic.
Publishing content based on proven topics and formats already puts you ahead of 90% of your competitors.
But as you probably know, hitting the “publish” button is only the first step.
To get your content to the first page of Google in 2018, you need to actively promote it.
That’s where Chapter 2 comes into play…
Chapter 2:Find Influencers
You already know that a single share from an influencer can put your content on the map.
But how do you find them?
Well, BuzzSumo has some pretty nifty features that make finding your industry’s movers and shakers an absolute cinch.
And in this chapter I’ll show you exactly how to use them.
Find Influencers With a Keyword Search
This is by far the easiest way to find influential people in a specific niche.
Pop in a keyword… and get a list of peeps that write about that topic.
For example, if you search for “link building”, my Twitter profile won’t show up because I don’t have that term in my Twitter bio:
That said, a keyword search is still a great way to start building an influencer list.
And once you’ve gone through the results, it’s time to…
Use “Search Content Shared” to Discover Influencers
At the end of the day, the goal of content promotion is to get someone to share YOUR content with THEIR audience.
That share can be in the form of a Facebook post. Or a link.
Either way, you need to get your content in front of people that are likely to share it.
And the best way to do that?
Use “Search Content Shared”.
Instead of searching through Twitter bios, this feature reveals people that have recently shared content on your topic.
(Which means they’re super likely to share your content too)
For example, a while back I was getting ready to publish this SEO case study on my blog:
I knew this post had the potential to do REALLY well.
IF I could get it in front of the right people.
Here’s what I did…
First, I did a “Search Content Shared”. That way, I could get a list of people that had recently shared SEO and content marketing case studies.
And I sifted through the results to uncover people that were likely to actually share my post.
(Specifically, people that have a decent Twitter following… and write about SEO and content marketing)
And I easily found a bunch:
Then, I emailed each of them this message:
(As you can see, I made sure to personalize this email script for each person that I reached out to)
And when someone said they were interested in my post, I sent them a link:
Because I wasn’t pushy, a good chunk of the people I reached out to happily read my post…
…and shared it:
Find The Top Authors In Your Industry
You can also use BuzzSumo to find the biggest and baddest authors in your industry.
So: what can you do with this information?
First, you get access to a list of the top bloggers and journalists that write about your topic.
(Which is helpful for building your influencer list)
But the #1 benefit of this feature is that you see what influencers write about.
You get the idea 🙂
Why is this important?
If you want influencers to share your content, they need to actually like your content.
I know, I know: “thanks Captain Obvious!”.
But it’s true.
In fact, I get email pitches like this all the time:
There’s a ZERO percent chance I’ll share that content. Why?
Because I’ve never written about or shared anything about marketing for nonprofits.
On the other hand, check out this hilarious outreach email someone recently sent me:
Yup, this is a top-notch outreach email. But if Benyamin was pitching content on a topic I didn’t care about, I’d still hit “delete” without thinking twice.
Fortunately, the content he’s pitching (an actionable guide to lead magnets) is in my wheelhouse.
And that’s why I decided to share it.
Chapter 3:Monitor Mentions (and Links)
In this chapter I’ll show you how to get the most out of BuzzSumo’s “Monitoring” feature.
In my opinion, this is THE most powerful feature on the entire platform.
And in this chapter you’ll learn how to use Monitoring to build strategic relationships, get more backlinks, and see what people are saying about you online.
Turn Unlinked Mentions Into Backlinks
Usually, when someone mentions you in a blog post, they link to you.
But there are times when someone mentions your brand… without linking to your site.
Here’s an example:
As it turns out, you can easily turn an unlinked mention into a backlink with a simple outreach email:
The question is:
HOW do you find these unlinked mentions?
Just add a new “Brand Mention” for your brand:
And you’ll see forums, blogs and news sites that mention your brand.
Results with a little link icon actually linked to you:
And results with “no link” mentioned your brand… without linking to you:
Find Who Links To Your Competitors
Here’s the deal:
People that link to your competitors are VERY likely to link to you too.
You COULD find your competitor’s backlinks with a tool like Ahrefs.
(And that definitely works)
But there’s one problem with that approach:
It’s hard to find people that recently linked to your competition.
Instead, you end up sifting through thousands of links… many of which are 5+ years old.
With Monitoring, you see the exact sites that JUST linked to your competitors:
It even shows you how many times that piece of content has been shared… and the Domain Authority of the site:
Find Conversations About Your Brand
In my opinion, BuzzSumo has one of the best brand monitoring tools on the market.
And I should know.
I’ve tried em’ all.
And since I started tracking mentions with BuzzSumo in 2014…
…I’ve noticed that it finds more brand mentions than any other tool.
Why is this helpful?
Well, whether you like it or not, people are gonna talk about you online.
And if you keep tabs on those conversations, you can see what people like (and don’t like) about your brand.
And if it makes sense, step in and participate in the conversation.
Fortunately, in my case, conversations about me and Backlinko are mostly positive:
Either way, it’s good to see what people are saying about me.
See Who Links To You
You can ask BuzzSumo to send you an email alert whenever you get a new backlink.
Or just review all of your new links once a day:
(10x a day in my case 🙂)
What can you do with this information?
Build relationships with the people that linked to you
This is especially powerful for authors that write for multiple websites.
When you send them a quick “thank you!” message, they’re MUCH more likely to link to you in future articles.
For example, I noticed that I got a link from CrazyEgg a few days ago:
And when I clicked on the author’s name in BuzzSumo, I noticed that he wrote for A LOT of different marketing and online business blogs:
So I sent David a quick note to say “thanks” for mentioning Backlinko in his post.
To be clear:
I’m not being manipulative or shady.
Instead, I’m building a strategic relationship with someone that writes content in my niche.
Chapter 4:Cool BuzzSumo Features
In this chapter you’re going to learn about some of my favorite BuzzSumo features.
You’ll see exactly how to use BuzzSumo to create viral content, make better infographics and take your content promotion up a notch.
So without further ado, let’s dive right into Chapter 4.
Monitor When and Where Keywords Are Used Online
In chapter 3 I showed you how to use BuzzSumo Monitoring to track conversations of your brand online.
But what you may not know is that you can also use BuzzSumo to track mentions of KEYWORDS.
For example, I’ve been tracking the keyword “Skyscraper Technique” since 2015.
This report lets me know whether or not people are still talking about The Skyscraper Technique.
(Fortunately, they still are)
But you can also use this same feature to help get your content in front of people that are super likely to share it.
I’ll explain how this works with an example…
A few months ago I published this voice search SEO study.
This post did pretty well in terms of links…
…but I know it has the potential to get even MORE links.
So I recently set up an alert for the keyword “voice search”.
That way, I can easily find people that write about voice search… and show them my study.
Create Better Infographics
There’s no doubt about it:
Creating an infographic that stands out in 2018 is HARD.
Fortunately, you can easily increase the odds that your infographic gets results.
First, do a Most Shared search for your target keyword.
Then, under “Content Type”, uncheck everything except “infographics”.
That way, you can see the handful of infographics that people actually shared.
In B2B? Use This Filter
If you’re in B2B you’ll quickly notice that certain BuzzSumo results are full of irrelevant stuff.
For example, it turns out that “Seo” is a common Vietnamese last name.
So when I search for “SEO” in BuzzSumo, the vast majority of results are from Vietnamese news sites:
But when I check “Only B2B Publishers”…
…I get a clean list of results:
Get a Higher ROI From Your Content With
It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE fan of publishing evergreen content.
(In fact, I only publish something if it’s going to bring in traffic for years)
When you do a normal BuzzSumo search, the results are sorted by total shares:
And you have NO idea whether those shares happened the day after the post went live…
…or months later.
Enter: The Evergreen Score.
The Evergreen Score shows you content that’s continued to generate shares and backlinks… after the initial buzz.
If you do a normal BuzzSumo search for “SEO”, my content doesn’t crack the top 20:
As you can see, the results are dominated by huge brands, like HubSpot and Marketing Land:
But watch what happens when you sort the results by Evergreen Score:
My “SEO in 2018” guide has a high Evergreen Score because it’s still valuable MONTHS after it went live.
(Which means people continue to share and link to it)
So if you wanted to create a piece of evergreen content about SEO, my guide would be a good model to follow.
Chapter 5:New Case Studies
In this chapter you’ll see four all-new BuzzSumo case studies.
Specifically, you’ll learn exactly how “normal” people used BuzzSumo to create viral content, build backlinks, improve their Google rankings, and more.
But first, let’s kick things off with a case study that completely blew my mind…
Case Study #1: How James Got Featured on
Mashable, Cosmopolitan, MTV, The Daily Mail,
James Brockbank recently used BuzzSumo to get links and mentions on authority sites like Esquire, Glamour, MTV, Bustle and more:
It gets better:
These links helped James’ client rank on the first page of Google UK for terms like “women’s loungewear tracksuits”, “slogan jumpers”, and a whole host of others… just in time for Christmas season.
Overall, this single campaign boosted their search traffic by 87.9%:
Here’s the full story…
James’ client is the fashion ecommerce site Missy Empire.
According to James:
“Our client had been producing ‘style guides’ and other blog content but struggled to earn links.”
So he decided to try something new:
Create something that fashion blogs and news sites would WANT to share
So he used BuzzSumo’s domain search to uncover fashion content that got lots of shares.
And James could sum up what he found in one word:
James also stumbled on a “Reality Superstar Rich List” from Forbes. This page listed the earnings of every Kardashian family member.
So James created a simple calculator that allows you to compare your earnings with the Kardashians.
And the press absolutely LOVED this tool.
In fact, to date, this tool has links from over 130 blogs and news sites:
Case Study #2: How Matteo Got 190 Social Shares (And 64 New Backlinks) to a Brand New Blog
Last year Matteo Gasparello had a problem…
You see, Matteo just launched a brand new digital marketing blog.
And Matteo knew that, for his blog to stand out, he’d need to publish a piece of EPIC content.
The problem was:
What kind of content should he publish? A list post? A tutorial? How about a case study?
So he fired up BuzzSumo.
And he searched for terms like “video marketing”, “Facebook video ads” and “video advertising”:
Matteo quickly noticed that these 4 posts did REALLY well:
So he incorporated what he liked from those 4 posts into a new guide: Online Video Advertising: All Your Need to Know in 2018.
Considering Matteo’s blog was brand new, he knew that he couldn’t just “publish and pray”.
So he used BuzzSumo to find people that had shared content about video ads in the past:
As Matteo put it:
“Now it was only a matter of browsing through the results and contacting people that were really interested in video ads.”
And he reached out to those folks with a personalized (and non-pushy) email:
Because Matteo’s outreach emails were targeted AND respectful, he got lots replies like this…
And once Matteo started sending his excellent guide to people that were interested, the shares and links started to pour in:
To date, Matteo’s post has racked up:
- 64 backlinks
- 190 shares
- 2200 page views
- 120 new email subscribers
Case Study #3: How Neil Sheth Ranked His Client on the 1st Page of Google
Neil Sheth runs a digital marketing agency in London called Only Way Online.
A few months back Neil ran into a tough situation:
His client runs a helicopter rental business.
And like most SEO clients, Neil’s client wanted to rank for keywords that their customers search for.
The problem was:
NO ONE wants to read content like: “5 Tips for Renting a Helicopter” or “Renting a Helicopter: The Ultimate Guide”.
Which meant: he had to get creative.
Neil knew that lots of his client’s customers rented helicopters for their weddings.
So he decided to create a piece of content about planning a wedding.
Next, Neil used BuzzSumo to figure out what specific content formats performed best:
And he noticed something:
Most list posts (like “5 Tips for Planning Your Wedding”) didn’t get shared or linked to much…
…but comprehensive guides did REALLY well.
Here’s an example:
So Neil set out to create the best darn wedding planning guide on the planet.
The result? The Ultimate 12-Month Wedding Planner.
Because this guide provides so much practical value, it’s received a handful of backlinks from niche-related wedding blogs:
No surprise: those links resulted in a spike in organic traffic for the entire site:
Those links also helped Neil’s client grab a first page ranking for a keyword that brings in several new leads every month: “helicopter proposal London”:
Case Study #4: How Andrew Holland Published a Piece of Viral Content That Generated 261,457 Visits
A while back Andrew Holland set a goal for himself:
Create a piece of content for his self-defense blog that would go viral.
Easier said than done, right?
Rather than relying on pure luck, Andrew used BuzzSumo to see what types of content (and headlines) got the most shares in the martial arts world.
And Andrew saw that “best of” lists tended to do REALLY well.
So Andrew got cracking on a list of the best martial arts for self-defense.
That ultimately resulted in: The 10 Best Martial Arts for Self Defence.
As you might expect, Andrew’s post was controversial.
People that loved Andrew’s content? They shared it.
And people that hated Andrew’s content? They shared it too!
These shares led to a massive spike in traffic:
(And 261,457 visits to date)
Then, Andrew did something interesting…
Because most of his shares came from Facebook, Andrew turned his post into a Facebook video.
That video resulted in 174,000 views and over 1200 shares.
Chapter 6:Advanced Tips & Strategies
Case studies? Check.
Now it’s time to dive into advanced BuzzSumo tips, strategies and tactics that you can use to hire freelance writers, find awesome keyword ideas, and more.
Let’s do this.
Find (Quality) Freelance Writers
Finding a freelance writer is easy.
But finding a GOOD freelance writer?
That’s another story.
Fortunately, you can use BuzzSumo to find writers that actually know what they’re doing.
First, search for your topic in BuzzSumo:
Then, keep an eye out for writers that tend to get lots of shares on their stuff.
Most of these writers are going to be big names… not freelancers:
But if you dig deep, you can find freelancers that know how to write kick butt content in your niche:
Create Targeted Content With “Search by Subreddit”
Does your target audience hang out on a particular Subreddit?
If so, BuzzSumo can show you the EXACT questions those folks ask.
(And the topics they’re most interested in)
Let me show you how this works with a real life example:
My content is designed to help professional marketers get higher rankings and more traffic.
So even though there is a r/SEO subreddit…
…it’s full of newbs.
Instead, my target audience tends to hang out on r/bigSEO.
And, using BuzzSumo, I can EASILY see the exact topics members of that subreddit are most interested in.
First, I head over to BuzzSumo’s Question Analyzer. But instead of typing in a keyword, I hit “Search By Subreddit”.
And BuzzSumo hooks me up with a list of topics that members of this subreddit tend to discuss most:
Find Keyword Ideas With BuzzSumo Suggest
This couldn’t be simpler:
Just type a keyword into BuzzSumo search…
…and see what they suggest to you:
What’s even cooler is that you can search for “Keyword A”, “Keyword B” etc. to get even MORE keyword ideas:
Track Marketing Reach (and Backlinks)
Are MORE people talking about your brand this month?
It’s not an easy question to answer.
That is, unless you track mentions and links with BuzzSumo.
When you set up mention monitoring, you can see how mentions and links change over time.
If you notice that more people are talking about you (in a good way), that’s a sign that your marketing is working.
If not… it might be time to change things up.
Find Awesome Interview Opportunities
Interviews are one of my FAVORITE ways to get targeted traffic (and links).
The only problem is:
It’s REALLY hard to find high-quality interview opportunities.
Fortunately, BuzzSumo makes this process a cinch.
Here’s how to do it:
First, find someone in your niche that tends to get interviewed a lot.
(I’ll use my friend Noah Kagan in this example)
Then, type his or her name into BuzzSumo search:
Well, unless someone is REALLY popular, they’ll only show up in BuzzSumo’s results if they’ve been interviewed.
When I search for “Noah Kagan” in BuzzSumo, 18 out of the 20 results are places he’s been interviewed.
Now It’s Your Turn
So those are my best tips, strategies and secrets for getting the most out of BuzzSumo.
Now I’d like to hear from you:
Which strategy from this guide are you going to try first?
Are you going to use BuzzSumo to find a writer? Or maybe you want to start tracking brand mentions.
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.