BuzzSumo: The Definitive Guide

BuzzSumo:The Definitive Guide

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about BuzzSumo.

Advanced strategies.

Cool features.

And four entirely different case studies.

Let’s get started…

BuzzSumo: The Definitive Guide

Chapter 1:Find Content Ideas

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 Content Ideas With a Search

This is BuzzSumo’s bread and butter feature.

Just enter a keyword related to your industry…

Buzzsumo – Content – Web search

…and get a list of the most popular content on that topic.

Buzzsumo – Paleo diet – Popular topics

Don’t let 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: The Definitive Guide to Mobile SEO.

Backlinko – Mobile SEO guide

To date, this single piece of content has generated over 3,000 social shares, 398 comments and links from over 470 different domains.

Mobile SEO guide – Referring domains, shares and comments

Also, this post currently ranks in the top 3 for my target keyword “mobile SEO”.

Google SERP – Mobile SEO

And I got the idea for this post from BuzzSumo.

Here’s how it went down…

A while ago I did a BuzzSumo search for “SEO”:

Buzzsumo – Web search – SEO

That way, I could quickly find content in the SEO space that got lots of shares and links.

I also used a couple (B2B & TLD) of filters to zero in on relevant results.

Buzzsumo – B2B and TLD filters

(More on that later.)

And I noticed that 4 of the top 20 pieces of content were about: mobile SEO.

Mobile SEO – Topics

When I dug deeper, I realized that 3 MORE of the top 20 posts at least touched on the topic of “mobile SEO”.

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:

Mobile SEO guide – 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.

Buzzsumo – Backlinko – Best content

And this feature helped me create one of my best-performing pieces of content… ever.

The content?

The Definitive Guide To SEO In 2021.

Backlinko – SEO this year

Not only has this guide racked up a boatload of shares and links…

SEO this year – Links and shares

…but it’s consistently one of my 10 pages in terms of monthly organic traffic.

SEO this year – Monthly 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.

Buzzsumo – Web search – Moz

And I noticed something surprising right away:

The #1 post from the Moz blog (out of 400+ posts) was about… SEO in 2021.

Buzzsumo – Moz top content

Say whaaaaat?!

It gets better.

Loads of their posts were on that exact same topic

Buzzsumo – Moz 2021 content

At this point, I had NEVER even considered writing an “SEO in [year]” 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.

Since then, I’ve learned that including the current year is a great tactic.

Not only does it make your content more relevant, but it also makes it way more likely to be evergreen.

Instead of a prediction post, I decided to include actual steps people could use to get their site ready for the upcoming year.

SEO this year – Post chapters

And like I mentioned earlier, that post absolutely crushed.

It got an initial wave of traffic in the first week…

SEO this year – Initial traffic spike

…and even though the post has been around for a while, it still brings in a consistent stream of traffic from Google, social media and blogs:

SEO this year – Monthly users

Find Untapped Keyword Ideas

This tool is pretty new to BuzzSumo, but it’s super useful.

Let’s say you’ve found a content idea in BuzzSumo’s Content Analyzer that gets crazy shares and links over time.

That might be enough to justify you writing about it.

But why not go the extra mile and check whether that demand extends to search?

All you need to do is enter your keyword, and you’re served up with search volume, CPC, and trend data.

Buzzsumo – Discover keywords – Paleo diet

If your keyword isn’t one that gets much traction in search – don’t worry.

BuzzSumo’s Keyword Tool also offers up hundreds if not thousands of keyword ideas that do.

Check out “related keywords” for keyword ideas that are broadly related to your query.

Buzzsumo – Discover keywords – Related keywords

Or if you’re looking for exact match variations on your keyword idea, hit the “similar keywords” tab.

Buzzsumo – Discover keywords – Similar keywords

Then you can just optimize your content for topics that work in search and social.

And it goes without saying that SEO is definitely not about keyword stuffing anymore.

The more semantically related keywords you can include in your content, the better.

Pro Tip: Use these keywords as anchor text in other blogs, and build some great internal links.

Steal Your Competitors’ Keyword Ideas

Want to know exactly what your competitors are ranking for?

Who doesn’t.

In BuzzSumo’s Keyword Tool you can do just this, with a simple domain search.

Buzzsumo – Discover keywords – Search by domain

This data is truly awesome.

It shows you what proportion of your competitor’s site is ranking in positions 1 –3, their monthly organic traffic stats, and their authority metrics.

Plus, you can get ideas from their top-ranking keywords.

All you have to do is sort the data by “Rank”.

Buzzsumo – Discover keywords – Sort by rank

If you were Moz’s competitor, you might want to go ahead and challenge their #1 ranking for the keyword “algorithm update google”.

Then you can find out what keyword is driving the majority of their organic traffic.
Just sort by “Estimated Visits”

Buzzsumo – Discover keywords – Sort by visits

Now, here’s where it gets really interesting.

You can find out exactly how much ownership your competitors have over a specific topic.

Just add a keyword in speech marks after your competitor’s domain.

Buzzsumo – Discover keywords – Exact keyword

Moz ranks for 421 “backlinks” related keywords and drives 9K searches a month.

That’s a lot of keyword ideas for you to explore, and a lot of traffic opportunities.

This kind of data is invaluable for building your own keyword strategy.

Uncover Untapped Long Tail Keywords With Question Analyzer

This is one of my favorite BuzzSumo features.

Why?

First, you can use the Question Analyzer to see the exact questions people are asking on Reddit, Quora and forums.

Buzzsumo – Discover Questions – YouTube SEO

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.

Why?

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:

Some time ago I decided to update this post.

Backlinko – How to rank YouTube videos

So I added new screenshots, updated old content, and deleted outdated stuff:

How to rank YouTube videos post – New content

I also realized that the title tag was leaving A LOT of traffic on the table.

You see, the old title tag was:

YouTube SEO guide – Old title

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:

Old Google SERP – YouTube SEO

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.

Google Keyword Planner – Search

But that would only give me super-similar variations of “YouTube SEO”.

Google Keyword Planner – Results

(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:

Buzzsumo – Discover Questions – YouTube SEO

Then I hit the “Related themes” tab for a list of the top questions and categories that people asked about that topic:

Buzzsumo – Discover Questions – Related themes

One particular question stood out right away: “How to rank youtube videos?”

Buzzsumo – Discover Questions – 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:

"How to rank YouTube videos" in title tag

And it quickly hit the #1 spot for that long-tail keyword:

Old Google SERP – How to rank YouTube videos

Which helped boost monthly organic traffic to that page by 23.49%.

How to rank YouTube videos – Traffic increase

Not bad.

Hack Facebook’s News Feed With BuzzSumo’s Facebook Tools

There’s no doubt about it:

It’s harder than ever to get your Facebook posts to appear in your follower’s news feeds.

But there’s a simple way to get around this problem: BuzzSumo’s Facebook Pages and Page Analyzer.

These tools show you what content is working hardest right now – for you and your competition – on Facebook.

Buzzsumo – Content – Facebook engagement

That way, you can easily replicate strategies that actually get organic reach.

For example…

Let’s say you run a Paleo diet blog.

You’d do a search for “Paleo” on Facebook Pages:

Buzzsumo – Facebook Page Analyzer

And you’ll discover the most engaging Paleo-related Facebook pages.

Then all you’d do is select the competitors you want to compare – you can choose up to nine.

Buzzsumo – Facebook Page Analyzer – Competitors

This will lead you to a full report on what the most successful Facebook posts have in common (in terms of format, length, publishing time, and more).

For example, for the top competitors in the Paleo diet space, images and videos CRUSH other post formats:

Buzzsumo – Facebook – Average engagement per type

Your report will be set to a year by default, but you can align it with your reporting cadence to record the success of campaigns.

Buzzsumo – Facebook – Filter

You can check out more about BuzzSumo’s Facebook Page Analyzer here.

Get More Results From Your Content With The Content Analysis Report

So you’ve found a proven topic.

Great.

The question is: what do you actually write?

Well, no tool is going to write a post for you.

(AI is good, but not that good… yet!)

That said, BuzzSumo’s Content Analysis Report 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.

Backlinko – Mobile SEO guide

I already had an idea of how to structure and write the post.

But I used the “Content Analysis Report” 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:

Buzzsumo – Content – Average engagement

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):

Buzzsumo – Content – Average engagement by length

I tend to publish long content anyway. But it was nice to get confirmation that longer content worked well for this particular topic.

So…

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 2021, you need to actively promote it.

That’s where Chapter 2 comes into play…

Chapter 2:Find Influencers

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.

Buzzsumo – Influencers – Twitter – SEO case study

This tool searches Twitter bios, and lets you see what an influencer has “Shared articles about” or “Shared articles from” – but more on this later.

Buzzsumo – Twitter – Search options

If you’re looking for influential Facebook pages or YouTube channels, you can find those in BuzzSumo too.

Buzzsumo – YouTube Influencers

YouTube Influencers can be prioritized by relevance to your topic, total subscribers, video count, or total views depending on what you deem most important.

Use “Shared Articles About” 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 “Shared articles about”.

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:

White hat SEO case study

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 “Shared articles about”. That way, I could get a list of people that had recently shared SEO and content marketing case studies.

Buzzsumo – Influencers – Twitter – SEO case study

And then I sorted by influencers with the highest average retweets to uncover people that were likely to actually get traction when sharing my post.

(Specifically, people that have a decent Twitter following… and write about SEO and content marketing.)

And I easily found a bunch:

Buzzsumo – Twitter – Average retweets

Then, I emailed each of them this message:

White hat SEO – Outreach email reply

(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:

White hat SEO – Outreach email reply

Because I wasn’t pushy, a good chunk of the people I reached out to happily read my post…

White hat SEO – Post reader email

…and shared it:

White hat SEO – Post share email

Find Quality Journalists To Pitch To

Building connections with relevant journalists can do very good things for your brand.

But how do you know who is relevant?

And, more importantly, how do you know what a “good” connection looks like?

Enter BuzzSumo Journalist Profiles.

This tool tells you everything you need to know about a journalist.

Interests.

Contact information.

Publications they write for.

All at the click of a button.

You just need to search your topic and look out for the journalist icon.

Here it is in the Content Analyzer…

Buzzsumo – Content – Journalist tag

In BuzzSumo Monitoring…

Buzzsumo – Monitoring – Journalist tag

And in BuzzSumo’s Trending Tool…

Buzzsumo – Trending – Journalist tag

When you find it, give it a click to pull up a full profile of the journalist.

Buzzsumo – Journalist details

This profile is awesome for helping you decide which journalists to prioritize.

Are you pitching an idea?

Or sharing your newest piece of content?

Check out “topics” to see if they already have an interest in your subject.

And – most importantly – pay attention to their content performance and followers.

This will give you an idea of the reach that they could generate for you.

Then all that’s left to do is contact them.

One more great thing about this tool is that it comes in filter form.

Meaning, you can view content written only by journalists if you want to.

Here’s where you can find that filter in the Content Analyzer…

Buzzsumo – Journalist filter

What’s great about this is that you can go even more granular by applying extra filters.

Find journalists that write for B2B publications with a B2B filter.

Buzzsumo – B2B filter

And see which journalists are writing for your competitors with a domain filter.

Buzzsumo – Domain filter

Try out all the filter options to find a journalist that’s right for you.

Remember, a great outreach email or pitch is all about relevance and personalization.

That’s why a tool like this is crucial to the success of your campaign.

One last thing, and possibly my favorite way to use this tool.

Head to Twitter Influencers and type in your own domain into the “Shared articles from” search.

Then hit the “Journalist Profiles” filter…

Buzzsumo – Influencers – Twitter – Journalists

This will show you all the best journalists that are already a fan of your work.

In other words, your warmest outreach opportunities.

These journalists are prioritized based on “Relevance”.

This is code for all the most important metrics that make for a good influencer…

Follower count.

Average retweets.

Reply ratio.

Even the number of times they have been added to Twitter lists.

So start at the top and work your way down.

Easy.

Find The Top Authors In Your Industry

You can also use BuzzSumo to find the biggest and baddest authors in your industry.

Buzzsumo – Influencers – Authors

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.

Buzzsumo – Top SEO authors

(Which is helpful for building your influencer list.)

But the #1 benefit of this feature is that you see what influencers write about.

Buzzsumo – Authors – Top content

Topics.

Angles.

Formats.

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:

Bad outreach asking for share

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:

Funny outreach email

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.

Backlinko – Twitter share

Chapter 3:Monitor Mentions (and Links)

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.

Seriously.

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.

Usually.

But there are times when someone mentions your brand… without linking to your site.

Here’s an example:

EDUindex – Unlinked Backlinko mention

As it turns out, you can easily turn an unlinked mention into a backlink with a simple outreach email:

Brian outreach – Unlinked mention

The question is:

HOW do you find these unlinked mentions?

BuzzSumo Monitoring.

Just add a new “Brand Mention” for your brand:

Buzzsumo – Create brand alert

And you’ll see forums, blogs and news sites that mention your brand.

Buzzsumo – Mentions

Results with a little link icon actually linked to you:

Buzzsumo – Mentions with link

And results without, haven’t.

You can also sort by mentions with and without links:

Buzzsumo – Mentions filter

Simple.

Find Who Links To Your Competitors

Here’s the deal:

People that link to your competitors are VERY likely to link to you too.

Now:

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.

Enter: Monitoring

With Monitoring, you see the exact sites that JUST linked to your competitors:

Buzzsumo – Mentions – Recent link

It even shows you how many times that piece of content has been shared, your mentions over time… and the Domain Authority of the site.

Easy peasy.

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.

I started tracking mentions with BuzzSumo in 2014!

Buzzsumo – Backlinko – Monitoring since 2014

And since then, I’ve noticed that it finds more brand mentions than any other tool.

Note: I’m talking purely about mentions on news sites, blogs, Q&A sites (like Quora), and online communities. BuzzSumo doesn’t track mentions on social media platforms like Facebook.

Anyway…

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.

Reddit – Brian replies to post

Fortunately, in my case, conversations about me and Backlinko are mostly positive:

Reddit – Comments about Backlinko

Mostly… 🙂

Reddit – Negative comments about Backlinko

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.

Buzzsumo – Backlink alert

Or create a Slack channel, so you never miss an incoming link or mention:

Buzzsumo – Backlink alert – Slack channel

Or, if you want to get a better understanding of your content’s popularity, you can just review all of your new links once a week, or day.

(10x a day in my case????)

So:

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, some time ago I noticed that I got a link from CrazyEgg:

Crazyegg – Backlinko mention

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:

Buzzsumo – Author – David Zheng – Articles

So I sent David a quick note to say “thanks” for mentioning Backlinko in his post.

Brian – Thank you email

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.

Track EVERYTHING

You can set up an alert for pretty much anything in BuzzSumo.

Your brand.

Your competitors.

Your content.

Your keywords and topics.

Mentions of journalists and authors you’re researching.

You can even track when a specific website publishes new content.

Buzzsumo – Content – Alert

This 360 tracking is awesome for helping you find new content opportunities.

Take author and journalist alerts.

Not only are they great for helping you personalize your emails.

They can give you awesome new content ideas.

If a journalist has written about a certain topic, you can bet they’ve done their audience research.

That’s a ready-validated topic. Now all you need to do is add your own take.

What about competitor tracking?

Knowing who is writing about your competitors is vital.

That person will already be interested in what you have to say.

All you have to do is reach out to them and start building that relationship.

Prevent a brand crisis

BuzzSumo Alerts are as near to real-time as you can get.

In fact, the BuzzSumo team did a quick test which proved that BuzzSumo Alerts are faster than Google Alerts.

And for that reason, they’re perfect for spotting when a brand crisis is about to hit.

All you need to do is set up alerts for the predictable and the unpredictable, to spot potentially harmful mentions.

For example, global, political or social situations might impact your business, so that whenever your brand is mentioned in relation to these topics, you get an instant notification.

One way to do this is to set up a “Keyword Alert” for existing crisis topics (ie. coronavirus).

Then all you need to do is add your brand name into the “Results MUST ALSO contain” section.

Buzzsumo – McDonalds keyword alert

And a great way to monitor the unpredictable is to track competitor mentions of your brand name.

You just need to create a “Brand Alert” monitoring your brand name.

Then add a “Do