Do you hear that?
It’s the sound of millions upon millions of keyboard keys being tapped.
Statistics show that millions of blog posts are being written right this very minute.
That means every single post you publish is but a drop in the ocean, a needle in the haystack or a speck of dust in the wind—whichever idiom sounds more poignant to you.
Though I’d love to reassure you that being passionate about what you write is all it takes to garner a decent-sized readership, it’s really not. Rather, it’s about the arsenal of strategies and tools that you use for research, content creation and promotion.
BuzzSumo is one of the few tools that can help you in all three aspects.
It’s a content research tool that’s designed to help you know more about your target audience, siphon ideas from popular content creators and connect with those who can amplify your blog’s reach.
BuzzSumo Review: The Blogger’s Swiss Army Knife for Content Creation
Why Use BuzzSumo?
- Generate topic ideas for your next posts — BuzzSumo can help you look for topics that pique your audience’s interest by gathering popular content from influential publishers in your niche.
- Stay up to date with the latest content strategies — Does your audience want to see more infographics, or do they prefer sticking with old-fashioned, text-based articles? With this tool, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions.
- Look for influencers in your niche — Rather than building your own presence from scratch, you can leverage the online reach of popular influencers to gain exposure.
- Determine what content works for your competitors — Another way to use BuzzSumo is to perform your own competitor surveillance.
- Monitor for brand mentions — BuzzSumo is also useful for spotting false information regarding your brand and connecting with leads who express strong commercial intent.
A Walkthrough of BuzzSumo’s Best Features
1. Performing Your First Content Search with BuzzSumo
BuzzSumo abides by the modern convention of letting core features take the center stage. No clutter.
Upon visiting the site, you’re immediately brought to the main search page. The moment you click “Go!” the tool will immediately bring up a long list of content scraped across the web.
Free accounts only get a limited number of searches every 24 hours.
So before you test the waters, click “Signup” and then “Start Your Trial” on the pricing page.
Just use a valid email address to verify your account via Facebook and you’re good to go. Once you’re logged in, you should be able to enjoy the benefits of using BuzzSumo’s full version.
Now’s also a good time to introduce BuzzSumo’s pricing packages:
- Pro: $79/month — 5,000 mentions, 1-5 users, 50 exports, 5 projects
- Plus: $139/month — 10,000 mentions, 10 users, 150 exports, 15 projects
- Large: $239/month — 20,000 mentions, 15 users, 200 exports, 30 projects
- Enterprise: $499+/month — Tailored to your company’s needs
In the results page, you can check the total engagement achieved by each post on the right-hand corner of the screen.
The numbers are color-coded to dark blue for Facebook, blue for LinkedIn, light blue for Twitter and red for Pinterest.
For bloggers, the content research feature alone is enough to help you hatch ideas for future posts—as well as determine the best potential distribution channels where these ideas are most welcome.
While it’s not mandatory, I like to start my research with broad keywords and narrow things down as I discover new topics.
2. Refining Searches with Filters
A total of seven filters can be applied to a BuzzSumo search at any time. Here’s a quick rundown of each:
- Filter by date — Lets you search for content within a specific timeframe.
- One result per domain — Restricts the appearance of multiple posts from a single site.
- Language — Lets you search for posts that are in a specific language.
- Country — Allows you to search for content from a specific country using top-level domains or TLDs.
- Word count — Enables you to filter out thin content and look for in-depth posts.
- Filter domains — Lets you include or exclude posts from specific domains.
- Content type — Lets you select whether to include or exclude articles, infographics, guest posts, giveaways, interviews and videos.
3. Creating a Project
Another feature worth mentioning is the project creator, which can be accessed by clicking “Projects” from the main BuzzSumo dashboard. You can then get started by clicking the “New Project” or “Create a Project” button.
Creating a project allows you to save content for further comparison, monitoring and analysis purposes.
For example, if you run a blog about general online marketing, you can create projects for individual sections like email marketing, social media and blogger outreach.
To start adding content to your projects, navigate to any of the other tabs from “Most Shared” all the way to “Question Analyzer.”
When you perform a content search as per usual, look for the “Save” button with the bookmark icon. If you have more than one project created, a pop-up menu will be shown.
Simply check off which content you want to be saved.
4. Going Deeper with Backlinks and Content Analysis
A specific use case for backlink analysis would be in Skyscraper campaigns. Introduced by Backlinko’s Brian Dean, the Skyscraper technique is the practice of looking for popular content, creating something better and then promoting it to the top sharers or influencers.
Think of it this way: As a popular influencer in any niche, you have the obligation to be ahead of the curve when it comes to the latest relevant content. If you want to maintain your position, you need to share only the best content available for any topic—at all times.
They’re looking for amazing content that beats out the competition and offers something fresh and valuable.
To start looking for influencers, one approach is to head to your project and click the “Top Sharers” tab. This will list down the top social media influencers who shared a post from your project.
From there, you can directly tweet to each influencer, add them to a list or follow them on Twitter using the corresponding buttons. You can also sort them via the drop-down menu on the upper-right.
There is, however, one drawback to this feature.
In its current version, BuzzSumo only uses Twitter metrics when listing top content sharers. This can be a disadvantage to bloggers who’d rather depend on Facebook, LinkedIn or any other network that isn’t Twitter for content distribution.
So, instead of looking for influencers through the “Top Sharers” tab, I recommend conducting a backlink analysis of content instead. With BuzzSumo, this can be done by clicking the “View Backlinks” button next to every content in results pages.
You can also launch the backlink analysis feature straight from the main menu, but then you’ll have to supply the URL of the post you want to check.
Either way, BuzzSumo will bring up a list of articles that contain a link to the original content. You can then view the name of the author and the domain where it was originally published.
5. Conducting Influencer Outreach
To start, you need to click “Create a New List” in the “Outreach Lists” tab.
After creating your list, you can start adding influencers by going to the “Search Influencers” tab. For this, you can either search via keywords in their bio or the content they’ve shared.
Another way to look for potential influencers is to head to the “Top Authors” tab. All you need to do is to insert keywords that describe your niche and wait for the search to finish.
The Pros and Cons of BuzzSumo
Remember that, as a blogger, arming yourself to the teeth with tools may only overcomplicate the content creation process. Before you include BuzzSumo in your arsenal, consider the following pros:
- Ease of use, flexibility and customizability — Just like what you’d expect in a modern cloud-based tool, BuzzSumo’s minimalistic and fluid interface is geared towards maximum productivity.
- Provides a wealth of ideas for content creators — BuzzSumo can help you gain insights and ideas by directly observing how existing content performs online.
- Boost Twitter growth and outreach — BuzzSumo’s influencer research and outreach features revolve around the Twitter platform.
- Allows you to perform link-building alongside your content creation — Remember, the success of link-building strategies depend on how you target your influencers. BuzzSumo can help you profile them according to their preferred content, areas of interest and online reach.
Now that you know the pros of BuzzSumo, it’s time to acknowledge the negatives:
- Can use more social media influencer data from other networks — The big elephant in the room is BuzzSumo’s lack of influencer outreach capabilities outside of Twitter.
- Entry-level pricing plan is too restrictive — Although $79 a month sounds reasonable for most bloggers, BuzzSumo’s lowest pricing plan comes with significant limitations. For example, the “Pro” version only allows you to create five projects for content research.
- Not for new bloggers — BuzzSumo requires bloggers to grasp the fundamentals of content marketing in order to be productive. Finally, given the fact that it’s not a free tool, it’s not something you should get if your blog isn’t yet ready to make a steady stream of revenue.
Overall, the advantages of using BuzzSumo far outweigh the few cons it has.
I would even go as far as saying that it’s the only tool you’ll ever need to augment your content creation, research and influencer marketing.
You just need to learn how it works and what to do with the information you acquire from it.