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How to Use BuzzSumo to Smooth the Content Ride

Content and SEO go hand-in-hand. You really can’t have one without the other if you want to be successful. One of the tools I use to improve my results is BuzzSumo to ensure I’m on the right track when it comes to content strategy in an efforts to improve my search engine results. Now, I’ve written about BuzzSumo quite a bit in my Weekend Favs column and

You can’t have one without the other if you want to be successful. But, the constant need to produce content ideas makes feeding the content beast one of the bumpiest elements of the digital marketing world.

One of the tools I use to save time, get great ideas, and improve my results is BuzzSumo.

It helps guide me when I’m trying to stay on track with my editorial and SEO strategy by suggesting content that has proven to engage readers. I’ve written about BuzzSumo in other posts, but today I really want to take a deep dive into how to use this platform to hack your SEO and be a better and more efficient content marketer.

Essentially BuzzSumo is a search engine that tells you how many shares a piece of content has received in places like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. It also tells you who shared the content and who linked to the content, so it’s a great little research tool for all things related to content.

Let’s put it this way, if BuzzSumo were a band, I would buy front-row tickets to their concert. Yes, I’m that big of a fan. In essence, the platform is a search engine that ranks content based on how often an article is shared.

Content research

BuzzSumo is a great tool for doing content research and coming up with keywords and keyword phrases, which can be very useful for determining specific forms of content that you may want to produce. If a piece of content has been shared a lot, you may want to consider developing something similar for your own content (don’t copy it, but see how you can improve upon the content and make it your own).

Think in terms of creating something even more epic than the most shared content around your research topic. So if 10 ways to do XXX is highly shared, come up with 25 ways to do XXX even better.

When it comes to keywords to search for in BuzzSumo, you need to think outside the box a bit and think of terms that may be related to your industry, not the industry itself. For example, instead of typing in “marketing,” try typing “SEO tips” and see what new keywords and ideas may show up in the BuzzSumo results (as shown below). If you are a plumber, you might consider something like “leaky faucet.” I’d recommend doing a bit of keyword research before using BuzzSumo so that you have a good list to test out ahead of time.

What you’re looking for in these search results are themes, whether they be with keywords, domains, content types, or even influencers that show up repeatedly.

You’ll have the ability to review backlinks from the searches and with that, you can develop a list of sites that you may want to target for you or your client to get backlinks from (an increase in authentic backlinks will help to increase your site’s SEO), or, you can develop a list of influencers to target knowing what type of content they like to share.

Creating alerts

Of all the tools you can use for creating alerts, I think this one is the best due to its interface and usability. You can create alerts for any specific search term that you want so that you can stay on top of trends related to it.

Create a list of terms that relate to your brand, your name, your products, etc. and then think of all the industry terms or competitor names you might like to track as well. Once a day you’ll get all the alerts delivered to your inbox for easy scanning.

Competitive research

Instead of typing in a keyword phrase into BuzzSumo’s search box, you can type in a competitor’s URL and see what’s been the most shared content for them and who is linking and sharing their content. These can provide very valuable data points for your strategy moving forward.

Think about it, you can see the most shared content from any website. You can track your competitors and look for ways to take advantage of their research or you can simply find other industry sites to get ideas on why they might be popular.

Finding guest content

Getting published on other sites is a great way to increase your number of backlinks and boost your SEO. This tool actually has the capability for you to filter “guest content” to see who runs and allows guest content to be posted on their site within the industry.

Make a list and start pitching your great content ideas to other sites that have already demonstrated they like posting guest content. Of course, you’re not bound by content you find on BuzzSumo, you this is a great approach for local strategic partners as well.

Of course, there’s the flip side of this equation – You can also Buzz to find and build a list of people you want to guest post on your own site.

Finding influencers

BuzzSumo is a great tool to help you build a list of people who are influential in any industry.

Simply click on the Influencer tab and type in a keyword and BuzzSumo will build a list of influencers for you based off that keyword phrase. Remember, an influential person in your industry might just be someone that likes to share other people’s content, it doesn’t mean they are a household name.

Be sure to look through the results on this one to make sure the influencers really are relevant to your particular business.

Content analysis

BuzzSumo also allows you learn more about how your content is shared and the best approaches for future content

With this feature, BuzzSumo looks through all of the articles it shares based on your keyword by network, content type, date published, content length, and related topics (among other filters). This tied in with the search results can really get you going in the right direction.

For example, when I look through my past content I see that my posts that are over 1,000 words seem to get shared far more than shorter posts.

BuzzSumo is a great tool to help round out your editorial calendar and boost your SEO through content marketing efforts.

3 How to Turn Your Browser Into a Marketing Tool

I use the Chrome browser and judging from the data I get from Google Analytics so do 60.12% of my site visitors.

Chrome is certainly winning the browser war at the moment and this is due in large part to the growing set of tools, plugins, and extensions that extend the power far beyond basic search.

Today, every business owner and marketing can turn their browser into an automatic research, prospecting, and data collection machine by adding a few chrome extensions. (There’s an entire Chrome App store if you want to go crazy, but like all things web related, just because you can add more, doesn’t mean you should and browsing speed might suffer if you get too crazy.)

Here are the ones I rely on.

Similar Web

Similar Web

This free plugin gives you an instant look at things like the traffic rank, traffic sources, social engagement, and online advertising associated with any site.

Now, why would that be interesting?

It’s a great way to make a snap assessment of a competitor – perhaps even identifying a few sources of traffic you could consider mining.

It’s a great way to make a snap assessment of a prospect – let’s say you sell marketing services and want to help drive more traffic or help build SEO – this plugin give you a picture of the state of those elements.

It’s a great way to make a snap assessment about any opportunity – maybe you want to guest post for a site or perhaps someone reached out to talk about a joint venture – this is an easy way to get some data about their online activity.

Wappalyzer

wappalyzer

This tool gives you a snapshot of the technology being used by any site you visit.

Again, why might this matter?

Let’s say you design killer WordPress sites – now you know if they do or don’t use WordPress and what theme they use. (You can usually get this from the code, but this is so much easier.)

It will also tell you if they use a plugin like Yoast SEO for WordPress – if you sell local SEO services this might be a nice clue.

Or maybe you notice that they don’t even have Google Analytics installed – what could that tell you?

You can find out why your competitor’s contact form looks so much better or if they are using Infusionsoft or Hubspot – this might be useful information and might just lead you to finding some better tools.

BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo

This is a great tool for finding the most shared content online on any topic or on any site. It’s great to help round out your own content calendar and find potential guest posts and contributors, but the plugin give you some instant data on sharing behavior for any page you land on, which can be great when assessing competitive content or even potential topics for your own content.

Don’t forget your CRM – there’s a good chance that your CRM tool has a plugin that might make prospecting and adding data easier.

I use few others as well, not for marketing, but for productivity – Buffer for social media management, LastPass for password management, Diigo for online bookmarking, HelloSign to sign documents in GMail and EyeDropper so I can figure out the value of any color on any website.

 

5 How to Systematically Create an Annual Editorial Calendar

I talk about content, well, all of the  time. I know many of you are sick of reading about it, but I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon. In fact, high-quality content that addresses the needs, concerns and questions of your ideal clients is pretty much the price of admission these days.

It’s not enough to create and optimize web pages and call that content either. You must commit to producing content much like a publisher of a magazine and you must do it strategically.

Content is Strategy

Waking up on Monday and deciding what to write about on your blog is not a content strategy. Content is such an essential element in the marketing puzzle you must plan your content like you might your promotional calendar or budget for the year.

Taking a strategic view of content means you must understand the body of work you need to create over time to turn your content efforts into an asset that will serve your business long-term.

In my view, this means applying the same kind of keyword, competitive and linking research that most associate with SEO to your editorial approach. And that’s the point really – in order for your content to pay dividends it must help drive traffic, shares, influence and conversion.

Finding Your Themes

The first step is to start making a list of your most important themes. I generally try to find three core themes and about nine supplemental themes. (Nice tidy 12 monthly themes.) Your core themes are the kinds of things that might be found on your homepage or even in the title attribute of your home page. Or, perhaps the main navigational elements of your site.

Your supplemental themes round out the list and while not as important, certainly make fodder for your ongoing blogging efforts.

Start with brainstorming. Lock yourself away and start thinking about the kinds of things people ask about the most, where you make your most money, or where you see the greatest opportunities in your industry. This is often enough to create a good start to your list. Obviously, if you have a team, get them involved – they may actually know better than you. (Industry jargon that means nothing to the prospect must be left out here.)

Now take that list to the Google Keyword Planner and see if you can find themes that have significant volume. You must balance key terms with being too generic though. A term like “marketing” wouldn’t make sense as a theme, even for a marketing consultant, but a term like “referral marketing tactics” might.

From this work, you should have developed a pretty solid dozen or so candidates for your monthly themes. I also like to take the terms to the Google search page and see what they suggest as related searches and who shows up on page one for these terms now.

BuzzSumo

Researching Topics

Now that I have my terms I want to get more specific ideas for actual topics I might map to each month.

For this task, I lean pretty heavily on a tool called BuzzSumo. There are other tools that can be useful, such as Topsy, but BuzzSumo does so many things I find myself sticking to it.

The basic thing BuzzSumo does is show you the most shared content for any term you put into its search box. (Note this can be a URL as well if, for example, you want to see most shared content on a competitors site.)

I use it to uncover actual highly shared blog posts around each of my themes so I can get some solid ideas for my own content and see what types of things get shared the most by others. You do have to use a little creativity here – for example a plumber that does bathroom plumbing might also search some common problems related to bathroom plumbing to find good ideas.

I might also employ a site like Quora to see the kinds of questions people are asking about my themes. Answering questions is always a good idea for a blog post.

Going Beyond

Now that I have a good start to the actual topics related to my themes, I want to start figuring out who else writes about my themes, who else like to share this kind of content and what sites are seen as influential in the space.

Again, BuzzSumo is a pretty great power tool. With the higher paid plans, you can discover a list of influential bloggers related to the topics you are interested in. I generally follow and list these folks on Twitter and even subscribe to some of their blogs in Feedly so I can start sharing their content. Eventually, I may try to develop the kind of relationship where I could ask one or more of these folks if I could submit guest content or if they would like to do so for my site.

You can also narrow your topic search to include only guest posts. It’s pretty good bet that a person likes to write guest posts or a site likes to take guest posts if they show up on this search.

This is indeed a way to get more content to fill your plan but it’s also the strategic part of building links to your site and gaining exposure for your content outside of your own efforts.

I further use BuzzSumo’s info to show me who is linking to and sharing content related to my topics and often create more lists to look for more strategic relationships beyond what people might call the “usual suspects in thought leadership land.”

Editorial Calendar

Now Document

By this point, I have a pretty good amount of content identified to fill in my plan so it’s time to turn to a tool to document a plan and calendar. You can use any spreadsheet really (Smartsheet, Google Sheets, Excel) to document your themes across twelve months and then simply add the elements of your platform – blog, podcast, guest posts, eBooks, etc. Then you set your goals for how much content you want in each element each month. (I wrote a post a while back called 10 Ways to Use One Piece of Content – you should read this post as well if today’s idea appeals to you.)

For a specific view of each month, you might want to add an editorial calendar as a spreadsheet or by using a WordPress plugin. It’s pretty amazing how simply documenting a plan seems to help get more done by keeping the focus on the future rather than scrambling to create the present. (I realize that’s not a very Zen idea, but it’s the reality of business.)

You know you need content, so stop fighting it and start making a plan that allows you to better delegate, build and amplify your content asset.

 

20 How to Promote Every Piece of Content You Create

You’ve written a series of useful blog posts and done everything you’ve told to optimize that content for your most important keyword phrases. Now it’s time to post it to your social media profiles and sit back and enjoy the rush of traffic.

Several years ago this scenario may have been true, but today content marketing has become so competitive that you must include significant promotion as a core element of your editorial process.

Buffer Scheduler

Yes, of course, tweet your blog posts several times (I love using the Buffer Scheduler as you can add a tweet now, in 10 hours, in a day and in a week all at the same time.) Add Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ posts that highlight why someone might want to read your posts and then go to work on getting your posts in front of other people’s targeted audiences.

When we build content plans for our clients today we always include what we call an influencer program that over time can help us significantly increase the reach, traffic, engagement and leads from the content our clients produce.

Below are five steps we take in building an influencer program

Find Influencers

Step one, of course, is to find the Influencers we want to target. By Influencer, we loosely mean other content producers in our chosen industry who we believe to have a following in our ideal client pool.

There are a variety of tools you can employ to find such folks. Currently, I’m quite fond of BuzzSumo’s influence ranking tool but I also employ Topsy and Followerwonk to help validate and expand my list of potential partners. (Inkybee and BlogDash offer powerful paid plans as well.)

BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo shows me what kind of content Jim Connely – a small business influencer – shares so I can know what he reads and where he likes to get his information.

Segment Influencers by customer persona

Next we build a spreadsheet of influencers segmented by our client’s differing market segments or personas. Many businesses seek to gain influence with different levels of stakeholders. For example, a company might need to interact with the CFO and the purchasing agent, and we need to create profiles of influencers for both. This is true as well for businesses that serve significantly different industries of market demographics.

We add as much social information as possible to the spreadsheet as well as relevant notes. This process can be automated to some extent using a CRM with unified communications and social built in. Tools like Nimble are very powerful for this purpose.

Build relationships first

Now that have our list we go to work on building relationships. We never pitch story ideas or ask for links or tweets until we’ve established relationship based on value. One of the first things we do in most cases is to follow every member on our list by putting them in Twitter lists and Google+ Circles. We also subscribe to their blog feed using Feedly, as well as their newsletters and other forms of content. Obviously if you want to build a relationship you must take the time to get to know their content habits, behaviors, and needs.

Next we begin the practice of sharing their content with our follower, posting relevant and useful comments on their content and, where appropriate, featuring their content in our own blog posts, emails, and newsletters.

All of this effort is aimed at gaining some recognition and building a relationship based on mutual content goals. At this point, we may reach out and directly share something that we think they might find extremely relevant – hopefully something they might want to blog about or use as a data point in an upcoming post.

Add guest blogging to your editorial plan

In addition to our targeted Influencers, we also build a list of potential guest blog post opportunities. We are looking both for places that we can post and potential writers that may have great content to share on our blog. The reason this is such an important element is that we can often find blogs that won’t respond to covering some topic, but would love a well thought out blog post.

In addition, when we add guest posts to the mix of content on our own blog we often find that our content is more diverse and we start to build relationships with bloggers who wish to promote their content featured on our site. Of course, we also vigorously promote our guest posts run on other blogs.

You may find there is some cross over here from your influencer list, but we also use keyword searches on BuzzSumo and Topsy adding the term “guest post” to help build our guest post plan.

TopsySearching Topsy to turn up guest post possibilities for my chosen topic.

Expand with strategic partnerships

Finally, we look to blow up one or two significant pieces of content every so often. We’ve found that one of the best ways to do this is through collaboration and cobranding.

Our first approach is to take an eBook, tip sheet or case study and offer to let a strategic partner or Influencer cobrand the already proven content to share with their audience. This often allows us to gain introduction to large groups of prospects and is welcomed by partners who know they should be producing more content.

Another approach is to jointly create a long form post, infographic of even eBook with a strategic partner. Quite often one partner may have big data to share while another wants to showcase their killer graphic design skills and collaboration creates an impressive end product that just may get picked up by numerous blogs and influencers as you co-promote with your partner or partners.

Yes, content marketing is work, but it is the most effective way to generate leads for any business that wants to compete on expertise and authority rather than price.

8 How and Why I Use BuzzSumo

Like you I use lots of tools to keep up on things, amplify things, research things, and share things.

Online tools for such things come and go and often get replaced by this week’s new addition, so I love it when a tool I already like just keeps getting better.

I’ve written about BuzzSumo in my weekend favs column and in other tool roundups, but recent upgrades to BuzzSumo have me going to it more and more. (Full disclosure, I talked about BuzzSumo so much they gave me a pro account.)

Originally I used BuzzSumo as my go-to tool for doing content and competitive research, but it’s so much more now.

BuzzSumo

Research industry influencers on any topic

Content research

The core BuzzSumo functionality is the ability to turn up the most shared content on any topic you choose. When helping clients build an annual editorial calendar we often help them identify the landmark themes we believe need to make up their total body of work and then turn to BuzzSumo to fill in specifics areas that seem to have the most appeal based on universal sharing. Sharing isn’t the only metric we use, but it’s an important one.

Competitive research

Another core feature is the ability to search for the most shared content based on the URL. So, we turn here to dig up the most shared content from competitors. In addition to better understanding a competitors content strategy and habits, we also use this as leverage to convince hesitant clients that they need to get more active in the content game.

Influencer mining

A recent useful addition to the paid version is the ability to find influential players in just about any topic or industry. This makes it much easier for us to build Twitter lists of journalists and blogs that we might target for coverage and guest post opportunities. All you have to do is type in a topic and start mining the list. We typically take this approach for every landmark theme we develop for a client.

The great thing is that once you develop the list there’s a wealth of information about who they are, who they are connected to, how much engagement they generate, and what they typically share.

Alerts

Alerts have been with us for a while. The original player was Google Alerts. With this feature, you can create a list of things such as brand names, product names, competitors, journalists and even key employees and receive daily digests for any mentions. I switched from Google Alerts to Talkwalker a few years ago, but I believe BuzzSumo’s alerts are even more complete so I use this tool for my alerts as well.

It’s highly likely that I’ll be back before too long touting some new tool, but for now BuzzSumo has a lot to like!

2 Weekend Favs August Two

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from Flickr or one that I took out there on the road.

medium_4350829281

Good stuff I found this week:

BuzzSumo – Find the content that’s being shared most for any topic

Postific – Social media management and marketing platform

Survey Advantage – Tool for capturing customer feedback and reviews