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BuzzSumo: The Heavyweight of Content Discovery?

Larry Kim
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BuzzSumoBefore we get started, I have a confession – I was initially a little reluctant to write this review, because BuzzSumo has become nothing short of my secret weapon when it comes to keeping on top of what's going on in our industry. It's so good, it's revolutionized how I create, share, and read content relating to SEO, PPC, and Internet marketing.

Something else I want to point out before we go any further is that this isn't a paid review, and I have no relationship to BuzzSumo other than the fact that I'm an enthusiastic user. Now that we've got that out of the way, let's dive into why BuzzSumo is such an awesome tool and why you should make it a part of your Internet marketing arsenal.

Real Insights

I'm always on the lookout for new tools that will help me do my job more effectively, and BuzzSumo more than fits the bill. But what is BuzzSumo, and what does it do?

Simply put, BuzzSumo is a Web-based software program that trawls the Web for content based on search queries, and provides you with lots of interesting data based on your results. I use BuzzSumo for three primary tasks:

  • Discovering hot new industry topics and interesting news.
  • Identifying key influencers in my industry for networking purposes.
  • Researching other websites.

Let's look at each task in a bit more detail.

Content Discovery

Content curation can be kind of a pain. Even highly customizable services like Feedly can be difficult to use, especially if you don't have all day to sit around reading articles and news stories.

With so many sites republishing the same old stuff, I need to know which articles are worth reading, and fast. BuzzSumo makes this easy.

First, simply enter a topic in the search field. For this example, I chose "PPC" because that's the nature of my business. You can also filter your results using the list of content types listed on the left.

BuzzSumo Search

As you can see in the following figure, I'm presented with a list of trending topics related to AdWords. However, it doesn't stop there. BuzzSumo also gives me a current summary of social shares for each individual article. This data can then be rearranged and sorted by channel, and then exported as a spreadsheet:

BuzzSumo Top Content

This tells me, at a glance, which stories are circulating the Web via social – an often reliable indication of whether something is worth reading. If something catches your eye, you can click on the "article" button beneath the content to be taken from the BuzzSumo dashboard right to the article. Pretty neat, right?

Identifying Influencers

Finding content worth reading is just one of BuzzSumo's strengths. The second highly useful feature of the software is to see who is worth listening to by evaluating the social clout of industry thought leaders.

Just as you can search for content using keywords, you can do the same for influencers:

BuzzSumo PPC Influencers

The figure above represents a search for influencers within the PPC industry. It's interesting to note that the default view doesn't necessarily rank the most influential people or organizations at the top, and the least influential at the bottom – it positions them based on certain metrics.

You can see these running from left to right toward the right of the person or organization's profile. However, if you reorder the list to display, say, reply ratio first…

BuzzSumo Larry Kim Influencer

... you end up with significantly different results.

This feature of BuzzSumo is really useful for cutting through the noise and identifying the real movers and shakers in a given industry. Plus, you can assess the social influence of specific individuals by entering their Twitter handle, as well as filter your results by type, such as bloggers, journalists, so-called "regular people" (which is a bit harsh, right?), and even companies.

One of my favorite features is that you can "ignore broadcasters" – you know, the super annoying folks who use Buffer and other tools to robotically blast out URL tweets.

Researching the Competition

BuzzSumo's third strength is its use as a research tool. Most companies are doing some form of content marketing these days, but is it working? They'll probably be the first to tell you that it is, but BuzzSumo lets you examine the raw data about a site's content.

Not only does BuzzSumo show you roughly how successful a site's content is from a social perspective, it also allows you to identify trends and patterns in terms of which articles did well and at what times. This is a highly useful tool for content marketers seeking to diversify their content, or maximize the reach of their forthcoming articles.

Get in the Ring

Overall, BuzzSumo is a fantastic tool that provides you with a great deal of information quickly. For me, it saves me hours of time curating content and identifying hot new stories, and it also lets me identify the top folks within any niche. Ultimately, BuzzSumo offers a quantitative approach to answering questions like "what's the best content to read on a particular site or topic right now?"

Of course, BuzzSumo is not without its limitations.

For example, the Influencers reporting functionality is limited to Twitter – it would've been nice to see aggregates of other social media sites as they do for their content searches. Similarly, the "Users that shared" feature in the content discovery reports are also restricted to tweets, meaning that a lot of data on who is sharing content to channels like Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn is being lost.

However, given that BuzzSumo is a free tool, and is set to introduce premium features later this summer (including content alerts and content analysis reports), perhaps these tools will become a little more robust. Either way, I can't wait to see what else BuzzSumo can do.


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