Ask 100 content marketers, and you’ll probably hear at least
101 different answers.
However, whether the goal of a post is to drive traffic,
develop backlinks, earn shares, or just about anything else, every marketer
would agree that the longer the content is able to do it, the better.
After all, would you rather have a blog post that attracts
new visitors for a month, a year, or a decade?
This is why creating popular content is no longer enough.
You want evergreen content that is popular and stands the test of
3 Steps to a Successful Evergreen Content Strategy
“The best evergreen content is the holy grail of content
marketing. It’s that article that consistently ranks well in search and drives
65 percent of your site traffic, even though it was written in 2011.”
So, while putting together evergreen content tends to take
longer than quickly writing other types of posts, the results of success are
definitely worth it. Just one evergreen piece could regularly add to your
bottom line for years to come.
The good news is that, if you use BuzzSumo, creating
evergreen content from scratch is a repeatable process. By finding the most
popular content in your industry, you’ll find it much easier to create
evergreen posts again and again.
1. Find the Evergreen Content That Already Exists in Your Industry
In order for popular content to become evergreen, it should
be about a topic with no expiration date.
Therefore, a list of predictions for the coming year could
make for popular content, but as soon as that year has come and gone, so too
will its shelf life. That’s not evergreen content.
Similarly, if I was an investment analyst, I’d probably find
that many in my market loved weekly “hot pick” articles where I explained which
stocks I thought were trending up. Again, that might be popular content, but it
will never become evergreen.
With that in mind, we’ll use BuzzSumo to look at what kind
of content has been doing extremely well with our market over the past five
years. We’re using this longer timeframe because we want to create content
that’s going to do just as well.
So, say your company makes an email-marketing platform. Naturally, your audience would be interested in email marketing, which you can search for in BuzzSumo and arrange by the topics’ Evergreen Scores:
That’s a lot of popular content. So, the question
becomes: how can you beat it?
2. Look for Opportunities to Improve the Evergreen Content in Your Industry
Brian Dean of Backlinko fame coined the term, “Skyscraper Technique”, to describe a content strategy he often uses to beat the popular content that is ahead of his in Google.
Whenever he sees a listicle, he just uses the items from
that post and then adds to it, so his is longer. Unsurprisingly, people
naturally assume that the longer list is better. It receives more clicks and
more shares and, eventually, a much wider audience.
You could do this with a few of the examples above. For example, you could come up with even more email tips and beat out, “.”
If the most popular content among your evergreen competitors
isn’t a listicle, that just means you need to do a little more digging.
For example, Campaign Monitor had a lot of success with, “The New Rules of Email Marketing.” However, it was published all the way back in 2015. Think how much has changed since then (e.g. the passing of the GDPR). Surely, there are plenty of opportunities to improve on that post and make popular content that will serve your market even better for years to come.
Of course, you can always take popular content and reformat
it as well. Instead of the way Campaign Monitor did it, you could use a
listicle instead. Here are other formats to consider that might give you even
more success when you create your evergreen post:
“History of” Pieces
“What Is?” Posts
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Glossaries of Terms
Whatever format you use, remember to be helpful.
“When looking to write evergreen content I believe you need to write from a place within yourself that genuinely wants to help the customer without asking them to give you something first i.e. their email, phone number, etc., meaning you should write without any expectation,” says Natalie Adis, Director of Digital Marketing & Analytics, Marquis Health Services.
“You shouldn’t be looking at your content creation process to simply garner impressions or generating clicks. Instead, simply look to truly help a person or group of people who are habitually searching for answers to their questions and haven’t been able to find thorough enough answers. Genuinely seeking to help others builds trust and rapport digitally and the rest will fall into place.”
3. Create a Schedule to Regularly Update Your Evergreen Content
Successful content marketing depends on schedules.
Editorial calendars are an obvious example. You need to regularly
publish content to generate consistent traffic, interest, and engagement.
Clearly, DigitalMarketer understands the importance of
updating their posts. In fact, they’ve been updating this one since it was
first published in 2014. Expect another update by the end of the year.
The reason successful marketers do this is twofold.
First, evergreen content takes time to create. So, if it
begins slipping in popularity, it’s much easier to simply update it rather than
start from scratch.
Second, the URL attached to current evergreen content will become valuable over the years. Instead of starting brand-new ones for Google to judge, update the current ones that are already doing well and help it do better.
In order for you URL’s to stand the test of time, you need to make sure they don’t include numbers or dates.
Julia Bramble, Ph.D., social media strategist, trainer & keynote speaker, makes this point clear in her list of how-to’s for evergreen content.
“Evergreen content can form the backbone of your content marketing strategy,” Julia says. “Many businesses prioritize evergreen content creation as it is deemed worthwhile investing time and effort into content that will remain relevant and attract clicks, views and leads over the longer term.
“However, it’s important to remember a few key points in the process: 1. Choose a theme or subject that is as timeless as possible. 2. Remember not to include dates where at all possible, or references such as ‘last year’ or ‘2 months ago. 3. Try not to include references to very popular celebrities or TV programs that could date your content. 4. Review your content from time to time, to make sure that it still comes across as being vibrant and relevant. 5. An alternative approach is to make your content very specific to a particular time point (for example a list of online tools) but then to make sure it gets updated at very regular intervals.”
Looking back, you may realize that some of your past efforts have fallen so far that they’re no longer producing any returns. In that case, combine as many as you can into one post under the URL that’s doing best. Then, use redirects on the obsolete pages – instead of deleting them – to send any visitors they do earn to the updated URL.
Don’t Just Settle for Popular Content – Create Evergreen Content
Despite how much potential evergreen posts have, you can
create this popular content over and over using the strategy above.
Evergreen content is arguably the most important type you
As the name suggests, evergreen isn’t just popular content.
It’s the kind of content that remains popular for years and years at a time.
While it brings your site more traffic and your brand more exposure—all you have to do is sit back and enjoy it.
What could be better?
4 Ways to Create Popular Content by Leveraging Data
How about the fact that creating this type of ultra-popular
content isn’t a secret known only by the most successful of marketers?
In fact, you can learn how to do it in just four simple
steps, so you can then repeat the process over and over.
1. Pull Data on Popular Content That’s Become Evergreen
It’s never been more important to make data-informed
decisions about the types of content you create for your company. A
“hit-and-miss” strategy based on guesswork puts you at the mercy of any
competitor who lets data tell them what to publish.
That’s why we added an Evergreen
Score to our Content Analyzer tool. As our own Steve Rayson explains:
“We look for articles that consistently gain shares and
links over time. Based on this consistency we allocate each article an
In simple terms the higher the score the more evergreen the article. If an article is less than 30 days old we score it zero by default.”
So, if the goal was to create popular content about weight loss that would stand the test of time, I’d use our Content Analyzer to research the topic:
For your health blog, you’d see that the average Evergreen
Score for that industry is 1.49.
Those first five show a lot of engagement, but again,
that’s not necessarily your goal. You want evergreen content and it looks like
only three of them beat the average.
That’s helpful, but you can get a much better idea of what works best if you re-sort the list by Evergreen Score. In fact, because you want popular content that will stay that way for years and years, you’re also going to tell the platform to go back five years for results.
As you can see, this breakdown is very different. The lowest Evergreen Score is now 60% higher than the highest when I sorted by engagement.
“When creating evergreen content, think about the interview question, ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ You need to apply that time warp to evergreen content, says Rachel Moore, social media marketing manager at Really Social, Inc. If it’ll still matter and be accurate in five years (or more), bingo!”
2. Analyze the Actual Articles
If you were to stop here, you’d still have a lot of good
information to go off of for creating content.
Clearly, “How to” and “How Many” articles do really well.
However, because your goal is the most popular of content,
it’s worth to take a few extra steps to reach evergreen status.
That’s why you’d then click on each article to actually look
them over. Specifically, you’d take note of sub-headers, because this will show
what kind of information they’re using to answer the questions in the titles.
You’d also want to look at where they’re sourcing that
information from. Maybe you can find more recent or otherwise better sources.
How many and what kinds of images do they use? Visuals tend
to correlate with popular content, so that would be a helpful metric.
Finally, you’d copy-and-paste their text into a Word document to quickly figure out what kind of word-count you should aim for. The Content Analyzer tool tells you to go long:
However, it will only take a couple of minutes to assess the
posts that are doing best for evergreen content just to make sure.
3. Look for Opportunities to Outdo Your Competition
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but that’s
not really your goal here.
Instead, you want to beat competitors by creating
content that will do better on social media platforms and search engines.
By reviewing their content, you might immediately see where
they came up short and how you can better serve my market.
However, you can also head over to Google, search for “how
to lose weight”, and see what kinds of related-searches
For “how to lose weight”, you receive a lot of good feedback:
You could include information about losing weight “without
dieting”, “with exercise”, “overnight”, etc. and answer some of the
Google gives you even more information at the bottom of the page:
This isn’t to say that you need to include all of
these suggestions, but they’ll definitely help you find opportunities competitors
may have missed.
4. Use BuzzSumo to Answer Popular Questions
Questions make some of the best blog topics because, well, so many people use Google to find answers.
“When creating evergreen content, you have to consider the types of questions your target audience will *always* have,” says Amanda Milligan, Marketing Director at Frac.tl.
“Generally, interactive tools, how-to guides, and other comprehensive resources fit the bill in terms of format, but you still have to determine what evergreen questions need answering (and that’s the most important part). The easiest way to start is by considering what the major problems/roadblocks are of your primary personas, and then asking yourself how you can answer those key questions.”
“Ask yourself what questions you get over and over,” adds Christina Olson Hendrickson, Marketing Manager at Cascade.
“Ask your sales team what they’re asked. Ask your customer support team what questions they’re tired of answering. When you start to see some common threads, that’s not just good content—it’s also the content likely to keep performing for you over the long haul.”
However, answering questions makes for great subsections,
That’s why you need to use our Question Analyzer tool to get a sense for what questions tend to be related to “how to lose weight?”
Obviously, questions about “how much weight”, “calories”,
and “exercise” are all important to cover.
However, maybe your competition already did.
In that case, you’d do the same and find some other
For example, “water weight” is a common phrase in these questions, so let’s see what ideas that can give me:
You can export all 42 questions to review them in detail but sufficed to say, you’d cover this topic in your evergreen piece to ensure it turns into popular content that finds readers for years to come.
Quickly Find the Data You Need to Publish Popular Content
At BuzzSumo, we couldn’t agree more. We know that marketers
are tasked with creating entire editorial calendars full of what needs to become
popular content. This is only possible if they can quickly mine the data they
need again and again.
With our suite of tools, it’s never been easier to harvest actionable
content insights to inform your entire content-marketing campaign. You can even
see for yourself by giving BuzzSumo a completely free seven-day trial.
When every option looks, sounds and acts the same, how do customers
All products, in every industry, risk becoming a commodity. Technologies
can be copied so quickly that new features and functions – even product quality
– aren’t sufficient to grow your business. The same information, suppliers and
skills are available to all companies. Competition becomes a race to cut costs
and lower prices.
You find a different way to influence buying decisions.
Companies that express a powerful brand personality are able to turn
customers into fans and advocates. Unlike
changing tech or shifting markets, an authentic, well-communicated brand
personality has staying power.
When you put forth a distinctive brand personality, customers begin to
self-select. They’ll say, “This is a company I want to spend time with,” and
they’ll come to you. By making emotional connections and earning trust,
companies with strong brand personalities forge lasting customer relationships.
What Exactly Is “Brand Personality”?
Your brand personality is an expression of your company’s unique story.
It’s the humanity behind your business. It’s more than your brand “voice”
because it aligns the words you say with your values and actions. It guides the
experience you create for everyone interacting with you.
Regardless of the type of personality you define for your organization,
there are five essential elements you need to make your brand an influentialone.
The 5 C’s of an Influential Brand Personality
Character is about doing your
thing as well as doing the right thing.
Define the principles that guide your decisions based on your intrinsic
culture, beliefs and vision. Don’t be afraid to tell people what you stand for.
This doesn’t mean you need a purely altruistic mission or must press political
hot buttons. It simply means having a point of view and finding a way to express
“This is a big part of what helps a brand differentiate itself from competition, and what helps to fill the gap between the products companies make and the emotional experience a brand idea can convey,” Google’s Brand Strategy Director says in an article for Wharton. “We’ve seen Cheerios take a stand on racial issues and Honey Maid redefine the notion of what a wholesome family looks like. REI has closed their stores on Black Friday in the name of opting outside, and P&G is dedicated to getting people to think twice about what it means to do something ‘like a girl.’”
Communicate clearly so people don’t
have to guess your intentions. Distill information down to its core meaning and
ruthlessly eliminate excess.
As an example of simple yet distinctive language, check out Sprint’s Agile Business Manifesto. They show small businesses how to accelerate growth “without losing your soul.” It’s a far cry from the generic, jargon-packed style of many (especially large) tech companies.
When you’re honest and straightforward, you can be persuasive without
being manipulative. You want buyers
to know exactly what they’re going to get from you, so their experience doesn’t
feel like a bait-and-switch, where they’re promised one thing and received
3. Customer Context (Okay, that’s 2 C’s for the price of
Your brand can’t only be about what you want to express. It’s also about connecting with customers. When you demonstrate empathy for your customers, you make them feel understood. You give them confidence that their problems can be solved. If you keep your customers’ needs front and center, you’ll be able to craft formidable messaging with the power to convince and convert.
“Empathy has EVERYTHING to do with how our team shows up, both in the experiences we design for our customers and in the interactions we have with each other as the people responsible for creating these experiences,” says Lauren Lucchese, former head of AI content at Capital One. “When we get it right, we demonstrate that we have our customers’ best interests at heart. It helps them believe that we care about them because we do.”
Be sure your products and services do what you say they do. Have
evidence to back up those claims, with specifics your buyers will remember.
Social proof, testimonials and your own origin story contribute to your credibility. By sharing your experience meeting the same challenges customers face, you tell them, “We’ve been there. We’ve done that. And we’ve come out the other side.”
For example, cybersecurity company Thycotic designed a customer video page organized by customer type, so readers can hone in on stories that reflect their own challenges. To demonstrate the breadth and depth of their customer relationships, they include Gartner Peer Reviews and share specifics on satisfaction and renewal rates.
Consistency builds trust. And trust builds influence.
You can’t change a brand personality like you’re changing shoes. Let’s
say you have a cluttered website full of jargon and complex sentences. Pasting
a tagline on top that says you’re “The Easy Way to Get the Job Done” isn’t
going to change customers’ opinions of you. Your customers will call you on it.
Empower people to deliver your company’s brand personality across all
touch points – on your website, in sales conversations, on a support call, in
stores, in your product interface, wherever customers interact with your brand.
Before higher education tech leader Ellucian rolled out its brand to an external audience, the marketing team spent several months aligning the internal organization. CMO Jackie Yeaney explains the importance of internal preparation: “For a brand to be successful, people need to be able to articulate it in a sentence or two. Once people understand what that means, they can make decisions in their own work. We don’t expect everyone to use exactly the same words or do exactly the same things. It’s the idea of the brand that’s important.”
What to Do Next?
Developing your brand personality is a journey of self-discovery.
To start defining your own brand personality, begin by asking questions
that define your organization’s unique culture, values and beliefs.
Some of my favorites questions to ask company leadership:4 tips evergreen content abstract
Why did you decide to start this company?
What characteristics make people at your company
What do you think customers should consider but
What do others in your industry disagree with you
Check the answers against what really matters to your customers. Ask them
questions that reveal both emotional and tangible objectives, such as:
What’s the #1 thing you’re struggling with right
How do you make decisions about the partners you
What does success look like for you?
How would you solve your problems if you weren’t
working with us?
What do you expect from our relationship over time?
Weave the answers into your marketing messages. Use what you learn to
guide your go-to-market strategy, hiring choices and business decisions.
Every organization embarking on a brand journey will end up at a
different place. Through the process, you’ll discover hidden strengths and
align your organization so you’re stronger and faster. With a well-crafted
brand personality, you’ll be able to influence buying decisions, build customer
loyalty and leave your competitors in the dust.
The anatomy of successful online content is
It just takes the right topic, well-written
content, and a headline that effectively tells readers why it’s worth clicking.
Each of these components is worth looking
at in-depth, but without earning that click, the topic and content won’t
matter. This is where online content analysis becomes essential for creating
5 Steps to Using BuzzSumo for Effective Online Content
Analysis of Headlines in Your Industry
It has never been more important for companies across every industry to create evergreen content. While there’s always a place for covering news and trendy topics in your sphere, evergreen content is the kind that remains relevant for years to come. That means you may start seeing an ROI right away, but you’ll also enjoy more traffic and engagement month-after-month, year-after-year, too.
What’s the best way to get those clicks? High-quality
That’s where BuzzSumo comes in.
1. Identify the Most Popular Topics for Your Industry
When people come to your site, what kinds
of topics are they searching for? If your site sees a decent amount of traffic,
you probably already know. If you’re still building toward that goal, take a look
at what your competitors keep returning to in their blog posts.
Remember, we’re talking about the
information you provide, not the products or services you offer.
For example, if you’re an accountant, you probably have a lot of blog posts on your site about saving money, taxes, planning for retirement, and estate planning – not your unique approach to these services.
If all else fails, imagine you are at a barbecue or cocktail party. If someone asked you what your blog is about, what would you say? This should allow you to find some of the broader, industry topics quickly.
2. Begin Broad and Then Narrow Your Search
All you need is a fairly good idea of your
topics in order to use BuzzSumo for an in-depth online content analysis of your
best headline opportunities. As you continue to conduct these searches, it will
become clearer which ones are most popular.
For example, let’s say you’re an event
planner and aren’t sure where to begin. You could start by simply searching for
“event planning” in BuzzSumo. Here’s what your results would look like:
As you can see, that’s a pretty wide range.
Therefore, you’ll want to apply some filters in order to narrow the list down
to headline types that are actually useful.
In this case, let’s say you’re not looking to cover topics relevant to your industry. You want to create the kind that you know your customers want to click on.
All you have to do is go to “Content Type”
and uncheck the boxes next to any type that isn’t relevant to your company:
Now, your list looks like this:
As you can see, a lot of these topics and
their headlines have to do with helping people who are in the very beginning
phases of planning an event.
The 10 most-shared articles also have
something else in common: all of their headlines start with a number. Make sure
yours does, too.
If you want a simpler look at engagement
rates, BuzzSumo’s online content analysis tool also includes the “Analysis”
tab, which will give you a breakdown that looks like this:
This will give you an even better idea of
what types of headlines work best if you have a specific social-media platform
3. Identify Competing Domains
The other great thing about the Analysis
tab is that you can use it specifically for researching what seems to be
working best for your competitors.
For example, if BuzzSumo were one of your competitors, you might be interested to see what’s been working best for buzzsumo.com. Here’s what you’d see:
4. Create a Profile of the Best Performing
Successful copywriters all depend on a simple tool called a swipe file. It’s really nothing more than a collection of copy they really like. Whenever they see a headline, sub-headline, CTA, or an entire body of copy they like, they keep it for inspiration down the line.
Online marketers should be doing the same
thing, especially when it comes to winning headlines. Any time you do this kind
of in-depth online analysis, save yourself time in the future by exporting the
results from BuzzSumo in a PDF you can refer back to again.
Title your PDF with the topic you were
researching, and you’ll have an even easier time going back and finding your
winning headline ideas in the future.
5. Look for Patterns Among the Headlines
Remember earlier when the online content
analysis found that listicles beginning with numbers seemed to work especially
well? That would be helpful information to leverage for many different
However, there may be a number of other
patterns that would show you what kinds of headlines work best for your market.
For example, you might find that shorter
headlines play really well, so you’d want to get a range to stay between with
all of yours.
First-person headlines (e.g. “How I…”,
“I Made $X in Y Days: Here’s How”) may also get the most engagement.
To look for common phrases, you could
export your list and then use online text-analysis tools to look for them.
You could also export all of the different
content-analysis reports you did with BuzzSumo and simply hire a freelancer to
go through them all and come back with any insights. That would be a
cost-effective way to gain extremely profitable insights.
It’s Never Been More Important to Use High-Quality
As a content marketer, you already know how
competitive it is online. Whether you’re trying to win a spot on Google’s first
page or grab attention on social media, you can’t afford to spend the time and
money on great content and then drop the ball when it comes to headlines.
If you’d like to eliminate the guessing game when it comes to your headlines, you now know how BuzzSumo can help. Sign up for a free seven-day trial today to get started improving the ROI on your content.
Call it clickbait, call it good copy, but don’t call it ineffective. There’s no doubt BuzzFeed headlines grab attention. It’s clear the publisher has put a lot of time into understanding how to write titles that drive clicks. Their approach is data-driven, often testing multiple titles, thumbnails, and even different versions of the same article. Showing these versions to different users to find an early winner gives the top choice the best possible shot at success.
The success of their model piqued our curiosity and got us thinking: given all of the hard work BuzzFeed does on this front, what can we learn from the brand’s top performing content? Are there commonalities? Specific words or phrases that seem to disproportionately win? Do trends appear to show categories of content or themes that work better than others?
To find out, we looked at the titles of the
top 15,000 BuzzFeed stories from the past two years from a deep text-analysis
perspective. We found some fascinating and actionable results that we are
excited to share.
Exploration of BuzzFeed Headline Taxonomy
I decided to begin my analysis by using a tool called Wordstat to help create a taxonomy of BuzzFeed content based on their titles, which would then give me the ability to understand the associated data of each article in a more manageable way. I believe the categories I arrived at are comprehensive and represent, in broad strokes, the multiplicity of ways BuzzFeed thinks about content creation.
To further elucidate the findings, I segmented these content categories into two major groups: a Topical Grouping and Qualitative Impact grouping.
Topical Groupings – categories related to a person/place/thing/idea
Women and Women’s Issues
Consumerism and Products
Sex and Beauty
Men and Men’s Issues
Title Includes Internet Slang/Jargon
Title Includes Swear Words
Title Includes Superlative Words
Qualitative Impact –
categories related to how the article intends to make you feel or respond.
Articles that convey the emotion of trust or authoritativeness
Articles that convey the emotion of surprise or anticipation
Articles that convey the emotion of anger
Articles that convey humor or are meant to be funny
Articles that convey the emotion of joy/happiness
Articles that create a sense of collective identity
Articles that convey the emotion of fear
Articles that convey the emotion of disgust
Articles that convey the emotion of sadness
Articles that relate to the aspirational self
These groupings will be analyzed independently
in order to allow for better “apples-to-apples” comparisons between
Before we delve into these groupings, let’s
first take a look at the distribution of articles across all categories, in order to answer the question, “Which categories
do BuzzFeed and their audience seem to favor most?” What follows are the
percentage of articles from the corpus (more than 15,000 articles) that fall
into each category. It’s important to note that many articles fit into multiple
categories, sometimes even more than 5 categories.
1 Article titles that include numbers—commonly known as “listicles”—are the most common category by far, with almost half of all BuzzFeed article titles incorporating a number in some form.
2 This visualization makes it clear that BuzzFeed’s highest priority has not historically been hard-hitting content; instead, they have found success with topics like food, animals, celebrity gossip, pop culture, and social media commentary.
Which BuzzFeed Headline Categories Are Most Effective with Social Sharing?
Given the disproportionate favoring towards some of these categories, it’s clear BuzzFeed is very adept at leveraging what they know works. BuzzFeed publisher Dao Nguyen has spoken about how the media company has drawn on broad thematic goals for its content production, including the following groupings:
Humor: “Makes me laugh.” There are so
many ways to make somebody laugh. You can be laughing at someone, you could
laugh at specific internet humor, you could be laughing at some good, clean,
inoffensive dad jokes.
Identity: “This is me.” Identity.
People are increasingly using media to explain, “This is who I am.” They
use relatable content to share specific aspects of themselves, such as their
upbringing, culture, fandom, guilty pleasures, self-love, and sense of humor.
This type of digital connection is one of the greatest gifts of the internet.
It’s amazing when you find a piece of media that precisely describes your bond
with someone or something.
Practical/Useful: This group is characterized
by helpful content that allows someone to complete or solve a task, such as
DIY, shopping and reviews, learning and education, editorial/news, etc.
Emotional: Feeling, feeling, feeling. These
posts have the burden to create an emotional response, evoking feelings such as
sadness, curiosity, happiness, anger, and despair. Often times, these articles
are raising awareness of a problem facing humanity or sharing news that is
meant to restore faith in humanity.
As mentioned, we attempted to go deeper here with our analysis, parsing the top 15K articles into more specific categories within the broader “buckets” listed above. Using these categories, combined with information on Facebook’s sharing and linking data, some very fascinating trends emerge that have practical implications for all content creators. Some categories of content perform disproportionately well on these important metrics.
Next, we will be looking only at the articles
that could be considered “top
performers,” having earned more than 50,000 Facebook shares.
Let’s take a look at which categories are represented by these widely shared
3 Less than 3% of the top articles we explored earned more than 50,000 shares.
4 Articles with titles that include words referencing someone’s identity/collective identity and memes are disproportionately represented by a higher than average number of shares. More than 15% of the articles in either of these categories garnered more than 50,000 Facebook shares each. Meanwhile, content related to categories such as Movie Fandom, Race/Ethnicity, and Politicians struggled to compete.
5 Shockingly, headlines mentioning Sex/Beauty and Female Celebrities had a smaller representation of posts earning more than 50k Facebook shares. This could because people are turning to other sources, like Instagram, Pinterest, or YouTube for their content in these areas.
Topical Categories Group
Now let’s isolate just the Topical Groupings:
6 Excluding the “Qualitative Impact” grouping, we are left with a good impression of which topics seem to generate the highest levels of social sharing. In particular, somewhat generic aspects of “Internet Culture” seem to dominate, such as Memes and Internet Slang/Jargon. Pets/Animals content also fared well, with more than 12% of related posts garnering more than 50,000 shares.
Qualitative Impact Categories
Lastly, let’s look just at the categories
relating to Qualitative Impact, specifically categories having to do with
identity and specific emotion:
As I’ve investigated in past studies on the emotions of viral content, some emotions have been shown to elicit higher rates of sharing. In this case, the top emotion-based category was not titles that conveyed anticipation, or “Surprise” as we’ve seen with other investigations in past research (though this emotion did beat out Disgust and Anger). The top-performing emotional categories were article titles that conveyed sadness or humor.
However, these emotional categories were
dwarfed by any titles that leveraged feelings around individual or collective
identity. Perhaps this is a reflection of just how powerful identity has become
in the current social conversation. It could be that sites like BuzzFeed are
intentionally creating content and using titles meant to stoke feelings of
in-group/out-group and identity stratification because they know how
effectively this creates social sharing behavior.
Which Categories Are Most
Important for Earning Links?
Facebook shares are important and interesting when considering social dialogue trends. But for the SEO-driven content marketers out there who are thinking about optimization, how do links factor into this research? Which types of content drove the most number of new links for BuzzFeed?
we observed that the categories that performed well with Facebook shares did
not always translate into high link drivers.
7 Even though headlines related to politics weren’t heavily shared on Facebook, other media outlets online were using BuzzFeed as a source and linking back to their content. In 2018 BuzzFeed made more efforts to be seen as a news source, and even had their work on Russia, and operatives with ties to Vladimir Putin taking part in targeted killings against Putin’s enemies, make it as a Pulitzer Prize finalist.
8 We see categories like Race, Male-related headlines, and surprising content earning links but not social shares. This could be because people are less likely to share polarizing topics on their Facebook feeds, but publishers are using posts like these to start conversations.
9 Location-based content performed relatively well in link driving, despite being the second-lowest shared category overall across all title groups. This could be due to regional media publishers picking up on BuzzFeed content for news stories.
What About Content Longevity?
“The Evergreen Score is an internal ranking system developed by BuzzSumo. It measures the number of social engagements and backlinks an article receives 30 days after the article is published. The more engagements an article receives after the initial 30-day period, the higher the score.”
Using this score, along with the article
categorizations, it’s possible to understand which categories drive the future
value in terms of links and social shares. The higher the score, the better the
“longevity” of the content in that category.
The big winners we see with higher than
average overall evergreen scores range across a variety of verticals, such as
Collective Identity, Race/Ethnicity, humorous memes, Animals/Pets, or self-help
tricks and life hacks.
Which Types of Content Does
It’s also interesting to look at the distribution of the articles by type, meaning the intent and organization of the article itself. This could mean the questions it seeks to answer or the overall goals of the piece. These groupings were determined by BuzzSumo.
Categories can also be broken down into these “content-type” buckets. So, what can we learn from these views?
are a huge priority for BuzzFeed. Roughly 40% of all
the content they create exist in some form of list format. Lists are broken up
by easy to follow sections and are becoming an increasingly popular way to
present an idea.
Some categories are highly disproportionate by
type, and the List articles are no exception. For instance, article titles with
Numbers (of course), Humor/Humorous topics such as Memes and Swear Words, and
helpful topics such as “Things I Can’t Live Without” rank as the categories
that use Lists the most.
Categories around Celebrities, Politicians,
Fandoms, and Race/Ethnicity show up as categories that use “General Articles”
the most, likely because these categories require more story development,
researching, fact-checking, and writing to make their point of impact.
How Sharing Is Influenced by the
Words We Use
In conclusion, the headlines we explored give us some interesting insights into the topics that are driving social shares and links on BuzzFeed. Headlines mentioning someone’s identity/collective identity and memes fueled the majority of Facebook shares, while more heavy hitting topics like politics, race/ethnicity, and gender earned the most links back to the BuzzFeed domain.
Like many digital publishers over the last several years, BuzzFeed has seen a decrease in Facebook shares; however, they understand what works for them, which content drives engagement, and how to adapt and continue to use this method into the future of modern content sharing. You can learn more about the full study and methodology here: BuzzFeed Headlines That Earn The Most Shares and Links.
When many companies talk about their “content strategy,” they’re really just talking about further content creation.
They’re thinking about what they need to do next — not what they’ve done before. At best, they might – might – monitor the performance of content for insights about what their editorial calendar should include in the months to come.
However, the best online marketers know it’s important to look back at past content AND make adjustments to older pieces in order to improve results.
By conducting an online content analysis or a content audit, we’re not just trying to create new posts—we’re retroactively making old posts even better.
What Is a Content Audit in Online Content Analysis?
A content audit is the process of tracking all of your site’s past content, organizing it, and making improvements to optimize it where necessary.
It’s also fast becoming one of the most powerful ways companies can quickly improve their websites’ traffic.
Think of it like pruning a rose bush. As the years go by, some parts of the bush become healthy and robust. Others become sickly. If you don’t prune away those ailing areas, the problem threatens to spread and put an end to the bush’s purpose: creating beautiful roses.
The folks at Method and Metric summarize well:
Over the years, some of your content works
better than others. That’s why you need to conduct content audits. It’s
important that you separate the content you still want on your site from the
kind that is holding it back.
Your site’s content can be broken down by:
“The Good”, which is your:
Most traffic-generating content
Most high-converting content
Most linked content
Most shared content
Use BuzzSumo to find most shared content for any domain or topic
All pages that show above average results
for any of those metrics go in “The
Those that show below-average results are
Any that have zeroes across the board is “The Ugly.”
4. Improve Your Content
Finally, we arrive at the point of this
kind of online content analysis: improving the pages that need it.
For now, leave “The Good” alone. Unless you
know that some of the information has become outdated, this category doesn’t
require any attention.
The majority of your time will be spent on
“The Bad.” This category has shown promise, so look for ways it could do
For example, if the page was built for traffic and is below average, you could add another keyword-rich section and some outbound links. You could also link to it from one of your own better-performing pages. Any of these changes will help your “Bad” pages do better and, thus, your site as a whole.
What about “The Ugly?”
You delete them.
There are no such things as neutral pages
on your website. They’re either helping your site or holding it back. The more
you’re able to show high-value pages to Google, the better it’s going to rank
and the more traffic you’ll generate and convert.
“When taking a content-first approach, our
job as marketers is not to create more content … it’s to create the minimum
amount of content with the maximum amount of results.”
In other words, there’s no prize for having
the most pages on your site. You win by having pages that all make an impact.
That’s why you should regularly audit your
After you’ve completed this online content
analysis once, you’ll have the database available to work from again and again.
All you’ll need to do is update it and then run through the rest of the
Over time, your website will generate better and better results as each audit raises the bar further. You’ll also find it influences the very approach your team takes to creating content in the first place, meaning less pruning is necessary to keep your site headed in the right direction.
Online content analysis goes easy with Buzzsumo’s Content Insights. Get to know which social networks, content type, and even publication days bring you the best results. Know more about this feature.
Backlinks (or inbound links) from other domains are one of the most important content metrics. They make up 50 percent of the authority/relevance equation search engines use to rank content.
To rank well in search engines, you’ll need to continually earn backlinks.
Links play another important role in content marketing. They tell you if your content is respected enough to earn the endorsement of other sites in your industry.
Why Backlink Monitoring Is Essential
Because backlinks tell us if people find our content valuable, it’s important for content marketers to keep an eye on their links. But, in many cases, we’re content to leave this task on the desk of the SEO experts.
Here are three good reasons NOT to leave link monitoring to the SEO team.
1. Backlink Monitoring Justifies Content Creation
Almost every content marketer knows what
it’s like to be called upon to justify the budget that the work requires. The
only way to do it is with content insights that prove a legitimate ROI.
For example, if you’re handling marketing for a client or your boss, you want to be able to regularly report on how many backlinks your content has earned and what kind of engagement it represents.
Otherwise, even if the content results in greater traffic later on, you might receive less work because your team doesn’t understand how well your posts are doing.
2. Not All Backlinks Come with Brand Mentions
Secondly, any time you receive a backlink, ideally,
you want it to include a brand mention, as well.
For example, if you are writing an article about the best types of content for B2B websites, you might link to an article Buzzsumo wrote on the topic. Note that this style of inline link doesn’t mention our brand.
Inline links are powerful in their own right, but we’d love to get our brand’s name in the article, too. It gives us greater exposure and, if readers continue seeing our company mentioned across other blog posts, it builds our social proof, as well.
By monitoring our backlinks, we’d be able to contact any blog writer that doesn’t mention us. We can ask if they wouldn’t mind including our brand name and even sweeten the deal by offering them a quote from one of our experts.
Now, we have a backlink, a brand mention, and we get to prove our authority even more.
Plus, that extra addition of providing a
quote will probably strength our relationship with that company and ensure they
backlink to us again and again in the future.
3. Inform Ongoing Content Ideation
One of the best ways to mine content insights is through a content audit. Every 6 to 12 months, you should look over everything your company has produced to see what’s working best.
However, you don’t need to wait six months
from now – or longer – to adjust your editorial calendar for optimal results.
Depending on how often you post, you could publish several dozen pieces before
looking back and realizing many of them were a mistake.
Instead, by actively monitoring your
backlinks, you’ll see, in real-time, which types of content are driving this
extremely important form of engagement.
How BuzzSumo Makes Backlink Monitoring as Simple as
Here at BuzzSumo, we love content insights, backlinks being chief among them. That’s why we introduced a tool to monitor them with ease.
Tracking who’s talking about your company
or linking to your content is simple. Just navigate to our Monitoring tab, and
click “Create New Alert.” Then, pick what you want to keep an eye on:
If you select “Backlinks”, you’ll then get
to choose from the following three options:
Depending on your goals, you may not be
interested in every backlink your site receives. For example, if you’re
already getting a number of them to your homepage or an especially popular blog
post, constant alerts may actually make your job harder.
In that case, you’d just put the one page
you care about – or more than one. Pick as many as you like to get the content
insights you need.
Going forward, you’ll receive notifications
every time that page is linked to from another site.
Tracking Your Competitors
Obviously, you can just as easily keep
track of your competitors’ backlinks, too. Simply put their domain – or
subdomain – into the initial box.
This is a fantastic opportunity that every marketer should take advantage of. You’ll find sites willing to link to content in your industry and benefit from all of your competitor’s hard work.
You know how long it can take to come up
with a winning idea, especially if you’re trying to pitch it for a guest post.
Let your competitors go through the trial-and-error process for you. Then, once
you see they’ve found a winning idea, get busy replicating it.
If you’ve built those aforementioned
relationships with other websites, you may even be able to send them your post
before that competitor – who did waymore work – is able to lock-in that valuable backlink.
Empower Your Marketing Campaigns with Content Insights
While backlink-monitoring represents some
of the most important content insights, there are several others you can use to
inform your campaigns. As you saw earlier, these include monitoring keywords,
domains, authors, and more.
We’ve all experienced this problem. You create
content online, like a blog article for example. Your social media people share
it on Facebook and Twitter. A few people like it. A couple of people share it.
Ho hum. Meh.
Then it’s on to the next thing. “Let’s try different headlines!” says the content manager — and so it goes.
In this article, I’ll tell you what the problem is and exactly how to fix it. By the time you reach the end of this article, you’ll realize what it is that’s been throttling the success of your content being shared online and three specific tactics that will obliterate this problem once and for all.
Why Doesn’t Your Onsite Content Blow
Up on Social Media?
If you’re getting unicorn results from your content marketing — hundreds of thousands of shares, likes, engagement, and conversions — this article is probably not for you.
For most of us, however, our social media
channels are an echo chamber.
Post, share, repeat. That’s the way it goes.
If you keep doing this, no amount of split
testing, headline hacking, or new-and-improved-super-share WordPress plugin is
going to reverse your donkey results.
Not subscribers to your blog or your email
list. Instead, Facebook Messenger
The reason for this is simple. If you grow
your Facebook Messenger contacts, you will be able to effectively create
content that they are in a position to interact with.
Look at the state of digital marketing today.
More people are using messaging apps than
social media, and the biggest messaging conglomerate in the western market is
Facebook. The most powerful and effective method for harnessing this power is
Facebook Messenger chatbots.
Facebook Messenger marketing with chatbots is
the present and future of digital marketing. Based on my experience in the
industry, I believe that Facebook Messenger chatbots are the #1 growth
marketing channel for the next 5-10 years.
Facebook has gone full-tilt in the direction of a Messenger-focused future. Mark Zuckerberg’s March 2019 speech and Facebook’s recent F8 conference put messaging and groups in the spotlight. The company’s announcement to integrate Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram messaging reinforced this move.
So, back to the tactics. You need to grow your Facebook Messenger contact list.
There are several ways to do this.
One powerful way is to create Facebook
Messenger landing pages. These landing pages on your website will focus on
building up subscribers.
Here’s what a simple landing page looks like.
You can, of course, create landing pages that
are more enticing by dangling a carrot.
Or at least, you can add images to make your
landing pages more visually exciting.
I created these landing pages in MobileMonkey, using the “Landing Page” tool (it’s free), but you can use whatever Facebook Messenger chatbot builder you’re most comfortable with.
One of the simplest ways to grow your
Messenger subscriber contacts is to add an innocuous Messenger widget to your
You’ve probably seen these before.
If people interact with your widget, they opt
in to your Messenger contact list.
You can also amass Messenger subscribers from
your Facebook page.
One method that I’ve used successfully to do
this is the comment guard. With a comment guard or “Facebook post
autoresponder,” you can post content on your Facebook page and when people
comment, they opt in to become a Messenger subscriber.
The post in the image below has a comment
guard. If someone writes a comment, they will automatically receive the message
you see on the right.
I’ve sprayed a medley of tactics here, but the
unifying concept is this: Grow your Messenger contact list. You can do so in a
variety of ways.
When you do this, you will be curating an
audience that is primed to interact with your onsite content.
Step 2: Blast Your Facebook Messenger Contacts with Your
Why go to the trouble of building a Facebook
Messenger contact list?
It’s because your Facebook Messenger contacts are in a position to promote and engage with your onsite content.
And how do you deliver to this contact list
your precious onsite content?
The term I use is “chat blasting,” and if you
can get over the unfortunate violent connotations, you’ll see the power behind
Remember what an email blast is? That’s what
you do when you send a marketing email to a big group of contacts.
The term “chat blast” almost does the same. But
this time, it’s sending a Facebook Messenger chat to a group of contacts.
Despite the similarities between and chat blasting, let me point out the vast dissimilarities. Whereas email campaigns may get 10% open rates, you can expect 80%+ open rates from Messenger chat blasts.
It’s not just me reporting stats like these. The nature of Facebook Messenger as a highly engaging and personal communication tool makes these engagement metrics possible.
So what does this chat blast look like?
Here’s an example.
Notice the “Read post” button at the bottom.
One tap and the Messenger subscriber ends up here — onsite content.
Typically, onsite content gains
organic traffic with the hope that organic users will share it socially.
Or, we create the content and then
post it on our social media channels, hoping that people will read it and
engage with it.
In this model, however, we are directly
engaging users on an individual
social media messaging platform, Facebook Messenger, and asking them to view
Step 3: Use Audience Insights to Analyze
Performance, Create Segments, and Deliver Hyper-targeted Content
Earlier in this article, I traced out the problem of onsite content and social media engagement and made this point: Social media audiences and onsite audiences may differ in significant ways.
Because they differ, your social media
audience may find your onsite content uninteresting, and vice versa.
When you grow your Facebook Messenger contact
list, however, and start blasting them with content, things begin to change.
As long as you are using a chatbot builder
with robust analytics, you can look at the performance of your chat blasts.
For example, this chat blast I sent out a few
days ago did not receive the kind of response rate that I was hoping for.
I can compare this data with chat blasts that did have high open rates, and tweak my
I can take this a step further. I can have my
audience segment themselves so I can develop content that will really resonate
You can do this with a Facebook Messenger chatbot. In your chatbot builder, create a dialogue that asks your audience a series of questions.
From their answers to these questions, you can
create a custom audience. You can then send specific chat blasts to this
audience only, knowing that they are more likely to engage with that content.
The better you understand your audience, the
better you’ll be able to engage with them in a deep and meaningful way.
Grow Your Audience With the Power of Facebook Messenger Chatbots
The method of posting our content on social
media – hoping that people will engage with it – is not dead.
But, it does lack effectiveness. In addition
to sharing onsite content on social media, we should go directly to those
social media messaging platforms, build an audience, and then target that
audience with our onsite content.
Digital marketing is shifting, again. Human
nature is such that we are more attuned to personal interactions over broadcast
Social media used to be more, well, social. It
provided a platform for deeper engagement, but it’s changed and has become more
Messaging apps have risen to fill the void.
Facebook Messenger chatbots allow you to tap into this visceral connection and
benefit from the deeper engagement.
To get more mileage out of your onsite
content, start by building your Facebook Messenger contact list, blasting them
with your content, then listening and responding.