Before it was founded in 2014, BuzzSumo existed in what its initial investor, Steve Rayson, called a "rudimentary" version.
Rayson, an already successful entrepreneur with exits from a number of bootstrapped businesses, stumbled across this early version of BuzzSumo while combing through the web trying to find out what content was trending.
Rayson's first experience with BuzzSumo quickly turned into a daily habit. Realizing the potential of the tool, Rayson met with co-founders James Blackwell and Henley Wing in New York to explore the possibility of turning BuzzSumo into a fully-fledged business.
Using $150,000 in seed funding from Rayson, BuzzSumo was launched. Today, it's the choice of businesses around the world who want to know what's trending, which influencers to keep an eye on, and what their competitors are up to.
Summary: Quick Jump Menu
- Pro, $79/mo - Unlimited searches, 5 alerts and 5,000 mentions, 1 year of search data, up to 5 users, 50 exports, save up to 5 projects and 1,000 URLs, create up to 10 trending feeds, content analysis reports, domain comparison reports
- Plus, $139/mo - Unlimited searches, 10 alerts and 10,000 mentions, question analyzer, 1 year of search data, up to 10 users, 150 exports, save up to 15 projects and 5,000 URLs, create up to 20 trending feeds, content analysis reports, domain comparison reports, top author searches
- Large, $239/mo - Unlimited searches, 30 alerts and 20,000 mentions, question analyzer, Facebook analyzer, 2 years of search data, up to 15 users, 200 exports, save up to 30 projects and 10,000 URLs, create up to 50 trending feeds, content analysis reports, domain comparison reports, top author searches, advanced influencer searches, advanced trending filters
- Enterprise, $499/mo - Unlimited searches, 50+ alerts and 20,000 mentions, question analyzer, Facebook analyzer, 5 years of search data, custom user access, custom export volume, custom project saving and URLs volume, custom trending feeds, content analysis reports, domain comparison reports, top author searches, advanced influencer searches, advanced trending filters
In the last 4 years since BuzzSumo launched, there has been a surge of new platforms and tools with features that are similar. While look-alikes exist, this review will show you what makes BuzzSumo one of the most effective content analysis tools on the market.
Unlimited Searches using Content Analyzer
BuzzSumo’s Content Analyzer feature allows you to comb the web for any content that includes your search term. What makes this feature powerful is not the actual search results alone, but also the amount of engagement associated with each search result.
Knowing which pieces of content have received the most social engagement and links can help you plan and produce stronger content that your audience is interested in, giving your content the best chance of exposure.
You are also able to create outreach campaigns for the promotion of your published content using the list of sharers for each social platform, data BuzzSumo provides for each piece of content returned in your search results.
Searches can be performed with the following filters:
- Date (filter results published within the last 24 hours and up to 5 years)
- B2B Publishers (returns content published by B2B brands)
- Domain (allows exclusions and the option to show one result per domain)
- Content type (articles, how-to articles, infographics, lists, videos, what posts, why posts)
- Word count (content with less than 750 words is considered ‘thin content’ and content with over 2000 words is considered ‘in-depth content’)
- Publisher size (choose between large and small publishers)
BuzzSumo provides engagement figures for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Reddit. It also provides a total number of links each search result has received. In addition to engagement figures, content is also assigned an ‘evergreen score’. This is an internal BuzzSumo rating determined by the number of links a piece of content receives 30 days after it has been published.
Content Analysis Reporting
In addition to the ability to conduct unlimited searches, BuzzSumo also provides a content analysis report. This feature is handy, especially when conducting competitor analysis.
The report includes 4 sections and can be downloaded as a PDF file. The first section is a set of data boxes that show numerical values for the following:
- Articles analyzed
- Total engagements
- Average engagements
The second section includes a collection of graphs that display the following:
- Engagement & content published over time
- Average engagements by a network
- Average engagement values by content type
- Total engagement receive each day
- Average engagement values for content of different lengths
The third section shows a pie chart with the most engaged domains by network. You also receive a list of each domain along with the numerical values of engagement for each platform (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Reddit) and a total value of engagements by domain.
The fourth section lists the top pieces of content for your search term along with the number of total engagements across all platforms. This is a helpful overview if you’re interested in which content pieces are most popular.
BuzzSumo also gives you the opportunity to get granular using its advanced search feature. You can perform advanced searches using certain operators and strings. Here’s a list of searches you can run:
- Excluding words or domains
- Searching by multiple words
- Specific phrase
- URL or domain
- Search for topics by domain (e.g. linkedin.com influencer marketing)
- Search for multiple domains
- Find content by author name
- View links shared by all Twitter usernames you enter
A convenient feature included in the Content Analyzer is the ability to save searches. This allows you to capitalize on time you would have spent running the same search queries and gives you immediate access to updated search query results.
Brand reputation management is a critical aspect of modern business and BuzzSumo caters to this need by providing an alerts feature.
You can create alerts to track:
- Brand mentions
- Competitor mentions
- Content from a website
- Keyword mentions
- An author
For each alert type you can set inclusions and exclusions, a minimum engagement value that must be satisfied before you receive an alert, and whether to receive alerts instantly, daily or not at all.
Accessible via the Monitoring tab in the BuzzSumo dashboard, users are able to get an overview report in the form of three data boxes above a line graph.
Data boxes display results for mentions on the day, within the last 7 days and the last 30 days.
Results can be filtered to show data in real-time, for the last week, the past two weeks, the past 3 and 6 months, and a custom date range not exceeding 5 years.
The line graph shows the number of total mentions within the last 30 days.
Below the line graph is a display with a collection of content search results that include your alert topic(s) in bold text (in our example brand name). You are able to sort this list by:
- Date published
- Facebook engagements
- Twitter shares
- Pinterest shares
- Reddit engagements
- Total engagements
- Mentions made with and without links to your content
An important goal for any content marketer is creating content that helps their audience solve problems. BuzzSumo’s Question Analyzer feature was developed to give content marketers the ability to pool questions that their audiences ask by crawling e-commerce sites, Quora, Yahoo! Answers, Reddit and more.
To get to the Questions Analyzer, you’ll have to click on the Content Research tab in the top navigation menu.
BuzzSumo’s Questions Analyzer produces a comprehensive list of results. Included in the results are a word cloud and a collection of lists from various sources, each with terms related to your search term.
Note: Question Analyzer is only available on Plus, Large and Enterprise plans.
BuzzSumo’s Facebook Analyser allows you to gather a slew of actionable data. To make use of this feature, you will be prompted to link a Facebook account. Once linked, you’ll be presented with the option of adding pages to track, search for insights by search term and view analysis.
Using My Feed
The My Feed feature allows you to add up to 5 Facebook pages for tracking. Once you’ve saved your choice of 5 pages, BuzzSumo presents a collection of posts for each of your selected pages. You can deselect pages to narrow results accordingly.
Each post shows elements you’d see if you were viewing a post on Facebook, such as the graphic, copy and links used. Posts also include the number of likes, comments, shares and total interactions.
Search filters can also be set up to include the following Facebook status types:
This kind of data is invaluable for content marketers as it gives you a good idea of the look and feel of the most engaged social posts related to a certain topic.
The search feature allows searches by both search term or topic and by search page. Results are displayed as posts with graphics, copy, links used and engagement figures.
Search filters can also be set up to include the following Facebook status types:
The Analysis feature produces a set of data boxes and insightful graphs related to either a keyword search or page name.
Data boxes display:
- The number of Facebook posts analyzed
- Total engagements
- Average engagements
- Estimated engagement figures over time
- Posts published over time
- The average number of engagements per post type
- The average number of engagements per character range
- Days when content was posted and what the average engagement value was on each day
- The time when content was posted along with average engagement values
Note: Facebook Analyzer is only available on Large and Enterprise plans.
Years of Data
Like most search engines, BuzzSumo makes it possible to search for content published within a certain period. What makes their Years of Data feature unique is that you can produce a list of results for content published within the last 24 hours, or set a custom date going back as far as 5 years.
Note: Only Enterprise customers can search for content that’s as old as 5 years.
Coupling this functionality with the list of filters covered in the Content Analyzer Search and Analysis features above, and you begin to experience the value behind being able to access specific search results.
Content marketers are able to gather useful information about their audience’s interests to generate content that will have a higher probability of achieving virality.
BuzzSumo has created a tiered system for the number of users that can access an account according to each plan they offer. Here’s what that looks like:
- Pro: 1-5 users
- Plus: 10 users
- Large: 15 users
- Enterprise: Custom
As you’d imagine, the number of people with access to the data that can be extrapolated from BuzzSumo can make a major difference in the quality of content and how you plan your content calendar. Larger plans (Plus, Large and Enterprise) make it possible for more users to get involved in research for specific topics, a smart way to spread the load if you have aggressive content publishing goals.
Like most data analysis tools, BuzzSumo allows you to download data and reports and data in CSV, Excel or PDF format. This feature is valuable if you need to use Excel to perform any additional data comparisons or for reporting.
BuzzSumo also makes it easy to keep track of social performance and organizing your research by creating projects.
Projects can also be connected to a Google Analytics account to monitor the performance of your content. You can also add to projects by bookmarking articles using BuzzSumo’s Chrome extension.
BuzzSumo also provides the option of making projects private when creating them.
Once you have the Chrome extension installed, you’re able to click on the BuzzSumo icon (see top-right of your Chrome Browser) while researching articles to get a quick view of the following:
- Total engagements for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Reddit
- Evergreen score
- Number of links
You’re also able to:
- View Twitter sharers
- View backlinks pointing to the content piece
- View most shared content by the domain you’re visiting
- Analyze the best content formats produced by the domain you’re visiting
- Save the article to a project of your choice
BuzzSumo’s Trending Feeds feature allows you to create feeds under any topic and based on a set of helpful criteria. For example, during the creation of a feed, you’re able to:
- Include and exclude certain domains
- Pick countries and states
- Select languages
You’ll also see a feed preview update in real-time as you set your criteria.
While you can create your own feeds, BuzzSumo also provides a list of up to 11 general feeds that include:
- Everything - a collection of all trending content across the web
In addition to these feeds, you’re given the following sorting options:
- Select which countries you receive content from in each general feed
- Choose a timeframe for your feed to update with content (1 hour, 3 hours, 6 hours, 12 hours and 24 hours)
- See engagement values for a platform of your choice
BuzzSumo also provides a Live Mode that refreshes and displays content as it starts to trend. Live Mode also displays a count in seconds since the last feed refresh.
Note: Advanced trending features hourly trend updates are only available on Large and Enterprise plans.
Top Author Search
Finding a list of the top authors within a niche is crucial for two reasons:
- You’ll be able to dig deeper into their content to better understand the topics, angles and formats they use so you can create more engaging content
- Know who they are so that you can create effective outreach campaigns when you publish your content
To find authors, click on the Influencer tab in the top navigation menu. You’ll be able to filter the types of authors you like to see results from. Options include:
- Regular people
The search feature provides two options:
- Search Bios - provides a list of all authors for your topic
- Search Content Shared - allows you to find authors by topic for a specified domain or multiple domains
Results include a list of authors along with:
- Page authority associated with the domain located in the author’s Twitter account
- Domain authority associated with the domain located in the author’s Twitter account
- The number of Twitter followers
- A retweet ratio
- A reply ratio
- Average retweet values per tweet
Both Search Bio and Search Content Shared search options allow users to sort results by:
- Domain authority
- Number of followers
- Retweet ratio
- Reply ratio
- Average retweets
- Instagram authority
You also have the option to save your searches and export a report in CSV or Excel formats.
Advanced Influencer Search
BuzzSumo has also included an advanced influencer search feature that allows users to use certain operators and strings to deliver more specific results. Here’s a list of the advanced search queries you can perform:
- Search for a username or users with a specific handle in their bio
- Search multiple words (e.g. SEO OR marketing)
- Search by domain
- Find an exact phrase within a bio
- Exclude words from a query
Note: Advanced Influencer Search is only available on Large and Enterprise plans.
Topic explorer is BuzzSumo’s solution to helping marketers find new content ideas related to their topics.
To use Topic Explorer, you’ll need to click on Content Research in the top navigation menu. You’ll then be able to enter your topic and use the operators (‘OR’ to search for multiple words and ‘-’ to exclude words)
The digital landscape is littered with content, making it harder for brands to reach out and grab the attention of their audiences. BuzzSumo’s approach to helping marketers identify and analyze the most engaging content and authors on the web in their specific niche makes it an invaluable tool. Marketers are able to gain quick access to a collection of valuable insights in the form of graphs and dig deeper into the nitty-gritty of what makes popular content valuable to their audiences.
If you’re serious about producing content that positions your brand as an authority and generates the traffic you need to grow your business, we recommend investing in BuzzSumo.