build a brand that lasts

How to Use BuzzSumo: The Ultimate Guide on Uncovering Hot Topics to Create Content Your Audience Will Love

This was originally published in 2017 and updated in May, 2020.

What if I told you about a hot content marketing tool that allows you to dig deep into your audience’s brain?  🧠

This tool can tell you what your audience is feeling right now.

Their current thoughts. What they’re looking for when they go online. The #1 topic they want to read about.

Would you use it?

Of course!

Because the truth is, keyword research tools aren’t enough to help you generate steaming content your readers will devour, reread, and share.

I’m not saying they aren’t necessary. They are. In fact, it’s almost impossible to do SEO right without these tools.

But SEO by itself isn’t enough to build a brand.

The ultimate recipe for success is SEO plus hot topics your audience cares about.

So, how can you discover these hot topics?

In this guide, I’ll show you how to do it using BuzzSumo.

Let’s dive in!

How to use BuzzSumo to uncover hot topics

How to Use BuzzSumo: 5 Ways You Can Use BuzzSumo to Discover Hot Topics Your Audience Adores

So, what is BuzzSumo used for?

BuzzSumo is the ultimate content discovery tool. It constantly gets updated with brand new features, so you always know what kind of content your audience wants and exactly what they’re engaging with online.

Here’s a list of awesome things you can do with BuzzSumo:

  • Instantly generate tons of hot topic ideas
  • Index over 3.5 billion articles and posts
  • Get an updated list of the most powerful influencers in your industry
  • Spy on your competitors
  • Monitor everything that’s going on online

Awesome things you can do with BuzzSumo

5 ways to use @buzzsumo to discover hot topics: 1️⃣ Analyze top-shared content 2️⃣ Find top niche influencers 3️⃣ Find trending topics 4️⃣ Use Topic Discovery to generate ideas 5️⃣ Analyze top YouTube content 🔎 Click To Tweet

We at Express Writers absolutely love BuzzSumo. In fact, we use it extensively for our content strategy services.

It allows us to:

  • Put our clients ahead of their competitors by knowing what their audience really wants to learn
  • Discover steaming hot topics in any niche
  • Save tons of time in the brainstorming process

Let’s go into detail and dive into five ways you can use BuzzSumo to discover topics your audience will love.

BuzzSumo pricing guide:

  • Pro: $99/month billed monthly or $79/month billed annually
  • Plus: $179/month billed monthly or $139/month billed annually
  • Large: $299/month billed monthly or $239/month billed annually
  • Enterprise: $499/month

#1: Get Ideas from the Web Content Analyzer

BuzzSumo is your forensic tool for digging into your audience’s brain and finding out what they’re interested in. With the Web Content Analyzer feature, you get a list of the top content people engaged with based on a certain keyword.

BuzzSumo is a forensic tool for digging into your audience

[email protected] is your forensic tool for digging into your audience’s brain and finding out what they’re interested in 🕵️‍♀️. Learn how to use it like an expert: Click To Tweet What if I told you about a hot content marketing tool that allows you to dig deep into your audience’s brain? 🧠✨ No, it's not magic - it's @buzzsumo! Learn how to use this mighty tool via @JuliaEMcCoy: Click To Tweet

SEO by itself isn't enough to build a brand

To get started, click on Content and select Web Content Analyzer.

BuzzSumo web content analyzer

Source: BuzzSumo

Type your chosen keyword in the search bar.

Searching using BuzzSumo web content analyzer

Click on Search. What you’ll get is a list of content pieces with the highest number of engagement from your audience.

top shared content on BuzzSumo

As you can see, a piece about Bill Gates and the coronavirus tops the list with 34.6K total engagements. This gives you a hint on what your audience is thinking about and the kind of content they want to read and share.

Want to filter your results by time? Simply click the filter button and select an option to see results from the last 24 hours, the past week, the past month, and as much as five years ago.

BuzzSumo - filter web content analysis results

For example, here’s the result you’ll get when you choose the 24-hour filter.

Top results on BuzzSumo - last 24 hours

The next step is to click on the top content pieces and find out why your audience loved them. What made them special? More importantly, how can you improve on them in your own content?

Here’s an example.

top content piece on BuzzSumo


Because this piece comes in the number two spot within the six-month filter, you now know that your audience is interested in being more productive in their content creation.

Now, it’s your turn to create content with your own tips and tricks on how to be productive!

Bonus: Experiment with the filters! They’re amazing. You can search for content based on type of article, word count, and even a specific domain.

BuzzSumo web content analyzer more filters

#2: Find Top Influencers in Your Niche

Finding the top influencers in your niche will help you in three ways:

  • You can gain inspiration from their content
  • You can spy on them and improve on what’s missing in their content
  • You can get networking opportunities

To get started in your search for BuzzSumo influencers, hover over Influencers on the top bar and click Authors. You can also search for influencers on Twitter, YouTube, or Facebook.

find top influencers on BuzzSumo

In the Authors search bar, you can find top authors by looking up a topic or domain. For example, here’s the results for a search on

using BuzzSumo to search for Forbes influencers

On the left side, you can see the author’s name and Twitter handle. On the right, you can see how many articles each author published, plus their average and total engagement.

Select View Top Content to see each author’s top pieces.

For example, here are the top results for Zack Friedman.

BuzzSumo - top content for Zack Friedman

Looking for top influencers in your niche? Simply type in your desired keyword instead of a domain name in the search bar.

Here are the results for “content marketing.” (I come in at #2, yay! 😊)

find influencers in your niche on BuzzSumo

#3: Find Trending Topics with BuzzSumo’s Discover Feature

Want to find content that’s creating a large amount of buzz online?

Searching for trending topics within the last 24 hours (or less!) is the way to do it.

To begin, go to the Discover option and click Trending.

finding trending topics using BuzzSumo discover

This will show you the top content pieces driving tons of engagement online.

BuzzSumo - content pieces driving engagement

On the left toolbar, you can filter your search by topics.

For example, click Fashion and you get this.

filter search by topic on BuzzSumo

The magic is you can create your own custom feeds. Simply scroll down on the left-hand toolbar and click the plus sign beside the Custom Feeds option.

BuzzSumo custom feeds

Use the filters to create your own custom feeds.

create a custom feed on BuzzSumo

The filters allow you to add topics to your search, exclude results, and limit to or exclude certain domains. Here’s an example custom feed.

content strategy custom feed on BuzzSumo

Click Update Feed and use it to filter your results. Here’s the top result for “content marketing trends.”

BuzzSumo trending topic result

Is your audience looking for ways to win at SEO during COVID-19? Hmmm… You could write something on that.

#4: Generate Tons of Content Ideas with Topic Discovery

This option is a great choice when you’re feeling stuck and want an inspirational brainwave. It helps you find a ton of hot topic possibilities in seconds.

BuzzSumo discovery tool

[email protected]'s Topic Discovery tool is a great choice when you're feeling stuck and need some inspirational brainwaves. Learn how to use it via @JuliaEMcCoy 💡 Click To Tweet

To start, go to Discover and select Topics.

topic discovery on BuzzSumo

Type a keyword in the search bar. Keep it broad to get a wide range of results. (You can always narrow it down later.)

BuzzSumo - discover topics by keyword

What you’ll get is a brain cloud of content ideas for your chosen subject. The options in larger font are the options most relevant to your search.

topic cloud for topic discovery in BuzzSumo

Scroll down to go more in-depth on each keyword. You can find out great content ideas, common questions asked on the topics, and related keywords.

insights on topics using BuzzSumo discover

Want to test a term based on engagement? Click on it to view its performance over time. For instance, select “SEO tools” within the brain cloud. You get this.

check topic performance over time in BuzzSumo

#5: Analyze Top Content on YouTube

This option is new to BuzzSumo, and it’s absolutely GREAT because YouTube is a huge platform with  two billion monthly users. Imagine the exposure you can get for your brand with this audience!

So, how can you find hot topics on YouTube?

Hover over Content, and click the YouTube option.

analyze top YouTube content on BuzzSumo

Type your keyword into the search bar. For instance, this shows results for the keyword “guitar lessons.”

top performing videos on YouTube for guitar lessons

The amazing part is you can click on Analysis to find out the secrets behind high engagement on YouTube.

BuzzSumo top performing content analysis

Want to find the top influencers on YouTube?

Head over to Influencers and select YouTube. Follow the same steps to finding top influencers in your industry.

analyze top YouTube influencers on BuzzSumo

Here are the top guitar lesson influencers on YouTube.

find YouTube influencers on BuzzSumo

A Step-by-Step Guide to Discovering Hot Topics and Keywords for Your Content

Now, let’s go into a step-by-step on how to map your topics and keywords for outstanding content. (This is exactly how we do it at Express Writers!)

Step #1: Come Up with Goals for Your Content

Each piece of content you write must have its own specific goal. If you don’t have goals, you’ll be creating tons of random content that don’t fit into your overarching content marketing goals.

Every piece of content must have a specific goal

Each piece of content you write must have its own specific goal. 🏆 If you don’t have goals, you’ll be creating tons of random content that don’t fit into your overarching #contentmarketinggoals. Click To Tweet

To guide my content, I came up with a unique concept I call the “three bucket strategy.” (Read more about this concept on my blog, Content Goals: Here’s How to Come Up With Profitable Content Marketing Ideas Using My 3-Bucket Topic Strategy. I also teach this in-depth in my comprehensive, 6-week Content Strategy and Marketing Course.)

3-bucket topic strategy

Step #2: Use BuzzSumo to Discover Hot Topics for Your Content Buckets

The next thing you’ll do is go to BuzzSumo and use one (or more!) of the five tips above to find topics your audience will love. Research topics to fill all your content buckets.

Step #3: Use an SEO Tool to Map Out a Keyword

Remember, BuzzSumo works flawlessly with the best SEO tools out there. So, once you’ve decided on a topic, take it to your SEO tool of choice to map it to a keyword.

Let’s say you chose the topic “SEO tools” from the topic discovery option on BuzzSumo.

Take it into an SEO tool like KWFinder to discover if you should try to rank for this keyword.

Should you? Apparently, no. Although the search volume for “SEO tools” is high, its keyword difficulty score is 69/100. This means you’ll be going up against huge brands, and it’ll be almost impossible to compete for this keyword.

vetting topic discovery with keyword research


What you can do is look up related keywords. Remember, a keyword difficulty score below 50 is considered good.

And we got one! “Best SEO tools” has a keyword difficulty score of 40 and a search volume of 5,400. Not bad!

vetting topics with keyword research

See how BuzzSumo works flawlessly with an SEO tool?

Want to learn every step involved in setting up profitable content marketing? Check out my Content Strategy & Marketing Course.


Other Content Tools We Recommend

At Express Writers, we use only the best of the best tools for our content strategy services. These are the same tools I teach to my students that we use in my programs.

Here are the top SEO tools we recommend.


SEMrush is the ultimate keyword research tool that allows you to do in-depth keyword research, detailed domain analytics, lead generation, in-depth competitor research, and more!


Ahrefs is a tool that comes packed with everything you need for keyword research and SEO analysis. It allows you to do SEO audits, comprehensive backlink analysis, and domain comparison.


KWFinder is an extremely user-friendly keyword research tool that’s more affordable than the other two above. Although KWFinder is only for keyword research, you can sign up for the basic plan to get access to a ton of other Mangools tools (SERPchecker, SERPwatcher, SiteProfiler, etc.).

Want to dive deeper into which keyword research tool is best for you? Check out my blog, 3 Must-Have Content Tools for Marketers: SEMrush, KWFinder, Ahrefs.

 A Look into the Future of Discovering Hot Topics Your Audience Loves

Worried you’ll wake up one morning with no idea what to write for your blog? (This used to be me! Find out the story in my FREE masterclass).

With topic research from BuzzSumo, you don’t have to feel this way ever again.

In fact, you’ll be drowning in a deep well of topics your audience will beg you to create!

So, is BuzzSumo worth it?

From me and my team, a HUGE BIG YES!!

Want hot content based on expert keyword and topic research? Visit our Content Shop to learn more.

Check out great content from strategy-minded creators

top 100 content marketers

100 Outstanding Content Marketers (Original Research Report)

In today’s report, we want to give you a list of outstanding content marketers, doing real and wonderful things in our industry.

And to start, perhaps we should define what an “influencer” really means.

These days, people aren’t putting their trust in one-off endorsements from celebrities or TV personalities. Instead, they’re choosing to trust people they can actually interact with, learn from, and admire: up close, and personal. And social media has made this all possible. Our favorite people are right there, within reach.

Those people you follow, look up to, and know from your Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds have major clout. Their sheer gravitas is enough to move people to act. That’s huge, and that’s the basis of influencer marketing. It’s more relevant than ever in 2018, as consumer preferences move farther and farther away from traditional ads (particularly Generation Z). Today’s influencer types include social media experts, popular YouTube users, bloggers, and celebrities (Sprout Social).

Before we get into our official Top 100 Content Marketer influencer list, let’s discuss the concepts on which we actually built the list.

(Want to save a copy of the infographic to read later? Download here.)

top 100 content marketers study

How Did We Build the List of Top 100 Content Marketers?

Our gross data points for this list were gathered on BuzzSumo, one of my favorite content intelligence tools.

  • We combined both the Top Authors and Top Influencers for “content marketing,” cross-examined the results on both lists, and merged them into one, final list.
  • We cleaned it up by removing accounts that had been suspended, had absolutely nothing to do with content marketing, or hadn’t tweeted about it in 5+ months.
  • The top 100 accounts in both Authors and Influencers for “content marketing,” with a clear direct focus on content marketing and digital/inbound marketing, and an active role in the content marketing field (CEO, VP, Director, Marketer) were included.
  • Fairness was important to us. We included teams and single marketers (a good balance of both women and men). Both teams and their team members had the opportunity to make the list. So, that’s why you’ll see both @Hubspot and a couple Hubspot writers/marketers on the list. We think that industry teams that work hard as a whole, as well as the individual people that really get behind moving content marketing inside the team, both deserve recognition.

Our key goal with this year’s “The Top 100 Content Marketers” was to create a current, accurate, and real content marketing influencer list.

Since the Twitter purge the week of July 9, which caused millions and millions of accounts on Twitter to be deleted and removed from the platform, it’s becoming more relevant and necessary than ever to maintain a real presence on social media. Not a presence built by bots, fake followers, and an overnight rush of success. But a real, humanly-built, humanly-connected presence.

top 100 content marketers CTA

Over 2.5 months of work and 50-70 hours of team work has gone into the research and final list of 100. I worked on the final report-gathering research and work, the team at BuzzSumo helped me along the way (thanks, Susan Moeller!), and our team copywriters and editors helped me proof the list for any spam, as well as put all the bios together. Then, our editors proofread the copy while our designer put together a beautiful infographic and PDF. This was quite the project!

Fairness to both teams and individual marketers, as well as looking for leaders that have been recently active in content marketing, was important in building our #Top100ContentMarketers report. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

How Does BuzzSumo Populate Their “Search Influencers” Feature?

BuzzSumo combines and measures a lot of different data points to help you find influencers in an industry based on their Twitter profiles.


Metrics that weigh into top-ranked include page authority, domain authority, total # of followers, real engagement: their retweet ratio, and more.


The most important data point, however, is one BuzzSumo keeps under wraps: Relevancy.

According to Susan, the relevancy factor measures how accurately a Twitter influencer matches the user search. For example, if I search for influencers using the keyword “content marketing,” BuzzSumo returns a list based on their own relevancy score for those results.

We can surmise that this score depends on weighing all the factors together (total followers, domain authority, etc.) and ranking the results accordingly.

However, there are other, proprietary factors involved that BuzzSumo won’t disclose. In other words, they use a “secret sauce” to return relevant influencers during a search. And, this proprietary factor is what makes their tool so special. Personally, in the last seven years of doing content marketing full time I’ve tried dozens of other content analysis-based tools, and I consistently find BuzzSumo the most accurate (accurate on share counts, followers, and minimal spam).

Without further ado, we present The Top 100 Content Marketers for 2018. You can expand and scroll through the SlideShare embedded below, or download as a PDF and save for later.

The Top 100 Content Marketers (Real Industry Influencers)

Download as a PDF and save for later.

The Top 100 Content Marketers (Real Industry Influencers)

Click on the @handles in the headers to open each profile in a new tab and follow on Twitter.

1.    Content Marketing Institute – @CMIContent

CMI is one of the top authorities in the industry. Their conferences, events, courses, and blog all highlight advice from experts, down-to-earth teaching, and a focus on advancing content marketing.

2.    Ann Handley – @MarketingProfs

Not only is Ann Handley the brains behind Marketing Profs – she’s also a pioneer of digital marketing, an inspiring speaker, and a best-selling author (Everybody Writes and Content Rules).

3.    Joe Pulizzi – @JoePulizzi

Another major name in the industry, Joe Pulizzi is the founder of CMI and a content marketing movement leader. He’s a speaker, an entrepreneur, and has authored go-to books like Epic Content Marketing, Content Inc., and Killing Marketing.

4.    Lilach Bullock – @lilachbullock

Lilach Bullock is a social media and lead generation machine. She shares her knowledge through speaking engagements, coaching, and consulting. Forbes named her one of the Top 20 Women Social Influencers in 2013.

5.    Moz – @Moz

Moz is an SEO juggernaut offering software, community, tools, and education to optimize your content and marketing.

6.    Jay Baer – @jaybaer

Jay Baer is the founder of Convince & Convert, a digital marketing consulting agency. He’s a renowned marketing expert, speaker, author, and industry leader.

7.    HubSpot – @HubSpot

HubSpot offers a suite of tools to manage sales, marketing, and CRM, but they also publish content, hold conferences, and foster community around content marketing.

8.    Mike Allton – @mike_allton

Mike Allton is a social media consultant and blogger, not to mention the brain behind The Social Media Hat, a resource for small businesses to stay up-to-date on social media marketing, SEO, and related topics.

9.    Mark Schaefer – @markwschaefer

Look no further than Mark Schaefer for expert advice on building your own brand identity. He’s a noted marketer, educator, speaker, and author (see: Known and The Content Code) who knows social media marketing inside-out.

10. Darren Rowse – @problogger

Want to learn about blogging profitably? Darren Rowse, the founder of ProBlogger, is your guy. He built his career around blogging and is an expert speaker, author, and podcaster on the topic.

11. Brian Clark – @brianclark

Copyblogger’s co-founder, Brian Clark, is your authority source on online content. He’s also an entrepreneur and author who has been in the trenches of content marketing, growing his ventures without advertising.

12. Rand Fishkin – @randfish

Moz’s former CEO, Rand Fishkin, is now half of the brains behind SparkToro, a software company for discovering where your audience lives online. He’s also an author (Lost and Founder), a speaker, and a champion of better marketing.

13. Glen Gilmore – @glengilmore

Glen Gilmore travels the world and helps Fortune 500 companies hone their digital marketing strategies. He’s also one of Forbes’ Top 20 Social Media Influencers.

14. CoSchedule – @CoSchedule

CoSchedule is a software company that helps you streamline your marketing management, planning, and workflows with a drag-and-drop calendar. Their blog has over 225,000 subscribers, probably because they provide practical advice and information to make your marketing better.

15. Crowdfire – @Crowdfire

Crowdfire is a social media management app that helps you schedule posts, optimize your accounts, and more. Their blog and Twitter feed are full of tidbits to improve your social media marketing.

16. Michael Brenner – @BrennerMichael

Along with his role as the CEO of Marketing Insider Group, Michael Brenner is also a keynote speaker, author, and customer-centric marketing proponent. His work has been featured in The Guardian, Entrepreneur Magazine, and The Economist.

17. Contently – @contently

Contently is a content marketing management platform, a hub for hiring content creators, and an all-in-one service that takes you from strategy to published content. Their award-winning blog focuses on storytelling, strategy, trends, and more.

18. Tamara McCleary – @TamaraMcCleary

Tamara McCleary is the CEO and founder of Thulium, a company focused on social amplification for B2Bs and B2Cs. She’s a social influencer, a branding expert, and an IBM Futurist.

19. Lee Odden – @leeodden

TopRank Marketing’s CEO is Lee Odden. He’s also an author (Optimize), a top digital marketer, and an in-demand speaker and presenter on marketing topics.

20. Buffer – @buffer

Buffer is all about social media management. It’s software that helps you with scheduling posts, tracking analytics, and juggling your accounts. The company also publishes a steady stream of quality content about the ins and outs of social media marketing.

21. Christoph Trappe – @CTrappe

Christoph Trappe is a marketing expert who focuses on the power of storytelling, even calling himself “The Authentic Storyteller.” He’s one of Marketing Insider’s Top 25 Content Marketers, and is a globally recognized speaker.

22. Andy Crestodina – @crestodina

The co-founder of Orbit Media and the author of Content Chemistry, Andy Crestodina is a well-regarded content marketer and speaker.

23. Sonia Simone – @soniasimone

Sonia Simone heads up Rainmaker Digital as its Chief Content Officer and co-founder. She hosts the “Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer” podcast and offers advice, rants, and interviews from the marketing world.

24. Jason Miller – @jasonmillerca

Jason Miller is LinkedIn’s Content & Social Media Marketing Leader as well as a blogger, photographer, and author (Welcome to the Funnel).

25. Jay Acunzo – @jayacunzo

Jay Acunzo is a former digital media strategist for Google. His company, Unthinkable Media, helps B2Bs produce better podcasts. He also runs his own award-winning podcast, “Unthinkable,” which showcases people who have defied conventional thinking.

26. Aaron Orendorff – @AaronOrendorff

Aaron Orendorff has been published on virtually every major industry blog possible, including Fast Company, Inc., Content Marketing Institute, The Huffington Post, SalesForce, and Entrepreneur. He’s the Editor in Chief at Shopify Plus, and Forbes named him a Top 10 B2B Content Marketer.

27. Heidi Cohen – @heidicohen

Heidi authors The Actionable Marketing Guide blog, using her expertise from marketing gigs at Citibank, The Economist, and Bertelsmann as a base. She also taught graduate-level marketing at institutions like Rutgers and New York University.

28. Doug Kessler – @dougkessler

After beginning his career at the prestigious Ogilvy & Mather, Doug Kessler eventually co-founded Velocity, a content marketing agency where he serves as Creative Director.

29. Kristina Halvorson – @halvorson

Kristina Halvorson is the founder and CEO of Brain Traffic, a content strategy company. She’s also the founder of Confab Events, wrote Content Strategy for the Web, and hosts The Content Strategy Podcast.

30. Copyblogger – @copyblogger

Copyblogger uses their platform to teach content marketing skills, especially content writing and copywriting, to the marketing masses. Their community is over 330,000 subscribers strong.

31. NewsCred – @newscred

NewsCred offers solutions for enterprise content marketing, including a content marketing platform, content creation, and consulting. They also serve up a wide range of content and expertise on marketing topics.

32. Robert Rose – @Robert_Rose

Robert Rose is a big-leagues content marketer plus the founder and Chief Strategy Officer for The Content Advisory, which is an offshoot of The Content Marketing Institute. He has written three books, the most recent being Killing Marketing, which he co-authored with Joe Pulizzi.

33. Gerry Moran – @gerrymoran

A marketing executive with over 20 years of experience, Gerry Moran has worked with brands like IKEA, HBO, and Purina. He’s also the Global Head of Social Media at Cognizant, which provides digital services to increase efficiency and innovation for businesses.

34. Henneke Duistermaat – @HennekeD

Henneke Duistermaat is the pen behind Enchanting Marketing (and her cartoon alter-ego, Henrietta). She is a writer who has been featured on Copyblogger and Kissmetrics, and an educator who has created multiple courses on business writing to improve your marketing results.

35. Julia McCoy – @juliaemccoy

Along with her role as the founder and CEO at Express Writers, Julia is also a podcast host (“The Write Podcast”), an author (So You Think You Can Write? and Practical Content Strategy & Marketing), and an educator who teaches content strategy to burgeoning marketers.

36. Kissmetrics – @kissmetrics

Kissmetrics is an customer analytics and engagement automation software company. They share tips, hacks, and tricks to help you understand your base better.

37. Jeff Bullas – @jeffbullas

Jeff Bullas has been named a Top 20 CMO Influencer by Forbes, the #1 Global Content Marketing Influencer by Marketing Insider, and other accolades from Entrepreneur, Apollo Research, and Onalytica. He’s a speaker, a strategist, and runs, an internationally recognized business blog.

38. Erika Heald – @SFerika

Erika Heald has over 20 years in the industry under her belt, and has worked for brands like Charles Schwab, Slack, and UnitedHealth. She’s currently a content marketing and social media consultant for specialty food and technology start-ups.

39. Arnie Kuenn – @ArnieK

The CEO of Vertical Measures, Arnie Kuenn, is also an internationally-recognized content marketing speaker and educator. He has been in the industry for over 25 years and has written two books, Accelerate! and Content Marketing Works.

40. Ann Handley – @annhandley

Ann Handley is the CEO of MarketingProfs and appears twice on this list (see @marketingprofs). She wrote one of the essential handbooks on content writing, Everybody Writes, which is a Wall Street Journal bestseller.

41. Berrak Sarikaya – @BerrakBiz

Berrak Sarikaya is a content marketer and strategist whose M.O. is to help businesses amplify their unique message. She is also a speaker who has presented at CMWorld.

42. Search Engine Watch – @sewatch

Search Engine Watch has been providing tips, advice, analysis, and information to marketers about improving their site’s online visibility in search engines since 1997.

43. Express Writers – @ExpWriters

A content agency committed to great online content, Express Writers focuses on quality, writing for the reader, and SEO best-practices to launch clients’ content to the top of Google. EW is also the brand behind #ContentWritingChat and The Write Blog.

44. Convince & Convert – @convince

Convince & Convert is a digital marketing consulting company that puts strategy first. Its CEO is Jay Baer, an internationally-recognized marketer and influencer who has worked with major global brands.

45. Ross Hudgens – @rosshudgens

Ross Hudgens is the CEO and founder of Siege Media, a South Dakota-based content marketing agency with an SEO bent. The company was named one of the Fasted Growing Companies in SD by Inc.

46. Neil Patel – @neilpatel

A digital marketer, influencer, and entrepreneur, Neil Patel made his name through ventures like CrazyEgg and Kissmetrics. He blogs at and co-hosts a podcast, “Marketing School” with Eric Su.

47. 10x Marketing – @ContentHackers

A companion to Garrett Moon of CoSchedule’s book, The 10x Marketing Formula, this Twitter feed offers tips to “start thinking like a scrappy start-up.”

48. Sujan Patel – @sujanpatel

Sujan Patel is a content marketer who focuses on growth marketing with his company, Web Profits. He has worked with clients like Expedia, Zillow, LinkedIn, and SalesForce, and blogs for the likes of Forbes, Wall Street Journal, and Inc.

49. Influence & Co. – @InfluenceandCo

A content marketing company that has a start-to-finish approach, Influence & Co. also has a blog (The Knowledge Bank) and dishes out information and advice for marketers.

50. Marcus Sheridan – @TheSalesLion

Marcus Sheridan is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker who educates marketers about how to connect and communicate with their audiences in the digital world.

51. PathFactory – @pathfactory

PathFactory is a software platform that helps you track analytics and manage content delivery so it’s totally optimized. On their blog and Twitter, they share insights about how the buyer’s journey and content should merge.

52. Jodi Harris – @Joderama

As the Consulting Director of Editorial Content and Curation at Content Marketing Institute, Jodi Harris wears many hats: content strategist, writer, curator, and more. She also is an independent content marketing consultant and advises businesses about brand storytelling.

53. Tim Soulo – @timsoulo

Tim Soulo is Ahrefs’ Head of Marketing and Product Strategy and has 7 years of experience in the industry. He also runs the Ahrefs YouTube channel and posts SEO guides and research studies on their blog.

54. Zen Media – @WeAreZenMedia

An award-winning marketing company, Zen Media handles strategy, content development and production, digital storytelling, social amplification, and more for their clients. These have included Chase for Business, Dippin’ Dots, and Cox Communications.

top 100 content marketers CTA

55. Benji Hyam – @benjihyam

Benji Hyam is a growth marketing expert and the co-founder of Grow and Convert, a whole-package content marketing agency. They focus on creating content as well as measuring and delivering content marketing results.

56. Carla Johnson – @CarlaJohnson

Carla Johnson champions storytelling in marketing and works with Fortune 500 brands so they can make it happen. She’s a frequent keynote speaker, an author (her most recent is Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing), and is regularly touted as one of the top B2B influencers in the world.

57. Aaron Agius – @IAmAaronAgius

Aaron Agius is the co-founder of Louder Online, a multi-dimensional digital marketing agency that has worked with enterprise-level brands like Coca-Cola, Target, LG, IBM, and Salesforce. He’s also a speaker, and Forbes called him “one of the world’s best marketers.”

58. Jen (Picard) Dewar – @JenADewar

Marketing consultant Jen Dewar is all about lead generation for B2Bs, but she also shares her knowledge on social media marketing, content marketing, search engine optimization, and more at seminars, trade shows, conferences, and webinars.

59. Brooke Sellas – @BrookeSellas

Brooke Sellas is the CEO of B Squared Media, a social media management company that focuses on conversations over campaigns. Mark Schaefer named her a rising social media star, and Post Planner named her one of the 125 best people to follow for social media geeks.

60. Michele Linn – @michelelinn

Michele Linn is the former head of editorial for Content Marketing Institute – in fact, she was the first person Joe Pulizzi hired. She recently co-founded Mantis Research, a consultancy focused on educating and helping marketers publish and amplify credible original research.

61. Louis Grenier – @LouisSlices

Louis Grenier is the host of the “Everybody Hates Marketers” podcast, where he dishes out advice for a better, more authentic way of getting your brand out there. He often sits down with big industry leaders like Seth Godin, Rand Fishkin, and Joanna Wiebe.

62. B Squared Media – @HelloBSquared

This social media management company has a philosophy that’s simple but impactful: “A simple hello can lead to a million things.” Their award-winning approach emphasizes conversations in marketing, and they have served clients like IBM, Inc., Yahoo!, and Spin Sucks.

63. Shane Barker – @shane_barker

A successful digital marketing consultant, Shane Barker has worked with everyone from start-ups to celebrities and helped them hone their brand image and achieve their goals. He’s also a UCLA instructor and an influencer marketing proponent.

64. Joanna Wiebe – @copyhackers

Joanna Wiebe is the original “conversion copywriter.” She started writing at businesses and agencies, then started Copy Hackers, where she teaches marketers and businesses how to write amazing copy. She’s the co-founder of Airstory, a writing collaboration tool.

65. Ahava Leibtag – @ahaval

Ahava Leibtag is the founder and president of Aha Media, a content strategy and marketing consultancy that specializes in content for complex industries like finance and healthcare. She’s a speaker, an author (The Digital Crown: Winning at Marketing on the Web), and has over 20 years of writing and marketing experience.

66. Marsha Wright – @marshawright

Marsha Wright is an entrepreneur, influencer, business expert, and media personality. She founded multiple ventures, including Global Travel Clothing Company, and hosts the mega-popular #ThingBIGSundaywithMarsha.

67. John Hall – @johnhall

John Hall is the co-founder of Influence & Co., one of the top content providers in the industry. He’s the best-selling author of Top of Mind, and has been the recipient of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award.

68. Jo Gifford – @thejogifford

A marketer wearing many hats is nothing new, but Jo Gifford seemingly wears them all. She’s a blogger, copywriter, graphic designer, podcaster, and small business marketer who helps brands unearth their uniqueness.

69. John Jantsch – @ducttape

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant for small businesses and the founder of Duct Tape Marketing. He also hosts the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, and has written a number of books, including The Referral Engine and Duct Tape Selling.

70. Mark Traphagen – @marktraphagen

Speaker, author, and digital marketer Mark Traphagen was named a Top 25 Content Marketing & Social Media Influencer by Onalytica. He’s the Senior Director of Brand Evangelism at Perficient Digital (formerly Stone Temple Consulting).

71. Marcus Miller – @marcusbowlerhat

Named a Top 25 Digital Marketing Influencer by Marketing Insider Group, Marcus Miller is also a columnist for Search Engine Land and the founder of Bowler Hat.

72. Justin Champion – @JustinRChampion

Justin Champion is a HubSpot Academy Content Professor, a self-described “digital nomad,” and a speaker who focuses on teaching small and medium-sized businesses how to make marketing easier.

73. John White – @juanblanco76

John White is an Inc. magazine columnist, where he has interviewed business biggies like Mark Cuban and Gatorade. He heads up Social Marketing Solutions, a lead generation company, and is a branding and influencer marketing expert.

74. Pam Moore – @PamFitNut

Pam Moore is the CEO of Marketing Nutz, a marketing and branding agency, and Social Profit Factor, a social media marketing training academy. She’s also an in-demand speaker and has presented at HubSpot Inbound, Social Media Marketing World, the Social Media Strategies Summit, and more.

75. Ryan Thompson – @RyanThompson

Ryan Thompson is a social media marketer who regularly works with Fortune 500s. He focuses on driving growth and building partnerships in business, especially industries like tourism and talent.

76. Terry Green – @TerryLynnGreen

Terry Green handles social media and marketing for speakers and coaches looking to turn their brand identity up more than a few notches. She runs BizEase Support Solutions to help eliminate marketing overwhelm.

77. Joe Williams – @joetheseo

The founder of Learn SEO Fast, a suite of courses for learning how to gain visibility in search, is Joe Williams. He has trained thousands of marketers and has been featured in publications like The Huffington Post and The Guardian.

78. AE Marketing Group – @aemarketing

AE Marketing Group is all about elevating brands to new heights with marketing, digital storytelling, strategy, and brand building. They have won multiple prestigious marketing awards, including ranking in the Inc. 5000.

79. Jason Quey – @jdquey

Jason Quey calls himself “the Storyteller Marketer” for good reason. His company of the same name helps clients figure out their overarching strategy, then uses that blueprint to spread their individual brand story. He’s been featured in Forbes, SalesForce, Copyblogger, and Entrepreneur, to name a few.

80. Rajasekar KS – @rajasekarks_

Rajasekar was named one of the Top 100 Content Leaders by World Marketing Congress in 2017. He’s a content and social media strategist interested in audience engagement and helping people realize their full potential.

81. JBH: The Content Agency – @JBHInfluence

This self-described “crack team” of marketers, creatives, and SEO geeks is an award-winning agency that creates a wide range of content for brands of all types and styles.

82. Joel Klettke – @JoelKlettke

Joel Klettke is a SaaS and B2B copywriter who heads Business Casual Copywriting and Case Study Buddy. He’s also a digital marketer who has contributed to brands like HubSpot, Safelite, and WP Engine.

83. Ardath Albee – @ardathalbee

Ardath Albee is a content marketing strategist with over 30 years of experience in business management and marketing. She’s the author of Digital Relevance and eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, as well as the CEO of Marketing Interactions.

84. Ian Cleary – @IanCleary

A digital marketing consultant, educator, and trainer, Ian Cleary founded Razor Social as well as OutreachPlus, an email marketing tool. He’s a respected speaker and has been featured in Fox Business, Content Marketing Institute, Yahoo! Small Business, VentureBeat, and more.

85. Tania Varga – @tanias_tweets

Tania Varga is the CCO at Axonn Media, a top U.K. content marketing agency that takes care of strategy, content creation, amplification, and analysis for its clients.

86. Brandon Windsor – @hirebrandonw

As a video marketing strategist, Brandon Windsor helps businesses harness the potential and power of video marketing. He’s also a content creator through his production company, ARO Content, a speaker, and a digital marketing consultant.

87. Powers Digital Marketing – @powersdigmk

Powers Digital Marketing was founded by its President, Amber Powers. She has 5 years under her belt in digital marketing, and her company loves helping businesses in the travel/hospitality industry harness their reach and online visibility.

88. Rohan Davidson – @Roh_Davidson

Rohan Davidson is the founder of Content Consultant, a content marketing company based in Brisbane. He helps small and medium-sized businesses tailor their content for better results.

89. Steve Rayson – @steverayson

Steve Rayson is the Director of BuzzSumo, a social search tool. He’s also an entrepreneur, investor, and regular blogger on

90. Alli Berry – @alliberry3

Alli Berry is a content marketing and SEO expert who has been featured as a top contributor for Moz. She’s also the Senior Manager and Content Lead for Two Octobers, a Denver-based digital marketing agency.

91. Lindsay Thibeault – @LindsayRegina

Lindsay Thibeault is the Content Manager for HubSpot Academy as well as one of its Inbound Professors. She contributes to the HubSpot Academy Blog and focuses on customer education.

92. Martin Jones – @martinjonesaz

Martin Jones is the Senior Social Media and Content Marketing Manager for Cox Communications and Cox Business. He’s a nationally-recognized speaker who has presented at conferences like SXSW, Digital Marketing World Forum, and Social Media Marketing World.

93. Carli Evilsizer – @carlievilsizer

Carli Evilsizer is the Director of Brand Marketing at Roomi, an NYC-based peer-to-peer housing marketplace. She’s also a consultant who is known for working with startups of all types to help them build their identities. She has contributed to Elite Daily, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and more.

94. Brittany Berger – @thatbberg

Brittany Berger, “the content unicorn,” has been crafting winning content marketing for 7 years. She has been featured by Inc., HubSpot, and The Huffington Post and runs a freelance business,

95. B2B Marketing Exchange – @b2bmx

B2B Marketing Exchange is a top industry conference where marketers can come together, network, learn, and grow their businesses. It has grown to include over 70 sessions and 100 expert speakers over 3 days.

96. Melissa Harrison – @mhbosslady

Melissa Harrison is the founder and CEO of Allee Creative. She has 16 years of experience in the industry, and was named a Top Content Marketer by Content Marketing Institute as well as a Top Young Entrepreneur by Minnesota Business Magazine.

97. Deana Goldasich – @goldasich

A 20-year vet of content marketing, Deana Goldasich is the former Director of Content and Production for, where she helped build up brand names like Sephora and Wolfgang Puck. Today, she’s the founder of Well Planned Web and regularly lends her expertise as a speaker to conferences like Content Marketing World and Digital Summit.

98. Ryan Robinson – @TheRyanRobinson

Ryan Robinson is a content marketing consultant (with clients like Adobe and Zendesk) who has been featured on publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Business Insider. He also hosts a podcast, “The Side Hustle Project.”

99. Caroline Forsey – @cforsey1

Caroline Forsey is a staff writer for the HubSpot Marketing Blog. She is also a freelance content writer with a roster of clients in industries like business, education, tech, and data intelligence.

100.  Britney Muller – @BritneyMuller

As a Senior SEO Scientist at Moz, Britney Muller works to increase lead generation using technical SEO, studies how to meet user intent, improves internal linking, and more. She’s also a speaker who has presented at industry events like Experience Inbound, ACTEM, and MozCon.

Gaining Top Content Marketing Props Takes Work, Not Luck

Here’s the main takeaway we can glean from this list:

Becoming top in our beautiful industry of content takes work.

You have to put out a lot to get anything back. You need to truly, authentically engage with your community and be active in the space.

Overnight success in the form of bought or fake followers are vanity metrics for a reason – they truly don’t mean anything. What does translate to build a real influencer-level presence comes down to two things: hard work building a reason to be known (a company, success in a role, consistent content year after year, an epic piece of content that everyone remembers), and real, human connections and conversations with their followers.

Instead, follow the lead of this mega list of incredible marketers.

It takes dedicated, passionate work to climb the mountain – but it’s worth every step.

top 100 content marketers CTA

E29 susan moeller write podcast

​The Write Podcast, E29: How to Find and Work with Influencers in Your Content Marketing with Susan Moeller from BuzzSumo

It’s that time again… Welcome to episode 29 of The Write Podcast!

Today, I’m excited to talk with Susan Moeller and really dig into the ins and outs of creating, building, and nurturing influencer relationships for your marketing. This is a valuable conversation, because we discuss how to work with influencers the right way: treat them like real people and friends–then, tips on how to scale that.

Susan Moeller is not only the Business Development Manager at BuzzSumo; she also taught writing classes at the King’s College in New York City, which she helped reopen in Manhattan (in the Empire State Building’s basement!). Her background in writing has greatly contributed to her emphasis on good communication as the foundation of marketing.

Listen in for a wealth of information and tips, not to mention a fun conversation!

E29 susan moeller write podcast

The Write Podcast, E29: How to Find and Work with Influencers in Your Content Marketing with Susan Moeller from BuzzSumo

  • 1:45 – 6:25: About Susan. Susan has a varied background. In particular, the writing classes she taught underlined communicating effectively with your audience, and this principal formed the foundation for her later steps in marketing.
  • 6:30 – 8:50: Why Influencer Marketing? Susan dives into why influencer marketing is so important to content marketing. On the outreach side, influencers help you expand your circle and get in front of people who wouldn’t have known about you, otherwise.
  • 8:55 – 10:37: How Influencer Marketing Mitigates Content Shock. Susan shares some eye-opening stats about how many hours it would take per week to read all of the content continually produced about content marketing. In the storm of content, standing out is incredibly important.
  • 10:47 – 13:03: When Is It the Right Time to Work with an Influencer for Your Marketing? Demystifying the Process. Lots of marketers think their business is too small, or it’s not the right time, to reach out to influencers for collaboration. So, when is the right time? Susan sets us straight: It’s always the right time.
  • 13:05- 14:50: It’s About Give, Not Take. Instead of focusing on what you can get out of an influencer relationship, hone in on what you can give the influencer. How can you help them? Susan says that organic relationship-building will net you better results in the long run.
  • 15:39 – 17:12: Real-Life Influencer Relationships. I talk about how just reaching out to people with the intention of being friends, nothing more, has been key to my own influencer relationships and marketing. Big tip: Approach influencer marketing like getting coffee with a friend. Be genuine, make a connection – whatever else comes out of it is a bonus.
  • 17:13 – 19:37: Return to the Idea of Networking. As Susan points out, networking is nothing new. What’s different about influencers is their ability to inspire their audience to take action. They’re not necessarily celebrities, big speakers, or big names – they just have an engaged community.
  • 21:00 – 26:00: How Many Relationships Should You Build? I talk about how networking and taking on influencer relationships is similar to how many friends you can realistically keep up with in your daily life. Susan adds that you can grow your influencer network by encouraging people on your team to make those connections on their own.
  • 26:05 – 31:00: How to Measure the Success of Your Influencer Marketing. To measure your success, look at 4 main factors over the course of a year: content shares, shares from influencers, invitations to collaborate, and mentions in influencer content.
  • 31:00 – 33:40: Takeaways for Better Influencer Marketing. Susan offers 3 major steps you can take this year to get going on building awesome influencer relationships. Find them below in an actionable list!

Susan’s 3 Actionable Steps to Better Influencer Marketing and Relationship-Building

1. Within the Next Week:

  • Identify 20-30 influencers who would be a good fit for your business (i.e. people who are part of your industry, share your interests, are active on social and have engaged audiences)
  • Follow them!
  • Read, share, and comment on their content

2. Within the Next Month:

  • Quote influencers in your content
  • Buy and read an influencer’s book; leave a favorable review and tweet about it
  • Develop a plan for what you can offer influencers

3. Within the Year:

  • Attend an industry conference
  • Meet the speakers
  • Tweet at the speakers and comment on/praise their talks

Favorite Quotes to Tweet

'Influencer marketing is critical because you're able to reach their audience.' @SusanCMoeller Click To Tweet 'Influencers bring their expertise, and they bring their audiences.' @SusanCMoeller Click To Tweet Approach influencer outreach from a perspective of ‘What can I give?’ rather than ‘What can I take?’ @SusanCMoeller Click To Tweet 'Everything in content marketing is long-term – you can’t expect a return the next day.' @SusanCMoeller Click To Tweet

Links Mentioned

Subscribe, follow and listen to the Write Podcast!

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how to create headlines

The Ultimate Guide: How to Create Headlines that Will Go Viral

We’ve all heard it: while 80% of people read headlines, only 20% read body copy.

What does that mean in practice, though?

In other words, how do you create headlines that entice that elusive 20% to keep reading? Or to share, comment, and convert?

The truth is that viral headlines are rare, and they take time, effort, and skill to master.

Fortunately, the content marketers who develop solid headline skills have a better chance of standing out from the crowd. Modern customers are attracted to quality and effort, and a great headline reflects both.

The good news is that headlines like these aren’t out of reach. Here’s your complete guide to creating them.

guide to creating headlines

What Makes a Headline Viral?

If you want to create viral headlines, you must first understand what, exactly, makes them go viral. What are the components they include, and what’s their foundational structure look like?

Here are a few critical elements of every good headline, as laid out by Steve Rayson in a BuzzSumo article:

  • Viral headlines have an emotional element
  • Viral headlines use content elements to their advantage
  • Viral content covers trending topics
  • Viral headlines follow a format
  • Viral headlines promise the reader something

Here’s Rayson’s table, to illustrate:

steve rayson table

According to him, most viral headlines employ not one, not two, but three or four of these elements. This combination allows them to perform in a unique way, and to grab your readers’ attention.

Which Headlines Get Shared?

The good things about learning to write viral headlines is that there’s a lot of information about which headlines get shared and which don’t, and this can help guide your efforts.

For example, in 2014, OkDork published a post that showcased the results of a survey that analyzed more than 1 million headlines. Here’s what they found:

The Most Popular Phrases in Viral Headlines

The OkDork survey found that the most popular words and phrases in headlines were:

creating headlines quote 1

As you can see, list posts top the charts time and time again. And this makes sense – they’re easy to skim, valuable for readers, and ideal for virtually all industries.

Beyond that, the survey also made it clear that people love personalization, and that content that addresses the reader personally (by using the words “you” and “your”) sat at the top of the list, as well.

Readers also loved any post that promised a better situation or hinted it would teach them to do something. As you can see, using the right words in your headline is essential, and can make all the difference in your readership.

Emotional Headlines

As the web has become more personalized and targeted, there’s been a push toward emotional headlines. These headlines take all forms. They can be shocking, infuriating, laugh-inducing, or curiosity-inspiring. Readers just want to feel something when they read your headline.

This requires the use of power words. Some power words, like freeeasy, and DIY are already included in the list above. There are many others besides these, though. Terms like approved, competitive, unsurpassed, and confidential all inspire strong emotional reactions in readers, and help drive shares for your content.

There’s science to back this up, too.

According to CoSchedule, posts with a higher emotional value earn more shares than posts with little emotional value.

CoSchedule Table

Headlines That Utilize Trigrams

A trigram is a three-word phrase used in a headline.

While the number 3 has significance throughout nature and mythology, it’s also a powerhouse in the world of writing and, specifically, headlines. The rule of three states that things that come in packs of three are funnier, more impactful, and more satisfying than things that don’t and this holds true for a viral title. BuzzSumo reports that certain trigrams within headlines earn more shares and likes than others.

Here are a few to get you started:

  • X Pictures That
  • X Signs You’re
  • How Well Do
  • Can We Guess
  • You Should Never
  • X Things Only
  • The Science Of
  • History Of The
  • The Art Of
  • The Future Of

As you can see, these trigrams are just a skeletal structure that you can apply to any headline in any industry.

Superlative-Rich Headlines

If you’re like most writers, you’ve been taught not to use superlatives in your writing. It’s time to turn that on its head, though. According to BuzzSumo, superlatives can increase the share volume of your headline when used correctly. Because they boost the emotional value of a headline and make it easier for readers to get excited about them, superlatives are ideal for creating viral posts that spread widely across the web.

Here are a few superlatives to get started with:

  • Amazing
  • Inspiring
  • Surprising
  • Successful

Particularly useful for content designed to be shared on social, superlatives can make your headlines more impactful, promising, and exiting for your readers.

Content Formats

There are a few content formats that get shared more often than others, and using them is a great way to make your content more viral. These include lists of ten things, how-to guides, and quizzes. Quizzes are especially exciting since they represent a form of interactive content many marketers aren’t creating. In addition to going viral, interactive content like this also allows you to expand your reach and help you stand out as a leader in your industry.

How to Write Viral Headlines: 5 Tips

Now that you know which types of headlines go viral let’s talk about how to write them for yourself.

1. Evaluate The Headline’s Emotional Impact

Remember: headlines with a high emotional impact get shared more frequently than minimally emotional headlines.

With this in mind, use a tool like the Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer from AMI. Designed to evaluate the way your headline’s word groups come together to elicit emotional responses from readers, this tool is free and easy to use.

Here’s an example of what it looks like in action:

headline analyzer

2. Follow a Formula

If you’re just getting started with headlines, and you want to ensure yours perform well, look for ways to include tried-and-true methods in your headline approach. Trigrams like those mentioned by BuzzSumo are always a fantastic jumping-off point.

In addition to making your headlines more impactful, using these trigrams as a structure is an excellent way to get out of a rut and ensure your headlines are performing the way you want them to.

Here are a few examples of what you could do with the trigram structure:

creating headlines quote 2

As you can see, it’s easy to take these headlines and run with them, tweaking them to your preference to ensure they fit your industry and cater to your audience.

3. Choose a Trending Topic

It bears mentioning here that creating viral content is a different animal than creating evergreen content. When you create evergreen content, you want to choose a historically useful topic that will appeal to your readers for years to come. Since evergreen content is meant to attract traffic to a post or page long after its publish date, it wouldn’t make any sense to use a fleeting, trending topic as the foundation.

When it comes to viral headlines, though, the approach is different. Because viral headlines are meant to drive a significant amount of traffic to a site or post in a short period, they thrive on trending topics.

This means anything in global, national, or industry news is fair game.

For example, check out this screenshot of some “trending” topics from Facebook:

Facebook screenshot

You can also use Google Trends to discover trending topics, and build a headline from those. Since it’s Google, the data capabilities behind the trends you can search here are massive!

google seo trends

Be sure you keep the headline ideas from trends relevant to your industry, or else you stand the chance of missing out on the audience-specific traffic your headline could be generating.

4. Make a Promise

If you’ll remember from above, some of the top-performing headlines included words like “how to” and “DIY.” The reason for this is simple: these headlines make a promise. By telling the audience they’ll teach them something, these headlines get a jump start on providing value and relevance to readers.

To make your headlines more viral, include an element of promise within them. This promise can revolve around revealing a story, telling a secret, or offering insider tips.

No matter what you do, the more exciting you manage to make your headlines, the more likely your readers are to bite.

5. Make it Emotional

Today’s best headlines are highly emotional. In addition to inspiring readers to share, highly emotional headlines also stick with people and promote recall long past the point a customer would typically remember a headline. This allows these headlines to stand out as monsters in their industries, and to be shared widely across the web.

To make your headlines as emotional as possible, include power words that make people want to click. The more of these you can include, the more impactful your headline will be.

Keep in mind that, while a good headline is emotional, it should also be natural. Readers don’t want to feel like a used car salesman is writing their blog headlines.

What Not to Do With Your Headlines

While there are a lot of dos when it comes to writing viral headlines, there are also dozens of don’ts. It’s true that headlines follow a formula and that good ones often have several things in common. You do need to be careful, though, that you’re not getting too formulaic or standardized with your headlines, or else you’ll risk coming off as spammy and untrustworthy.

Here are a few simple don’ts to keep in mind as you work toward the perfect headline.

Don’t Cram Your Headline With Exact Match Keywords

Exact match keywords are, by and large, a thing of the past. While they can be useful to guide your content, they shouldn’t act as its backbone. In addition to the fact that they look spammy, they’re not often very organic, and can cripple an otherwise great headline. Instead of relying on exact match keywords as you work your headline out, look for semantic matches, synonyms, or other phrases that get at your user’s intent but don’t feel artificial or plastic. This will make your headlines more emotional while also ensuring you’re doing a good job of matching the questions, topics, and interests your readers want.

Don’t Make A Promise And Not Deliver

As we mentioned earlier, great headlines make promises to their readers. Whether that promise is to teach a reader to do something or expose an industry secret, promises are compelling and exciting. As such, one of the worst things you can do in your headlines is make a promise and not deliver on it. In addition to being disrespectful to the reader, this also doesn’t do much for your reputation as a trustworthy source, and can harm your readership in the short and long-term. That said, make sure any promise leveraged in your headline is also supported by your body copy.

Don’t Get Too Short With Your Lists

While list posts rule, some are stronger than others. Most research suggests that 25 is the magic number when it comes to list posts and that longer lists may perform better than shorter lists.

With this in mind, don’t sell your readers short with your list posts. Instead of skimming the surface with a list of three or four things, go longer and stretch the list out to include 15 or 20 points.

Don’t Stop With Clickbait

Viral headlines are more durable than pure clickbait. They inform readers while they excite them, and they deliver on their promises. While creating run-of-the-mill clickbait headlines can be enticing, you’ll find these fall short with your readers. Instead of just flashing something shiny before their eyes, go deeper and write headlines that are as informative as they are exciting. What, exactly, will your reader learn from your content? Which questions will you answer? These elements prove your headline has substance and work to make it stand out from the crowd.

Don’t Get Overly Complex

A good headline is simple, precise, and to-the-point. If you get too complex with jargon or lingo, you risk losing readers and making your material harder to relate to or interact with. What’s more, the best headlines are the ones that can spread the furthest, and this is unlikely if you’re only writing for a specific audience. With that in mind, make your headlines appealing to as many people as possible. Not only will your readership balloon, but your headlines will more likely go viral as a result.

Viral Headlines Made Simple

If you’ve been in pursuit of viral headlines, you’re not alone. Luckily, they’re not as challenging to create as you may think. While it’s true that learning to write viral headlines is a process, it’s also entirely attainable and isn’t outside the reach of any moderately talented copywriter. That said, these simple tips are all you’ll need to learn to write viral headlines that resonate with your audience and earn your content the reach it deserves.

When you take the step toward viral headlines, your entire content strategy benefits. Not only do you rise above the sea of so-so, boring content, but you also enter a place that few content marketers know how to access. By mastering the art of the viral headline, you stand to improve your content’s value, drive more traffic to your site, and become a better content marketer, starting right now.

Hire expert copywriters to help you write viral headlines in our Content Shop!

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more content

The Future of Content Marketing Is More Content, Not Less: True or False? (Buzzsumo Study)

For years, marketers, publishers, and writers have been bemoaning the density and saturation of the content sea.

In a world where everything has been content-focused for as long as we can remember, it’s understandable that many people believe we’ve reached a point of content saturation. Blogs, social media, articles, podcasts, videos – it’s all too much, right?

The naysayers out there believe that as the shorelines of the content sea rise, and marketers around the globe continue to pump out material at alarming rates, getting content noticed is impossible. And, we’d probably all be better off just giving up on content altogether.



Contrary to what so many people believe, a recent study is making waves in suggesting that the future of content marketing lies in more content, not less.

Read on to learn more.

future of content marketing

The September BuzzSumo Content Marketing Volume Study: Major Findings

In response to people who claim that we’ve hit a saturation point and that the only direct content production can go is down, BuzzSumo recently conducted a major study this September that explores the present and future states of online content – and blows apart a big myth.

buzzsumo study

More content isn’t a bad thing; in fact, quantity of content could just be where the future is headed.


Here are a few of the study’s key findings:

  • High-volume content strategies produce real results.In the BuzzSumo study, Steve Rayson (the study’s author) found that several of the companies currently performing the best in the marketing industry could attribute a fair amount of their success to high-volume content strategies. HubSpot, for example, published 4,000 posts in the last year and received 2.8 million shares as a result, while Social Media Examiner has published 400 posts, which raked in more than 1.8 million social shares. The moral is this: when you have an audience that relies on you for quality content, you can drastically improve your leads and engagement by adopting a high-volume content strategy and publishing more content, more often.
  • Short-form content may be ideal for social shares.When Rayson evaluated the 50 most shared posts in the marketing and IT sector, he found something shocking: 45 of them were under 1,000 words. While long-form content is still the winner in value and information, it turns out that short-form may be ideal for encouraging social shares and going viral.
  • Video content may be more efficient than written content.By 2017, an estimated 54% of all web traffic will be dedicated to video. Because video is more cost-effective and efficient than textual content production, it stands to take over as the content method of choice for many marketers.

Why More Content is the Future of the Digital Marketing Industry

According to Buzzsumo’s study, The Washington Post publishes 1,200 posts each day.

Does that seem excessive?

For many people, the answer is “of course!”

When you look at the publication’s stats, though, it all begins to make sense. In the last year alone, the Post’s readership has grown 28%, and its traffic numbers even surpassed The New York Times for a few months at the end of last year.

While it’s fair to assume that this rate of success owes to several things, the foundation of it all is simple: more content.

Although the drastic rise in content publication and distribution might seem like the natural consequence of increased readership, it’s a tactical, long-term strategy put in place by The Post’s owner, Jeff Bezos.

By increasing the output of content, Bezos and his publication also enhance the value they can offer readers, and thus set themselves apart from other publications in the industry.

The Washington Post isn’t the only place standers-by can see such a drastic increase in content, either. For another example, consider Google’s bank of indexed pages. In 2010, the search engine had indexed just over 5 trillion pages. By 2016, however, that number had soared to 30 trillion.

Talk about a content increase!

The truth is that content is everywhere, and while many marketers believe we have to reach a point of critical mass eventually, the current trend is leaning toward more content rather than less.

Here’s why: as life becomes increasingly digital and consumers become increasingly value-focused, content is the answer to dozens of problems, ranging from relevance to the search for information.

As such, companies and organizations that produce the highest amount of quality content in the least amount of time are currently the ones positioned to win the race for attention.

Quality vs. Quantity: Can the Two Exist?

For years, the call in the world of content marketing has been, “quality first, then quantity!” Thanks to the current stampede of content, however, it’s become necessary for marketers to learn to do both at once.

In addition to turning out a lot of content, today’s marketers also need to turn out relevant and high-quality content. Without the latter component, the content that’s being produced isn’t worth anything, and has the potential to hurt a brand more than it helps it.

With this in mind, it’s clear that not only can quality and quantity exist together in the current climate of content marketing, but that they must.

5 Factors Contributing to the Increase in Content

While there are dozens of things contributing to the rising levels of content on the web, the following are some of the most prominent:

1. More global internet users are interested in content

As the reach of the web extends around the globe, people are becoming more and more interested in content.

From informative blogs to in-depth articles and funny social content, people are searching for content to fill a wide variety of needs and interests. Because of this, the concentration of content on the web must increase accordingly.

Currently, the boom in content is happening across virtually all distribution channels and platforms.

In addition to the fact that Google is indexing trillions of pages each year, peer-reviewed scientific journals are publishing upwards of 2.5 million new articles each year and social media is virtually exploding with new content.

What’s more, this trend shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. As more internet users come online, the demand for diverse, relevant, quality content will only increase, and content teams and marketers will be forced to deliver to stay afloat.

2. Decreasing costs of content production and distribution

In the days when content was limited to newspapers, radio ads, and print publications, producing it was expensive, and content volume was constrained by necessity.

Today, however, there are dozens of free content creation and distribution platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and with a few clicks of a mouse, anyone can build a website and become a publisher in his or her own right.

As the costs of and effort associated with content production have nosedived, people around the world have begun to turn to content creation with increased vigor. Today, it’s easier than it’s ever been before to produce content and share it online, and, as such, everyone’s doing it.

3. There’s a dramatic increase in content formats

Today, “content” refers to everything from a blog post to a video, and everything in between. This diversity has allowed people from all backgrounds and walks of life to migrate to content creation, even if they’re not interested in every facet of it.

Previously, someone who wasn’t a good writer might shy away from online content because it was limited to blogs and web articles. Today, however, that same person has the option to create and distribute videos, podcasts, visuals, and memes. The possibilities are virtually endless.

As a result, online content has begun to draw in people from all backgrounds and interest groups, and it’s made the web a much more interesting place as a result.

4. Fact: high volume content strategies perform better

Anyone doubting the value of high-volume content production need only look at the statistics for companies that blog more often than others.

According to HubSpot, companies that write 16 or more blogs each month earn 3.5x as much traffic as competitors who blog less often.

When you consider The Washington Post’s dramatic success, it becomes clear that producing more content is typically linked with more readership, and for good reason: more content provides more value, and more value appeals to readers.

5. More expert content specialists are now available

As the demand for content has grown, so, too, has the availability of people who specialize in the creation and distribution of content.

This has meant that even people who don’t know the first thing about content creation can work with people who do, which translates to better and easier content for everyone.

Today, social media managers, copywriters, and inbound marketers are everywhere, and it’s easy to partner with a content specialist who can help enhance and build any content strategy in preparation for the coming years of online marketing.

More is Better: How to Apply the “More Content” Approach to Your Business

So, it’s true: the future of content lies in more rather than less.

With that said, though, it’s still not a good idea to simply run out and start pumping out thousands of posts each day.

Instead, brands everywhere will need to continue focusing on building a community by way of relevant, high-quality content.

While it’s true that high-volume content strategies are necessary for engagement and ROI, content quality, promotion, and topic mining are still key, and the marketers who master these things are the ones who will succeed in the coming days of content marketing.

Do you need quality writers to help boost your content strategy? Contact Express Writers or visit our Content Shop today!

E08 Write Podcast Website Cover Featured Image

The Write Podcast, Episode 8: How BuzzSumo Can Help the Content Marketer & How to Stand Out In A Content Crowd with Steve Rayson

Welcome to Episode 8! If you do any kind of online marketing, I am more than 100% positive you are going to love Steve Rayson, my featured guest expert today, and the nitty-gritty, real content marketing and entrepreneurial advice he shares in this episode. Also, I’m quite partial to our topic of discussion on BuzzSumo. It is one of the most awesome content marketing tools I’ve found to do things like find your audience, discover new topics, find your industry influencers, seek out what’s trending, and so much more. Trusted by brands like Moz, National Geographic, Hubspot, and more, it’s a top content marketing tool online.

My guest Steve knows what it takes to create a company; he’s founded multiple multi-million dollar startups, including BuzzSumo, and he’s not afraid of doing the work it takes to get somewhere. In this episode, Steve covers how to use BuzzSumo to go further than the average content marketer, get in control of your audience, and discover great topics; and, what it really takes to be successful on Twitter and in content marketing. You can’t beat Steve’s sound advice – I thoroughly loved what he had to say. Enjoy!

buzzsumo with steve rayson

In Episode 8 of The Write Podcast, Steve covers:

  • How BuzzSumo can help you avoid the typical content marketer’s problem: inability to do correct amplification
  • How content marketers have a responsibility to know their audience, and how BuzzSumo can show you that
  • What Steve’s day looks like
  • How to be creative using the BuzzSumo search to find what people are talking about
  • What makes all the startups Steve’s created successful: staying up later than the competition
  • How retweets matter more than followers on Twitter
  • How BuzzSumo adapted and found a way to get around Twitter yanking the share counts
  • When you go to a city you don’t visit the sixth tallest building & how that needs to be the content marketer’s mindset when creating
  • How content marketing is all about regularity and elbow grease 

If you like what you hear, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show and it’s ranking in iTunes immensely. I appreciate it! Enjoy the show! 

Transcript: Episode 8 How BuzzSumo Can Help the Content Marketer & Tips on Standing Out From the Content Crowd with Steve Rayson

Julia: Hello and welcome to The Write Podcast! I’m your host Julia McCoy, and today I’m excited to chat with Steve from BuzzSumo.

BuzzSumo is what I like to call the essential content marketing toolkit. It is a content marketing and SEO tool that allows you to do things like set content alerts for hot topics, research industry leaders, find the most shared content on the web. It is an excellent source of inspiration for creating great content.

I’ve been using it for about a year now for my company and I’m really excited to talk to Steve. Steve, thanks for being here.

Steve: Hi Julia thank you so much for having me and thanks for the nice words about BuzzSumo.

Julia: Yes, so tell us a little about BuzzSumo and what it would do for say a typical marketer who runs or owns a website.

Steve: Yeah I mean we designed it very much as you said just at a simple level just to help people create better content. We try to do that in a number of ways just by helping in some parts of the process, and the three parts we try to help with are what we call research amplification and monitoring because they’re often steps that are missed.

People sort of rush into content production without really spending enough time researching. So what’s your audience like, what resonates with them, what do they like to share and what do they like to comment on for example. And so with BuzzSumo you can just type in any topic and we’ll show you the most shared content for that topic.

So you can see what articles are trending, you can filter it down just for this post or info-graphics and it just gives you a really good insight into what’s working in your industry. You can also see what your competitors are sharing, what’s working for them and how that compares to you, so that’s sort of the research side.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘Amplification is key. There’s so much attention for people’s time online.’ @steverayson #quote” quote=”The side that I think is also really important is amplification. I think in the old days, a few years ago, you could produce really great piece of content and it would get found and get shared. And personally I just think there’s so much content out there now, there’s so much attention for people’s time but that doesn’t really work anymore.”]

So you can write fantastic piece of content but if you don’t amplify it, it might just sit there and get very lonely so we talk to people a lot about the importance of amplification. And that can be two ways, obviously people linking to it and getting found in SEO is one way. But another way is people finding it through social networks. A really interesting research by Shareaholic recently showing most people now discover content through social networks not through search and so that’s interesting, people often finding articles that their colleagues and friends are sharing and then clicking through to it.

And so amplification really matters so you need to think about amplification from the start, who is likely to share it, who do we want to share it, who are the influencers in this space. So that’s the second part, just helping with amplification and then the third part is just monitoring. So as you say monitoring trending content, you can search for a topic and see what’s trending today for content marketing, so you can keep up to speed.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Content marketers have a responsibility to know what their audience is sharing. @steverayson #quote” quote=”And I think as content marketers we have a responsibility to know what our audience is sharing right now.”]

So what were they sharing this morning. What’s trending with them. What can we can we jump in on, what we need to comment on, what should we be sharing. We need to keep on top of things and we also provide content alerts because we look at content all the time.

We can tell you every time a particular topic is mentioned or every time your brand is mentioned or every time a new site or a site or an author publishes content. So it enables you just to monitor and see what’s happening and how well you’re performing so as it’s a bit of a long ask.

But the simple part is, we try to help people create better content through those three elements of research, amplification and monitoring.

Julia: That’s excellent that you’ve created one tool that answers so many needs in content marketing.

Steve: Yeah we don’t do everything, that we don’t do scheduling and things like that there’s lots of tool that help you schedule content and of course to help you write and create content and some fantastic tools like canvas, creating images and things.

But we are just focused on those three elements really, the research, the amplification and the monitoring. And we think they are important elements so if you miss any of them, it can be quite difficult for you and if you don’t do the research, you produce the most fantastic content, but it’s not just resonating with your audience, and so nobody gets engaged with it, or if you don’t do amplification and I think that’s really one of the biggest misses, people spend so much time on creating content.

It’s such a shame if it doesn’t get amplified and people don’t see it. So, we do talk to people about, just think about your amplication before you even write the content, how’s it gonna get amplified, who’s gonna share it? Why would they share it? And just think about those things first.

Julia: Those are great questions, and like you said I don’t think those are asked enough really in creating content. And coming up in 2016 there’s going to be an even bigger sea of content, it would be so easy to get lost without proper research and before you published something, make sure that it’s at the top of your industry and BuzzSumo is great for that background work.

Steve: Yeah I agree, just think about those elements. Just have the research, the amplification as well as obviously the writing the content, producing beautiful images and all those other things that matter. But I think just start with the research is a good place to start.

Julia: Yes exactly.

So I wanted to ask. What does your day look like working at BuzzSumo, walk us through what you do?

Steve: Yeah. Every day is quite different really. So what do I do? I do lots of things. We are a very small company, so we all do lots of things and James and Andy came up with the original idea. They work a lot around the products. My day tends to be looking at the data from the products so I try to use the tool a lot myself to see what’s working, what’s working in different B2B areas, what’s working generally. So I spend a lot of my time looking at data. And pulling data from our database, and analyzing that to see what’s working and then hopefully I can write articles and share those insights with our audience because they like to know what’s working.

So it can be researching data, writing blog posts. I do quite a lot of webinars with partner organizations. So I can do quite a lot of webinars as well. It may be talking to James and Andy about new product features or what we need to add. There is always so many ideas, so many things we want to add to the tool it’s just a matter of time and what we can do. So we’re often bouncing around different ideas in terms of what we can add. What makes the tool work better for people? So yes my day tends to be split between those tasks so, tends to get on quite late because I am based at the UK and a lot of our users are in the US, probably most of our users are in US, but we have a fair chunk in Australia and other parts of the world.

So the day goes on a bit and because we are a small team, we pick up queries if you’re writing with a query I might pick it up, or James might pick it up, so we spend a lot of time answering this queries which is also great. Because we get a good sense of how people are using the tool. What we can do to make the tool better for them.

Julia: That’s great. Sounds like a busy, dynamic role.

Steve: Yeah I’ve done a number of startups and if you work for startups you’ll know what it’s like. You tend to do everything, you tend to work quite long hours. [LAUGH]

Julia: Yes. [LAUGH]

Steve: You don’t really get much of a work life balance because you’re focused and I think that’s the way it has to be.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘I’ve sold a number of successful businesses. Our secret: we stayed up later than the competition.'” quote=”I’ve set up a number of businesses and sold them in the past. People say why was that so successful? And I think more than anything, we probably just stayed up later than the competition.”]

Julia: [LAUGH]

Steve: We just stayed up and worked harder and I don’t think there are any real secrets, it’s about focus and about working hard really.

Julia: That’s great, that sounds exactly like what I’m doing. I started my company about four years ago and I’m still staying up till midnight every other night.

Steve: Yeah. There’s always more to do, there’s always somebody else to talk to, there’s always somebody else to see and to check out their site, or to see some content.

Julia: That’s true.

Steve: There is always more to do so I find managing time is a difficult one.

Julia: I love what you said, it’s about staying up later than the competition.

Steve: Yeah I think that is the fundamental you’ve got to be prepared to work a little bit harder I think.

Julia: That’s great.

So just diving into some of the nitty-gritty and how BuzzSumo really helps you create great content. One thing I love about BuzzSumo is that, you can find industry leaders and you can also look by most shared content. So if I find someone’s domain that you know is a great blogger, I can type in their domain and then see what’s been the most shared on their site. And then sometimes I would go to their most shared posts and I’ll read through the comments and see what is being asked and then I’ll try to create content based on what is left unanswered from that really hot post.

So things like that has helped us create content just using BuzzSumo to discover questions that are being asked around really great content, what are the other things that you would say BuzzSumo is great just for creating this type of great content?

Steve: Yeah, we did several things similar to you. I think using the search engine creatively, some people just type one word into the search in BuzzSumo so what’s the most shared content on e-learning, whereas you can use search box quite creatively, you can actually put a thousand characters into the search box so you can build some quite sophisticated searches using quotes and minuses and things.

But even if you just put e-learning and then put how to in quotes, it will bring back all the how to posts on e-learning. So if you are about to write a how-to post, you can see which one’s working well, what’s an example of a good post, etc. So using the search box creatively I think is a really nice way of doing it, or seeing what works on a big site so if you’re doing something on leadership maybe type in, the Harvard Business Review site, space then put in leadership, then you’ll the most shared post on leadership from that specific site.

Things like that I think work well, it’s just being creative in terms of searching, in terms of things like amplification I think the thing that people miss and I think is really important is, find contents doing really well in your particular nature really, so maybe a very narrow, make sure you’re looking at it.

Find content that’s really relevant and then find the top five or six articles that are being well shared. And then what I like to do is see who shared them. So that will do the View Sharer’s button and see who’s sharing that content so why did it go viral. And then I tend to look at people who’ve got a retweet ratio of more than two, which is that basically every time they tweet they get retweeted at least twice, and less than that is too low.

So I had to then look at people who shared really relevant content to what I’m doing. Then I just filter out the people who got a retweet rate of above two and then I try to build relationships with those people. And that may be 10 people, it might be less, but they’re other people who probably help push that post, and get it to go viral.

So, I try to really focus down on sort of five or six co-influencers, for any piece of work that I’m doing. And sometimes obviously I try to build the amplification in, so sometimes if I get to know them quite well I might ask of their view on something. Because you always have to start with any relationship, it’s you give more than you take to start with, so normally I would just follow them, share their content, comment on their blog, offer them data if we haven’t, BuzzSumo offer if that can be helpful to them.

And over time building the relationship with those five, six key people from that particular niche topic, then I might tell you, I’m writing an article about this, would you prepare to contribute about some views. And that sort of almost builds your amplification in because invariably then they help you share that content as well.

So you almost know that the top five or six people are gonna share it because you’ve involved them in that process. But it’s a long process, it’s not just simply sending a note and saying can you give me your tips. I have to say I once did make a mistake of doing that and it’s not a nice experience. You really do have to build the relationship, I was in just a bit of a rush and wanted to get somebody’s views, and you have to build the relationship fast. But so for me that’s a great feature, just to see who’s sharing the content because then you know they’re interested in really relevant content to what you’re doing.

And you also know they’re an influencer on looking at the retweet rate.

I would always look at the retweet rate not the number of followers. People make a real mistake and look at the number of followers somebody has.

And I’ve pulled loads of data on this, there is no relationship at all, and I mean at all, between the number of retweets somebody gets and the number of followers they have.

There is just no relationship so people will say, oh I want this person to share it because they’ve got 100,000 followers. But they may not be that engaged, they may not see their tweets whereas somebody might only have 2000 followers but they might have a really engaged audience who understand and like what they’re sharing.

And they may get a retweet 10 times every tweet for example. So I think you go to look at what’s important and for me it’s that engagement. It’s about the retweet rate and influence it gets.

It’s certainly not about the number of followers, which is a bit of a vanity metric really.

But in some ways the people with really big followers, sometimes I find have really less engaged audiences. And may just be because the audience is so big, there is less engagement. And sometimes I find people with 2,000 or 3,000 followers can have really engaged audiences. So yeah I wouldn’t look at just the number of followers either so they be my sort of tips.

Julia: Wow. Have you heard of Twitter doing away with share counts on the Tweet button?

Steve: Yeah of course. [LAUGH] It was a big issue for us about six or seven weeks ago whenever they announced it, on the day they announced it we picked it up of course because we show in BuzzSumo the number of shares on Twitter.

Julia: Right.

Steve: So basically they’ve shut off the API which did the share count, the share count API so the Twitter buttons now won’t show the number of shares. It’s not very easy to get the data. We were lucky that we had a database of all the shares, all content in the world, so we have all the Tweet shares up until the point they cut it off on the 20th in November.

Julia: Wow!

Steve: And what we do now is we now have to buy data from Gnip, which is Twitter’s data arm but it’s not share count it’d be nice if it was share count. It’s actually a stream of tweets, you basically buy a stream of tweets. And they’re not that cheap [LAUGH] it is a bit expensive to buy a stream of tweets and then we have to do the filtering ourselves.

So then we filter and as we find shares of certain content we then add it to our database. So we might already have a thousand shares and then we’ll add the further shares to it and we keep up to date, our share count number, so if you use the BuzzSumo you can still see the number of twitter shares.

Because we knew people would want this, we built a Chrome extension, so if you go to the Chrome store and search for BuzzSumo there’s a Chrome extension, and when you have that on your browser, for any webpage you’re on, you click the BuzzSumo extension and we’ll show you the number of shares across all the networks including Twitter.

So if your site doesn’t have a Twitter button we will still show you the number of tweets. So not yet there is a lot of work just the way we did things and not entirely sure the background of the reasoning behind it. I think it’s sad now a lot of sites don’t automatically show you the Twitter accounts, I do think they can be gamed of course, people can retweet lots of times, and buy tweets, but generally I think it was an indicator of social value, social credit. And so using our extension people can still see the number of tweet shares.

Julia: Wow, I had no idea that you found a way around that that challenge because Twitter is definitely making it harder. Like you said I agree that Twitter share counts can really point to the social value of a post, but it sounds like you found a way around that challenge with some really hard work.

Steve: Yeah I would say, the bottom line is you can buy the data from Gnips, so we’ve had to buy it’s not just the expense of buying there’s actually, there’s quite a lot of work then to filter it and keep it up to date, and keep your database up to date. We were lucky we didn’t have to buy all the data to go back historically, that would’ve been very expensive because we already have a database of all Twitter shares and content.

It’s just a question of us keeping it up to date. So yeah I would recommend you use BuzzSumo Chrome Extension and you can see the Twitter shares for any piece of content.

Julia: That’s good to know. Yeah, I will be checking out that extension.

So for our last question, I wanted to go into a little bit about your perspective on SEO, as it ties in to content marketing.

Steve: I think it’s difficult to separate SEO and content marketing, is the reality. They’re both so intertwined. I mean there are more technical aspects of SEO and on page SEO and elements like that but they are very closely intertwined really. I think it’s interesting about that sort content, if you want to perform better in search engines then you really do want to build links.

I still think Google values links a lot. So you need to be writing the source of contents that attracts links and what we can see from our analysis is, certain content attract shares, and certain contents attracts links, but there’s no direct relationship, the same content doesn’t always attract shares and links because you get a lot of shares.

I think a lot of people assume if they wrote this content, get it shared a lot it will then get linked to a lot and that would help in SEO terms. And that’s definitely not case, it just depends on the content. If you’re doing content like sort of amusing content, quizzes, you can get tens of thousands of shares, but virtually zero links, and I mean zero links, because people don’t tend to link to that sort of content.

Whereas the classic content, in terms of evergreen content, long-form content, authoritative content, research-backed content, that tends to do better in terms of acquiring links, and people linking to it.

So I think it depends on your purpose of your content marketing, and I think this is another issue some people just write blog posts, write another blog post whereas you need some sort of content strategy because during any month you need different types of content of course as you know well, sometimes it’s great awareness and getting brand awareness.

That might be a nice thing but is it gonna convert somebody, it’s not gonna attract links. But it’s an important part of the awareness raising part of your content, whereas other content might be in depth educational content, it might be a white paper research case that may not get shared as much but it might attract more links.

So there is a different stage of your sales funnel where a case study of every niche case study, can be really helpful in converting somebody, but it may not have such wider audience. But it’s really important in that part of your sales funnel. So you need different types of content for different purposes.

So I think some of us will just write a blog post and another blog post [LAUGH]. You gotta have some strategy of what you’re trying to do with the content, I think, but in my view, is content marketing SEO just intertwined, it’s not saying that SEO is not relevant to content marketing, it’s where it’s at, they’re both important and I think that both parts of each other really, because search engine optimization means somebody is looking for something.

And so if they’re looking for something, hopefully you are the best answer to the question. Often if someone’s searching, I still think it will be in the context of, if someone is searching then, they’ve normally got a question and I like what Leon says, which is you be the best answer to the question.

So if you can understand the sort of question, somebody is asking, then you can write content which is the best answer.

Google has a vested interest in providing the best answer to the question and I think Google is getting very good the way the semantic search is working, Google is trying to find the best answers to the questions, so I think personally, I’m not a great believer, in lots of the technical SEO, I think it can be a bit like alchemy or whatever at some point.

For me it’s just if you write a really good post which is really addressing the questions then Google might serve that up because it wants to give people the best answer. And I think who knows exactly what’s exactly in the Google algorithm but you would hope that if it’s a good post, and people are spending time on it and engaging with that content, then Google would take that into account.

Whether they do or not it’s difficult to say, but I think there’s some evidence that not necessarily the number of shares of a post, but certainly people then visiting the article and spending time with it, that engagement will go into, will have some weight within the overall Google algorithm.

But I think it is about just answering good questions. You mentioned it earlier, often just search Quora, I’ll often search, BuzzSumo, I type in {space} SEO let’s say. And if you do that, what you’ll see is all the most shared questions about SEO and Quora and so it can be, I guess in a small way but it’s a small way of just looking at some of the questions that are being asked, or you can type in ad words, and see some of the questions being asked for Adwords, and then look at whether there’s content that answers it, if it doesn’t you can then try to write that piece of content.

The other thing I would say, and I know random and most people say this a lot now but you’ve got to be one of the top posts, what I find interesting is, there are two or three posts on a topic that really dominate, you may have written a fantastic post but if it’s number seven, people still share the top two or three.

So if you’re gonna write an answer to a question you got to be in the top two or three posts I think, and if you’re not then look at may be a slightly different question, or may be come up with a radically different way of answering it with a slight satire, a quiz or something because it’s really hard to break through those top two or three posts so, I always have a look, if I’m gonna write something, first thing I do is going to research, what are the top posts.

And actually there are other top posts on exactly the same subject, an infographic by Neil Patel, or other people I’m probably not gonna beat that, so I’ll find a different topic to write about, and I think you gotta, it’s like picking your battles really, in terms of where can you win, and we can’t all win in all areas.

So I think we have to understand where we can be that best answer, because in SEO, Google will also display that answer to people who are searching for the question. So I don’t think you can separate them, I don’t think is one or the other. I think we all know that content is increasingly important, and it’s an important part of the mix, but it is a mix.

It isn’t just as I say, it’s not just about writing blog posts, and people will come to you because they want it. It’s a whole range of things. It’s about amplifying your content, of course you want it to be optimized as such, so that least it can be found. But I think it’s that combination of factors and I think more than anything, and I heard Brian Dean speak recently about Google. Things taken into account, engagement with the content and that’s what I would really like. If I am writing a good post, people spend some time with the post. Google takes that into account and then serves up as an answer to somebody else because it’s creating more engagement. I do see the enthusiasm but it’s difficult to separate really, there’s no SEO verses content marketing.

Both are equally important.

Julia: I so agree. That’s really our thought process at Express Writers. What you described, it’s like we have identical minds. Because creating content that thoroughly answers a question being in the top 10x content was what you were saying Rand’s mentioned, yeah that’s become the standard to create the top 10%.

Steve: Yeah you have to be and I think Brian Dean did call it Sky-Scraper Technique. I think what he simply said. I may have got it wrong, but basically, when you go to a city you visit the tallest building, or the second tallest building, you don’t go visit the sixth tallest building, that makes sense? And I think it’s a bit like if you’re sharing a post or whatever happens to be, there are other big posts. This is the best post we’ll share that, unless there is something different and I think people at Google do really well. Brian tries to write you will see, the way he even terms the posts, he’ll say the Comprehensive Guide to X. He wants to be the most comprehensive, thorough piece of content etc. And I think you have to think about being that 10x piece of content in your particular niche.

And I think if you just write a post and I get a bit of frustration by this, people who just say 5 Ways To Write Great Landing Pages. They may be reasonable tips but there are so many of those posts. Why would I share yours as opposed to anybody else’s, and there is a lot of content and it is again short form content, which people don’t invest enough time in. You churn it out but it’s really not gonna work for you, I don’t think personally.

The research we’ve done, we’ve looked at lots, lots of content this year. Consistently long form content gets more shares and gets more links than short form content. So long form content does that, I mean there are arguments that why it does that and there are still a place for short picture posts and things. But as a general rule if you look across hundreds of millions of pieces of content long form content performs better. Particularly content of over a thousand words, once you get to about 3,000 words it doesn’t seem to change but content of sort of 2,000 words performs much better than say 700 words.

But when we look at then content we find that 85% of all articles written are less than a thousand words. So is that interesting. The evidence is really, really clear content of over a thousand words does better, you just look at all the stats, it does better and yet 85% of people write content of less than a 1000 words.

So they’re either ignoring the data or they haven’t got the time or whatever, so, long form content doesn’t always perform better but if you look on average across millions of post, it does.

But people don’t do it, so there is those frustrations of mine which is look at the data. [LAUGH] The data is saying this, and then of course there are awesome exceptions to that. A really great exception is the IFL science site and they do short form post with images around scientific concepts so they get masses of shares. But they’re really an outsider, they’re really an exceptional not the norm.

Julia: I think that will work into the conundrum in 2016 as content rises and our ability to digest stays the same. It’s about who’s creating the most in-depth piece. Markers will have to face that concept in order to succeed in content marketing.

Steve: Yeah I know there’s some much content, I mean they’re arguments about content shock and market shakes but you’ve only got 24 hours in a day and so if the amount of content triples then everyone can’t read and share as much content.

There are some people saying actually your day is not 24 hours but increasingly in the modern world we multitask so we go to the gym and listen to a podcast, we watch the TV and we read an article on our phones probably not doing either very well, but that’s what the article says, the average person gets 32 hours out of the day or something like that but there’s a limit you can’t keep going on squeezing things in and there’s no limit to the amount of content being produced and I read a very interesting paper the other day something like 5000 scientifically peer review papers published every week.

Julia: Wow!

Steve: That’s just peer reviewed scientific research papers you know the amount of blog posts is in the millions every day of course. So we can’t read all of that so it’s not a surprise that certain content floats to the top and it may not be the best content, I think sometimes it’s the best amplified content. If you had a really good influence in market strategy you get some top people involved, they share it. You could do better than other people even though your content is not as good. If you have a good amplification strategy, and the other way of course is if you do paid amplification.

So paid amplification might drive your content to be visible even if the content is not as good, although long term my instinct is and I hope, good content wins that’s my hope. But I think at the moment we’re in a position where people who have good amplification have got a better chance than the people who are poor at amplification, almost regardless of the quality of the content.

I think it’s about building an audience. Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute goes on about this and I think it’s right, which is content marketing is about building an audience. And at some point, you may be out to engage with that audience and sell them things, whatever, but you’re building an audience and that just takes time and consistency.

It’s not three blog posts, that doesn’t build an audience. Ten blog posts don’t build an audience. If you do it year in, year out, you build an audience, people like your content engagement. And it is as you say, building a relationship, but it takes time to build an audience.

But seems to be the purpose of content marketing is to build that audience, and that’s what newspapers have done over many, many years. So whether you read The New York Times, or The Wall Street Journal, or The Guardian, and the UK etc., they built over a long period of time, an audience who know what to expect, so consistency.

And I think in content marketing it’s about that regularity in order to build the audience and that relationship with the audience. And so you can’t just say we’ll do content marketing this month then we’ll move to something else. And you won’t get results immediately it takes time to build the audience.

Julia: Yes consistency is such a huge key. We’ve been creating posts for four years and by now we have 600 posts and we haven’t ever stopped in a month. Like okay now it’s time to take a break, no. You can’t [LAUGH].

Steve: You have to keep going but then you get that flywheel effect you get the benefit in time of the older content at least the server is updated and still relevant for long, the evergreen sort of stuff, it takes time and that’s where the people say, I don’t think content marketing is particularly difficult, I think it’s just really hard work.

Julia: That’s true.

Steve: A lot of people just drop out because it’s just too much hard work, so I don’t think it’s difficult. Produce good content that answers your audience questions consistently, regularly, I don’t think it’s super complicated but it’s really super hard work.

Julia: Absolutely it is so much elbow grease, well thank you so much for being here today Steve and sharing your insights it’s really good to hear from you.

Steve: No thank you, I’ve really enjoyed it, thank you very much.

[MUSIC] For more online content tips and strategies, visit [MUSIC]

Be sure to check out this amazing content marketing tool at You can also follow Steve on Twitter @steverayson.

Also if you’re in marketing, be sure to mark your calendar and join our twitter chat, #contentwritingchat. It happens every Tuesday at 10 AM CST and we discuss all kinds of content marketing tips, tricks and strategies and we feature weekly guests experts.

Lastly, keep an eye out for my book. I’m really excited about it, it’s coming out the end of this March. The book is called So You Think You Can Write, The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Content. In this book, I’m sharing everything I taught myself in the last four years on how to create great content for the web. This is both for the online writer who wants to make this their career and for the business owner that wants to create great online content for their readers. Be sure to check it out on Amazon.

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