Seo strategy

BuzzFeed’s Non-SEO Strategy: Inside the Web’s Most Shared Content #SMX

“So what are you doing for research? Does BuzzFeed think about SEO?

“Not really.”

At SMX East, Jonah Peretti, CEO of BuzzFeed was refreshingly real about what matters in web content to its brand – and search rankings are not high on the priority list. This is a model that may not work for everyone, but when 75% of BuzzFeed’s traffic comes from social media, he’s likely to believe that his website (and others) should first focus on what users want to engage with. For BuzzFeed, traffic and results followed ONLY because of its user-centric approach.

“It’s easy to think of the world as YOUR network or your site,” Peretti said, admitting that search may be a bigger area of ​​focus for businesses that find it drives a lot of traffic. But at the same time, he thinks every site should prioritize good reads (or views). “Shouldn’t the best content be showing up, and it’s Google’s bad job if it doesn’t?”

Here are some pearls of content marketing wisdom and behind-the-scenes insights into content creation, the human behind the web’s most shared medium.

Creation should start with genuine user appeal, not a calculated checklist of “what makes content work.”

On the Myth of “Viral” Content and Miracle Content Formulas

Peretti warned marketers against spending too much time thinking about past success, instead of focusing on what’s next. “The human brain is good at retrospectively telling stories that are wrong.”

Viral content, he pointed out, only achieves “viral content” status after the fact. Creation should start with genuine user appeal, not a calculated checklist of “what makes content work.”

On the right way to optimize content for search

Peretti called BuzzFeed’s early keyword optimization a “happy accident.” This happened organically through careful thought about what information to include in the content or how to title items. “The closest approach to SEO we have is to ask, ‘What would people search for in Google, or how would people search for that?'”

Brafton takes a similar approach; this content for SEO eBook is not what many marketers might expect, but rather offers actionable strategies on how to answer user queries throughout the marketing funnel….

On the clickbait

While others may say that BuzzFeed has a locked “clickbait formula”, Peretti maintains that there is no silver bullet. Headlines come from editorial consideration of what people would want to read. He also pointed out that anything that can be considered a clickbait should be delivered – that’s the difference between click-worthy content and spam.

While others may say that BuzzFeed has a locked “clickbait formula”, Peretti maintains that there is no silver bullet.

Regarding those “You’ll Never Believe…” headlines, he said, “Don’t deplete the clicks with headlines that tell the whole story, but more importantly, don’t be misleading.”

On mainstream media criticism for “going out of their way for BuzzFeed”

Peretti rightly argued that engaging comedic content and serious journalism have always coexisted. “Serious newspapers have always fought for the best cartoonists; humor has always animated readers.

Any brand should be sure to share lightweight or accessible pieces without fear of losing credibility.

On measures of success and return on investment

The primary metric Buzzfeed uses to gauge success is sharing. “It’s not the only one, but we see the shares as a snapshot of what people thought was ‘good enough’ to pass on,” he said.

At the same time, he reaffirmed that his teams do not sort through the most popular plays to create a secret formula that will bind all future plays. Instead, he advised content creators and marketers to evaluate top-performing posts: “Asking, ‘What is the underlying dynamic and how can I examine it with data? ‘ Use this approach to deliver more content that people actually want.

“We view shares as a snapshot of what people thought was ‘good enough’ to pass on.” – Peretti

He elaborated on this idea, saying, “When people share videos of cute kittens, they’re not interested in ‘the subject of cats’.” They are interested in an emotion. We have always adopted a social perspective in our analysis.

(This led to a discussion on Dear kitten, created by Friskies with Buzzfeed – and featuring a brand storytelling template (Warning: this last link includes an analysis of why it was so good… but exploring the dynamics, not the specifics.)

On the best social networks for content promotion

Facebook is a big traffic engine for BuzzFeed. Peretti is also relishing Facebook’s recent updates to wean clickbait headlines. “I think updates on Facebook reward niche content better. Now we have the ability to create things for really targeted audiences.” He called it a “refreshing departure” from the traditional media model where publishers are encouraged to create content that appeals to 80% of the population.

This is perhaps especially rewarding for brands that inherently target niche audiences. Success reported by Brafton for smaller publishers from similar Facebook updates in the past.

On the link between search and social media for web reach

Peretti is an advocate for more social data influencing presence in search. Perhaps that’s no surprise, since 75% of BuzzFeed’s data comes from social media…

Peretti sees Facebook’s anti-clickbait algorithms as a “refreshing departure” from the traditional media model where publishers are encouraged to create content that appeals to 80% of the population.

“Back when Google used Twitter, BuzzFeed definitely saw the SEO gains. Now that it’s crawling Pinterest, our lifestyle section has gotten a big search boost.

On Google+

“So what do you think of Google Plus?” asked session moderator Danny Sullivan.

“Can you explain to me ?” Peretti asked.

On the biggest content wins

“The biggest signal for Buzzfeed is when people see our content and want to share it. We want to serve an audience. In fact, a reduction in traffic is acceptable if there are search or social algorithms that reduce clickbait, both that means more posts getting a sustainable amount of traffic and shares instead of a small portion of posts getting those mega-hits.

Would you ever be so cavalier with your SEO approach? Share your thoughts in the comments – and be sure to check out Brafton’s full SMX event coverage.