How I Made it to the Front Page of BuzzFeed Twice, and How You Can Too

Last Updated: March 30, 2016

Show Article Summary

Show Full Article

BuzzFeed has quickly become one of the most popular websites on the internet, attracting 150 million visits every month. BuzzFeed has also been spending a lot of time on crowdsourcing content within their community section, making it a valuable traffic source to many different websites.

In 2014, I spent a lot of time analysing the content within BuzzFeed to get a better understanding of what makes a great article. This involved me crawling a huge set of URLs within BuzzFeed and then pulling in a whole host of different data points for each article. For example, I extracted the headline, the word count, the social shares, the number of paragraphs, the author, the type of post, and much more.

BuzzFeed Community

Using all of this data enabled me to reach the front page of BuzzFeed on two separate occasions, bringing through over 10,000 visits to my blog, a ton of social engagement and a few hundred new newsletter subscribers. Alongside this, the links that I was able to gain from BuzzFeed had a seriously positive impact on my search engine rankings (it’s a DA92 site).

What Makes a Great BuzzFeed Post?

It’s worth mentioning at this stage that there’s no sure-fire, guaranteed way to get to the front page of BuzzFeed. Like many major content publishers they have a moderation team that works tirelessly to only put forward the very best content for their target audience.

That said, if you have a good understanding of all the major factors that positively correlate towards a successful post, you’re arming yourself with the best possible data to enable your article to become a success. You can check out the technical sides of the content analysis process here (if you’re interested in carrying out a similar exercise).

You can find out everything that I found from analysing 45,772 articles on BuzzFeed by downloading my full analysis ebook:

Download BuzzFeed's Winning Content Formula

I've analysed 45,772 articles on BuzzFeed to find out what the key factors of their success are. Find out BuzzFeed's secrets and apply them within your own campaign.

Download for Free

Seperator

What the Analysis Doesn’t Tell You

When I first went through the BuzzFeed post submission process, there were a few things that my analysis couldn’t tell me. These were primarily to do with the criteria that the moderation team use, as well as the finer details of the publishing process.

Some of the things that I’m going to share are incredibly important towards getting your article approved, whilst others are more focused on getting the most (in terms of results) out of your BuzzFeed post once it goes live.

The Basics of the Publishing Process

On the most basic level, here’s the process for getting an article submitted to the BuzzFeed moderation team:

  1. Create a free BuzzFeed account (if you don’t have one already) by clicking here and following the instructions on the page.
  2. Once you’ve created your account, navigate to your profile and click on the option to create a new post.
  3. Create your new article using BuzzFeed’s post editing tool. It’s really easy to use so just go ahead and choose the type of post you want to create and add in the content. If you’re making a quiz then you may want to check out this quick tutorial.
  4. Once you’ve finished and you’re happy to go live, tick the box on the right that says “Suggest for a community feature” (very important!) and then press “Publish Now”.

Submitting to BuzzFeed Community Section

It’s that simple! Just bear in mind that you can only suggest one article for a community feature every 24 hours. If you submit a post without suggesting it for a community feature and it’s your first post on BuzzFeed, it’s going to be very difficult to get any kind of result from it.

What Happens Once You Press Publish?

Once you’ve pressed publish, your post will be live on BuzzFeed.

Now, don’t get carried away here because whilst your post is technically live on BuzzFeed, it’s actually so deep in the site’s architecture that it’ll never be seen by anyone unless they have the link. Furthermore, it’s way too deep in the architecture for Google to find it (at least any time soon!), so you won’t be seeing any benefit from the link gained from the post at all.

At this point, a link from a crappy blog with a Domain Authority of 10 would be more valuable from an SEO point of view.

If you don’t believe me, publish a post via BuzzFeed from a new account and don’t tick the “Suggest for a community feature” tick box. Wait 2 weeks and just Google the full URL – I guarantee that there will be no results showing for it (i.e. Google hasn’t indexed the page and is passing no PageRank to webpages being linked from it).

How Will You Know if Your Post Made the Cut?

Don’t expect an instant response once you submit your article. The moderation isn’t automated, so a member of BuzzFeed’s moderation team will have to look through the post and make a decision on whether it is worthy of a community feature.

This usually takes no more than 48 hours, but no less than 24, so bear with it. If you’re waiting longer than this then you didn’t make the cut – the BuzzFeed team won’t inform you of this though.

If you didn’t make the cut, don’t worry because I have a way that you can still get some value from the post; I’ll get this shortly.

If you did make it, congratulations! You should have received an email like the one I had below:

Promoted to BuzzFeed Community Section

It’s not over yet, though – this is just the beginning.

The way that the BuzzFeed community publishing system works is through achieving certain milestones. The first one is simply getting a push onto the community section from the moderators (as shown above). The next step is to get to the front page of the community section.

The more exposure your post gets, the further up the BuzzFeed ladder it will climb. The further it goes, the more traffic it will get and the more people it will reach.

After the community front page, you can have your article promoted to the category front page, giving you even more exposure. Finally, if your article does really well, it will be promoted to the main front page of BuzzFeed. If this happens, you’ll receive this kind of email:

Promoted to BuzzFeed Front Page

If you hit the front page, you’re looking at a lot of exposure. My article shown in the above screenshot had 146,000 visits – see the analytics below:

BuzzFeed Post Analytics

How to Ensure Your Article DOESN’T Get Promoted

It’s very easy to get your posts rejected by the moderation team. This is particularly common if you go into the process of creating a new post simply looking for a quick link or some traffic to your website above everything else.

It’s important to remember that BuzzFeed readers don’t want posts that are just glorified sales pitches. They’re looking for content that their readers can resonate with. If the number one goal of your article is to bring someone outside of BuzzFeed then it’s not going to bode well for your article (trust me – I’ve had a lot of failures this way).

The simple rule here is not to be greedy.

The benefit to you/your business should be a tiny fraction of the overall benefit of the post to BuzzFeed readers. With this in mind, here are a few things to completely avoid (also, check out BuzzFeed’s community guidelines):

  1. Don’t try and promote any products or services.
  2. Don’t link out to anything that isn’t completely relevant to your article and/or that wouldn’t add anything to the reading experience.
  3. When linking, don’t try and use keyword-focused anchor text. Just keep it simple.
  4. Credit any images that you’ve used in your post correctly and avoid the use of any copyright images.
  5. Stick to BuzzFeed’s tried-and-tested content formats. In general, most readers don’t want feature-length editorial pieces. Instead, stick to the famous BuzzFeed listicle.

It’s also worth noting at this stage that BuzzFeed isn’t the right platform for everyone. In my case, I was linking through to a recipe that I’d created on my food blog (along with a number of other blogs), which is perfect for BuzzFeed. If you’re looking to bring through traffic to the homepage of your Law Firm’s website then you need to either create some content on the site that you think will appeal to BuzzFeed readers or consider a different platform.

That doesn’t mean that content covering the legal sector doesn’t work on BuzzFeed (as this post proves), you just need to be more creative.

How to Give Your Post the Best Chance of Being Promoted

From my experience of publishing on BuzzFeed, I’ve found a few things that you can do to help push your content higher up on the BuzzFeed ladder and cash in on more traffic and a much more powerful link.

Increasing Your Social Lift

Once your post has passed the moderation stage, run some paid social advertising on the likes of Reddit, StumbleUpon, Facebook and Twitter to get as much traffic as possible coming through to the article. Be aggressive with the advertising to get as much traffic to the post once it is initially promoted as you can.

BuzzFeed Social Lift

Your post’s “Social Lift” is a metric used by BuzzFeed staff to calculate how much attention the post is getting on social media, which is calculated by dividing the number of visitors coming to the post from social media with the traffic to the post generated simply from within BuzzFeed. Once these two numbers are divided, BuzzFeed adds 1 to the number to give you your final Social Lift metric.

The higher this metric is, the better.

Get Activity on Your Post

The more comments, reactions and special reactions that your BuzzFeed post has, the greater the chance of it moving up the ranks. This is a crucial success factor and probably one of the most influential factors to getting quick promotions from the BuzzFeed moderators.

To boost activity, I make sure that I link to other influential bloggers and BuzzFeed users within my article and let them know about this in advance. As soon as my post goes live, I get in touch with them again to ask if they could give it some positive reactions and leave a comment.

It’s a really simple and quick way to boost traffic and engagement on the post. Here’s the email that I sent over to the people mentioned within one of my successful BuzzFeed articles:

Hey [First Name],

I hope you’re well.

Just wanted to drop you a quick email to let you know that I’ve mentioned one of your recipes within my latest post on BuzzFeed 🙂 It would be awesome if you could upvote the article and share it across social media!

Here’s the link: http://www.buzzfeed.com/matthewbarby/13-surprisingly-high-protein-meat-free-recipes-mo64

Love reading your blog so keep up the good work!

Enjoy your weekend 🙂

As well as this, make sure that you fire out the link to any email subscribers, colleagues, friends, etc. to get as much engagement going as you can.

Extracting Extra Value

Once you’ve had your first post published and promoted, your user account page will have been indexed by Google and it will likely be crawled fairly frequently from now on.

This is great because from now on, if you publish a new article on BuzzFeed from your user account then Google will index your new post fairly quickly without it even needing to be promoted to the community section.

Now, whilst this is great news from an SEO point of view, because Google will attribute the PageRank passed from the links on the article, it still won’t be a particularly powerful link due to how deep the page will be within BuzzFeed’s hierarchy.

The value of that link could be increased fairly easily though…

One simple way of increasing the value from your article that hasn’t been promoted to the community section is by acquiring links from other websites to your BuzzFeed article. This will increase the authority of the page, and combined with the authority of BuzzFeed’s domain, it becomes a very powerful link indeed.

As well as it combining with BuzzFeed’s authoritative domain, it’s a lot easier to acquire links for content housed on websites like BuzzFeed than it is to content on your company’s website, especially if you don’t have much of an audience online.

Even if your article performs well and hits the front page of BuzzFeed, I’d still recommend working on some outreach to gain further mentions of the article on external websites to boost the power of the link.

Download BuzzFeed's Winning Content Formula

I've analysed 45,772 articles on BuzzFeed to find out what the key factors of their success are. Find out BuzzFeed's secrets and apply them within your own campaign.

Download for Free

BuzzFeed is one of the largest content publishers online, and more importantly to marketers, they allow outside contributors to publish content on their website. This opens up a whole world of opportunity for content creators to drive more traffic through to their website and get increased exposure to their brand.

I'm sharing a how I have managed to hit the front page of BuzzFeed on to separate occasions, driving tens of thousands of visitors to my website. Alongside this, I'm giving an insight to all of you as to how you can do the exact same, as well as sharing the results of some huge analysis into BuzzFeed's 'content success formula'.

Download BuzzFeed's Winning Content Formula

Get all of my analysis into what makes BuzzFeed's content perform so well so that you can start recreating their success today.

Download for Free

Powered by TLDR
Seperator

About Matthew Barby

Global Head of Growth & SEO at HubSpot, award winning blogger, industry speaker and lecturer for the Digital Marketing Institute.

Sign Up To My Newsletter

33 Responses

Jimmy

This is f’ing brilliant. Well done, Matthew.

Matthew Barby

Thanks, Jimmy! Also, really enjoyed your recent post on the Vero blog that looked at Trip Advisor’s email marketing strategy. That’s one of a number of Vero articles that are stored within my bookmarks. Keep up the good work!

Luke Jordan

This is awesome, Matthew. I went right ahead and shared this on my Google+!

Referral visits, email signups and one seriously powerful backlink (not to mention the others you’ll pick up as a result of being featured on such a huge site) all seem like huge advantages that mean I’m gonna have to try and achieve this for myself.

I don’t know how I’ve only just discovered this site – especially as you’re based in Birmingham, too – but I love the content and the design is just something else; I’ve subscribed. Love it.

Don’t undo all of your hard work by saying you prefer Blues over Villa, though.

All the best,

Luke Jordan
Intergeek

Matthew Barby

Hey Luke,

Thanks for the kind words! It was definitely worth the time invested into putting the BuzzFeed posts together – they had an instant impact.

Oh, and I’m a Forest fan 😉

Matt

Luke Jordan

No worries, they’re much deserved!

Everyone is a Forest fan now! Although recently moved from Brum to Notts which would explain that…

Speak soon.

Luke Jordan
Intergeek

Amna Ateef

Nice tips!
I guess I am very lucky then! My very first post actually got featured on BuzzFeed’s front page (yeah the main site) aswell as on the community’s front page. It was my very first post on BuzzFeed, ’19 Chevron DIY Tutorials to Jazz Up your Life’ and it was a hit, really!

Best wishes,
Amna Ateef

Matthew Barby

That’s awesome, Amna.

As you can see from my analysis – DIY posts are really popular on BuzzFeed and it seems like you took a really specific topic, which always helps to get more buzz around it. Congratulations – out of interest, how much traffic did you see come through to your website from the post?

Amna Ateef

Umm it was like 500+ on that day. It’ the first time I have got that much traffic in a day!

Amul

Another killer post.. thanks for digging into the details with the corresponding blogg’r outreach swipe.

Curious how content pieces many have you submitted vs picked up @buzzfeed?

1 out 5? out 10?

– keep up the good work

Matthew Barby

Thanks, Amul. I had success (to the main front page) with 2 out of 4 posts 🙂

Sachi

That was the frickin bomb! You’ve totally won me over with this shit. Love the way you think. 😉

Matthew Barby

Thanks, Sachi 🙂 Glad you found it useful.

Colm

really enjoyed this, I have tried something similar with both Reddit & Slideshare with decent results, although only featured on Slideshare homepage for about an hour I believe 🙂

I would love to know what you used to pull the data if possible 🙂 Something like import.io ?

Matthew Barby

What kind of traffic did you see from your SlideShare feature? It’s a channel I’m doing more and more work on so would love to know.

If you want to know more about how I pulled in the data, check out my posts here: http://www.matthewbarby.com/my-terrible-content/

I used Screaming Frog SEO Spide, URL Profiler and some custom XPath using the SEO Tools plugin for Excel 🙂

Colm

Well I monitored the featured pressos on slideshare until I had 50 to look for patterns. I then created a deck http://www.slideshare.net/ColmFlanagan1986/how-digital-marketing-saved-my-life-29800755 with this in mind, my target was to hit 5,000 views at the time on SS. Being featured didn’t really have an impact, my traffic came from Reddit (which I was also targeting within the content) and other forms of amplification. I should of continued to test but my interests now lie with Reddit 🙂

Thanks for the info !!

Jamie Knop

Interesting stuff Matt. I am surprised at the word count of the articles considering BuzzFeed posts are generally visual and contain very little content.

Me and my other half also have a food blog, well she does the cooking/baking/writing I do the rest, so always looking at ways to drive extra traffic 🙂

I’m fairly sure they are nofollowing all links from articles within the community section now, have you noticed this?

I wonder what the quality of the referral traffic was like / conversions / monetary gains?

I expect you got a ton of referral traffic during the home page feature, I wondered what sort of referral traffic you’re getting now months down the line?

Keep up the awesome work Matt.

Matthew Barby

Hey Jamie,

No, they’re still dofollowing links from the community section. This just varies depending on the type of link you’re placing.

In terms of the quality of referral traffic, it was the top converting referrer for new email subscriptions on the blog. The traffic during the feature was huge, but even after that there has been a steady flow of traffic due to the BuzzFeed articles ranking well in the SERPs.

If you want a little more info around how to build up your food blog, check out this post I wrote at the end of last year: http://moz.com/blog/my-recipe-for-success-how-to-launch-a-successful-blog

Jamie Knop

I just did a quick check of a dozen articles in the community section, all of them had nofollow external links apart from one. They were all being featured on the home page of the community section as well.

Maybe they get followed once you get promoted to the homepage.

It sounds like quality traffic for the food niche then. Thanks, I’ll check it out. What I’ve found so far with running the food blog for the past year or so is it’s a lot of submitting to sites like Foodgawker and Reddit, I have about 10 I submit to after each post we do. We get ok traffic 10k + a month but after trying many monetization methods it seems to make any substantial money from a food blog you need upwards of 100k + views a month.

How are you finding it?

Dave

Very interesting Matt – I might try this with my GF’s food blog avocadopesto.com, thanks!

Matthew Barby

Yeah, definitely! Feel free to link to any of my recipes haha 😉

Rob @ Womplify

Great stuff – I’ve shared it with our followers.

Gonna have to start a new blog to try this out now!

Sean

Hey Matthew,
Great post man, nice write up on a subject that loads of SEO’s are interested in nowadays.

I noticed a small error looking through your data. The Post Topic vs Linking Root Domains – Books get links from more root domain than DIY

Keep up the good work man, read the last few posts.

Sean

Matthew Barby

Hey Sean,

Good spot! Will update the post when I get a chance today 🙂

Rachel @ Bakerita

I’m a food blogger and have been super successful with Buzzfeed! My posts have made the front page 4 times…and crashed my site twice with the traffic. Buzzfeed continues to give 40% of my traffic even when I haven’t submitted in a while. Definitely an under-used, super valuable tool. Thank you for all the tips, tricks, and analytic data!

Tom

Great experiment Matt, thanks for sharing your experience with us. Sending emails over to the people mentioned within your post is a great way to boost traffic and engagement. Win-win situation.

Cheers,
Tom

Ophelie

Awesome stuff. I didn’t realise just how powerful BuzzFeed’s community submissions were — I’d spotted a few, but this takes it to a whole other level.

Matthew Barby

Thanks, Ophelie. Yes, BuzzFeed’s community section really is a hidden treasure trove for bloggers and businesses alike!

Aivar Magin

Hi Matthew, well done to you!
Enjoyed reading the post, very happy for what you have achieved and very thankful too that you have took your time to share it with us! Enjoyed the visual information and will definitely give it a share! Cheers!

Jack Nial

Hello Matthew,

I’m interested in the services you provide to customers. Could you tell me more?

I am setting up a blog which will have unique content generated, and would like to get as much attraction to the blog as possible.

Kind Regards,

Jack

Dimov

This is a great tactic Matthew. This is the first time I visit your blog, but I’ll definitely continue reading it … I only can’t understand one time. You suggested to get as many social shares as possible? What is the average price you’ve paid on these advertisements? And what other factors they use to get to the front page of this site? Please, let me know.

Tim

Confused as to why you said DIY posts on BuzzFeed get linked to more than any other topic when the graph clearly shows books has the highest score. Really great post. Thanks!

Josh

Hi Matt, good advice I’m going to use to try get on BuzzFeed!

What plugin do you use in posts to “unlock content” or deliver the bonuses you do? I see a reference to a /subscribe-unlock folder in your source code and have only come across http://codecanyon.net/item/optin-content-locker-for-wordpress/2809912