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

Learn my exact approach for getting my content featured on the front page of BuzzFeed, generating hundreds of thousands of visitors in the process.

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

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