If you haven’t checked out Buzzsumo yet, you should do that before reading more.
James Blackwell is the co-founder of Buzzsumo, a web app that lets your find the most shared content on the web and key influencers by your keywords of choice. I stumbled across Buzzsumo several weeks ago and it quickly made its way into my Bookmarks. I use it daily. It’s a very polished tool and at the staggeringly low price of free it makes very little sense to not try it out now if you haven’t done so already.
But first take a quick look at what James has to say about his work improving Buzzsumo, the importance of social networks for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the numbers that prove Google Plus can’t be ignored anymore.
You’re tasked with making sure Buzzsumo is constantly improving and growing – how do you gather and measure feedback? How do you prioritize improvements?
Everyone gets a simple email a day after they sign up. This gives them a chance to checkout BuzzSumo and provide some useful feedback easily. Then we use tools like Uservoice.com that make gathering feedback and support queries easy. We also asked a lot of people directly for feedback, especially in the earlier days. You can do this over Twitter, email, Skype or in person.
Now that we’ve got thousands of users though, we’re able to rely on data much more than you can in the early days. We anonymously track usage of features through Google Analytics and have an admin dashboard that measures growth in active and total users. Ultimately, if those figures are growing then we know we’re roughly on the right track.
Does Buzzsumo have an open API and do you plan on rolling out software integrations?
Yes we have an API already. It enables access to virtually all the data you see on BuzzSumo.com. We’re pretty open to what people do with it, just get in touch and we’ll help you get setup.
SEO is a fast changing industry and we feel understanding what content people like and share is increasingly important.
Do you work in an office or remotely? How does this type of interaction shape Buzzsumo?
We’re very much a remote team. I’m based in London whereas Henley is in New York. Naturally we use email for a lot of communications, although we have a team call every week.
Technically, we look after different aspects of BuzzSumo so there’s not too much co-ordination required day-to-day. Most of our time spent discussing in on new features and the direction we want to go in.
You have a background in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) consulting. How come you didn’t focus on building an SEO tool?
There’s lot’s of “SEO tools” already, and you need to provide some unique value as a startup. It’s tough to compete with bigger players if you don’t have a unique edge.
We also feel that BuzzSumo is very useful to SEOs. So in that sense we have built an SEO tool! SEO is a fast changing industry and we feel understanding what content people like and share is increasingly important.
Buzzsumo shows sharers of content on Twitter but will it ever be able to show sharers of content on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Facebook?
We’re not planning on this at the moment for a few reasons. Facebook has certain privacy restrictions around displaying profiles so we can’t do that. There’s still lots of other stuff we want to do that we feel will provide more value so unfortunately it’s not a priority.
For a long time Google Plus has been written off. Buzzsumo shows Google Plus has a lot of shares for a variety of content – who’s sharing on Google + and should marketers invest more time into it?
Google Plus is increasingly becoming integrated in all of Google’s products. So my view is it’s here to stay as the social data is valuable to them. I think the whole ‘G+ is a ghost town’ joke was also blown out of proportion. People seemed to love to hate Google Plus but as a network I personally prefer it to Linkedin, which has some major flaws.
Most websites quickly integrated the share buttons as they were worried their SEO would be punished if people weren’t sharing their content on G+. So I think that helps. Also with Facebook recently slamming brand pages, I think companies are actually starting to notice they get decent traffic from Google Plus. Whether things will remain that way is another question.