The discovery or research phase is typically the first phase of any project whether it is a journalist planning an article, an agency planning an SEO campaign or a team developing a content marketing strategy. An SEO campaign or content marketing strategy may have a number of distinct stages such as:

1)     Research phase

2)     Implementation phase

3)     Analysis & review

The insights gathered from the research phase are critical in determining the right strategy and approach. I have set out below some of the typical tasks undertaken during the research phase and how tools like BuzzSumo can support you to gain key insights. This is not exhaustive as there are other discovery tasks such as audience analysis and persona development.

Baseline Assessment

This looks at current SEO and content performance. CMI recommend a content inventory at this stage. This work addresses questions such as what content is working well, what is shared most, what content is linked to most, what content generates most leads etc.

To quickly understand your best performing content, in terms of the content being shared most, you can do a search on BuzzSumo for your domain. This will show the most popular shared content, the headlines used and the networks on which the content was shared. Below is an example domain search.

domain search buzzsumo

Topic Research

This involves looking at best performing content in the topic area, in essence what works and why. This means understanding what the target audience search for, what content they value, the content they engage with, what content formats they share most and the networks where they share content.

To see what content is being shared most in particular topic areas, you can search by topic in BuzzSumo and view the most shared content across social networks. You can filter by content formats and see what types of content get shared most – a democratic indication of what’s most relevant and authoritative, and what’s current (filtering by date). You can also filter by social network to see what type of content gets shared most on particular networks. See an example below for the topic ‘elearning’.

topic search buzzsumo

Influencer and Community Research

An important part of the discovery phase is understanding the topic influencers and key communities. They can have a major impact on content performance, thus it is important to know who they are, what they share, and where they share. If you know that, you can target them with content that they are more likely to share with their audiences and amplify your impact. Influencer research can get often get overlooked but it is critical.

To see who the key influencers are in a particular topic area you can use the Influencers tab in BuzzSumo and search for influencers in your topic area. BuzzSumo allows you to filter influencers by type such as bloggers, journalists and companies so you can find the right influencers for your outreach strategy. It also allows you to filter influencers by reach, engagement and authority to precisely find what you need. Below is an example search for elearning influencers.

influencer search buzzsumo

Competitor Research

Another key component of the discovery phase is to review who the competitors are and how they performing. You can use BuzzSumo to search for a competitor’s domain and find their most shared content.  You can see the networks where they have most traction, the content formats they are using and the headlines they use.

competitor search buzzsumo

Summary

The discovery phase is critical in creating insights for your SEO or content marketing campaign. Hopefully, this post provides a helpful overview of some of the tasks in the research phase and how tools like BuzzSumo can really support you in gaining key insights.

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