What Online Marketers Can Learn from Buzzfeed’s Success

What Online Marketers Can Learn from Buzzfeed’s Success

methods of online marketingHow did a wacky little site like Buzzfeed grow to rival the New York Times? In a recent interview with MarketingLand’s Danny Sullivan, Buzzfeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti admitted that the secret to Buzzfeed’s success was actually a Google mistake.

Methods of online marketing are in constant flux as the internet expands and evolves, but one thing has remained constant: Google. Google is both gatekeeper and boogeyman to search engine optimization providers everywhere.

Anyone trying to build an online marketing presence is at the mercy of the search engine giant’s many algorithms and updates. The fact that 75% of search engine users don’t scroll past the first page of results only makes content marketing experts more desperate to avoid getting a dreaded penalty from Google. The average marketer spends a quarter of their budget on content marketing, but if no one’s seeing the content, it’s an investment wasted.

But, strangely, a Google penalty is exactly what rocketed Buzzfeed to online superstardom.

According to Peretti, the website was initially focused on two methods of online marketing: SEO and social media sharing. When the company’s SEO analysis came back with unusually discouraging numbers, Peretti contacted Google.

It turned out that Google had erroneously penalized Buzzfeed because it had mistaken Buzzfeed’s embeded widgets as Malware. In the months it took to resolve the error, Buzzfeed was forced to switch tactics and focus almost exclusively on social sharing.

The tactic turned out to be a massive hit for Buzzfeed, and it maintained the focus moving forward. Peretti believes social media is such a good fit because the content they provide isn’t exactly the content an internet user searches for. It’s worth noting that using videos on landing pages, as Buzzfeed often does, can increase conversions by up to 86%.

According to Peretti, BuzzFeed gets a massive 75% of its 150 million unique visitors per month through social media channels. As a result, they barely factor Google and SEO into their strategies anymore, though Peretti hopes Google will eventually factor social signals into their ranking systems.

So what can online marketers learn from this? Basically, that methods of online marketing aren’t set in stone. Buzzfeed proves that it pays to experiment with new marketing methods and that there are ways to build a presence without Google.

So keep innovating, and don’t be afraid to take risks. It could pay off!

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