More Than Friends: Buzzfeed Should Steal Traffic From Wikipedia

Why Buzzfeed should aim for Wikipedia’s search results on major cultural topics.

Heard the news about Buzzfeed and Mashable and Vice?

They’re going to miss their revenue targets. Buzzfeed by 15 to 20 percent. Whoa. That’s substantial.

I don’t have anything to say about the business end — running a website is hard, running a magazine is hard, running a newspaper is hard. It seems crazy that Buzzfeed can’t meet its projections, but I also don’t know about its investments, VC money, loans whatever and ever.

But it could be organized better for readers.

The way it’s organized today, and the way a lot of large culture publications are organized are based on broad subjects like “TV” or “Movies” or “Music.” This worked well in the culture of the past, where articles in newspapers or magazines told us about the news of the day.

And there’s some value in having a breaking news section or whatever. But much of our content searches aren’t dependent upon breaking news. They’re dependent on interests. And often, those interests don’t change, but they’re piqued.

But if I’m looking for a new movie review, I rarely go to the “movies” section of a newspaper. Yes, I subscribe to the NY Times and sometimes I will actually do that on my phone. But more often than not, that information is already coming at me via advertisement, Twitter or Facebook and their various algorithms.

However, larger cultural forces make us interested in something that is not “breaking news.” That’s where the discovery part happens. Like if I see a show on Netflix that I’m unfamiliar with, but my friends have been talking about. They’ve seen it on Netflix and are now posting about it.

What is this “Friends” show about any way?

I’ll google it.

Here’s the front page of Google search results for the word “friends.” It’s all about the TV show of course.

And the second result is one of the largest websites in the country: Wikipedia.

If I scroll further down, as of this writing, Buzzfeed is nowhere on the front page of Google for the keyword “Friends.” Nor are they on the second page.

According to Google Keyword Research Planner, the word “friends” gets 1M to 10M searches a month.

That’s a lot. And it’s a shame for Buzzfeed that Wikipedia is beating them out for one of the top spots, a site that doesn’t rely on advertising.

Wikipedia doesn’t have advertising as part of its model, Buzzfeed does. It would benefit Buzzfeed to have the second spot on Google results for a highly searched keyword like “friends.”

What makes this even more critical for Buzzfeed is that they’ve invested heavily in the culture, trivia and interest around the TV show “Friends.”

I know this because I type in “friends buzzfeed” and I see tons of quizzes and articles. I’m assuming that Buzzfeed would want more people to read these.

There’s a new trend in content marketing land around website content. It’s no longer only about keyword research; it’s about connecting all of your related keywords to one post or page. These pages are topic clusters.

The idea is this — create comprehensive content around a topic so that you become the go-to source. Then you’ll rank higher in Google search results and more people will stay on your site.

For Buzzfeed, that means creating the most comprehensive page on Friends imaginable. This would be a splashy page with a dedicated template and header to really showcase the value of Friends. It could include character captions, quick recaps of the most popular episodes and then loads of links to its most popular quizzes and articles on the show. It would be the one stop shop for everything Friends on Buzzfeed.

This goes way beyond tagging blog posts with “Friends;” it’s creating a destination.

This seems different than the way the top article for “friends Buzzfeed” is currently constructed.

It’s not organized by topic (“Friends”) but by the author’s name.

In fact, there’s nowhere to find other quizzes about Friends on this page.

I don’t know much about Buzzfeed’s backend content structure, but this is obviously set up for their organization, but not for the reader/user.

It doesn’t make sense why they wouldn’t want to capitalize on having multiple quizzes about Friends together.

What about SEO?

Great question, and I would love for more people to weigh in here. But by Domain Authority (DA), Buzzfeed is one of the few websites that could legitimately take on Wikipedia, and even then, it’ll be a challenge, but a worthy one.

Domain Authority is a ranking of how “authoritative” your site is on certain topics and issues. 100 is the best and 1 is the worst. It’s dependent on backlinks, how much content you have and how often you post, etc. It’s pretty good if you’re in the 50s, though the top sites in any industry are usually in the 70s. Big sites like Wikipedia, Facebook and Buzzfeed are in the 90s. These are the huge sites that everyone visits. Based on a quick search on Moz, one of the top SEO tools, these are the DA standings:

  • Wikpedia: 100
  • Buzzfeed: 94

Now, go back to the top image with the search engine results for Friends.

IMDB essentially serves short description of episodes and more but they don’t have the capital invested in the Friends phenom like Buzzfeed does. They don’t have the human interest articles.

Buzzfeed could create their own capsules and encyclopedia-esque articles around major cultural topics and still lose out to Wikipedia. But they’d probably be on the front page of any search.

Now that I thin of it, I’m surprised at the deference to Wikipedia. It seems like more sites would take on Wikipedia, at least on their position in search results. It would be impossible and fruitless to re-enact Wikipedia with a complete open-source content editing and curation process. But a site like Buzzfeed or the New York Times or another large media company could take them on in regards to certain topics, and then become the definitive one for that topic.

I don’t actually know how relevant and important the Friends quizzes are to Buzzfeed. I haven’t done the research on that. I’m using it more as a hypothetical that could make sense for them.

Takeaway

Buzzfeed has accomplished quite a bit in its short history. That’s undisputed. And Jonah Peretti has been an incredible leader in figuring out share-able, viral content.

That said, I really do believe that better organization around major cultural topics would help their engagement and keep more eyeballs on their site for longer periods of time.

By the way, most sites aren’t doing what I described above.

They’re organized by categories and tags. But most sites don’t depend as heavily on content as Buzzfeed does. And most sites don’t have the domain authority or capability to take on major searches results like that.

But considering that Buzzfeed and other big sites are missing their revenue targets, there’s an opportunity to turn things around.

So…what am I missing here? Do you think this could work for Buzzfeed?


I’m Josh Spilker, a writer and author. I’m the content manager for Workzone, a project management software company. And I blog about the writing process at Create, Make, Write and write about everyday life at Vaguely Feel. My latest novel is Taco Jehovah.