Using content curation is a fantastic strategy for bloggers and website owners that want to add more content to their site and that way increase traffic without spending countless hours writing blog posts.
Content curation essentially means that you are collating content from other sources (normally around the web) and then using this in order to offer something exciting and new.
Some sites are built entirely around content curation. A good example of this is Reddit, which allows users to curate content themselves in order to bring the best links from around the web to the attention of the community within specific categories.
Other sites simply offer a running commentary on news and other posts from sites within a particular niche. Either way, this allows a site owner to provide lots of interesting information for visitors to enjoy and to read but potentially doesn’t require them to spend as long writing the content themselves.
That said, in some cases content curation actually takes longer than writing a single post – and we’ll see why that is in a moment. However, the amount of value that you’ll be capable of offering in this way will more than make up for the time you put in. It all depends on how you want content curation to work for you, but in any case, there’s a good chance that this is what is missing from your current content strategy.
But of course, there is an art to getting content curation right. At best, content curation provides a vital nexus of vital news and commentary for fans of a particular subject to visit in order to get a huge amount of value all in one place. At worst though, content curation amounts to a whole lot of spam on a single page!
The question is: how do you employ the right strategy to ensure that your site fits the former description rather than the latter? Read on and we’ll take a look at some of the most effective strategies for building a content curation site, or just bringing it to your regular blog.
1. Provide An In-Depth Analysis & Commentary
As mentioned, one way to use content curation is to create a kind of ‘master post’ on a specific subject matter, where you can pull in a range of different quotes, extracts and snippets from different sites and posts in order to offer something unique and comprehensive.
To do this, you might pick a subject matter – let’s say ‘how the brain works’ and then spend some time researching around the net and finding all of the best material you can on the subject. This should be real high quality stuff: explanation that makes complex neuroscience easily digestible, unique points of view and ideas that the readers might not have come across before etc.
The benefit of doing this, is that you are summarising a huge amount of reading and understanding all in one place for your visitors. Instead of having to read through the preamble and opinions of countless different people, your viewers will instead be able to simply extract their most valuable points, ideas and lessons from your one single article.
What’s more, is that you will be adding your own commentary and even comparing ideas from around the net. This will give context to that information and will help your audience to better appreciate it or to think critically about it. Perhaps you might look at extracts from multiple studies or theories that contradict one another and then provide some insight as to which might be correct and why they came to different conclusions.
For this to work though, it is highly important that you only choose the meatiest and most interesting categories and that you are adding real value yourself as well. This is not a way to avoid doing hard work or providing original content. Rather, it should be a way for you to multiple value.
A Case Study
To better understand how this kind of content curation works, consider the case of Maria Popova and her excellent website Brain Pickings. This site actually began as a fun email newsletter that Maria would send out to her work colleagues and friends. Here, she would talk about the various books she was reading, films she was watching etc. and discuss some of the lessons and ideas she took from them.
The insight and the value that Maria offered in this way was so good, that more and more people began to ask if they could be added to the newsletter. Word spread by word of mouth and eventually she built a website by popular demand: Brain Pickings. Today, that site is incredibly popular and Maria makes her (very well paid) full-time living from it!
2. Provide a ‘Resource’
In Maria’s case, each blog post is a fascinating look at a book or series of books and other artworks that are thematically connected. Each post is very thought provoking and there’s very little like it anywhere else on the web.
But this is only one way that you can use a curated post. Another option is to use your collection of information to provide an ultimate resource.
Let’s say that you want to introduce people to how to develop games for Android. By using content curation, you could create a single page that would bring together all the information and external resources that a new developer could possible need. This might include instructions on how to install the necessary tools, tips from top developers, links to other resources that would be helpful and snippets of some of the best tutorials from around the web.
Comprehensive resources like this are actually highly valuable for your content marketing strategy for a large number of reasons. The most important is that compressive resources make for ideal ‘link bait’. Link bait is essentially any piece of content that is designed to attract people to link to your site. The idea is that you don’t need to buy or trade links because real users will be willingly posting your link onto forums and bloggers will be writing about it.
If you are offering a definitive resource, then this lends itself perfectly to all kinds of linking opportunities: people will link to it when asked questions about how to start Android development in forums and they will link to it when writing blog posts on various aspects of coding. You resource contains multiple other resources and thus it is more efficient for people to simple link to your one page to offer the same amount of value.
3. Make a Regular News Piece
Another way you can choose the topic and the aim for your link content curated post, is to make it a news piece. Content curation provides you with the perfect way to offer an unbiased and very informative take on news. People can that way visit your site in order to hear the news from multiple sources and to that way get a much bigger picture.
This is a type of content curation that will provide you with a constant flow of new things to write about and that will also limit the amount of work you have to do yourself – this is a scenario where you can just copy and paste a lot of the information you’ll be sharing.
This type of content is not evergreen though. That means you’ll need to keep creating new posts, rather than being able to build a single page and then gain viewers for years and years to come.
4. Use Authority Links
There was a time when it was considered bad SEO juju to link out to other websites. Site owners and marketers would often refer to ‘link juice’ and explain how you shouldn’t give it away freely for fear of diminishing the ranking of your own site.
But times have changed and Google has moved on. Today, site owners are actually encouraged to link out to other sites and particularly if those sites are high quality resources that Google trusts. And why wouldn’t Google encourage this? After all, by linking out to trusted external sites on the same topic, you are doing your visitors a service in helping them discover more information and you’re also showing where you got your information – hopefully from a trusted source.
Making curated news post is one of the very best ways to create outward bound links in a natural way. This will not only demonstrate to Google that you are an authority source, but it will also help to provide yet more value to your readers.
Note that linking out to authority sites actually works better for news curation than for most other types of topics. The reason for this is that you can easily see which sites Google trusts by looking at which ones end up in its featured news section (this is Google’s own curated content!). These are sites that you know Google already approves of!
5. Contact the Original Owners
When linking to other sites or using their content, it’s always a good idea to contact the original owners. There are a couple of reasons for this.
The first is that you might be on dubious legal ground with regard to copyright licenses. When you create any creative work, whether that be writing or art, you automatically own the copyright for that piece of content. Thus, other sites need your explicit permission to use that content for profit.
There is a caveat here though that gives you the right to use excerpts, quotes and even images – which is that you are permitted to use this content when it falls within ‘fair use’. An example of fair use might be if you were to create a review of a movie and you used snippets of that movie in order to illustrate your points. Likewise, it would likely be classified as fair use if you were to simply quote the author of a particular article.
However, if you are curating your own content using snippets from other users, then this might put you onto rocky territory as it could be said that you are reusing their content for personal gain. While you’d probably only face a cease and desist notice as the worst-case scenario, it is nevertheless wise to contact the original owner and ask their permission just to be on the safe side. Apart from anything else, this will prevent you from a disappointing situation where the content you lovingly created is no longer able to be used!
Then of course it could also just be seen as polite!
Another reason to contact the original owners though is so that you can let them know that you’re sharing their content and potentially strike up a meaningful partnership as a result. You may find that they are pleased that their work is being shared and that they respond in kind by linking to your work. Alternatively, you might find that they enjoy your curation efforts and suggest working together in future. Either way, this can only be a good thing for your content marketing strategy!
5. Summarize User Discussion
Another option when it comes to ‘what to curate’, is user discussion. In other words: why not create a curated page looking at user comments or a discussion on a certain forum?
People are highly social creatures and they love to know what the word is when it comes to their favorite products or a controversial subject. By curating lots of content generated by other users on forums and on social media, you can offer a kind of insight into the public opinion on a given topic and show some of the different stances that people are taking.
This is a particularly easy type of content to find and use, as you simply need to copy and paste it from the original sources while adding your own bit of input underneath. There are fewer legal issues to be considered here and it can be very addictive reading through discussions and flame wars!
6. Use Other ‘Alternative’ Sources
Can’t find interesting content to share on the web? Then consider an alternative source – such as old books or magazines. In other words: why not bring the print medium into digital post?
This is something that Brain Pickings does very well by looking at books, art and ancient philosophy. You could likewise look at old comic books or cartoons, or at old cooking books. Not only does this give you a wealth of content to use – much of which probably has a creative commons license – but it also gives you something novel that other people aren’t looking at. Old cookbooks can be very entertaining and amusing for example while still offering some great recipes. The same goes for many old magazines and books and these are all largely untapped and forgotten, just waiting for you to dig into!
7. Accept User Submissions
Another place to get content to curate is from the users that read your site. Invite people to write in with their ideas, their quotes or even submissions of things that they’ve found interesting and relevant on their travels around the web. This way, half of your job is done for you and all you need to do is to look at which submissions are worthy of inclusion and what comments you want to add to them.
Another great thing about user submissions is that it helps to build a community feel and is another way to link bait. People love seeing things they contributed getting analysed and being read by lots more people. So, if you include their content on your site and let them know, there’s a good chance they’ll share your link on social media and elsewhere!
8. Create a User Curated Site
Or why not go one step further even and actually allow your users to do the curating as well? This way it becomes a tool like Reddit that allows people to submit the content they have found that they think is interesting and then to vote on it in order to give it more or less exposure. This system can work very well as the very people who read your site are now deciding on the content that should be available – meaning there’s a rather good chance that they’re going to enjoy it!
Another big bonus of a user curated site of course is that you now can take a much more backseat role and simply allow the site to run itself as new submissions come in and they get voted up or down. Note that you do still need to offer some guidance and input however in order to prevent your site becoming a place for advertisers to spam and to break up arguments. By having a slight hand in what is available, you can ensure that the quality stays high while still giving your users control over what is given the most screen time.
To make a user curated site, you’ll need to dabble in a little basic programming or use a ready-made template. This is more complicated than building a regular WordPress blog, but thanks to the open-source nature of many tools, it’s probably also a lot easier than you expect.
9. Hire a VA To Curate For You
A VA is a ‘Virtual Assistant’. This is a person or a group of people that will perform a wide range of jobs online normally for a very small fee – often as little as $1 an hour!
The idea is that you can then outsource the most boring and ‘brainless’ aspects of your work and get the grunt work done elsewhere. In your case, that might mean curating interesting content from around the web and highlighting interesting new posts and news. If you outsource this process for a small fee, then you can simply focus on adding value and putting it together in interesting ways. This in turn will save you a lot of time and help you to deliver a better end-product overall.
10. Create an Auto-Curated Site
Alternatively, you could always consider creating a site that is entirely self-run. This is a slightly more in-depth feat of programming and it also stands the greatest chance of going wrong. However, if you can get it to go right then it essentially creates a tool that can run itself and help you to earn money from a website without lifting a finger. Writing code that scrapes and reuses content is easy enough of course. The challenge here is making sure that your algorithm is smart enough to identify the best quality content on the web and to avoid nonsensical or low quality snippets.
11. Think About SEO
Finally, be sure to keep SEO in mind when creating posts out of curated content. The risk in all these cases is that you can end up creating something that Google sees as duplicate content. Duplicate content is considered bad news in the world of SEO because it can look like spam or stolen work.
Your job is to prevent this from being an issue by making sure that you are offering more of your own analysis and breaking up the passages of quotes. Try not to quote too many sections from the same post in sequence and use smaller snippets with longer commentary. Finally, consider paraphrasing at times or using different kinds of media in order to demonstrate that your pages are not just about copy-pasting.
Matt Cutts of Google explained the difference, so I will leave you with this quote from him:
“It’s important to realize that if you look at content on the web, something like 25 or 30 percent of all of the web’s content is duplicate content. … People will quote a paragraph of a blog and then link to the blog, that sort of thing. So, it’s not the case that every single time there’s duplicate content it’s spam.”
Follow all these guidelines and employ these strategies and see what content curation can do for you!