What is Content Curation?
Curating web content means publishing an excerpt and link to an article published on another site, that you recommend your readers read – in addition to whatever you usually write for them.
Content curation isn’t a new thing, successful websites (and magazines before them) have always acted as curators of the best content available elsewhere in their niche.
The main reason that content curation is topical now, is the perceived ease at which content can be profited from – through curating the content of others – to avoid the rather more time intensive process of producing it yourself.
This post explores why this is true – if you are careful, and outlines some shortcuts you can use to curate content without either falling foul of the law, or getting slapped by Google for doing it.
Why Might Content Curation Be A Dangerous Thing?
While it is true that curation is an easy way to fill your blog with quality content that you don’t need to spend time creating – simply curating the content of others does not by itself add any value and will increasingly be seen negatively by Google and other search engines into the future, if done badly.
Because there are so many sites curating really badly, it is likely that Google is scanning websites to identify sites which are attempting to automate the process. This is likely to continue as the ‘carrot’ of autopilot content creation tempts many more into taking an easy path to apparent content marketing riches.
There is also the threat of prosecution under copyright law, which discourages many people from curating others content at all.
So before you jump on board and start curating content you find elsewhere, consider the following:
4 Of The Biggest Content Curation Mistakes
1. Improper Referencing
The biggest mistake that some website editors make is not properly giving credit to the original author of the work they are publishing.
Doing this is nothing more than stealing the work of others and will be viewed very dimly by the law in the vast majority of countries that recognise international copyright law.
It is also likely to alienate you from leading blogs and websites in your niche, and in the process deprive you of possible future exposure and collaboration opportunities.
2. Publishing the Entire Article
The point of content curation is to point your users to relevant and interesting content, not to copy it whole and publish it on your site.
Doing this – even when referencing the original source – is heavily frowned upon, and is seen as a sign that a website owner is taking an easy and less than ethical path to gaining an audience.
3. Curation Is More Than Just Publishing Others Work
The other most common mistake is that of simply publishing the excerpt and reference, without adding any meaningful comment yourself – in the hope that your audience will either not mind, or not notice that it has been written by someone else.
If this is your approach then ask yourself what the purpose of content curation (and indeed your own site) is?
You need to aim to add value in curating content others have written for your readers, otherwise what is the point in curating it at all?
This answers a common question asked online: does content curation create duplicate content? (Which is frowned upon and punished by Google and other search engines)
The answer is no – if it is done properly it builds upon the work of others, rather than just copying what they have already said.
4. Seeking to Automate At the Expense Of Quality And Relevance
Software, and particularly WordPress plugins, exist now which automatically post content to blogs, following a theme. So the owner will pick a keyword or description and the software will auto-post articles on this topic to the website – in the hope that the regular updates of themed content will result in positive search engine rankings, and regular relevant content for visitors.
Google is currently analysing the websites it crawls to identify sites which are doing this and will penalise sites where this is the primary method of content creation.
In addition to any problems the big G might have with auto content creation, you have to ask yourself what readers will think of it too. If your site completely lacks your own opinion, style and comment – why would visitors come back?
So How Should We Be Curating Content?
There are an awful lot of misconceptions related to content curation, which discourage people from using this as a legitimate content strategy.
In terms of copyright infringement, most web publishers are far more likely to be infringing the copyright of others by reproducing images they don’t have permission to use, than improperly referencing a written article for example.
In terms of curating written content, the vast majority of sites are more than happy for you to reference their work on your own site. When you do, you provide them with exposure and a backlink, which are valuable for SEO, building their authority and sending them additional traffic.
Many people get confused over the exact referencing conventions that should be used, but there are no laws stating what you should include in your reference, instead guidance exists in the form of recommended practice. The only absolute stipulation is that you should reference the original source of the article. In practice, a clear link either in the article copy itself, or underneath a quote or image, is more than acceptable.
Publishers and writers of original content are far more likely to be annoyed by the length of excerpt you choose to share on your site, than whether or not you followed Harvard referencing conventions. If you think about it this makes sense, because if you publish more (or all) of their content, you make it highly unlikely that your reader will visit the original article to find out more.
The other thing that is likely to annoy content creators is to use the same title they used for their article. In the context of SEO this again makes sense – because by doing so you will be competing for similar keywords in the search engine, and therefore competing for the same traffic. It is far better, as you write editorial content which puts the curated content you have found in your own context, that you do the same with the title – altering it, or changing it entirely, to reflect the spin which your article puts on the content you have found, or the topic which you are discussing.
If you want to find out more about this, so you can decide on your own style of referencing and curation, visit ContentCurationMarketing.com and see examples of curated content, which have been ‘marked’ by the author on an A-F scale, with comments explaining numerous examples of good and bad practice:
If you are feeling particularly brave, you could visit Copyright.gov and read the official US Government guidance here.
But far more important than which convention or referencing standard you choose to adopt, is being ethical in terms of why you are curating content in the first place.
If you start from a place where you seek to share the views (and content) of others and provide your take on the topics and issues you share too, you won’t go far wrong. Curation should always be accompanied by an extended comment from the person doing the curating, which puts the resource or information they have found into a context – which adds something for their readers. This is typically done with an editorial type post, in which the curated content is a part, rather than a post which simply duplicates something which was published elsewhere.
A good workflow technique is to use curation as a shortcut to creating your own content, rather than a content solution by itself. Find an article that inspires you and makes you think, and document these thoughts, expanding on some of the themes which you have read about. Perhaps find articles with a different viewpoint, and use your article to contrast these opinions or approaches – ending with your own conclusion about the issue.
3 Fast Fix Solutions For Content Curation:
Software allows us to find solutions and efficiencies in many areas, so what shortcuts are available to bloggers wanting to curate content easily?
1. Using A WordPress Curation Plugin
A Google search for WordPress curation plugins uncovers several free options (I have heard good things about Express Curation), I use Curation Hero, a JVZoo offer through Sam Bakker a few months ago – although the availability window for this solution is now closed.
The advantage of using these plugins is that they allow you to see the format which a curated post should have – and the recommended way of providing reference to the original source for example.
Curation Hero also has a powerful search facility which allows me to search for possible articles to curate, and images to include, while I am creating the post. This saves a lot of time and similar software solutions could provide you with a solution to your own curation workflow.
2. Using A Little Known Feature Built Into WordPress
In a recent WordPress update the ability to curate content was added with the ‘Press This’ bookmarklet, and I love this functionality.
I often find myself browsing the web, stumbling across something which gives me inspiration of one sort of another. Watch the video below and see how easy it is to use this tool to create a content curation workflow for your site:
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3. Writing Clickable Headlines
One of the main considerations when creating content on a blog is the headline which introduces it to your audience. The aim is to make this intriguing, controversial or just plain irresistible – to attract clicks and traffic.
The best resources I have found to accomplish this are Copybloggers free How to Write Magnetic Headlines ebook, and an app which sits on your browser called Headlinr.
Copyblogger’s headline copywriting training is the best i’ve seen and I challenge you not to come away from it with a new understanding of headlines you might click on yourself, and a whole heap of examples and sentence starters which will help you write your own.
Headlinr automates this process, allowing you to write the topic or keyword of your post into the browser app, and it generates hundreds of possibilities to choose from.
How do you approach content curation? Please add your own thoughts in the comments below.