Content curation is a cost-effective, scalable way to produce more content for your website. It’s not the only way to generate content, of course, but curation is a “sweet spot” on the content development spectrum. By finding a happy medium between developing 100% original content and building on the efforts of others, you can strengthen your website’s SEO.
It’s Not Black And White
In a perfect world of infinite time and resources, you could research and write original, long-form content that would delight Google and its ever-changing algorithms. You would have no other duties during your work day either, so there would never be an opportunity cost. Your content creation efforts would scale effortlessly, and Google would crawl your site furiously.
Reality rules, however, and this unglamorous fact leads some to turn to the dark side of the content development spectrum. That’s where lying, cheating, and stealing prevail. In the SEO universe, Google is an angry god with a commandment: thou shalt not publish low-quality or duplicate content. Sharing untruths is bad. Cheating by plagiarizing is worse. Stealing shamelessly is unforgivable.
As a content marketer, you must resist the temptation to take the easy way out. On top of being ethically wrong, “Black Hat SEO” doesn’t work – at least not for long. So keep the faith, even as you sit there alone and quietly, knowing full well that you’re the only available creative asset. Maybe you can’t produce the kind of content that Google loves best. But you can curate for search engine optimization.
Dig Deeper, But Don’t Bury Yourself
Part of what makes content curation scalable and cost-effective is that you don’t have to do all of the research yourself. If you start with reputable sources, you can spend more time writing and less time digging (or fact-checking). Yet you may still need a shovel, especially if you plan to support your own insights and analysis with a few facts that the author of the original article might have missed.
This doesn’t mean that the author did a poor job, or even an incomplete one. Rather, when you curate content in an area of expertise, you add value by sharing your knowledge. This may involve additional facts you’ve found, or examples drawn from your memories and personal experiences. The more often you curate, and the more clearly you see connections, the better a curator you’ll become.
So dig deeper, but not so much that you bury yourself in a pile of information that’s ideal for original, long-form content, but far more than you need for basic curation. Ultimately, finding the right balance means putting just the right amount of yourself into the effort.
Develop A Checklist for Yourself
Maybe you’re an SEO expert. Maybe you’re trying to learn the difference between an alt tag and a meta tag. Either way, develop a checklist. If you want to strengthen your SEO efforts through content curation, you need to follow basic best practices. For example, avoid linking to websites that seem spammy. Don’t stuff your content with keywords. Aim for the long tail instead.
There are right ways and wrong ways to do things, and then there are ways that are better or worse. For example, linking to Wikipedia entries is neither bad nor wrong. Students do it all time, but wouldn’t you like your content to be more reputable than a term paper? Curate high-quality content. Then, if you add additional links, choose wisely. Trade groups, universities, and think tanks are all good choices here.
If you’re curating to create a blog entry, don’t use the same title as the original article. Write enough (150 to 200 words is probably plenty), and use links sparingly and selectively. One high-quality link per 100 well-written words is about right. Finally, if you’re working in WordPress (and I hope that you are), remember to add a meta description, keywords, and image with an ALT tag.
Share Your Work
Have you Googled the name of a company with a Google+ page lately? How about a business with a LinkedIn profile or a YouTube channel? There’s a relationship between social media marketing (SMM) and search engine optimization (SEO). Having social media channels is important, but so is using them to promote your content – including the items you curate.
Remember to socialize your curated content. Share across all of the channels that are appropriate, and don’t forget that your Facebook friends may not be interested in the same subjects as your LinkedIn contacts. Within each channel, share curated content to relevant groups, too. Who knows? Maybe you’ll inspire others to curate your content and add their own insights.
Steve Melito is an award-winning writer and editor specializing in manufacturing, material science, and homeland security. He is the founder and owner of Thunderbolt Business Services, a digital marketing and content development firm with clients and partners in New York, Montreal, Los Angeles, and New Delhi.