We all want it: that top spot on the search rankings. The sites that are getting those top spots are the sites that publish fresh, relevant content frequently.
That may sound like a fairly easy thing to do – just hire a bunch of writers and start publishing. That was the content marketing strategy that Mint.com and American Express used to drive traffic to their sites.
As you can imagine, the competition is tough. Plus, creating all of that content is time consuming and can get very expensive. You need a simpler solution.
This is where content curation comes in. With the right strategy and the right tools, you can deliver the right kind of content that your audience wants and search engines love…in half the time.
Want to improve your search rankings? Download this cheat sheet to learn how content curation can help you.
Let’s first look at what content curation is and at some its benefits.
Content curation explained
When you hear the words “content curator”, you probably think of someone who works at a museum. Their job is to collect items and arrange them in a meaningful way and then put them on display for people to look at.
That’s kind of the same thing when it comes to online content curation. You are collecting and then arranging items in a meaningful way.
The most basic and popular content curator is the person who publishes a post with the day’s or week’s best articles on a particular topic. This is called aggregation. Think of news aggregators like Feedly, Fark or Pulse.
But there are other ways of looking at the content curator:
- Distill – This content curator is looking for a way to clear the fog on a certain topic to give readers the essence of the story. Take the recent Penguin update, for example. There was a lot of noise and rumors before, during and after the update. Somebody needed to come in and publish a clear case of what was going on, quoting credible sources and delivering the best content on the update. There were a range of posts like that after the update. Pierre Zarokian’s Insights from the Recent Penguin Update & Panda Updates is a good example of such a post.
- Mashup - This content curator blends several different and original pieces of content to create something original. While most people think of music videos when they hear mashups, there are endless variations you can create:
- Business mashups are applications that are created out of a combination of data, applications and outside web services, usually into a visually rich web app that allows users to see and access actionable information.
- Consumer mashups take data from multiple sources and combine them into a single source. For example, when developers combined Google Map with a Wikipedia API, they created Wikipediavision, which shows you when and where edits to Wikipedia are made.
- In a sense, infographics are a mashup, compiling data from multiple sources and then turning that data into a visual like the Anatomy of a Perfect Landing Page.
- A mashup could be as simple as a compilation of interviews. Jason Acidre did it with his 30 SEO Experts Share the Most Compelling Content that Influenced Their Works article.
- Chronology – This type of a mashup pulls together information to give you a historical timeline of an event or a product. The Center for Rights created a timeline of SOPA and PIPA, explaining how these laws went from being inevitable to being mass-protested by Internet organizations, web companies and consumers.
- Elevate – This content curator will curate a post from the dailies and on-going research of a particular subject, giving you a new insight. In other words, it will elevate your understanding. This is easily the most original of content curation. An author might pull together tons of resources and links to prove his point like Aaron Wall does on his post Google Bowling, Negative SEO and Outing. Also, Whiteboard Fridays at SEOmoz are usually created by curation and synthesis of all the recent information surrounding a topic to reach a new insight, which helps elevate your understanding of that topic.
Now that we’ve looked at different types of content curation, let’s look at the benefits.
Benefits of content curation
There are a number of good reasons to curate content. Here are 6:
- Discover great content - Just the simple act of looking for content will expose you to a tremendous amount of great ideas that can lead to really cool posts. I can’t tell you how many times I was just researching a particular topic and found dozens of great posts, videos and photos to use for a current project…as well as to save for future projects. In a lot of ways discovery is replacing search.
- Increase inbound links to your site - Naturally, when you are publishing curated content, you will link out to the source of each curated piece of information. That link will notify the author and draw his or her attention to your post. He or she may then link back to you, sharing your content with his or her audience via a blog, Twitter, Facebook or all of the above. This is a great way to get high-authority links back to your site. Plus, when you create valuable content by curation – whether it’s a mashup, distillation or elevation – your readers will also link to your post on their own blogs because of its value.
- Generating social signals - You probably know by now how important social sharing is to the promotion of your content in the search engines. While it’s been a theory for quite some time that shares on Twitter impacted search, nobody knew how much until this recent study by Branded3 proved that tweets do affect rankings. That means if you can create content that goes viral, you will get a rush of social signals pointing to that content and pushing you up in the search rankings.
- Optimize for short-tail keywords - When you start pulling in content on a particular topic, you will start to pick up the most popular search terms in that area. For example, as I curated stuff for The Marketer’s Guide to Pinterest, I was using high quality short-tail keywords like “marketing” and “Pinterest.” That has allowed me to sit at the number two position for those keywords.
- Optimize for long-tail keywords - Putting together a good aggregation or elevation piece will naturally target long-tail keywords to help draw traffic for that narrow range of searchers. You can see this when you are focusing on a particular topic like the Penguin update. Valuable long-tail keywords on that topic could be “recovering from Penguin update” or “ways to recover from Penguin.” Curated content will give you plenty of opportunities to use those terms.
- Update more frequently - Content curation allows you to create a post quickly, without having to pour all of your mental energy into original content. This means you can actually produce content for a Saturday or/and Sunday without the extra work, or you could use a curated piece to fill in during an emergency. Some sites take it a step further and publish more than once a day, publishing original content in the morning and curated content in the afternoon. The wildly popular blog Brain Pickings publishes about 3 times a day, but it’s basically all curated content.
Now let’s take a look at a few tools that can help you curate content.
Content curation tools
When you sit down to do your search for content, use these tools to capture the best ideas.
- Jing – One of the best tools out there for grabbing screenshots is Jing. It’s a free tool that works on both Macs and PCs. It’s a simple download that allows you to capture and crop whatever is on your screen. You can also add arrows, boxes or texts and then save it as a .png file.
- Gimp – Sometimes you’ll need to blur out sensitive information on your screenshots or do other modifications. This is where a free photo-editing tool like Gimp comes in handy.
- Qrait – This is a free web-based app that allows you to organize content you find online into a single, clean layout. Qrait will also let you embed this content on your blog.
- Curate.Us -This is another free tool that allows you to build a dedicated page of your curated content. In addition, it has built-in attribution, backlinks and tracking on the content that you curate, which is very important when it comes to link building. Curate.us also lets you easily embed your page on your blog to share with your audience.
- Evernote – This is probably a no-brainer for a lot of people, but it is so awesome and such an essential tool for any blogger, I have to mention it. Evernote is a must-have for anybody who is keeping a pulse on what is trending and wants to archive it for future use. You can save an entire page, just the article, a portion of the article or just the URL. Create notebooks to organize all of your content around specific topics. And it’s free.
- Storify – Storify is a content platform that allows you to pull in the best content from the web around a particular topic from the sources like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, Flickr, Instagram, SoundCloud and Disqus. It then makes it really easy to embed on WordPress, Tumblr of Posterous. In addition, if you are using MailChimp, then you can email your subscribers directly.
- Bundlr - The idea behind Bundlr is that it allows you to clip interesting content from the web like you would clip stuff from a newspaper. Then you can visualize all of that content on your Bundlr page devoted to that topic. As Gianluca Fiorelli pointed out it’s sort of like Pinterest, but it allows you to do more than just photos and images. You can include tweets, documents and photos from Instagram. Any page can be embedded on your blog.
- Scoop it - You can create the best-looking layout of your curated content when you use Scoop.it. In fact, it’s almost like your content is rendered in a glossy and engaging magazine format. This content is then easily shared on social networks, and like many of the other tools I’ve mentioned above, Scoop.it allows you to embed this content on your blog so that you can promote it.
Reaching that top spot in search engine rankings is becoming ever more difficult as more people compete for those positions and as Google continues to refine its search algorithms. You need every advantage you can get, and content curation can give you that advantage.
Of course, it will take some practice to curate the right content and then organize it in such a way that people link to it and share it so it can dominate on the SERPs for targeted keywords. I encourage you to sign up for one of the curation platforms right now, follow some of the most-popular curators and then create a post or two.
Do you have any content curation tips you can share?