When you curate content the right way, you should never get in trouble with Google or your readers. In fact, it should do just the opposite: improve your search rankings and delight your readers and followers.
One common misconception about content curation is that it’s simply reposting entire pages of other people’s content on your own site. But let me be clear: this is not curation.
So, what is content curation? While there is some variance among definitions, I like how marketing expert Heidi Cohen defines it: “Content curation assembles, selects, categorizes, comments on, and presents the most relevant, highest quality information to meet your audience’s needs on a specific subject.”
In other words, content curation isn’t taking other people’s content and claiming it as your own. It isn’t reposting entire pages of content, word for word, with or without attribution. It isn’t regurgitating info available elsewhere for the benefit of your audience. More detail on how curated content differs from duplicate content.
Content curation is taking the best content available on a topic and adding your own unique voice and perspective to it. It’s sort of a roundup of the “best of the best” content, presented in a way that makes it insanely valuable to the unique needs and interests of your audience.
While it should be an integral part of your content strategy, it’s important to do it appropriately. Following are the 5 tips that will make sure your curated content improves your search rankings and delights your followers and readers.
1. Avoid using substantive blocks of curated text in your copy.
Whether we’re talking user experience or SEO, copying large chunks of existing content is bad for business. I’m not just talking about scraping content either; copying hundreds of words of content – even with the proper attribution – just isn’t providing a value added experience for your readers.
Of course, it’s perfectly fine and even recommended to reference external sources in your writing. However, according to Google, you should avoid using “substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar”.
So, how much is too much? Some experts recommend using no more than 200 words of curated content per article. It may be slightly more or less depending on your content length, however this is a good general rule of thumb.
2. Always add valuable editorialized commentary to curated content.
Your blog is an important channel for establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Sharing other people’s content shows that you’re aware of trends in your niche, however your audience also wants and needs to hear your voice and perspective on the subject.
When sharing curated content, be sure to offer unique commentary on the topic at hand. This might mean offering your opinion, adding your own research findings to solidify the point, or offering a perspective that may have been missed in the original content.
3. Always use a new/different title when curating.
This is probably obvious to most marketers, but it’s so important it’s worth a reminder: always, always use a completely original title when using curated content. Remember that you’re creating a completely new, original piece of content, even if you’re referencing someone else’s content.
Using an original title is also great for SEO: it will mean you’re not in competition with the original article when it comes to search rankings. The same holds true for your headings and URLs: don’t set yourself up in direct competition with the original source by copying their URL’s or H1/H2 tags. Not only is this bad for SEO, it’s just poor copywriting etiquette.
4. Avoid using lists of links for the purpose of ranking.
There’s nothing more frustrating than running a Google search, only to be brought to a page that links out to a bunch of other pages on the topic. I’m not talking about aggregating a list of all the most valuable articles on a particular topic; I’m referring to pages with lists of links, created for the sole purpose of being indexed for a certain keyword.
It’s unlikely you would get penalized for publishing this type of content, but Matt Cutts has made it clear it’s a strategy that should be avoided: “Even if you’ve got high quality stuff on the rest of your site, what is the value add of having automatically generated, say, RSS feeds or press releases…where all you do is say, OK, I’m going to do a keyword search for Red Widgets and see everything that matches? And I’m just going to put that up on the page.” He goes on to say, “[I]f that’s the case, if you’re just looking for content to be indexed, I wouldn’t go about doing it that way. It’s probably not worth just having automatically generated stuff that could be duplicate content. “
5. Always include a link to the original source.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how often it gets forgotten. Some website owners are so afraid of leaking ‘link juice’ or of losing readers that they include as few outbound links as possible. Others include links to the original source, but nofollow them as a way of keeping all the juice for themselves.
However, according to Google, there are only three instances where links should be nofollowed:
- When linking to questionable or untrustworthy content
- For paid or sponsored links
- For registration or signup links that Google doesn’t need to crawl and index
When linking to the original source of curated content, be sure to give proper credit by using a followed link. Be generous with your links, but consider having them open in a new browser so your visitors don’t completely leave your site.
According to the 2014 B2B Content Marketing report, one of the biggest challenges facing marketers is creating enough content. Content curation can help businesses meet this need for content, while also providing added value for their readers.
As you engage in content curation, remember that the goal isn’t to simply feed the content machine machine; your ultimate goal is to present and provide commentary on unique content that’s of value to your audience.
Still have questions about curation and SEO? See my post 6 Facts About Content Curation and SEO You May Not Know.
Do you use curated content on your blog? How do you ensure it doesn’t get you into trouble? Share below!
And for more tips on how content curation can help you improve SEO, read this free eBook!
Cover image by Jason Wharam.