Content curation – is it the solution to all of your content- and traffic problems or just another fad? By some, it’s being lauded as the next big thing and perhaps it could turn into another fad in the IM niche (crappy “make money with curation” products, anyone?), but what’s it really all about?
Read on to find out exactly what content curation is and what it means for online marketers.
Content Curation Defined
First of all, let’s look at what this thing actually is. I like to think of curation as being an online content DJ. The DJ doesn’t technically create new music. At the most basic level, out of all the available music, the DJ selects songs to play for the people in the club. On a second level, the DJ might take elements from different songs and remix them, mash them together to create something new and original out of already existing songs.
Content curation is a lot like that. Out of the vast stream of content available online, you pick and select particular pieces of content and bring them together on your site. And just like every DJ specializes in a particular music genre, so would any content curator specialize in a particular niche. For example, you might create a curation-based website, where you gather all of the best articles and videos on the topic of, say, vegan cooking.
So, how is this different from content syndication?
With content syndication, you’d simply grab content (that you have the right to re-publish) and put all of that content on you site. You copy an article and paste it onto a page on your site (giving the author credit, of course). This is not the same thing as content curation. With curation, you don’t necessarily republish content. You might just quote a few noteworthy paragraphs, add your own comment and then link to the source. With videos, it would certainly make sense to embed them on the site, but even there: syndication is just embedding the video, curation is embedding the video and adding your own comments and reasons for selecting this particular video.
Content curation is important and it’s as old as the Internet itself. A great example of why it’s important is illustrated in this article about the YouTube “black hole” on reelSEO. To paraphrase: More videos are being uploaded to YouTube every minute than you could ever possibly keep up with. Even if you narrow it down to just videos on a topic that you’re interested in, there’s still far more material there and far more new material pouring in every minute, then you could ever watch. How can you see the best videos on your favourite topics, without spending hours and hours browsing? A site that is dedicated to finding and publishing the best videos on your favourite topic is the solution.
The same is true for any kind of content. Articles, blog-posts, news… you can never keep up, so you go to a trusted source that aggregates all the best stuff in your niche of interest.
The key to curation is in making that selection. If you are the curator, then it’s all about finding the best stuff and only showing the best stuff.
This means that content curation cannot be automated (not entirely, anyway). Content syndication is easy to automate. You create a script that pulls in content on a particular topic and publishes it. Done. With curation, it’s all about quality and it’s also about your personal touch and your personal take on things.
Duplicate Content? Traffic? SEO?
The duplicate content issue is bound to pop up. Since you’d generally not re-publish entire articles on a curation-based site and always add your own comments, it’s clearly not duplicate content and this is not something to worry about.
In terms of SEO and online marketing, content curation is sometimes presented as a solution to the problem of having to create lots of niche content yourself. Curation is only a partial solution to the problem, since it definitely still requires manual labour. In terms of SEO, it does have one big advantage: A curation-based site is bound to grow at a steady pace and could become a central hub for people in a particular niche. This translates to site authority and natural backlinks, if it’s done right. Note, however, that the word “easy” is not featured in the preceding sentences.
As for traffic: yes, content curation is definitely a “traffic-sucking” method for building sites. Same reason as above: if done right, the site becomes a central hub, a “go-to” place for many people in the niche. And since you’re always linking out to other people’s content, you’ll have many friends in the niche as well. They will be linking to you, talking about you, recommending the site and so on.
From a marketing perspective, the problem with curation lies in the fact that it’s so much about sending people away from your site and to another site where the great content originated from. Also, curation is about aggregating good information, so people browsing the site are probably not going to be in a buying mood.
This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to make money using content curation. But you have to assume that the value per visitor is going to be significantly lower on a curation-based site than on a niche-targeted review site, for example.
I hope this sheds some light on the topic of content curation. In closing, my personal impression is that content curation could be used to quickly position yourself as an authority within a niche. As someone selecting and pointing to the good stuff, you are automatically in an elevated position. Also, if you can build community, that would be one more reason for your visitors to stick around a bit longer. I believe there is potential for online marketers and affiliate marketers to make use of content curation and it could be something worth getting into.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Let me know in the comments!