Content Curation

March 7, 2011 , 11 Comments

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.


Quality Selection

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!


About ​Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • Thanks for the post Shane,

    Content creation adds more value than aggregation (e.g. Google News) and is likely to help give your domain authority – something pretty intangible.

    Shane, how do you measure ‘authority’? Is this is becoming increasingly important in our SEO battles?



    • Authority is a combination of domain/site age, amount of content on the site and total backlinks to the site. There’s probably more to it, but I think those three factors are what matters most.

      What I can say is that having a few medium-sized sites is way better than having a whole lot of micro-sites. If you put a piece of content on a site that has dozens of pages and is a few months old, it’s much easier to rank than if you create a new micro-site for that piece of content.


  • I ignore most of the emails I get and “Content Curation” has been part of that. I do think it’s just a funny word now used by Internet scammers to fool newbies.

    The simple function of pulling content together and commenting on it is what all bloggers and all writers do. The simple facts you mention Shane of the amount of info hitting the web makes the acts of interpretation and comment performed by the social media even more important.

    Getting paid for this ain’t easy – the social media are pretty intolerant of sales pitches and are fairly media savvy!



    • Yeah, that’s a good point. It’s almost like the original purpose of blogging, now sold under a different name.


  • Thanks for this super clear post Shane,

    Monetization of content curation might not a simple equation, but both the need and the opportunity to do content curation are clear today – whether for individual purpose (expression) or for brands and businesses (marketing).

    It’s important to define the driving force behind a curation. What do “quality” and “personal touch” mean? Subjectivity – inherently. A curated media is driven by a personal passion or by a defined goal (where syndication is more objective, driven by completeness). As a consequence, they may or not drive substantial traffic, but in any case, they drive qualified traffic: they are focused, rich and consistent media.

    (PS: I’m a founder of, a publish by curation platform)


  • I’m afraid I think it is a fad. The problem is that there is a ton of curation done already online. There are already go-to hubs for information on various things – eg techcrunch for anything gadgety and so on.

    Is there need for any more? Or would you be better off thinking hard about stuff that is not on the web at all (and there is plenty – just visit your local library for ideas), and filling in that gap?


    • I think that currently, online media is still so new and the audience is still growing so raplidy, that we can’t really talk about a saturation of any market. Sure, there are big players around already, but that doesn’t mean there’s no space left for “the rest of us”. That’s how I see it, anyway.

      Having said that, I wouldn’t go for broad niches like “technology” or “health” either. Focus on smaller niches and you see results much more quickly.


  • If you think about it “content curation” is exactly what Google does, or any other search engine for that matter. Google goes and finds a bunch of information, consolidates it, and then uses their own “curation algorithm” to bring you the “most relevant” results. The way in which they do this curation is part of the original reason everyone trust Google in the first place and is why they are so successful. You have to remember that Google was not the 1st kid on the block when it came to search engines, but gained recognition through creating a more honest and reliable system of providing you other’s peoples content. And that is still their goal, every time they roll out with a new algorithm update. They don’t, on the other hand, tend to provide much “unique” content of their own.

    Additionally, the percentage of ideas or information that is actually “new” or “unique” in this world is also VERY low. Most information is either re-hashed or has already been said by someone else, somewhere else.

    Uniqueness is natural in the growth and transformation of any set of ideas (and I would say needed) but it doesn’t necessarily make it more important than simply providing a customer or consumer the information they need at the time they need it (regardless of where it came from, or whether or not you came up with it).

    I wouldn’t necessarily saying that rehashing or retorting information is bad, either. As we have all probably experienced ourselves, using Google’s search engine may be one of the best ways to initially find information but is not perfect. I find it EXTREMELY value to find an person or organization I trust to bring me the infromation I am looking for in the way I want it. If this is what a content curator does………then I’m all for it. The average buyer is probably less concerned with whether you are Einsten or not (although it doesn’t hurt in the credibility department) and probably more concerned with finding the information they need from a trusted source.

    Anyways, my two cents.



    • Those are some really good points, Sirian. Really can’t add much more to that. :)


  • Great article Shane, thanks!

    Our site already performs very well providing an accommodation search service to students without producing lots of content.

    We’re now trying to build a social audience as well on Facebook and Twitter and this is where content curation comes in for us. We don’t have anything to tweet or share at the moment, and we don’t have the time (or ideas!) to come up with interesting new content.

    Commenting on current topics is something we’ll be very good at though… so our plan is to curate and share and hopefully build a social audience.

    What do you think?


  • Hi Shane!

    This is really a nice post for web savvy like us. Content curation is really the way to go in terms of quality information segregation.


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