Internet marketing changes on a nearly daily basis. Trends emerge, sweep the web and disappear. One trend, however, has already proven its staying power: content curation.
Content curators act as editors of the Internet. They choose a topic and compile the links they feel are most important.
The best content curation sites also offer pithy commentary on the links they post, assessing their value and relevance.
At its root, content curation is a time saving device. Rather than relying on Google’s substantial but limited sifting powers, visitors to a content curation site borrow the time and expertise of a human reader. By highlighting the most useful resources, content curation sites help cut through the mounds of fluff and irrelevance cluttering the Internet.
Content curation is a powerful tool for those interested in search engine optimization for several reasons:
- Efficiency– Lists of relevant resources, coupled with brief descriptions, allow you to provide mountains of content with little investment of time.
- Long tail effects– By providing links to obscure topics and less popular websites, you increase your visibility to those running low probability searches.
- Appearance of expertise– Crafting a useful, thorough content curation page signals that you are an expert in the subject. Although you are primarily just relating information created by others, by evaluating their links you imply that you are qualified to judge their content.
- Increased visibility – If you add a content curation page to your site, you will immediately begin exporting your traffic to other sites. The owners of these sites will notice that you are feeding them page views, and they may link to your site in exchange. In addition, successful content curation sites acquire a reputation. Website developers will begin asking how they can earn a place for their site on your page.
While building a successful content curation site is not easy, mastering the following tips will make it a manageable task.
Interactivity is key
People come for the content, but they stay for the community. They want the chance to influence their favorite sites and interact with their fellow readers. Give your audience what they want, and you will earn their loyalty. Provide space for your users to comment on your links and suggest additional resources. Take their suggestions seriously, and let your audience see your site shift and adapt in response to their feedback.
Size matters – in both directions
Your goal is to be exhaustive but not repetitive. Once readers sift through your resources, they should feel that they have covered all the relevant information without reading the same content twice. This calls for a delicate balance: Your site must be big enough to appear authoritative without being unwieldy or intimidating. If you list every webpage that is tangentially related to your topic, your site will just be a smaller, less accessible version of a Google search page.
Go beyond the obvious
Links to sites like Wikipedia are fine if you also identify less popular sources of information. Your site’s value and reputation depends on your ability to find information that the average searcher could not. Your task is to identify and categorize hard to reach resources; you do not need to direct people to sites they would have found themselves.
Change, but not too much
Novelty generates excitement; familiarity breeds loyalty. You need to give your audience both. You should continually cycle new sites and emerging resources through your lists, but you should also keep a core of classic resources. Think of yourself as a librarian: You have to stock the annual best-sellers, but you leave Shakespeare on the shelf next to them.
Don’t just add, subtract
When you leave a link on your list, think of it as making a promise to your audience. You are giving your word that the link is worth their time. You are asking them to trust your judgment enough to invest their energy reading the links you post. Ensure that your word is worthy of their trust by continually reviewing the resources you present. If a webpage loses its relevance, cut it. You should be merciless, dropping any resource the moment it loses its value.
Organize, organize, organize
You have to do more than list pertinent websites. No content site can do that as effectively as the major search engines. Add value by organizing your content according to subject matter, relevance and quality. Members of your audience with narrow interests should be able to find lists that are narrowly focused.
Don’t just store content, create content
It is not enough to show your audience the most important sites and resources. You also need to tell them why they should care about those links. You do not need to exhaust yourself drafting copy; a few short sentences following a link can offer invaluable assistance to those trying to narrow their research.
If you cover a broader topic, you will face stiffer competition. Search engine results are packed with sites indexing resources covering topics of general interest. To stand out, you will have to find a niche. A site offering information about sports cars will lurk near the bottom of the search results, but a site that compiles resources about high-capacity, German-made engines that run on alternative sources of energy may be successful.
Help your audience branch out
As you compile resources for your site, you will encounter topics that are related to your subject. While you should avoid getting distracted, you should acknowledge that your audience’s interests may be broader than your site’s focus. Do not be afraid to link to other content curation sites. You cannot convince your audience that you always have the answers, but you can convince them that you always know where to look.