Is Original Content Being Glorified Way Too Much?
Here is an interesting fact to consider: Despite people going on about the importance of originality, they often find themselves reverting back to previous content they know and love. You don’t agree? Check your playlists and you’ll see that at least half of it features old stuff you’ve listened to for the hundredth time, sitting comfortably next to original songs that are only good at gathering dust. By analogy, publishers are often told creating original content is the most effective way to drive their traffic on a consistent basis. In reality, what this over-glorified strategy fails to tell to you is that you can achieve similar results by curating other people’s content if it is done in a highly targeted and measured manner.
Content that Gets the Job Done
So, how is this done, you may ask? The answer is curated content. A term that has been often misunderstood. So, let’s clear the fog by using the definition served by the guru on the matter, Beth Kanter. According to Kanter, “content curation is the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme. The work involves sifting, sorting, arranging, and publishing information. A content curator cherry picks the best content that is important and relevant to share with their community.” As most of you are familiar with the concept of sharing other people’s content on social networks, bear in mind that this approach goes beyond social content sharing as it can help you drive traffic to your site like a pro.
This process entails identifying what your visitors may find most relevant when they look for content on the web. This is why serving meaningful, targeted content can mean more to them if they look for a solution to the issue they face, or are simply digging for information on a particular topic. Look at it this way: The rise of the internet has rendered users numb by an overdose of information from a myriad of sources. By serving them information from second-hand sources in a carefully thought-out manner, you act like a peddler of fish baits to those who simply want to catch fish, without caring a lot about the originality of the baits or the creative effort that went into their design.
Curation Can Outperform Original Content
Yet, this is not the sole reason why you should consider dropping your focus on content originality a notch or two. According to the researchers at Bruce Clay, content curation can even outperform original content in the search engine rankings. What they did to prove their initial hypothesis was to single out one of their posts which had great performance in the search results. It was selected as a suitable testing baseline due to its stability in the SERPs over a period of time. The experimenting team then replaced it with three different versions of posts with curated content. This is how they performed over the course of the experiment:
Image Credit: Scoop.it
So, the posts with curated content performed just as well or ranked even higher compared to those featuring vaunted original content. This experiment served to dispel the myth that only an original content strategy can give you stellar SEO performance. An important difference has to be recognized here, as this is not to show that you can simply plagiarize other people’s content or provide it in “aggregated” form. Posts treated in this manner actually ranked very low in the experiment’s search results, which makes it necessary to make a clear distinction between properly curated and aggregated content.
In essence, “aggregated” content is generated by automatic collection based keywords and in line with an algorithm or criteria. While it has some uses, the preferred approach for achieving greater SEO and traffic performance results is content curation, which should be based around singling out quality content pieces and assembling them in meaningful manner, which can also include offering your own comments on their relevancy to your readers.
Only Results Matter at the End of the Day
Just like the ‘one click free’ approach, another nagging worry that you should burn at the stake is related to the perception that content generated in this manner pales in comparison with the original content in terms of effectiveness. Some may even claim that it is of the lower quality on the grounds of the strategy used for its generation. In reality, content curation is an everyday practice among marketers, with only 5% of them claiming they never share other organization’s content and 32% of them doing it on a daily basis. Similar research was done in order to check the standing of curated content vs. original in terms of their social sharing potential. Argyle Social analyzed 150,000 tweets and status updates from over 1,000 Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts between November 2010 and July 2011. The results showed that 30% of companies involved were focused on content curation with links to third party websites in 75+% of their posts. Only 3% of companies were focused on original content and offered links to their own content.
This serves only to confirm one of the key realizations that you should have arrived at by now: If your audience enjoys and finds your content engaging regardless of who created it, then that is the only thing that matters in terms of what you hope to achieve. Your efforts in piecing together something sensible and informative out of huge volume of available content on the internet is a skill in itself, as well as confirmation that you can act as an expert or leader in a certain field. Thus, your efforts need to be recognized as both creative and useful – and if your visitors reward you by driving traffic to your website, you should be the last person on Earth to avoid giving the same credit to yourself.
Remembering the story of Thomas Edison who managed to secure his place in science history by building upon other people’s ideas is a useful illustration of the potential offered by smart utilization of other people’s content. The art of leveraging secondary content resources lies in creating something of value for your audience that often prefers utilitarian quality of content at the expense of its originality. Executing this strategy strategically can be a superb alternative to an original content strategy.