Great content is just as much about presentation as it is about subject matter and research. A content curator finds ways to re-purpose existing content in a way that adds value. The most obvious example is a post consisting of a number of links to other pieces of content. Obviously, this can be seen as lazy or as failing to add value when it is done incorrectly. Rather than tell you how to curate content, I thought it would be a better idea to walk through some examples of sites that are doing a great job.
I believe I've mentioned this site before, probably more than once, and that's because it is such an incredibly successful example of link bait. But if you take a closer look, you can also see it as a form of content curation. Their trademark is to create funny list articles like 5 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Apocalypse Could Actually Happen (their most linked to page).
These articles are lists of facts and news stories with long term appeal, that fit into a common theme, and that are written to be funny. Unlike, say, the Wall Street Journal, they are not breaking news straight from the source. They are re-purposing existing information and adding value by collecting tons of surprising and counterintuitive information in one place, then making it hilarious.
Another great example of this is their Images You Won't Believe Aren't Photoshopped series, which simply lists surprising images, and describes why they look so strange. This is a great example of content curation at its finest.
2. The SEOMoz Search Engine Ranking Factors
The yearly update on search engine ranking factors just might be the reason for Moz's success, with only WhiteBoard Friday to challenge it. Up until the 2011 release, the ranking factors were based entirely on a survey of some of the biggest SEOs in the industry. The introduction of their own internal correlative data adds tremendous value, of course, but the survey is still an invaluable part of the process.
And what is a survey if it isn't curated content? The search ranking factors series has obtained more link authority than any other single page on SEOMoz. The site's most successful link building project was the result of collecting and re-purposing data from the industry as a whole.
3. Mashable's Collection of Articles on Facebook
Except for the home page, Mashable's most linked to page is actually a category page, a list of articles about Facebook. Why would a category page rank so well? Because it is more than just an automatically generated page consisting of all articles in the Facebook category.
Yes, such a list does exist on the page, but you don't see it until after you read a brief introduction to the category, followed by a list of their four absolute best pieces of content on the subject.
Imagine just how powerful you could make your own tag or category pages just by adding a header like this, collecting together your absolute best articles on the subject so that users don't have to dig through every headline to find your best work. This makes your category pages worthy in and of themselves. The proof is in the fact that this particular category page holds links from CNN and dozens of pages with domain authority in the 90s.
Now It's Your Turn
As you can see, content curation can be incredibly powerful, and it doesn't have to make you look like a content scraper who adds zero value to the web. Mashups, lists, summaries, collections, and timelines can be incredibly valuable resources.
Have you tried content curation in the past? Can you point to other great examples?
Image credit: See-ming Lee
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