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Recently, I posed a question to Matt Kumin, CEO of PublishThis. His responses made me think about content metrics a little differently.
Q: Matt, for my site, I discovered that original content performs substantially better than curated content in terms of retweets, sharing, likes and readership. As a data-driven person, I wonder if I should move my focus more to original content creation than to content curation. What are your thoughts?
A: If you look at only the hard numbers, original content typically performs better than curated content. I would like to ask you to look at the benefits of curated content from a different perspective:
- Cost per blog post
In "A Practical Guide to Real Time Publishing", I created a table to compare original content v. licensed v. curated v. automation content. Original content is best for driving SEO traffic and social sharing. Curation can be equally good at establishing thought leadership and engagement, while providing an advantage for contentfFreshness in less time and at a reduced cost.
If you have time and money, you should always focus on creating original content and establishing your brand voice. However, it can be expensive and time-consuming. Pam, you told me that you spent 5-6 hours to write a good-quality blog post, but it can take less than 30 minutes to curate content to a blog format using PublishThis. If you look at the cost per blog post, it's certainly cheaper to curate content. Curated content can't replace original content, but it's certainly a great complement and another option for your editorial planning if you have limited time and budget.
- SEO Benefits
In "Back to Basics: SEO-Friendly Content Curation in a Post-Panda World", Bruce Clay did an SEO test on three varieties of curated content:
1. Curated links with auto-generated summaries.
2. Curated links with 200+ word annotations written by the human curator, referred to from here on as editorialized curation.
3. An excerpt of the original traditional post and curated links with editorialized curation."
"In the final curation variation we tested, we paired an excerpt from the original traditional post with the curated links and enhanced annotations from the previous test. The post reached a #1 ranking."
"Our conclusion is that when content curation comes in the form of original content, a website can achieve the benefits of fresh content without threat of negative search engine rankings. The same ranking potential can be gained from curated content with editorialized curation in significantly less time when compared to a traditional blog post."
In order for curated content to enhance your site's SEO, you should follow these best practices:
1. Text should be unique on the Web.
2. Sources linked to should be of high quality.
3. Add value to the collection, for instance through story-telling, new perspective or commentary.
You can see a detailed explanation of each bullet point on Bruce's Blog.
While I was looking at just the raw results of my website metrics, Matt reminded me to take into account other side benefits of adding curation to an original content strategy such as cost savings, freshness and SEO. For my editorial planning, I will continue to mix original and curated content. Bruce says it well: "Curation need not be the straight reporting of facts. A collection can come together to weave a story or unveil an overlooked perspective. As with everything else, bring your creativity to your curation."