As marketers struggle to keep up with constant demand for new content, curated content has become a popular way to fill that void without crafting all new content from scratch. Well-executed content curation allows marketers to present a multitude of perspectives on a given topic and present the very best content to their readers. But bad content curation could raise concerns about the “dreaded duplicate content” which search engines may penalize.

With that in mind, here’s a look at best practices for content curation SEO, as well as potential pitfalls to avoid and ethical considerations to help guide your SEO strategy.

The Good – Best Practices

  1. Curate for your audience, not for search engines. As you’re choosing pieces to curate and writing your commentary, focus on writing for readers, not search engines. Well-written content that flows naturally and provides useful information will appeal to readers and instinctively rank higher in search results – compared to SEO drivel that’s stuffed with keywords (but doesn’t say anything real of value).
  2. Clearly link back to the original article. Out of respect for the original creator, always link back to their original piece. Attribution links also give your readers access to more information after they read your curated article. Be a good online citizen by making this link clear and prominent. Don’t bury the links at the bottom of your point or obscure them by using the same color font as the surrounding text.
  3. Annotate and retitle all curated content. Annotation — that is, incorporating your own context or perspective beyond what appears in the original piece–is a key part of curation, which both offers something new and valuable to your readers and prevents issues of duplicate content. While you’re annotating your content, also take the time to craft a new title for your piece. This helps differentiate your curated content from the original piece and reduces the chance that your content will compete with the original piece in search results.
  4. Add feeds to Google blog search index. Submit your RSS feeds to Google Blog Search so that Google will know when you publish new content. This will also ensure that Google views you as a dynamic “blog” source, rather than just a static website, and will re-crawl your blog often. You’ll not only show up in Google Search results, but also Google Blog Search as well. Keep in mind that Google Blog Search with be killed by Google on May 26, 2014.
  5. Post curated content to Google+ and claim authorship as appropriate. Posting content on Google+ can help improve SEO as well as spreading awareness to readers, so share your curated content on Google+ (ideally so that the content is public rather than private to maximize your potential reach) and claim Google Authorship in cases where you’ve retitled the content and added something new.

The Bad – Potential Pitfalls

  1. Republish the full text of third-party articles. Not only does republishing full text articles run afoul of fair use, but it can also annoy the original content creator and create duplicate content, which search engines don’t like. Plus, it’s a lost opportunity to give readers additional context and perspectives on the topic.
  2. Curate from a single source repeatedly. When you discover a content creator who consistently publishes great content that’s relevant to your audience, you might be tempted to curate from that source again and again. Resist this temptation. Relying too heavily on a few sources gives your audience a limited point of view and may annoy the original content creators. Instead, curate from a variety of sources to help encourage links from different web properties and give readers a more valuable and varied content mix.
  3. Share duplicate full-sized images. Under fair use, you can typically publish a thumbnail image. But reposting full-sized images could stray outside the confines of fair use and into potential copyright issues. If you prefer to use full-size images, choose your own images rather than copying and pasting from the original piece. You can pay royalties for licensed images or avoid copyrighted images altogether and use images under a Creative Commons License.
  4. Use “nofollow” links. Nofollow is an attribute added to the HTML code of a link. It instructs search engines not to consider the link when ranking it in a search index and unfairly takes away SEO credit from the original publisher. Google may also penalize you for engaging in a practice called “link hoarding.”
  5. Open links in new tabs. Some publishers choose to open links in a new tab because they’re afraid that readers might leave their website if they’re tempted to click on a link. However, this can annoy readers because it creates a cluttered browser window. If readers want to open a link in a new tab, they can choose to do it themselves. Otherwise, it’s best to have links in the same window and let readers hit the back button to return to your site if they choose.

Ethical Content Curation & SEO

Ethical curation comes down to respecting the copyright of other content creators and giving your readers something new and valuable. Avoid poor user experiences such as keyword-stuffing and never plagiarize or simply paraphrase someone else’s work. Stick to these principles and over time your curated content will naturally develop better search engine rankings than if you’d simply aggregated content from other sources on the web.

Want to learn more about content curation and how it can help fuel your content marketing strategy? Download our Content Marketing Tactics Planner for information on how to improve your content’s SEO, increase brand awareness and ultimately drive leads.