It may sound counterintuitive, but when done correctly, sending readers away from your site is one of the best ways to keep them coming back. That’s the idea behind content curation.
Before we dive into the details of roundup posts, let’s define the term curation. As Neicole Crepeau writes on Convince & Convert, curation “is the art and science of finding and sharing quality content on a specific topic.” It’s the dirty work that helps readers understand an industry, event, person or product.
Robin Good breaks down the traits of a successful curator in his excellent post, Content Curation Is Not Content Marketing.
The content curator characterizing traits:
1. Is not after quantity. Quality is his key measure.
2. Does not ever curate something without having thoroughly looked at it, multiple times.
3. Always provides insight as to why something is relevant and where the item fits in its larger collection (stream, catalog, list, etc.)
4. Adds personal evaluation, judgment, critique or praise.
5. Integrates a personal touch, in the way it presents the curated object.
6. Provides useful information about other related, connected or similar objects of interest.
7. Credits and thanks anyone who has helped in the discovery, identification and analysis of any curated item and links relevant names of people present in the content.
8. Does not ever republish content “as is” without adding extra value to it.
9. Does not curate, select, personalize or republish his own content in an automated way.
10. Discloses bias, affiliation and other otherwise non self-evident contextual clues.
One of the most straightforward ways to curate content is write roundup posts. Even though the meat of the content is written by someone else, these posts can be extremely valuable for audience development, reader engagement, SEO and lead conversion. Let’s take a look at how it’s done.
Step 1: Identify sources.
A strong roundup is only as good as its sources. You need to find the most interesting and insightful content possible, meaning you need to unearth new and interesting articles. The first step is automating the collection of good information. Using tools like an RSS reader (Feedly is our favorite), Google Alerts, IFTTT and Twitter lists, you will be able to manage huge amounts of information. Here are a few other interesting content discovery tools:
This is a great start, but it’s not enough to monitor the same feeds all the time. You need variety. There are many places to find new bloggers in your industry but social media and message boards are great places to start. Identify the most-used hashtags in your vertical and monitor them on Twitter and Google+. Get involved in subreddits and forums to meet new people and share ideas. These are great ways to uncover new and interesting content written by up-and-comers in your vertical.
As you find content to highlight, use tools like Evernote, Honey and Pocket to save, tag and organize it. When it comes time to write, everything you need will be in one place.
Step 2: Cite, cite, cite.
The quickest way to upset influential bloggers and lost your readers’ trust is to “lift” content. Roundup posts are, by nature, collections of content written by someone else. The goal is to spread ideas, not take credit for someone else’s work. Done right, a roundup makes it abundantly clear who wrote the posts, tweeted the tweets or published the videos you are curating. Always link to their site, blog or Twitter handle. In fact, it’s wise to let them know in advance so they can tell you where to link. Use do-follow links so the sources can get credit from Google also.
Step 3. Look at what influencers are publishing.
Here’s are some examples of how some of the best curators approach roundups:
Here are examples of roundups that I post on a weekly basis:
- The Smartphone Market Is Officially Saturated
- The Best Ed-Tech Startups from #SXSWedu
- In Their Own Words: Tech That Students Cannot Live Without
Roundups are a great opportunity to embed media like YouTube videos, tweets and Facebook posts into your articles Visual, engaging and interactive content goes a long way towards bringing readers back to your site for the next roundup.
Step 4. Be consistent.
In general, content marketing is a long term strategy. The most successful sites publish great content on a regular basis for years. Roundups rely even more on consistency to work. They depend heavily on subscription-based tools like email marketing and social media as opposed to SEO.
One of the keys to curation is providing analysis and value. This will not and can never happen in a single blog post. Earning the trust of readers takes months and possibly years.
I want to emphasize this point: unless you have an existing online following from another site, or some other existing platform/audience that will help draw traffic to your site immediately (e.g, you’re a famous book author, public figure, etc.), you really need to take a long-term view when starting a blog. Don’t get discouraged by low traffic numbers initially, if you put in the necessary effort they will rise over time.
Curation works but it’s hard work. Give the strategy at least six months and, as always, pay attention Google Analytics and other data to tweak your work as you progress.
Step 5. Promote it.
As we mentioned above, roundups rely on relationships, meaning that curated posts might not bring in the organic traffic that your other articles do. They can, however, establish meaningful relationships with your target readers.
Perhaps the best way to build an audience around a weekly roundup post is an email newsletter. In 2009, Instapaper creator Mark Armstrong started a blog called Longreads which highlights great longform journalism. Using an email newsletter and Twitter, Armstrong built the site in the destination for discoing longform content. The site has since been partnered with Atlantic Media and attracted 125,000 Twitter followers.
If you are just getting started, make sure you are collecting email addresses from day one. Get in the habit of creating and sending an email newsletter each week. Even if you only have a handful of subscribers, these people could be the foundation of something truly great.
Do you have questions about curation or examples of great roundup posts? Let us know in the comments.