Aggregating great content is just as valuable as creating great content
Content aggregation is sometimes given a bad name, because it’s so easy to do poorly. And it often is.
To be clear, if you’re aggregating content, you’re pulling content from elsewhere and republishing it. If you’re doing it poorly, that’s all you’re doing. If you’re doing it well, you’re following the guidelines below.
The best content aggregators approach the process as an art form. They recognize that many of the top sites on the web are based on content aggregation, and their work allows users to reach new depths on the subject matter they care about.
One rule followed by great content aggregators – adding value to aggregated content – was discussed in The Rise of the News Aggregator: Legal Implications and Best Practices, published back in 2010 just as content aggregation was expanding into the mass of mainstream content.
The rules and guidelines for great content aggregators
Any publisher running a portal knows generating content and aggregating content go hand in hand.
The initial distrust of content aggregation came after Google penalized websites for poorly aggregating content. The no-value-add content aggregators were giving portals a bad name. Those doing it post Panda and Penguin were seeing major drops in traffic because additional insight wasn’t part of the content.
This is likely the reason that Google’s Eric Schmidt referred to the Internet as a cesspool back in 2008.
When you’re unearthing content to aggregate, remember to:
- Provide abstracts
- Summarize the information
- Provide a link to the source
At Mequoda, we have added a daily Digital Publishing Trends post to our editorial calendar. This is how we practice content aggregation. Every day at Mequoda we publish three posts:
- One new post on digital publishing best practices (almost always fresh, evergreen)
- One updated blockbuster post (recycled)
- One Digital Publishing Trends post (content aggregation)
Our best practice post satisfies our publishing marketers who seek new product development strategies, digital magazine examples, audience development ideas and subscription website best practices.
The blockbuster post serves our SEO needs, keeping our top trafficked posts at the top of Google.
Our digital publishing trends post discusses publishing industry news to satisfy our publishing CEOs who crave industry news. These are also shared the most in social media where people crave bitesize news and stats.
These digital publishing trends posts are where we aggregate content. Every evening we pick the most interesting news story of the day, and write about it. We will snip paragraphs and quotes from the article, but it’s at least half original content on most days.
Below is an example of a news post from our site. Often, we don’t even begin quoting other articles for a few introductory paragraphs, and clearly state every source, with links back to the original articles.
In the beginning, we published three news posts per day, at only 300 words each. We’re now publishing just one, but it’s 500+ words long and interlinks to other posts within Mequoda, so that it’s a more robust package than a simple snippet and some basic commentary. We also tackle some more newsy keywords with these posts. The reason why we consider this content aggregation “done right” is because we make it our own. We praise the mighty original author, then we give our own roundup and thoughts.
Tips for content aggregators
Tip #1 for content aggregators: Add value to aggregated content. This is a key point mentioned earlier. You must supply additional commentary and context to make your content aggregation worthwhile.
Tip #2 for content aggregators: Link to original articles. This gives your sources proper credit and gives your readers additional content to read.
Tip #3 for content aggregators: Be accurate. Using multiple sources is a staple of great content aggregators. Point out any discrepancies between multiple sources when needed.
Tip #4 for content aggregators: Aggregate worthy information. Quality over quantity is important in online publishing. Find the best information to aggregate, or you’re wasting your audience’s time.
Tip #5 for content aggregators: Empower sources and readers. If you can demonstrate great content aggregation skills, news sources and readers might send you content directly, making your job easier.
Tip #6 for content aggregators: Provide alternate perspectives. Are you able to provide opposite opinions in your content aggregation efforts? Your audience will appreciate it when you can.
Tip #7 for content aggregators: Add anecdotes and personalize stories. Retelling stories in different ways is a valid way of teaching a subject and helps connect with other readers.
Tip #8 for content aggregators: Organize content in a way where readers can find it. This method focuses on using multiple sources, which is what the biggest portals in the world do.
Tip #9 for content aggregators: Use SEO. Not all great content sources understand the framework of the Internet. Search engine optimization may be unfamiliar to them, even if they’re experts in other topics. Great content aggregators understand SEO and help content that isn’t optimized get found.
The basic rule of content aggregation is exposing content that wouldn’t have been found or discussed otherwise. That’s precisely what Google does, and the search engine giant has a bigger built-in audience because of this approach. Google aggregates a lot of content, more than anywhere else.
Since publishers don’t have the chance to compete with Google, in order to stay relevant as content aggregators we must find content that isn’t picked up by search engines and expose it to the right audience. This requires deeper knowledge of domains, a vast array of email newsletter subscriptions, and the ability to research fluently.
Do you want to turn your website into a media powerhouse? Schedule a call with us to discuss further.
What do you think of content aggregation? Do you have other tips for quality content aggregation?
This post was originally published in 2012 and is updated frequently.