Two Ways to Avoid the Potential Penalties of Being a Content Aggregator

Good content aggregators see only praise, not penalties

Did your search traffic drop this month? Even the most respected publishers I know saw a little kick from the recent Phantom update, which hones in, as usual, on high-quality content without truly explaining what that is.

But Google is just a machine, after all. I have to wonder if you’ve ever launched an update to your website, and it caused something to break? Maybe you installed a new plugin, or maybe it was a total redesign. Then afterward, a team of developers scramble to make it right again.

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Is a Google algorithm update ever broken? Surely it’s happened. In fact, aren’t they all a little broken? How could Google ever predict with certainly how one update would affect 4.6 billion pages on the Internet? And so every iteration to the algorithm makes a change, which causes more changes. It’s one of many reasons why the algorithm doesn’t stay the same.

I distinctly remember a day after an algorithm update a few years ago when I suddenly couldn’t find any good search results to my queries. I was getting to page three before finding what I needed. If they could actually pinpoint what high-quality content is, and if each update wasn’t imperfect, they wouldn’t have updated the algorithm again, so soon after. But they’re making them fairly frequently, so all we can do is abide by the rule of writing good content.

And content aggregation can be done so, so wrong. And it can be bad, bad content. You will be penalized by Google at some point in the future if you do it incorrectly.

Are you a Content Aggregator? Are you taking snippets of content from other blogs, and then putting your spin on their thoughts?

If so, here are two rules so that you don’t get penalized either by Google, or by law.

First, don’t plagiarize. Custom content aggregation, also known as content curation, is not the same as content syndication. You do not take content and claim it as your own. You quote the original article, surround it with original copy, and you link back to it. Only then are you allowed to excerpt content. Otherwise you’ll be penalized by more than just Google, you’ll probably need a lawyer.

If you want to learn more about how to aggregate content more effectively, read our 9 Guidelines for Content Aggregators Who Recycle the News.

Second, add 80% value. The purpose of content aggregation is to use the news to create new content, but the content is still meant to be yours. Take 20% from the original article and surround it with your thoughts and ideas on the excerpts.

Although most SEOs have decided duplicate content penalties are less frequent now, if you’re creating articles where 80% of the content is not yours, they’re going to catch on and they may penalize your article, or your whole site in search rankings.

To learn more about where you can succeed as a content aggregator, read The Pros and Cons of Being a Content Aggregator.

Alternatively, you can always write your own content. Content aggregators need to subscribe to dozens of RSS and social media feeds to help them come up with new things to write about, which can be a time intensive process. The hardest part of writing from scratch is the blank page. Although we believe out 80/20 rule offers a little of both challenges, it also benefits yours reader most.

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