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The Pros and Cons of Being a Content Aggregator

Content aggregators sometimes have a Jekyll and Hyde complex — but they don’t need to

Are you a content aggregator? If you source content from other sites, and then turn it into new material to riff off of, then you are. There are dirty rotten scoundrel ways to do it, of course, but most highly respected publishers do content aggregation the right way.

What is content aggregation?

Many successful publishers, especially news publishers, are newsjacking, a form of content aggregation. This is the process of excerpting news articles and adding about 60-80% more original content than you excerpted. When done well, you’re adding value to the original excerpts with your own perspectives and additional data.

How do you do become a noteworthy content aggregator?

As we’ve mentioned before, when you’re unearthing content to aggregate, remember to:

  • Restate
  • Revalue
  • Provide abstracts
  • Summarize the information
  • Provide a link to the source

You can read more about each bullet point here, but the simple version is this: turn your excerpted content into an article that is more valuable than the original, to the reader. Otherwise, it’s just a copy, and you’re a copycat. Copycat!

What are the benefits of being a content aggregator?

Produce content more quickly: Some of the time, it means you can create content more quickly. If you have a word count to fulfill, you won’t be looking around filling the post up with fluff, instead you’ll be excerpting content from a sound source.

Sources for your content: Sometimes you’re not the expert, and you need an expert to weigh in on things. Although we typically advocate for being the expert in everything you write, you don’t need to be an expert in everything.

New ideas you haven’t thought of: Does the news usually spark your attention? Well it can also inspire new ideas for articles, too. Maybe you were going to write about “How to Bake an Apple Pie” and now you’re going to write about “How to Bake an Apple Pie like Martha Stewart Fresh Out of Prison” (if that was still news.)

What are the negatives of being a content aggregator?

It can be time consuming: Remember when I just said content aggregation could be written faster? Sometimes, that’s not the case. In fact if you aggregate content regularly, and if you have a quota of so many news stories per day, you may have a hard time discovering new content to write about.

Sources aren’t always right: One time we, and a few other publications, newsjacked a few quotes from a news story about a publisher who had launched a not so great tablet edition. Or so we thought, because we were merely reporting on the original article. We wrote our thoughts about tablet editions, and how many publishers make this same mistake. We quoted from the article, but thankfully it wasn’t entirely focused on this one publication, because we, and everyone else who covered the story, got lambasted by the publisher who said the original story was incorrect. Since the original publisher didn’t do a great job fact-checking, our quotes became inaccurate as well.

Pinged for duplicate content: If you go ahead and copy 80% of an article and add your own original 20%, your site will likely be penalized by Google for duplicating content. Yes, there’s always the rel=”canonical” tag, which I bet you were itching to mention, but that’s not really the point. If you want to be a reputable content aggregator, don’t steal content and throw some lipstick on it. Turn it into a conversation.

Do you aggregate content? What do you have to add?

Posted in Multiplatform Publishing Strategy

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