Bad Content Curation Is Killing the User Experience

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While it may be true that online marketers everywhere are still searching for their elusive silver bullet, most people agree that a solution that seems too easy or too simple is probably too good to be true.

Even so, familiar practices like licensed and unlicensed content curation continue to be popular among online marketers everywhere. This practice has helped brands in a variety of industries achieve greater user engagement and even improved traffic on their sites. While there might be a business case for curating owned content, the impact on SEO and user experience is a different story.

Content curation would seem to be a bit of a blunt instrument, even if it is a relatively effective one. Studies have shown that something like 95% of online marketers have used various curation techniques at one point or another. Why, then, would this practice be frowned on?

A Sea of Anonymity

The one thing that curation can’t do is make your brand stand apart from the competition. The Internet has made it possible to both publish and absorb an incredible amount of information on a daily basis; information seekers never have far to go to find an answer to their questions.

With all the helpful (and perhaps less than helpful) information currently in circulation, it’s tempting to think that no matter what you have to say, somebody’s already said it before, and possibly said it better. Why create something new? Content curation is easy. It’s because of that simplicity that curation has become as common as it is. As a result, we now see curated content everywhere.

Do you want your brand to exist in a sea of identical and faceless websites? That’s where we’re headed if our curation habits aren’t curbed. Users are increasingly unable to perceive any real distinction between different services, products and resources on the Internet.

Original Content Helps You Stand Out

Where are we going with this? Those brands and websites that rely heavily on content curation may soon need to find another answer if they want to not only compete, but create a unique identity for themselves.

The kiss of death for any website is to be perceived as “just another” site. Content marketing is meant to be a way for a product, service or brand to demonstrate what makes them unique. Any website that fails to demonstrate unique ideas, abilities and perspectives is going to fail to entice buyers. Content curation does nothing for buyers increasingly unable to distinguish between sites.

Can There Be “Good” Curation?

The short answer is: yes. Curation is not necessarily an absolute evil. The problem arises when a site aimlessly collects existing content that is related, sometimes tangentially, to the keywords they want to rank for. Good curation needs to be a lot more deliberate than that.

If you want to curate well, you’ll need to carefully choose content from across the web. Try to think about what might interest you personally. Is it interesting? Would you actually want to read it? If it passes that test, it might be worthy of curation. Even so, it’s still best to do this sparingly. If your customers can get that curated content elsewhere, you might want to pass on it. Try to seek out content that might be a little harder to come by. Say you’re an interior designer and come across an infographic about the psychology of color. This would be a great opportunity to write a post relevant to your audience, while providing a curated visual to pull examples from. A good post is something that your readers won’t have seen yet, but could benefit from.

It’s About the Customers

Let’s recap for a minute here. It’s all too easy to constantly rehash existing high-quality articles for use on your site. We’ve established that it can be a brute-force method for increasing traffic, but at what cost? Your brand’s identity will likely be the first casualty, followed very closely by your credibility.

It’s the dream of every marketer to prove to buyers that the product or service in question occupies a very specific niche and fills a distinct need for customers. Don’t base your marketing technique on mimicry. If you believe that your brand is singular, and has value for the customer, then your online content needs to reflect that. How else are your customers going to believe it?

Matthew Marley

Matthew Marley is a Social Media & Search Specialist from Glasgow Scotland with a passion for the web and emerging technologies.

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