The Do's and Don’ts of Content Curation

Published: Apr 11, 2019
Last Updated:
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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that content marketing has evolved into an e-commerce staple in the modern economy.

Everyone knows the phrase “content is king.” But the reality is, it's only valuable and informational content that drives the conversions desired by marketers. And therein lies the problem.

Anyone that's been managing a blog for a while can empathize with how challenging it is to create and publish engaging content on a weekly basis. One way of circumventing this problem when the gods of inspiration turn their back on you is content curation—the art of handpicking interesting content and optimizing it for your cause. Not only does it provide your readers with fresh ideas, but it also has the potential to improve your SEO.

Now, you might ask: “But doesn’t copying content mean getting penalized by Google?”

No, it doesn’t.

That’s because there’s a difference between curated content and content duplication. The former involves a meticulous search for content that resonates with your audience and presenting it in a unique and thoughtful manner.

But knowing what content curation is and how to do it are two completely different things—so let’s dive in.

The Do’s of Content Curation

Content curation is an entire strategy on its own that works in tandem with content creation to paint out your entire content marketing strategy.

While there a few different ways you can approach content curation, there are four guidelines you should always keep in mind:

1. Optimize your research for compelling content

Not every piece of content deserves to be curated as a part of your blog—that honor should be reserved for the most compelling and valuable pieces of content that deserve to be bookmarked.

Much like museum curators, who are tasked with the display and collection of the very finest works of art, a content curator should look for content that is rarely touched upon, provides users with meaningful value, and provides an overall enjoyable read.

Here’s how you can find compelling content:

  • Keep an eye out for topics that have been getting more traction. Hashtags are a great way to keep a check on what’s trending—or more specifically, what content needs to be curated for maximum impact. Tools such as Social Searcher are a great resource to find industry-relevant content on social media.
  • Use tools like BuzzSumo to trace what key influencers in your niche are sharing. This allows you to delve into different topics and see what content is getting the most engagement. You might also want to reach out to some of them and do an expert curation post as Inc does.
  • Subscribe to the RSS blogs on authoritative websites that are renowned for publishing quality content. Try tools like Feedly, which allow users to view recently published articles for a quick skim, and a uniform collection of authoritative content.

2. Tailor your content according to your target audience

Why do businesses even publish content in the first place?

They generally want to provide users with relevant information to assist them in their decision-making process, and build enough trust in their brand so that more users come and convert.

The same holds true for curated content.

Consequently, the content that you choose to curate should reflect your target audience's likes and dislikes.

For instance, you come across a brilliant piece on how to build a treehouse. Assuming your target audience consists of digital marketers, it’s unlikely that the piece would fare well, no matter how good it is.

Why? Because that’s not the content they came or subscribed to your blog for.

A subscription is a sign of respect and courtesy a visitor has afforded to you in exchange for a steady supply of valuable, interesting, and relevant content.

Relevance should be your main concern because at the end of the day, your subscribers expect something you claim to be an authority on. Anything else will not be viewed as authoritative, and is not worth engaging with.

3. Optimize the content before publishing

Don’t forget—your content drives your SEO. While the content might resonate with your target audience, it might not necessarily be targeting the same keywords your blog is formed around.

This is your chance to sprinkle relevant keywords into the piece—fine-tuning it to fit your blog while not taking away the essence of what made it so alluring in the first place.

Not only does this make the piece more beneficial for your SEO, but it customizes it further for your target audience.

4. Flaunt your authority

Add relevant industry insights on top of the value presented on the piece and elaborate where you deem appropriate. This is the opportunity to flaunt your subject authority, and you should never let it pass by.

Here are a few ways to add your personal touch:

  • Explain why are you’ve chosen a certain piece
  • Discuss what you agree (and disagree!) with
  • Expand on something you think is important but was only briefly mentioned
  • Back up certain points made in the pieces you choose to curate by describing your personal experiences
  • Connect arguments made with industry trends

Your visitors will appreciate the curated content more if you give it some context.

<div class="tip">Content curation isn't just for blogs. You can also do so through email. Many email marketing tools have an RSS functionality that can pull in content from your own or other sites—making it very easy to create a partially curated newsletter if you're not currently blogging much yourself. Check out our guide on email newsletter best practices to find out more.</div>

5. Give credit where credit is due

HubSpot citation scenario
(Image credit: Hubspot)

This isn’t a strict necessity for content marketing success but simply an ethical point that is viewed positively in the industry and noticed by consumers.

Giving due credit—even if it is as simple as a mention at the end of the piece—is a nice way to acknowledge somebody else’s work. Everyone likes to be recognized and it might even get some additional shares!

Avoid These Content Curation Don’ts

Curating content doesn’t come without its own fair share of bad practices. Here are a few don’ts to avoid when curating content:

1. Don’t get content fried

Let’s start with a stat: By 2020, there will be an estimated 1.7 MB of data created for every person on earth—per second!

As marketers, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of content that we consume (or over-consume) on a daily basis. In such testing times, it’s easy to neglect quality pieces while the pressure of periodic posting forces you into publishing mediocre content.

There are reports out there that suggest how a higher publishing frequency means more traffic, but that’s only the case if you’re able to ensure that your content quality doesn’t suffer.

If you find yourself automating content curation to the point where you’re pasting pieces together for the sake of publishing something for the third time this week, it might be time to take a step back and reevaluate your approach.

2. Don’t rely on a single source

Curating from the same sources repetitively can be mundane, monotonous, and uninteresting for your audience. Variety is what entices users, and supports your credibility in front of search engine crawlers.

Not only does relying on a single source remove much-needed diversity from your content, but it might mean biased content and false information. Integrating different perspectives not only positions you as more open and knowledgeable, but also eradicates the possibility of including information that is untrue or potentially misleading.

In this age of misinformation and “fake news,” providing different views on certain topics is not an option—it’s a necessity.

3. Don’t blatantly copy and paste

Before we even start about the ethical boundaries, content duplication is harmful for your reputation and SEO.

Bordering on copyright infringement, such spam tactics deployed by marketers are blacklisted by Google, and it’s a matter of when, not if, such marketers are reprimanded with a fall in their SERP rankings.

The best curated content often comes from renowned content creators. Why? Because they realize how adding personal insights and tailoring it to your specific audience can exemplify the reach and impact of the curated content.

Examples of Great Curated Content

So how does curated content actually look? Here are two atypical examples of brilliantly curated content that might inspire you to think outside of the box.


Screenings home page

One great example of targeted, concise, and simple curated content is Screenings, which offers design-related content picked up from Vimeo, Youtube, and other video sharing sites.

Videos run between 3 and 30 minutes in length and cover everything from illustrations and interviews to UX and product design. Additionally, you have the option to make an account if you want to jump in the comment section.

What makes this website a great example is that it sticks to its niche, adds some personal commentary alongside every video, and focuses on selecting only worthwhile content. On top of that, the navigation is simple and you have plenty of filtering options for more personalization.

It is not a textbook example of content curation, but nowhere did we say that written articles are the only type of content you can curate.


Wirecutter homepage

Wirecutter provides news and recommendation about gears and gadgets. The website provides an extensive gallery of curated items that link back to the seller’s website.

The reason why its style of curation stands out is that the people over at Wirecutter invest considerable time in researching and testing products to make consumer shopping easier—be it toothbrushes or expensive television sets.

The authority, customer obsession, and diverse sources of information make it one of the best examples of curated content.

Want more real-life examples for a better idea of content curation? Check out these other curated content examples.


As consumers continue to flock toward trustworthy and knowledge-stacked resources to keep themselves informed and ahead of the curve, marketers have been presented with an immense opportunity to fulfill market demand through expertly curated high-quality content.

That being said, don’t forget to write your own original content. While content curation is a great way to fill up your editorial calendar, it can never completely replace thoroughly researched and optimized articles created for your own blog.

About the Author

Dario Supan is a content strategist and editor at Point Visible, a marketing agency providing custom outreach and link building service. When he isn’t neck deep in outreach projects and editorial calendars, you’ll most likely find him designing a custom graphic for his next exciting post.


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