Create, Curate, Don’t Aggregate

Google’s Matt Cutts: Create, Curate, Don’t Aggregate

Pawan Deshpande  July 23, 2013  Best Practices, Featured, Strategy  4 Comments

In a recent video, Google’s SEO expert Matt Cutts answers the question “Is it useful to have a section of my site that re-posts articles from other sites?”  In the course of answering that question, Cutts describes, perhaps unknowingly, the distinction between content curation and content aggregation within the context of content marketing. In fact, his explanation does more to confuse than it does to clarify.

Matt mistakenly refers to content creation as content curation, and refers to aggregated content  as auto-generated content.  In the course of his explanation, he wholly ignores curated content. Below I have attempted to clarify his explanation along with clear distinctions between aggregated content, curated content and created content.

Three Types of Content

Basically Matt described a spectrum of content types ranging with aggregated content on one end (e.g., press section of an individual company’s web site using auto-generation to repost existing articles), and original created content all the way on the other (e.g., New York Times).  However his description was confusing because he referred to original content such as from the New Times as curation, when in fact such content is actually the output of creation.

Content Aggregation

At the left end of the spectrum is aggregation. An example of aggregated content would be Google News search results for a term rendered in a widget on a site via an RSS feed. While such widget does provide some informational value, in the grand scheme of things it does not really help the visitor much. All the content in the widget can easily be found on another site.  Also because the content is generated automatically, there’s a high likelihood that the content may be irrelevant. Cutts argues that aggregated content like this can even hurt the search engine ranking of your site as a whole.

Content Creation

At the right end of the spectrum is original created content, which is of high informational value to the end reader. Such content is typically exclusive and can’t be found on another site, and therefore serves as great bait for Inbound links. The downside of created content is that producing it is a lot of work and can be quite resource and time intensive. For organizations like the New York Times, its possible to continually create high quality, original created content day in and day out; however, for resource-constrained marketers, producing great created content every single day is simply out of the question. While Matt Cutts erroneously refers to this content as an act of “curation” on his video,  he is really talking about creation.

Content Curation

The third method of content publishing is “curation” which lies in the middle of the spectrum.  Similar to aggregated content, curated content can be published on a very regular basis without much effort. Yet similar to created content, curated content can be very relevant and informing for the end reader if its done properly. Each piece of created content can serve as link bait to increase your search engine ranking.  On the other hand for curated content, an individual piece of content may not attract a lot of inbound links, but a curated site as a whole may be viewed as a go-to resource and may attract links. (examples of content curation: Charmin, The Huffington Post)


Here are my takeaways from Matt’s short video:

For a comprehensive look at best practices in combining content creation with curation, check out Curata’s eBook entitled How to Feed the Content Beast (without getting eaten alive).


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The newspaper industry alone shed 28% of its employees since its peak in 2001, according to The American Society of News Editors’ annual newsroom census.


In 2012, the number is estimated to have dipped below 40,000 employees for the first time since the census began in 1978.

From 1998 through 2010, eighteen newspapers and two newspaper chains closed all of their foreign bureaus, according to a tally by American Journalism Review. Other outlets reduced the number of correspondents in their bureaus.

The effects of a decade of newsroom cutbacks drives the abandonment of the newspapers

The effects of a decade of newsroom cutbacks are real – and the public is taking notice.

Nearly a third of U.S. adults, 31%, have stopped turning to a news outlet because it no longer provided them with the news they were accustomed to getting.Newspaper Circulation.jpg

Digital players have exploded onto the news scene, bringing technological knowhow and new money and luring top talent. BuzzFeed, once scoffed at for content viewed as “click bait,” now has a news staff of 170, including top names like Pulitzer Prize-winner Mark Schoofs, and is the kind of place that ProPublica’s Paul Steiger says he would want to work at if he were young again. Mashable now has a news staff of 70 and enticed former New York Times assistant managing editor Jim Roberts to become its chief content officer. And in January of this year, Ezra Klein left the Washington Post for Vox media, which will become the new home for his explanatory journalism concept. Many of these companies are already successful digital brands – built around an innate understanding of technology – and are using revenues from other parts of the operation to get the news operations off the ground.

figures released by the Newspaper Association of America.

Although it would be easy to accept the veteran reporter's opinion that free news undermines the republic, free information on the Internet is the new norm and traditional print news is being forced to adapt.  Many have claimed that the new advent of news on the Internet is less in ‘quality” they acknowledge that it is plentiful in quantity.

Some argue that price reduction pressure has reduced the quality and that is driving the abandonment of the newspapers.  newspaper-ad-rev-v-google.jpg

But other say that  people are voting with their feet, or in this case, with their mouse.  

In the case of Internet news, advertiser’s dollars tell us where they are finding the eyeballs for the target market the seek.

The year also brought more evidence than ever that news is a part of the explosion of social media and mobile devices, and in a way that could offer opportunity to reach more people with news than ever before. Half of Facebook users get news there even though they did not go there looking for it. And the Facebook users who get news at the highest rates are 18-to-29-year-olds. The same is true for the growth area of online video. Half of those who watch some kind of online video watch news videos. Again, young people constitute the greatest portion of these viewers.

Despite evidence of news consumption by Facebook users—half of whom report getting news across at least six topic areas—recent Pew Research data finds these consumers to have rather low levels of engagement with news sites

In digital news, Following the lead of early adapters like The Atlantic and Mashable, native advertising, as it is called by the industry, caught on rapidly in 2013. The New York Times, The Washington Post and most recently The Wall Street Journal have now begun or announced plans to begin devoting staff to this kind of advertising, often as a part of a new “custom content division.”eMarketer predicts that native ads spending will reach $2.85 billion by 2014.

New ways of storytelling bring both promise and challenge. One area of expansion in 2013 was online news video. Ad revenue tied to digital videos over all (no firm calculates a figure specifically for news videos) grew 44% from 2012 to 2013 and is expected to continue to increase.