In our quest to become experts in all the different areas of SEO, we read an awful lot of ebooks, articles and the like, all of them insisting that they have the magic ingredients that can convert anyone from a content leper to a social messiah.
One of the e-books that’s been earning quite a reputation in the last month or so comes from Curata, and it goes by the name of ‘5 Simple Steps to Becoming a Content Curation Rockstar’.
In the light of the panda update, content is rapidly becoming the aspect of SEO that can either elevate an agency to the next level, or deliver it a swift roundhouse kick to the nether regions.
With this importance in mind, it’s time for us to give this latest paper a real going over to see whether it can cut the proverbial mustard.
The concept itself initially comes across as a bit OTT. Whilst SEO and online content in general can be intriguing and rewarding to work in, they don’t make you a rockstar.
Go ahead: ask Dave Mustaine from Megadeth whether he’d rather do without groupies or keyword focus. When flicking through the book, the attempts to force the ‘theme’ onto the facts within can be a bit cringeworthy.
However, this really is about the only substantial criticism that you can really make of what is generally an accurate and forward thinking piece of work. The important thing to consider when it comes to content post-panda is exactly how much focus is on genuine improvement and focus rather than keywords and meta tags.
The introduction to the paper defines curation as: The human act of continuously distilling all available information on a topic into an editorialized narrative that helps your audience make sense of the big picture.
Phew. Breathe out.
In standard terms, this means making something interesting and concise out of the huuuuuuge amount of information that can be found online for the majority of industries. Essentially, it separates your brand from all the other people churning out bog standard articles on the area, and studiously avoids the following:
Aggregation, piracy (not the jolly roger kind), automation, volume driven work, brand driven work and regurgitation.
Whilst some of these areas are certainly ones in which no forward thinking business should be working (anyone automatically generating content in 2012 should be gullied by the aforementioned pirates, ya-haaar), it’s certainly a brave point to state that no content should be focused on brand at all. Is sales copy completely out of the window in the modern online environment? It’s up for debate, but it could be argued that an on-page blog is never going to be quite the same as a genuinely impartial magazine. It’s still worth highlighting who’s offering the high quality content, after all!
The five-step process that the paper offers as a guide to creating great content is essentially a very solid one, so we’ll go over it point by point:
- Picking your topic. Without doubt a sensible place to start, as without a topic there is no content, and if you can’t think of anything to write about, then you shouldn’t be writing! However, the point made within the paper isn’t too focused, and could do with more information and clarity on the point made about rockstars. In the end, it is a rather lengthy way of stating that you should define exactly the area in which you wish to give advice, and be known for being experts in. Definitely true, but a laboured way of saying so.
- Find your sources. An essential part of any content creation, this essentially boils down to doing your research, through checking out RSS feeds, subscribing to Twitter feeds, checking out industry mags, adding experts on Facey B, and reading the latest analysis. Immerse yourself in the subject, as it were.
- Organise. This is where the genuine curation begins, as it is the point where all the time you’ve spent chomping info like it’s pain and you’re an emo kid will come to use. After, of course, you’ve managed to make sense of it. ‘Rockstar’ recommends that this is done through e-mail folder organisations, RRS feeds (stick all the info from one subject into one feed) and the like. It also recommends that when choosing to share content, you mix it up, vary the sources from which you’re talking the info from (regurgitating the SEO Moz blog every week will lead to you obtaining social pariah status), include a variety of opinions and to include content from your competitors. All of these tips are actually very good, and well worth considering.
In the end, the main emphasis continues to be on making sure that you are genuinely improving the working lives of the people that you’re marketing towards. It’s all very well creating pretty infographics, advice articles and tweeting, but if all you’re writing is dull, dreary and makes people want to sit down, cry and listen to ‘Everybody Hurts’ on repeat, you’re never going to get your stuff shared and viewed. Which is, after all the point.
- Create and add value. This step is one of the most tricky, being that it’s the one where you stretch out those creative muscles and let rip with a stonking commentary that will enable you to combine the material you’ve researched with your own unique insights. Think of it as being like All Along The Watchtower. A good song anyway, but add Jimi Hendrix’s all round guitar genius, and you’ve instantly got one of the greatest songs of all time. And if you’ve never heard it, flog yourself immediately and head out onto the streets to plead forgiveness from everyone you meet.
- Publish and promote it. This page, whether its on a jobs or promotional codes website essentially highlights the different areas into which your new content can be sent, and which can be the most effective. There are pluses and minuses to all of the options (we won’t list them here, lest the charts send you into a pleasant snooze), and all in all is well worth a look. It’s one of the most comprehensive and useful tools in the paper.
Having reached the end of the piece (there’s a neat little cheat sheet included, which is a good way for you to remember what’s what, and would be well worth a printout), the Rockstar work seems to be a game of two halves.
The points and methods that it highlights are certainly accurate and useful, and would be a fine assessment for those businesses who are unsure how to move forward into the content creation world, post-panda. However, for those of you who are already well-versed in creating great copy, the process (pick topic-research-streamline info-create-publish) will be nothing that you’re not already aware of.