SMX Advanced 2013: Getting Curation Right

A bunch of SMXers filled the Harbor Dining Room with a view of the bay in comfy Herman Miller chairs. We learned a lot of tools and tips for content curation, content that gets shared in social media.

Content Curation Panel at SMX Advanced 2013
Content Curation Panel at SMX Advanced 2013

Brent Csutoras (@brentcsutoras) of Kairay Media kicked off the session.

What is Content Curation?

Content curation is the act of discovering, gathering, and presenting digital content that surrounds specific subject matter about a theme or topic.

You can take that content and make it your own.

Collecting vs. Re-Creating content

He talks more about re-creating content.

Two big problems with content curation:

  1. People are often asking wrong questions. WRONG:
    • What’s the bare minimum?
    • How many words do I need to get by?
    • How many keywords do I need to put in the copy?
  2. Second big problem that needs to be solved is that everyone’s articles are the same.

Content Curation Needs to…

Look good to stand out!

You want to become the article that is the preferred source.

It’s really not hard to curate content. Even though this is SMX Advanced, and some of the tips appear basic, many don’t do it. It’s about dedication of time and energy to do it right.

DO NOT just blend in to the crowd. Stand out and be unique!

Brent shared places to find content to curate:

  • Google Alerts
  • Alltop
  • Topix
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Tumblr
  • RSS feeds

Types of content:

  • Improved version of original
  • Argumentative or controversial
  • Lists
  • How-to & Guides
  • Images / Memes
  • Timelines
  • Comparison
  • Offbeat or Extreme
  • Video

How to improve content:

ADD IMAGES! (Yes, I’m saying that in ALL CAPS!)

Images should actually speak to the reader.

Images allow people to skim the content easier. Images break it up.

DO NOT throw crap images in there. Go into the article where a quality image can summarize, and take the time to add it.

Images are shared in social media.

Where to get images:

  • Creative Commons
  • Shutterstock
  • Go out and take pictures!


  • YouTube
  • Vimeo

TRICK: Use #t=1m45s – lets you skip to the part where you want to find the image

Related Articles

  • Look for information you personally want to know more about.
  • Look for any elements that might provide more information about a topic, get deeper.
  • Use search filters.

Social Images

  • Images that include people that you make with a message that has social attraction.
Use social images with messages that draw people
Use social images with messages that draw people


  • If possible, get your own quotes.
  • Search for other quotes.
  • Use them!

Title with Hook

Create titles that makes your mind wonder and draws interest. Example – Which is the better title?

World of Warcraft Couple could Face 7 Years for Child Abuse
World of Warcraft Couple could Face 7 Years for Child Abuse


Don’t be lazy and do the bare minimum with your content. When you are nearly done, ask…

“What can I do to make it a little better?”

Edgy Tips…

  1. Content curation is a great way to build social accounts. So if you wanted to go out and create a social community, you could have a large community and change the name. You could delete the previous posts, and build off pre-existing authority. Bait and switch FTW!
  2. JetPack is amazing way for automating posts on Tumblr. (NICE TIP!)


Virginia Nussey (@VirginiaNussey) of Bruce Clay, Inc.

Ways to Use Content to Generate Traffic

Content is king but it is also really expensive!

Anytime when you are creating content, keep SEO best practices in mind.

  • Avoid risk of duplicate content by using original text content.
  • Link to high-quality sources. You are who you hang out with.
  • Publish on your own domain.
  • Make sure the collection you are putting together is that it adds additional value. Tell your own unique story.
  • Curation is an opportunity to optimize for the long-tail.

Various Ways of Using Curation

Liveblogging an event / coverage:

Tool: is an on-site embed.

Example of Danny Sullivan liveblogging Google IO and pulling updates from hashtags, Facebooks, and Instagram with this tool.

Social Reactions:


Quick way to create code of what’s going on and export to your site (WordPress, Tumblr, and MailChimp).

Contributor Page:

Tool: RebelMouse powers Gary Vaynerchuck’s site.

Along with full-page version, you can also do a sidebar. For example, add what everyone is talking about on Twitter about a topic.

uses for curation - rebelmouse

Storytelling / News Reporting:

  • Timely and topical news is a good focal point.
  • Think about authority sources and linking to them
  • Provide a unique story you are telling

Tool: PublishThis – Has WordPress plugin. Great discovery engine. It has blogs and news. You can annotate.

Virginia shared a nice case study on that first resulted in drops of rankings and eventually resulted in #1 rankings by adding curated and unique content.

findings of a test with curation on blog

It takes Virginia time about 4 hours to create a blog post. Tools save 1/2 the time.

Adding curation to your mix take-aways:

  1. Consider how you want to curate to amplify
  2. Look at available tools for publishing and best platforms for your audience.
  3. Follow best practices for SEO.


Amy Vernon (@amyvernon) Internet Media Labs

What Curation Is…

It’s setting specific criteria to what you are gathering material on and enabling others to use it and see it.

What it isn’t…

(She showed a Dilbert cartoon, but I couldn’t get a good shot with the back lighting of the ocean.)

  • Automatically pulling otgether data using an algorithm
  • Automating social shares or posts of an RSS feed
  • Automating reshares from content-sharing platforms

Any time when everything is fully automated IS NOT content curation.

Key: You need the right tool for the right job.

Tools: – curate from sites and those from your followers. You set the criteria and people. It can be whatever list you want, e.g. just videos. – Create pages of topics where they have pulled information on whatever topic it is.

  • Shout out to Gabriella Sannino of Level343 for the way she curates the best articles she sees about SEO using
  • You are able to build pages about the topic. This tool is more niche. The audience is highly educated.

Tumblr – Great site to create content from to power your blog or to be your blog. Twitter’s blog is powered by Tumblr.

  • It skews young.
  • Cultivates community to reshare
  • Very visual

Pinterest – Extremely visual and a big traffic driver. You can create group boards and invite people for group curation.

  • Quality of image matters above all else!

Spundge – Pulls from different networks and allows you to create notebooks and pull content from those platforms for whatever hashtag or keyword you’ve selected.

Storify – similar to Spundge with bookmarklets.

  • uses Storify.

Rebelmouse – Partially automated, but you can set very fine filters to what it is curating. It is an aggregator.

  • You can remove content.

More Tools:

  • Delicious
  • Pearltrees
  • Curata
  • Xydo Curation /

Picture of cake with the following was the final take-away for the full session:

Go Forth & Curate!

Monica Wright (@monicawright) of Search Engine Land and Marketing Land got a lot more information out of the panelists during the Q&A. Wish I had a voice-to-blog recorder to capture all the tidbits.


Dana Lookadoo founded Yo! Yo! SEO, a boutique agency based around the concept of Word-of-Mouth SEO.

See Dana's author page for links to connect on social media.

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