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Troy Broussard: Hello and welcome back to Mike and Troy’s TopMarketingStrategies Podcast. This is Troy Broussard.
Mike Pereira: And I’m Mike Pereira.
Troy: And today, we’re going to jump into a series that we’re going to cover in the next several podcasts. In the last episode of the podcast, we talked about the top ten marketing and traffic strategies for 2012 and now into 2013. Now, what we’re going to do is break those down individually over the next few weeks and really go into a lot of detail on them.
Today’s topic is going to be blog curation. Despite the funny name, it’s something that’s been out there for quite some time. Curation is really the news model. If you want to think about how news comes across on our TV stations and the top nightly news segments, you’ll have a news headline that’ll go out on Associated Press or they’ll just have a little blurb that’ll get put out. That’ll stir up some interest and then maybe the Washington Post will do an editorial about that. They will look at the news story as it was revealed by the Associated Press, one of their editors will create an editorial response to that, and they’ll quote the Associated Press for breaking the initial news story.
So when you watch it on the nightly news, you’re going to see another editorialized version of that original story. Now, you’re looking at maybe three or four different people and commentators and editorial information around the original topic. The one thing that they do is always cite their sources. That is a journalistic standard that allows you to trust that the information is valid because they cite who provided that original information.
Now, when you implement blog curation on your site, you need to do the same thing. You need to make sure and attribute that information that you’re curating to the original author. What is blog curation, Mike? How do you define it in your words and let’s maybe break this down into your terms.
Mike: In essence, to me, blog curation is exactly how you described it. How it would work for a layperson who has a blog is to go out and look for interesting newsworthy information or something that we think our readers are going to like and appreciate. Find it from various sources on the web, combine them together and then put our own twist and thoughts into it and put it into our blog. That is what blog curation is, in a nutshell, when it comes to our marketing terms.
Troy: Yeah, absolutely. One of the best ways to do that is with Google alerts. You can set up Google alerts for some of your prime keywords that you’re targeting in your particular blog, site, or business. When you see news that’s related to that, then Google will fire off an alert and send you an email with that information and you can go check that out. As you do, if you see that it’s a really good story and it’s related to what’s going to appeal to users in your audience, then you can go ahead and curate that post.
What would that process look like? It’s pretty simple, really. It’s just taking the original content and finding a couple of quotes within that content that you want to use, so coming out with a couple of one-liners that are really catchy, that have the most impact, and creating a quote around those. Now, you go to your site and create a new blog post, insert those quotes, and make sure to attribute the source. So make sure and say, click here to read the original article. You don’t really have to promote that link because clearly you want the traffic to stay on your site. So there’s a lot of clever techniques that you can do. You can use a smaller tight font so it’s not as relevant for the link. You can put that link at the end of your article. You can say sources quoted from this article as follows and put the two links that you quoted out at the bottom.
Any way you do it is fine. But what’s important is that you do provide that link back to the original content. Because if not, then you’re just stealing it. You’re just stealing and scraping the content and not giving them credit for somebody else’s creativity and creative work. That’s something you definitely want to do in blog curation. When it comes to some of the general rules and guidelines of curation, there are some standards that you want to follow so that you get good results and don’t get yourself into trouble. So Mike, you want to talk about some of those?
Mike: Yeah, as Troy mentioned, we do want to make sure that we’re going to cite the original source. There’s a fine line between taking a piece of content, curating it, and elaborating on it, versus stealing it. That is very important and very key. You are not stealing any information, and in fact, you can build a relationship with somebody via that method.
Another guideline towards curation is to not do too much linking. What you don’t want to do is go out and create a 500 word article where you put a hundred word blurb from one article, a hundred words from another article, a hundred words from another article, and you’ve only added about thirty words to it, so now you just got a whole bunch of information gathered from somewhere else. You want to take blurbs from various sources and add to it. You want to add value. That is the key. You need to add value to the information. You need to add your own flavor to it so that people will resonate with you as they read it.
Troy: We use a kind of one-third/two-thirds guideline for just a really simplistic guideline. What do I mean by that? What I mean is that two-thirds of the content on that page should be original and then one-third of it can be quoted. The reason, for one, is to create your expertise and let your voice come through. You really want to use the curation as a way of introducing other topics and ideas, and other valuable sources of information to your audience. But you want to do it in a way that positions you as being the expert. By adding your own editorial content around that curated post, then your audiences is looking at you as being their solution. You’re the one that went out and found this great content, provided it to them and gave them some value. So even though you’re not the original idea person, you are the one that brought it to them, and that is going to present your expertise to them.
There’s another more pragmatic reason for doing it as well. You don’t want to have a bunch of duplicate content on your site. While there’s not really any penalty for having duplicated content, and that’s really a myth, the fact of the matter is duplicate content exists everywhere on the internet. Syndication, in and of itself, creates duplicate content. The perfect example of that is a press release, which is 100% duplicate content from numerous different sites.
So don’t worry about being penalized for duplicate content. That’s not the point. The point is, if you’re just putting duplicate content and not adding your own voice and information, how is that content you’re creating A) of any value to your list, and B) any value to Google? Because how is Google going to rank you for those keywords better than somebody else if you’re just using duplicate content? You need to give them something of value as well, just like your users. So that’s another good reason for observing that one-third/two-thirds rule when it comes to how much content should be original and how much should be quoted.
Mike: Yeah, I want to add an example to this. Let’s take dog training as an example and let’s say that I’m going to write a post on how to train your dog. I’m going to go out and find three sources on how to train your dog. Website A is going to teach me how to get my dog to sit. Website B is going to teach me how to get my dog to walk on a leash. And website C is going to teach me how to get my dog to give me his paw.
So what I would do in my article is start writing about training and teaching a dog, and I’m going to segue to teaching my dog how to sit. I’ll say this site A actually has wonderful information on how to make your dog to sit. Then I’ll break out a little piece or snippet of what that website had and I’m going to link to it. Below that, I’ll say what I do is give my dog a piece of liver or something. Add value to what they’re saying. And I’ll do that for the other three other pieces and now I took content from three different sources and I added them to mine, and I added value to it.
Now people are going to want to come to me because they’re going to know that I can aggregate the information for them. They don’t have to go to these three different websites. They don’t have to go to any other website because I just go out there and do it for them. I add value to it and I put it all there for them so they’re going to want to subscribe to my information.
Troy: A couple more guidelines here before we segue into some of the major benefits of blog curation. You don’t want to overdo your outbound linking in a post. The example that Mike gave of just quoting three different places, etc., is good if you’re writing a long article. It’s probably not good if you’re just writing a short 500 word blurb to have three different quotes going out. If you’re writing a long thousand word blog post or something, then that probably makes sense, but you want to have continuity in your post and information. You don’t want to have it look like a laundry list of outbound links because that just looks odd to people, as well as looks odd to Google to have these great big laundry list linking posts.
In general, I just tend to have one or two links out. I might put two or three quotes from the same article so that I break up the blog post and have these nice quoted blocks in the post to make it a lot more readable and engaging to people, so I might put two or three quotes, but they might all come from the same article and only have one outbound link. Or sometimes I might go a little bit more than that, but that’s just kind of a general approach. You don’t want to overdo your out-linking. It just looks odd.
One other thing that is important to realize too when it comes to curation is that when you’re curating content, that content doesn’t just have to be textual content. You can use this same technique to curate videos for example, off of YouTube. You can go find a really popular YouTube video that is related to your topic or find a way to relate it, sometimes even an off-base kind of relation that’s fun. And what you can do with that is piggyback on the popularity of that video and throw it into your post and write some editorial around it, curate it there, and just make sure and give that credit with a link.
Mike: And just to preface that, you don’t actually have to give a link for YouTube. Just the very act of embedding a YouTube video within the post itself is giving them a link back.
Troy: Yeah, absolutely. On YouTube, you’re already linking back so that’s not a problem. Another example of media that you can curate would be images and infographics. Infographics can be great for getting people to engage with your site seeing these great graphics and embedding like a small picture of it and making it a link out to the original back on the original site and talking about it, etc. That provides a degree of professionalism to your site and an enhanced user experience. And you’re really leveraging the work that somebody else has done. You don’t have to hot link that image back to their site. You could choose to just put a citation at the end of your post. “The above info link comes from…” and put a link there that cites your source. However you want to do it, just remember that whenever you take somebody else’s content that you’re borrowing it. And the only way that you can borrow it is if you give permission. The only way you can borrow it is if you cite their source. That’s the only fair way of doing it and that’s the only way that’s not going to get you into trouble.
All right, I wanted to segue a little bit into some of the benefits of curation. Mike, I’ll let you start that off.
Mike: One of the major benefits that you get from content curation is something you were just talking about, which is citing your source. What many people don’t realize is that when you cite your source, you are placing a link toward somebody else, and the person who you are actually citing is 9 times out of 10 will see that you linked to them. And if you’re linking to somebody on an influential website, it’s probably somebody you want to build a relationship with. So they’re going to come to your site. Sometimes they’re not going to say anything. Sometimes they’re going to leave a comment. Sometimes they’ll email you. They’ll maybe become a friend of yours on Twitter, Facebook or something, but one way or another, you will potentially build a relationship there, and that’s one of the biggest elements of this that I think a lot of people miss. The citation shows that you’re an upstanding person, you’re a read of their site, you like their information, you like it so much you’re actually linking to it. They may actually link back to you at that point as well.
Troy: Yeah, and when we talk about linking out, I think a lot of people really get this wrong. They think that they don’t want to link out off their site because that sends traffic away and they’re going to lose traffic on their site by linking outbound. They want incoming links, but they don’t want outbound links.
Well, let me tell you how Google looks at that. Google talks about this as being a good internet citizen: somebody that participates in the community as a whole. If your site is hoarding links and traffic and never ever sending anybody off your site or quoting other sites, then it doesn’t look natural. That’s not the type of relationship that you should be trying to create. You don’t want to hoard traffic. You want to give the right information and the best answer to your users, readers and subscribers that you possibly can. And a lot of times, that means linking off to other valid resources, quoting them, and giving them citations.
As an example, if you’re in the medical field, you’re going to talk about certain things and you want to make sure that you really enforce your theories and points with valid and substantial references back to the AMA for example. That’s a reason you would do that. It builds credibility in your own expertise by backing up the points that you make through your citations. So that’s one reason for doing it.
But there are really a lot of reasons for doing outbound linking. One of the other things that many people don’t get about linking outbound is that it can actually increase the authority of your site. What does that really mean? What that means is that the degree to which your site is trusted by Google. Let me give you an example here. Let’s say that you are a local news curated site and you curate news for a tri-state region or something and do these news stories in your area. If you’re referencing and frequently quoting from the Washington Post, New York Times, LA Times, and all these different respected journals and sites, then Google looks at that and they see that link pattern. They see that you only go out and include content from quality sites, and it puts you in that same neighborhood. Now, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to turn into a PR8 page ranking site overnight, [laughs] but it does show your tendency to associate yourself with quality sites. If you’re linking out to spam sites, that’s clearly going to penalize you in Google’s eyes. So isn’t it obvious that if you’re linking out to quality sites that it’s going to enhance your trust within Google? Of course it is!
Mike: Again all things in moderation. Just because one authority link is going to give you authority doesn’t mean you should go put 385 authority links on your webpage as well. [laughs]
Troy: Yeah, that’s obvious. Everything we’ve got to do in moderation and when you start getting these curated posts out there, look to expand your footprint. Get links and curated content from a variety of high quality authority sites. That’s something we haven’t really mentioned, but you want to be very careful what sites you’re quoting and linking to because that is how you’re going to be perceived in the mind of your audience. When they look at your content and you’re quoting out to really quality sites, they’re going to give much more respect to you as well. Make sure that it’s a relevant post, that it’s a relevant site, and it has good quality content and authority as well so that can help your overall positioning within your niche and to your audience.
Now, one of the other things is that using curation makes it a lot easier to write content. You don’t have to come out with all these original ideas all the time, because trust me, that gets to be painful in a hurry. Leveraging some great ideas that others have and pulling off of that and then just adding your own editorial is much easier.
Mike: Absolutely. When you set up a Google alerts for your main topic, for instance I use dog training as one, you’ll get so many different Google alerts for other topics that you wouldn’t have even thought of. You may even read about something and go “Wow, this is just great. I’m going to go curate this.” Just the very step of setting up Google alerts for your main niche will help you with your thoughts.
Troy: Yeah, not only that, but they’re also going to expose you to some of the key players in your niche. You’re going to see this content coming in and it will start to point out the people that are writing the most on the topics, how frequently they’re posting and the content they provide. It will start to expand your circle of influence. Because you don’t want to just curate the same sites over and over again. You want to expand and grab a larger audience and go out to other relevant sites. So using Google alerts can be a great way of doing that. If you check out the host blog site here, TopMarketingStrategies, and check out the podcast there, we’ll always have these resources from these episodes and we’ve got a great resource on Google alerts that we can go into. We don’t to go into it on the podcast, but check that out in the resources for this podcast.
Mike: Another benefit on the curation model is also something that we touched on in the beginning of when we’re giving citations and building relationships. Not only are you gaining relationships, you’re also gaining some links in some respects. When you link to some of the WordPress blogs, they’ll allow trackbacks. A trackback just means that they’re allowing a link with basically the title of the blog post showing up on their blog post. If this is a high traffic, high value website, not only will you get a good link back to your site, you can also get some traffic from those trackbacks – regardless if it’s no-follow, do-follow, or whatever. Generally it will be do-follow, but it’s still going to be high quality. Those posts are visited frequently and as people go through the post, they’re going to see your link, and if your title makes sense – if your title is something that attracts attention – people will click on it. We see traffic coming from trackbacks to our site on a regular basis from the curations that we do. It’s not a flood of traffic – I don’t want you to think we’re getting thousands of people coming in from this – but everything counts. It may be one from here or there every few weeks, and the sum of all these traffic sources combined is what makes it great.
Troy: Yeah, one of the other things we’ve also noticed, and it’s just human nature and ego, but a lot of places that you will end up citing and curating are going to be blogs. Bloggers like to be quoted. They like to see that somebody else is referencing their content. It’s really funny, but we’ve seen a percentage of our curated posts where they’ve turned around and curate us back. So we’ll curate their original post, put a summary on our site, quote them and talk about how it was a great article and this and that. They see that and they’re like “Hey, that’s really cool. That guy dropped a link to me and liked my stuff.” And a lot of times, they’ll actually send it out to their own list in an email or comment that they’ll put on their site because they want to point out to their people that other people are liking this and engaging and quoting it.
It’s a way of patting themselves on the back, so we’ve seen a lot of reciprocal links come out of this that really surprised us. When we got going in curation at first, we really had no expectation of the reciprocal nature of it. We really had no expectation of getting links from it. And we really had no expectation of building relationships, and we’ve actually created a couple of JV relationships from people that started out just through curation and then approached them and back and forth and built relationships with them.
This is very powerful on a lot of different fronts. But probably the single biggest reason for doing blog curation is to grow your content base within your site. What do I mean by that – Grow your content or footprint? What I really mean is how many pages does your site have in the Google index? How much content do you have? If you have a little tiny site that only has ten pages of content, what is realistic today? How much traffic will you get from that? The reality is not very much. And if Google is continually refining their algorithm towards higher quality, higher authority sites, part of being an authority site is having something to say, and having a lot of something to say. If you’re an authority on a given topic, it’s not expected that you’re only going to have one article on that topic and never say another word. What would be expected is you’ve got a lot of content on that topic. You have an exhaustive coverage of that topic and you have a lot of different angles and perspectives of that topic and that you publish content rather frequently. All of those things tend to establish you as an expert.
Lastly, I wanted to say that one of the benefits that we like about content curation is that our motto is “work smarter not harder” and content curation really fits in nicely with that because it’s so easy to outsource. So Mike, why don’t you talk about how we do some of that?
Mike: Absolutely. What we do is we task our writer with a topic or niche. We have them set up the Google alerts and they will look for information they will curate. We’ll say we want this many blog posts, depending on which site we’re talking about and what niche, per week to this site. They will curate it and add it to the site. They won’t actually publish it, [unintelligible 23:01] they’ll set it up the way we tell them to do. Then we’ll just go through the information, clean it up, edit it, and we can publish it from that point forward. That saves us a lot of time so we’re not doing the research, writing, and all we really have to do is edit it at that point. From that perspective, outsourcing the content becomes a lot easier for us.
Troy: Yeah, and there are a couple of different ways to do that. In the beginning, what I would recommend is that you actually pick the topics that you want your writers to write on. That’s the way we started out. As we trained our writers over time to know the type of stuff that we wanted, then we took them to the next level where we set the alerts to go to them and we let them recommend a set of posts back to us and say “I’m thinking of writing on these.” Then we would say, “You know what, let’s do these three and not these.” So we trained them over time to the type, style and quality of information we wanted to curate and gave them some guidelines.
In the beginning, you may need to be a little bit more hands on in selecting the content and making sure it’s coming from a quality, authoritative site that you want to have a link out to. Then over time, you can just transition that to your writers as well and you’ll get to a point where all you really have to do is approve the article and do some quick edit and spot checks.
Now, if you’re positioning yourself as a branded expert in your particular niche, let’s say you’re a lawyer, dentist, chiropractor, auto body shop repairman, or any type of local business that you’re the main branding for your site, you’ve got to be careful with curation because you don’t want to put your main core content in somebody else’s voice. You really want to create that content yourself, but you can still use curation to grow your site footprint.
One of the ways we like doing that is creating a category on your blog called In the News or News or Recent Events and use that for your curated content so you can get the best of both worlds. You can grow your site content, automate a portion of it through curation, but still maintain your voice on the higher quality posts. That’s something we’ve used with our clients with great success, right Mike?
Troy: Okay, so that wraps up today’s session on blog curation. The bottom line is it’s a great way for building up the content on your site, to engage your readers more, to position yourself as the person to bring them the information that they’re looking for, and create more links and exposure for your site as well.
Pick the Brain
Mike: This week’s Pick the Brain question comes from James in the UK. James asks, “All the negativity around link building this year has paralyzed my marketing efforts. What type of link building is safe for 2013?”
Troy: Yeah, that’s a really common question James. We’ve got so many people out there that are saying the same thing. They’re just scared and don’t know what to do. Really, it’s the FUD factor – Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.
So you have to combat that. The first thing is that you’ve acknowledged that doing nothing won’t work. That’s the first thing that you’ve got to do. Now, getting into this again and getting back into the groove, first of all, there’s nothing wrong with marketing and promoting your site. It’s just about how you do it. A great thing to get started with when trying to get some links coming in and you want to be very conservative is do the things that are most common and natural in the industry. Putting up some of your content and turning it into a PDF and throwing it out at some of the doc-sharing sites Scribed and others, using guest posting and blog communing – this is old-school marketing and promotion, but guess what? It works. And it works really well.
A lot of people are very anti-guest posting. They think that it doesn’t a lot for them. Mike and I did a guest post – or when I say Mike and I, actually I wrote it, so I’m going to take credit for it [laughs].
Mike: It was my idea though.
Troy: It was Mike’s idea. Sure, of course it was. So I had a guest post that we published and within just a matter of a couple of weeks, it brought about several hundred visitors to the site off of one post. Today, it’s more than six weeks later, and we still see traffic each and every single day trickle in from that guest blog post that we did. So guest blog posting is a really effective way of not only building traffic, but getting good quality links. The trick there is looking for good quality blogs that fit within your niche and would bring traffic in. That’s one really good technique.
Another thing you can do to build up your link count is blog commenting. Again, blog commenting is an old school tactic, and a lot of people think it’s not useful because they’re no-follow links, etc. Let me tell you. Every link counts. Google sees every link that comes in. Whether it’s a do-follow or a no-follow, they see that link coming through and see the activity, and they see the popularity of your site that it generates. So don’t worry if it’s a no-follow or do-follow link. That’s really irrelevant. The trick with blog commenting is to put comments on somebody’s site the way you would want comments on your site. Put quality comments. Engage in and actually read their posts and write something useful. When you do, don’t put the keyword in your signature or as your name when you leave the comment. A lot of people will do this comment and it’ll be a really spammy comment, and then it’ll say BuyViagraNow as the link text, and wonder why the comments don’t get published. Of course that’s not going to work.
Use your name. Use a generic This is Troy or whatever and put that in and put your comment in and put a quality comment of value and you’ll get a very high degree of acceptance rate when you do that. That is another great technique for building some links when you’re first getting rolling.
Random Thought From Mike
Troy: I’m backing off as we speak.
Mike: KISS stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid. And what I mean by that is that…
Troy: So now you’re calling me stupid. You just said you’re going to kiss me and now you’re calling me stupid. What is it?
Mike: I like to kiss simply stupid people. [laughs] Where I’m going at with this is to not overcomplicate things. We get a lot of questions and commentary from people doing our webinars – when I say our, I mean mostly Troy. But in our webinars we were talking about keyword percentages, link percentages, traffic and optimization. I mean, lots of people asking for exact numbers like percentages. And when we say you should put out links at random intervals, people want to know the exact numbers and percentages, and a lot of stuff isn’t really going to have an exact number to it. It’s going to be a blend.
Troy: Mike’s idea of keeping it simple works really well because just like he does on the webinars, he keeps those really simple. He just lets me do it all. [laughs] Mike is a great one to learn for how to keep it simple.
Mike: [laughs] As an example, find yourself a partner who will do a lot of the work, and that’s going to simplify things for you.
Troy: [laughs] Yeah. No, but seriously, keeping it simple is something that most people really don’t get. As Mike said, we’ll get a tidbit from the helpdesk about somebody purchasing an article, and they’re purchasing a 500 word article and leave these instructions that are a thousand words long. And I know you think I’m exaggerating, but I can show you example after example every single week. Their instructions are so complicated that I don’t think that they could even follow them. And the point is, do you get it or do you not get it? These people obviously don’t get it.
If you put that much intricacy into every small little task that you do, then it’s a perfectionism mindset that’s going to get you nothing but a lot of uncompleted projects. So keeping it simple is about setting small, bit-sized objectives and just hitting them with massive action. Taking action and getting things done instead of just focusing on trying to get everything perfect with a whole bunch of complicated details. Look in your business today, how you can approach it, and how you can apply the Keep it Simple philosophy and reduce some of the complication of what you’re doing on a daily basis. What you’re going to see is an improvement in the efficiency of your business.
Random Thought From Troy
Troy: My random thought of the day today is don’t market to marketers. Here’s what I mean by that. We see this trend over and over again by people that are new to marketing and internet marketing. They really don’t take the time to put themselves in the shoes and mindset of their customer, and they create marketing campaigns that really resonate to them.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’ve got an auto body repair shop and you really know all the jargon for auto body repair. You know the types of solvents that you use that get best results, you know the best type of painting techniques that are going to work, so you tend to focus and emphasize these features that are things you know intimately because you know your business intimately.
Unfortunately, those things don’t resonate with your average consumer. Your average consumer wants to know more about how long does it take, and do you offer pickup and delivery services, and things of that nature. So the real thing that you need to do is make sure to create marketing campaigns that will appeal to your customers.
We see this a lot in the internet marketing segment as well. People will choose a campaign and won’t put popups on their website for example because they hate popups. Well, that’s okay. You may hate them, but if they good results for the average consumer, then you should be using them. And they may not in your niche; it totally depends on what niche you’re in. The point is, look at your marketing campaign through the eyes of your target audience and don’t overly inject your own opinions into the marketing campaign because you may find that you’re just alienating the vast majority of your audience that way.
Mike: I agree with everything that you said, Troy. We see that a lot on our customer sites as well where they’re against doing certain things because it’s something they necessarily don’t believe in or don’t want to do, even if we show them stats to show that it’s going to be better for them in the long run, such as get them better conversions or something to that effect. So don’t always just focus on what you like, but focus on what your customers are going to like.
Troy: Yeah, and the last closing rule here is test. Test, test, test. Test everything out so if you’re not sure if it’s going to work one way or the other, then put a split test together and set 50% of your traffic at one approach, 50% at the other approach, and see which one works out the best. Then you have your winner.
Okay, that closes out another episode of Mike and Troy’s TopMarketingStrategies Podcast. We’ll see you next week.