We’re often asked how to improve the on-page SEO for a curation or aggregation site. We’ve worked with a number of different groups to build and optimize sites that include content from existing sources and SEO is always a challenge. The challenge comes from the same thing but can be seen 2 different ways:
Because we believe that curation and aggregation sites can add value to the web at large, we want to help you do the best you can in search engines, whether you’re using WP-Drudge or not.
We’ve seen curation sites that do very well, in fact, whole businesses can be built on curation and search engine traffic can be a component. Following our guide here can help you get the most out of your WP-Drudge or other curation site.
A quick note: this guide is meant for people who are thoughtfully collecting and organizing existing content. There are a lot of pure aggregators out there that do nothing but pull in content without a human being behind the helm. That is a tough business model and, in many cases, against the content producers’ stated copyright. Please be responsible and respectful with your curation and aggregation.
Put simply, search engines don’t like 2 copies of the same thing in different places. From their perspective, an extra copy does not add any value, it’s just another blob of text to index and store (or, in many cases, to ignore). Duplicate copy on the web is, and always will be, something to overcome.
The take-away? The less duplication you’re doing, the better.
In addition, search engines love original content. We’re talking actually original, written from scratch, not duplicated. Copied content, even if it’s rearranged, is surprisingly easy to discover. Original, from-the-horse’s-mouth blog posts, content pages, and descriptions are the bread-and-butter of good SEO.
The take-away? The more that you’re actually writing, the better. We’ll talk about how to do that below.
So, we know that duplicate content is bad and original content is good. What else is good? Links!
Google figured out a long time ago that the web, built out of links, has preference inherently built in. If someone has a website and 100 unrelated people point to that website as a source of good information, that probably means that this site is a source of good information.
Do you buy it? Either way, that’s the basis of Google’s ranking algorithm and we need to play by their rules for the next decade, at least.
So, people linking to you are a good thing. What other kind of linking is good? Linking out to other sites, surprisingly.
If preference on the web is measured by links, then the more we can measure, the better. It’s like a poll. If I have a 1% sample, that’s pretty good. If I have a 10% sample, that’s even better. If sites are indicating what they prefer more often, search engines have more to go on.
There is a caveat to this, though. More incoming links (from good sources) is better. Outgoing links, however, have a point at which their return declines. There are no hard and fast numbers here but it’s safe to say that more and more and more outgoing links won’t help a site’s SEO without limit.
Our take-away here: don’t be afraid to show your preference on the web and link out to other sites.
Let’s review what we learned above, so we’re on-track:
The best site you could possibly have with respect to SEO is a site with next to no duplicated content, tons of original content, lots of incoming links, and a healthy number of outgoing links. Wikipedia, right?
I’ve been speaking in a general sense so far because there are simple “best practices” to SEO that have been the same for a long time and will continue to be important. Now, I want to make this very specific for curators.
I’m going to break these tips into sections below based on the learning above, with a bonus step for those just getting started.
This step is the “due diligence” step. I call it “step 0″ because a lot of folks have already walked through these changes. This is basically a checklist for WordPress SEO and can be used on any site.
This is where curation and aggregation sites will get into trouble: content pulled from other sources.
We know from above that we want the highest ratio of original content to duplicated content so a purely duplicated site is where you’ll see the worst SEO.
So, how do we create content that’s original from content that is not? You’ll need to be creative but that is where the value lies. The more content you can create on your own, the better.
This is where curation and aggregation sites will shine: links, both incoming and outgoing.
Links are what makes the web go around and curation sites have these in spades. Assuming that you’re pointing to good content and providing a bit of your own value using the tips above, your curation site is one of the best attractors of incoming links possible.
This is a critical final step and it’s much easier than the other because it involves, specifically, no action at all.
When it comes to SEO, don’t get caught in the “easy fix” trap. This includes paying for incoming links, trading links with unrelated sites, black hat techniques like hidden content, or any other kind of gaming.
If you’re already duplicating content in some places, you’re already on thin ice with search engines so make sure everything else you’re doing is above the board. Working on SEO for your site can help a lot over time but looking for that big spike of traffic from search engines is a fool’s errand. Organic, sustainable search traffic is a steady growth pattern, not a sudden massive bump. As long as you’re growing month-over-month, you’re doing the right thing.
We’re happy to answer any questions you have about SEO for the WP-Drudge theme or curation sites in general. Just ask!