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

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

Matt mistakenly refers to content creation as content curation, and refers to aggregated content as auto-generated content. He also wholly ignores curated content. Below I have attempted to clarify his explanation along with providing clear distinctions between aggregated content, curated content, and created content.

Three Types of Content

Matt described a spectrum of content types. These range from aggregated content on one end, such as the press section of a company’s web site using auto-generation to repost existing articles, to curated content, all the way to the New York Times at the other end. His description was confusing however. He referred to original content such as from the New York 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 a widget does provide some informational value, in the grand scheme of things it does not really help a visitor much. All the content in the widget can easily be found on another site. And because the content is automatically generated, there’s a high likelihood it may be irrelevant. Cutts argues that aggregated content like this can even hurt your site’s search engine ranking.

Content Creation

At the right end of the spectrum is original created content. This is of high informational value to a reader. Such content is typically exclusive, which makes it great bait for inbound links. The downside of created content is that producing it is a lot of work. It can be quite resource and time intensive. Organizations such as the New York Times can continually create high quality, original created content day in and day out. However, for resource-constrained marketers, producing great original content every single day is simply out of the question. Cutts erroneously refers to this content as an act of “curation” on this video, but he is really talking about creation.

Content Curation

The third method of content publishing is “curation,” which lies in the middle of the spectrum. Like aggregated content, you can publish curated content regularly without too much effort. And like created content, curated content can be very relevant and informative for the end reader when done properly. Each piece of created content can serve as link-bait to increase your search engine ranking. With curated content however, an individual piece of content may not attract a lot of inbound links. But a curated site as a whole can become a go-to resource and may attract links. To see how, check out 10 Great Examples of Content Curation in Action.

content curation desk


Here are my takeaways from Matt’s short video:

  • Be cautious with aggregated content. As Matt says, aggregated content can hurt your search engine ranking because it may be irrelevant and is duplicative without adding any original value. If you want to post aggregated content on your site, consider using a “nofollow” link so search engines don’t consider this as a ‘real’ link.
  • Don’t repost full articles. If you want to aggregate content, don’t repost the entire third party article in full. Just take a small portion, both for fair use consideration, and so you aren’t flagged by Google as duplicate content.
  • Create as much content as possible. Original content is highly lucrative from a search engine ranking perspective. But producing it is also very time and resource-intensive.
  • Consider content curation. Do leverage content curation as part of your content marketing strategy. It gives you the best of both worlds. You can publish with high frequency and high relevance, yet relatively low effort. LinkedIn is just one example of the growing trend of curation as it continues to invest in this market, as well as the broader content marketing movement. Another is the Authorship feature in Google+.
  • Add value to your curated content. Curation involves not just finding content to post. You also have to carefully select which content you want to share, and add editorial commentary and perspective as well. Absent the latter two steps, your curation efforts may closely resemble those of someone aggregating content. Avoid this by being selective about what you post and ensuring only relevant, high quality content is curated. In addition, it is also a good idea to only take a small amount of content as an excerpt from the original third party source. Then retitle the content, and provide commentary so you aren’t flagged as a duplicate article.

For a comprehensive look at best practices in combining content creation with curation, check out Curata’s eBook, The Hands on Guide: How to Curate Content Like a Boss.

Pawan Deshpande

Pawan Deshpande is the founder and CEO of Curata, a Boston-based company offering content marketing software used by thousands of marketers around the world. He spearheaded the first-ever panel at SxSW on Content Marketing in 2011, and was a 2014 Finalist for MarketingProfs B2B Marketer of the Year. Pawan was an engineer at Microsoft and Google where he was awarded patents in social networking and machine learning. He previously attended MIT where his graduate thesis won top departmental and international awards.

Pawan is also a blogger for The Huffington Post, the Content Marketing Institute,, Forbes, Marketing Profs, and other technology and marketing publications.

  • Lia Chaves Fernando

    Does Google always punish duplicate content? Here’s an example of a “curated” newsletter on environmental issues and carbon and energy management but it doesn’t look like its been flagged (or flagged but not penalized? is there such a thing?); in fact it’s a PR 4 webpage.

    • Pawan Deshpande

      Only under certain circumstances, you can see their guidelines here:

      Regarding the link in your comment, it looks like they are doing things right by only sharing a small portion of the sourced content, and adding links back to the original source which Google suggests: “It is helpful to ensure that each site on which your content is syndicated includes a link back to your original article.”

      For more guidelines on both SEO & ethical considerations for content curation, see our 30+ page ebook on this topic called Content Marketing Done Right:

  • Guy Eros Olivera Guillermo

    Fuck google. To me, Google is like women, if you do everything to please them like they say, just for them not to be interested, that sucks.

    Be yourself, pr the hell out of your content. Build a solid brand so that if google does gripe (or your ex-girlfriend is sleeping with Matt Cutts) you’ll still be fine because you’re known in the brick and mortar world and REAL PEOPLE are linking to you because they genuinely like their content.

    Let’s face it: We’ve ALL built high-quality websites that we wish were mass distributed through the web enabling more traffic.

  • Bloggers Nigeria

    I still don’t understand how aggregated content is bad. I just created and I was thinking of using aggregated content.

  • Hi Pawan, Matt’s usage of Curation is correct. He didn’t mean Creation. Curation means you are curating the content like a museum curator curates the art work that they display. They curate it by only showing things that are relevant. His point is valid and insightful. Thanks for the vid post.

    • Hi Jeff, in a very broad and loose definition of the word, he does refer to “curation” correctly. At around 1:38 he talks about the New York Times employing curation. Based on his language, it looks like he’s either referring to NYT either:

      (1) Curating facts that are then amalgamated into an original article — which in my opinion is an act of creation.

      (2) Curating content from wire services they license such as the Associated Press and only selectively reproducing that content on their site — which could be considered curation, but because they are reproducing the sourced content in full could also be considered syndication.

      Increasingly creation and curation are converging into a single process as I have described here in this post about the future of curation:

      Regardless of what you call it, Matt’s point is clear — that high volume automatically aggregated content production is detrimental to both the reader and your search engine ranking.

  • Hazel Perry

    amazing experience! It is related with the creative solutions to the specific
    subject and much useful.


  • Creating good content is very essential for bloggers. Oftentimes, our blog doesn’t draw the kind of traffic that we love and this could be due to poor content. Before you post, ask yourself: If I’m the reader, would I want to read this?

  • fnoces

    I would want to apply curation concept as part of my blogging in . What my plan is to write a unique article once a week and do everyday a curation either infographic, video or photo like a buzzfeed. Is this even possible? My problem is the copyright. Will it even matter?

  • jontyroaz

    Even though high school graduates earned 156-315.77 Practice Test higher wages than dropouts, additional requirements for a high school diploma counteracted what were substantial economic returns to the credential. More difficult to explain is the recent increase in the graduation rate

  • Juraj Vysvader
  • Content creation and curation have become the pillars of web content these days. I am not sure but making these work for you should be the key. Making it exciting and out-of-the-box interesting would make content marketing shine.

  • Elikhbaria News

    If your site publishes aggregated content, you need office separated from his original

  • Mark Sallows

    This is an interesting and an important discussion. I think what Matt Cutts is implying is that the Google algorithm will punish you if it detects a large volume of duplicate content on your site. However, content curation done well, involves finding, organizing, introducing and linking to other peoples content that is relevant to your created post or story . Not unlike curating art for a public gallery.

    Doesn’t this make the content you are curating more valuable and interesting? It will certainly reduce duplicate content at the same time. In other words you have to act as a human algorithm and pick and choose what content to curate and how to blend it with your created content and link off to it.

    Pawan, for best results (both Google ranking and visitor brand experience, shouldn’t curated content be blended with created content rather than being thought of as a separate activity?

  • Sana Khan
  • Sana Khan

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