19th Jan 2016

Content Marketing Curation Etiquette

There will always be a controversy of the usefulness of curated content marketing vs. created content marketing. Which is better? There are so many factors that influence what will engage your audience that it more or less boils down to sometimes you create – and sometimes you curate. One thing that does drive content marketing to new levels in the voracity with which audiences are consuming content and the need for keeping up with it.

In general is it easy to curate content. Curation is the use of other people’s articles on your media, or to put it another way, every time you press, ‘share’, you’re curating content. If you have 27 articles you need for your social media platforms in a week you have a choice; you can write 27 different, mind bending, audience engaging articles, or you can repost 27 already written articles from other sources. If you’re pushed for time or creativity, then it’s usually curation that wins out.

Arguably people put content on the internet to get curated. It’s flattering to have your well thought out and well written work quoted, referenced or mentioned in other people’s well thought out and well written work, and who doesn’t mark their success by shares and likes? But is that everyone’s goal? Actually, no, it isn’t.

What is backlinking?

One of the ways that curation of your article is a good thing is that it produces a backlink. The text might be reproduced, but, with a definite backlink to the original source somewhere that cannot be mistaken, it is generally recognized as a productive piece.

As articles are backlinked from other pages to the original article, the SEO bots that rule the internet take notice of it and can flag the content as authoritative. In effect the backlinks increases the credibility of the author. It’s a simple equitation, if it’s good – it gets shared, therefore making the source a reliable source. But the link has to be included on the reproduced article to form a backlink. And you have to put that link there.

Even with a backlink, some authors are not very open to reproduction of their original. If the backlink is to a page of low quality, to an unrelated site or to a competing web site, it may not be where they want their work to be included. If you haven’t asked for permission, copyright is still held by the originator. They can ask you to take it down and you are duty bound to do so.

If you reproduce the article without any backlink, even with the authors name on it, it is quite simply theft. You are stealing their material and publishing it without their consent and there’s a law against that.

How easy is it to breach copyright on the internet?

The answer to that is … very easy.

There was one case in 2013 where a pharmaceutical company reproduced an article on their website, with permission, but did not have permission to reproduce the included image which was held by a very large photo library, so the library sued – and won. We’d love to include the link to the story, but the pharmaceutical company was bought out a year later and the web site no longer exists. Had they provided a synopsis and linked to the article in an active link, or reproduced it without the image, rather than copy and pasted, they may have been saved a heap load of headaches.

Many companies use curated content and not all of them are out to defraud the author of royalties, but it is wise to follow the accepted etiquette when using curated content. It may not save you in every case, but it will head off many problems you may fall into unwittingly.


If the content you want to use is a reproduction of a complete article, gain permission. Email, comment, reach out on social media – any way you can, see if you can get permission to use the piece. Not everyone wants money to use it, they may well let you just for the backlink. But ASK.

Asking is especially important if you want to put it up on your web site as these seem to be more regularly checked than social media. And don’t forget the images, video and photos. They all need permission too.

If in doubt – leave it out!


Even with permission, give proper credit. The originator is doing you a huge favor by letting you use his content, and the jury’s out on how duplicate content affects your SEO in Google so it could even be at the authors cost, but either way, you need to recognize it. This one act will open up other doors for you to curate content as the power of the backlink is very persuasive.

The generally accepted way of crediting an article is to state that it is authored by the person, and originated on ‘abc site, here’ – including the link to the original article. If you can, backlink the authors name to a bio or company they own.

Even if you only use a quote or except, give the original author the credit they deserve. Mention the article and the author in your body of text, put it in quotation marks and provide a link to the original article. Be clear that you are borrowing someone else’s material to substantiate your own and it will increase your credibility in the industry.

With images, video and photographs, in a smaller font write, ‘Photo/image/video Credit: Mr ABC PERSON’, and again provide a link to the original page it came from, which if it’s Google images, link back to the home page of the artists company site.


One thing that Curation marketing etiquette does not cover… is re-writing the content as passing it off as your own. Whether you’re rewriting the whole article, or just the first line to fool the bots, be warned … it won’t. If the content is good enough to reproduce, give yourself a break and ask to use the original. If you don’t and attempt to fool the internet into thinking you have more talent than you do, there’s another word for that … it’s called plagiarism. Plagiarism of intellectual property.

And don’t even think of using Google Translate to translate it into (or from) another language to get you off the hook. Firstly, it will be completely unreadable and make you sound like a moron, and secondly, it’s still fraud.


Never, ever, EVER pass off someone else’s material as your own. In any form. There are laws against that.

If you want to guest post on a particular site take the time to write something worthy of posting. Do not simply cut and paste a ‘great’ article you found in Swedish, run through Google Translate and pass it off as your own. People get picky about things like that… like the police.

Things have a way of ‘coming home to mamma’ and when you get caught in copyright the penalties are severe. There isn’t really a scenario we can think of where you have a good defence:

‘I didn’t know it was him who wrote it …’ Ermmm… no.

‘It was a complete coincidence…’ Certainly Not.

‘The dog ate my original copy and I thought this was to one I wrote…’ Heck! No!

Large companies have whole departments dedicated to copyright infringement so it’s not worth getting introduced to them like that at any cost.

Don’t let all this put you off curating lots of content for your site as sharing is one of the great things about the internet, just be smart about it and then you can add a lot of value to all the great content that is out there.