Part I: What is Content Aggregation? Getting Started with Content Aggregators

This post is part of a complete guide with up-and-coming series:

  • Part I: What is Content Aggregation? Getting Started with Content Aggregators
  • (Coming soon) Part II: Best content aggregation tools, apps, websites & platforms
  • (Upcoming) Part III : How to set-up an in-house content curation machine (Content curation best practices)
  • (Upcoming) Part IV : Content Aggregation for Publishers
    • Should you submit your content to aggregation sites
    • Content aggregation in WordPress
    • Content aggregators business model (how aggregators make money)
    • Is content aggregation legal

Want to find and share great content on your website or social media page? Want to keep up with industry news and be knowledgeable in your business area? Want to discover amazing content so it helps you to create your own?

That is not an easy task today since we are living through the information era renaissance. The key driver of information output besides user data and the Internet of Things has been digital content. Overwhelming the web, online content is being produced in vast volumes in various formats, length, and quality. The web is submerged in new content literary every 60 seconds, as this infographic by Smart Insights perfectly shows it:

Clearly we need tools that can help us manage the overflow of information. Tools allowing us to quickly discover, filter out/in, manage and distribute content to our audiences. Sometimes this would be proprietary content which we own, and other times we simply want to share useful information. That is where content aggregation tools and websites come into play.

Content Aggregation Definition

 

“Content aggregation” means the act of collecting content (blogs, newsletters, news articles, social media posts, etc.) from various feeds to the same place online. Aggregation can be done manually by people or automatically by software tools.

Often the content aggregation process is part of an organization’s content marketing strategy. Aggregating content helps them write their own blog posts and deliver value to users. At the same time, some companies use it for news intelligence to always be knowledgeable of their industry.

What is a Content Aggregator?

A “content aggregator” is an application or website designed to pull content from a variety of sources and then publish it all into the same place. And to answer your burning question, yes, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram are all content aggregators that close the gap between content publishers and users. Publishers submit their own content to social media platforms, while another great example of an aggregator, Google News, crawls and pulls the new content from many websites on its own. Our own app (Inoreader) is also a content aggregator that works on the basis of RSS technology, in other words it automatically collects content from websites who publish new content and who also utilize this RSS technology.

It is often the case that aggregators specialize in different types of content or content format (video, blogs, academic journals, etc.), such as technology specific news, or aggregating content from social media channels only.

With that said it becomes obvious that no aggregator can fit all your needs, so choosing your content aggregator mix depends to a large extend on which sources you plan to pull content from and whether the specific aggregator supports those platforms. We will cover more information on the types of aggregators in the upcoming Part II of the series: Best content aggregation tools, apps, websites & platforms.

The Difference between content curation, aggregation and syndication

Often misused even by professionals, you might be wondering what is the difference between content curation, aggregation and syndication.

Curation

Content curation – when users individually review many pieces of content, select the best and freshest posts, and sometimes manually tweak it with hand-written intros called annotations to each piece. Curation usually takes much longer than simply aggregating content on your website and will result in lower volumes of published content overall. This is not a downside however, since as we already discussed we are living in a world submerged in information, your audience will greatly appreciate you took the time and effort to select only the best for them. Examples of this are often specialized newsletters with thousands of subscribers that curate the best web content around a specific niche subject, such as UX Collective’s newsletter that gathers all great new things UX and sends it out on a weekly basis.

Aggregation

Before you curate content, first you have to automate your aggregation process. Using a web content aggregator like Inoreader lets you filter incoming feeds to include or exclude content based on specific keywords or other criteria, and even select the eventual output format of the aggregated content. Aggregation is extremely time efficient after initial set-up and that is what makes it so sought after. You don’t have to visit each source individually, you don’t even have to go through every post they publish, just the ones relevant to you and your audience.

Syndication

Without going into too much detail, content syndication is an entirely different beast which mostly concerns content publishers trying to get more eyes to see their own content. Syndicating content often means submitting it to various content aggregators (Facebook, Medium, etc.) on which we will cover more in Part IV: Content Aggregation for Publishers.

Thanks for reading! Want to discuss something? Try the comments…

Part II (Coming Soon, subscribe to stay tuned)