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What is an Online Aggregator and How to Create Your Own (The Expert‘s 2100+ Word Guide)

Have you ever found yourself wasting hours scrolling through dozens of websites and feeds trying to keep up with the latest news, reviews, videos, or discussions around a topic you care about?

As your precious time slips away aggregated across all those open tabs, you can‘t help but wonder…

Isn’t there an easier way to consume curated content without all this hassle?

Well you‘re in luck, because that‘s exactly what online aggregators are designed to provide.

In this comprehensive 2100+ word guide, you‘ll learn everything you need to know about building your own automated aggregator website—without needing to code it from scratch.

By the end, you‘ll understand:

  • What online aggregators are and why they’re so popular
  • The most common types of aggregators
  • The benefits of creating one yourself
  • A step-by-step process for getting an aggregator up and running
  • How to monetize it once it takes off
  • Legal best practices when displaying curated content

Plus you’ll find over 15 examples of real-world aggregators, actionable tips, and expert insights throughout.

So buckle up and let‘s begin!

What Exactly is an Online Aggregator?

An online aggregator (also called a content aggregator or feed aggregator) is a website that curates and displays content from multiple external sources in one centralized place.

For example, a news aggregator might pull in articles from CNN, New York Times, Wired, and other publications to give readers a comprehensive overview of the latest headlines.

Other types of aggregators focus on things like product reviews, social media videos, job listings, online coupons, or travel deals.

But they all share a similar mission…

The goal of an aggregator is to become a "one-stop shop" to consume niche content, saving users time from hunting it down themselves.

Instead of visiting 20 different websites, an aggregator lets you view curated, relevant content in a single home.

According to industry surveys, the average person spends over 100 hours per year searching for content across the internet. That‘s more than 4 entire days!

Aggregators give those hours back by providing a targeted content hub. No more aimless wandering for the stuff you care about.

This convenience and time-savings for the user is the driving force behind aggregators‘ popularity.

Top aggregators like Reddit, Pinterest, and Flipboard attract millions of visitors per month using this model.

In fact, an astounding 72% of internet users say they actively use aggregator sites to consume online content more efficiently.

So if you can create a quality aggregator around virtually any niche, chances are good there’s an audience eagerly waiting for it.

Now let’s explore the most common categories.

Categories of Online Aggregators

Aggregators come in endless shapes and sizes catering to every interest. But most fall into one of these major buckets:

News Aggregators

Sites like Google News and Flipboard compile articles on current events, politics, business, tech, and more. Users get a one-stop newsstand.

Review Aggregators

Think Rotten Tomatoes for movies or Yelp for restaurants. These aggregate customer reviews for products, businesses, and services.

Travel Aggregators

These sites allow users to compare prices and reviews for flights, hotels, rental cars, tours, cruises, and total vacation packages. Some examples are TripAdvisor, Expedia, and Kayak.

Social Media Aggregators

Buzzfeed and Digg built massive audiences by curating and re-sharing viral social media content in one feed.

Video Aggregators

Sites like Reddit’s r/videos, MovieClips, and Vidme compile popular videos around categories like sports, video gaming, kids, how-tos, etc.

Coupon/Deal Aggregators

These sites provide curated lists of promo codes and deals for online shoppers. Examples include RetailMeNot, Groupon, and Slickdeals.

Job Aggregators

Indeed and SimplyHired aggregate millions of job listings posted across company sites, newspapers, boards, and more in one searchable database.

RSS Aggregators

Users can subscribe to RSS feeds from many sites and get updates delivered into one reader. Top platforms are Feedly, Inoreader, NewsBlur, and Feeder.

This list just scratches the surface. The possibilities for targeted content aggregation are endless.

Now let’s go over why building one yourself is worth considering.

5 Benefits of Creating Your Own Aggregator Site

Here are some of the top reasons to launch your own online aggregator:

1. Provide a Valuable Service to Users

A well-crafted aggregator saves people tons of time and effort discovering content around their interests. You’ll gain a loyal audience who rely on your curation abilities.

2. Establish Yourself as an Expert

Curation requires knowledge. By delivering a steady stream of highly relevant content, you establish domain expertise readers will come to depend on.

3. Keep Visitors Engaged

The more niche-focused your aggregation, the more engaged your audience. They’ll keep returning for your specialized selections.

4. Monetization Opportunities

We’ll cover this in detail shortly, but suffice to say targeted audiences translate into real revenue streams.

5. Gain Referral Traffic

Linking to original sources earns you referral visits and perhaps even partnerships with those publishers.

In short, do it right and your aggregator can become the definitive content hub for underserved niche audiences, driving recurring traffic, income potential, and influence.

Now let‘s dig into the step-by-step process for making this happen without any coding required.

How to Create Your Own Aggregator Site Without Coding

Here is an 8-step plan to launch your automated aggregator site:

Step 1: Choose Your Content Focus

First, decide on a specific topic, hobby, interest or industry your aggregator will focus on.

The narrower the better, as this lets you deeply serve that niche rather than just chasing general popularity.

For example, instead of a “tech news” aggregator, one specifically for cybersecurity news performs better.

Some other potential niches:

  • Classic movie reviews
  • Amateur photography tutorials
  • Web developer news & tools
  • Best deals for drone enthusiasts
  • Cat videos (hey, don’t judge!)

Choose something aligned with your own interests and knowledge base. That passion will come across in your curation.

Step 2: Research Content Sources

Search for websites, blogs, publications, video channels and social media accounts producing high quality original content related to your niche.

These will become the sources you pull material from. Aim for 10-20 good ones to start.

Pro Tip: One way to identify relevant sites is to look at competitors of the aggregator you want to build. See where they are pulling content from for inspiration.

Step 3: Select an Aggregator Platform

The web hosts an array of platforms that provide pre-built aggregator templates and the automated pipelines needed to collect and display content without coding.

Some top DIY-friendly options to consider:

  • Apify – Offers browser automation for advanced web scraping. Free plan available.
  • DNN – Open source CMS with built-in aggregation modules.
  • Distilled – Specializes in press release aggregation.
  • Feedly – Made for RSS feed aggregation. Has free version.
  • Reddit – Famous for user-generated social aggregation.

Each has their own strengths based on the data sources you’ll be integrating. Weigh the options closely here.

Step 4: Connect Your Data Feeds

Now it’s time to start piping in content!

For each source, connect to any available data feeds they offer, like RSS or JSON. This will automatically pull their latest content.

Step 5: Build Custom Scrapers

If your sources don’t have official feeds (which is common), most aggregation platforms allow you to build custom scrapers to extract what you need.

This gives you the flexibility to grab info from virtually any page, even without an API.

For example, you can scrape article titles, summaries, tags, images, author etc. from news sites lacking RSS feeds.

Step 6: Curate and Display Content

With data pipelines set up, it’s time to organize your inbound content. Consider:

  • Tone and quality standards for curating content
  • Categorization (tags, topics, series etc.)
  • Presentation order and prioritization
  • Visual look, layout, branding
  • Custom thumbnails, formatting, excerpts etc.

This is where you establish the unique value and style of your aggregator.

Step 7: Promote Your New Resource

Start actively building your audience by promoting the aggregator on social media, relevant forums, blogs, and through outreach to similar sites.

Encourage existing creators in the space to contribute and promote as well. Form partnerships where possible.

Step 8: Monetize Your Audience

We’ll overview the top options shortly, but start thinking about how to eventually monetize traffic through ads, affiliate programs, subscriptions, etc.

Track metrics from the start to assess performance and stickiness. This will inform future revenue opportunities.

And that‘s a wrap! By leveraging the abundance of aggregation tools now available and following these steps, you can launch a niche content site without complex coding.

Now let’s move on to everyone’s favorite topic…making money from your creation!

7 Revenue Models to Monetize Your Aggregator Traffic

There are plenty of effective ways to monetize an engaged audience on your aggregator site:

1. Advertising

One of the simplest approaches is displaying pay-per-click text and display ads. Google AdSense is a popular choice, providing relevant ads targeted to your content vertical.

Banner placements near the header, sidebar, and above/below articles tend to deliver the highest click-through rates.

2. Affiliate Marketing

Promote products relevant to your niche through affiliate links and earn commissions on resulting purchases or leads.

Amazon Associates is one large marketplace with various products, but also seek vertical-specific affiliate programs where possible.

3. Premium Subscriptions

Consider offering a subscription plan granting access to more exclusive content without ads, along with other bonus features or content.

For example, a popular deal site charges $5/month to remove ads and unlock extra promo codes.

4. Sponsored Posts

If your audience is engaged, you can sell sponsored posts and articles to businesses wanting exposure. Ensure proper disclosure so it’s clear what content is paid.

One travel aggregator charges tourism boards $750 per city guide.

5. Merchandising

Sell t-shirts, mugs, posters and other merch branded around your aggregated topic. Fans may want to showcase their affiliation.

A movie review aggregator sells shirts with things like “100% Fresh” or “Certified Rotten.”

6. Data Licensing

If you’ve built up a robust database of unique content, consider licensing access. For example, Buzzfeed licenses access to its viral content database.

7. Paid API Access

You can also charge developers to access your aggregated data via API if it’s valuable enough. One social media platform charges $99/month for API subscriptions.

Getting creative with these proven money-making strategies can significantly boost your income beyond just advertising. Experiment to see which resonate most with your particular audience.

But first, let’s go over some quick legal tips to keep in mind.

While aggregating content is perfectly legal in most cases, you should follow these guidelines to avoid issues:

1. Always Credit Sources

Provide attribution back to the original creator and publication for all content. Make sure credit is clear and easy to find.

Include links pointing back to the original source article so you drive referral traffic and readers can view the full context.

3. Honor Opt-Out Requests

If a site asks you to remove their content from your aggregator, respect their wishes and remove it promptly.

4. Follow Site Guidelines

Some sites like newspapers have Terms of Service prohibiting scraping or aggregation. Avoid those sources and stick to public data feeds.

In short: Always get any required licensing, credit everyone, and take down any content the source requests removed.

Do this and you‘ll stay on the right side of the law operating your aggregator.

So in summary…

Go Forth and Aggregate, My Friend!

Online aggregators are only growing in popularity and use cases as content across the web explodes. They provide an invaluable service to niche audiences by filtering signal from noise.

And now with easy-to-use aggregation platforms, anyone can build their own specialized aggregator around virtually any topic and monetize the resulting engaged traffic.

By following the steps in this guide, you can be up and running in no time, establishing your brand as a go-to curation hub for underserved enthusiasts eager for your exemplary selections.

So what are you waiting for? Go stake your claim on a specific slice of the internet and start serving up expertly aggregated content to the fans who need your unique point of view.

The opportunity is yours for the taking. I can‘t wait to see the aggregator you build!

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