Joost de Valk

Joost de Valk is one of the world’s most respected blogging, SEO, WordPress and content strategy experts. Joost has written over 20 plugins for WordPress which, combined, have had more than 3 million downloads.

Joost has been speaking at several of our conferences. At the occasion of one of them Giedrius Ivanauskas asked him to share some views on content strategy, SEO and content curation. Joost regularly shares his blogging and SEO knowledge and experience on his globally popular blog at What fewer people know is that Joost is also a great storyteller and content strategy expert. The fact that he studied theology, Joost once told me, is one of the reasons why he knows quite a bit about storytelling – and content marketing.

What is your opinion about the on-going discussions over content creation and/versus content curation?

Joost de Valk: “While both are valuable tactics, to become a real leader in your field, you need to create. The most valued people will always be those that come up with new strategies, ideas, tactics & tools. The people that help you find these new things have a role, and they could make a very decent living through that role, but they’re far more easily replaced. Take the roots of the Christian church: Jesus created the story that Paul spread. They both had an impact, but I think nobody would argue Jesus was the bigger one of the two. Also, creation in itself is mostly ‘curation’, as creation is the reorganization of existing, though sometimes deprecated ideas and making them relevant in a new context. There are very few really new ideas, if any at all”.

Joost de Valk at one of our conferences
Joost de Valk at one of our conferences

A philosophical answer with a theological twist (note: this blog post nor Joost’s views represent any religious viewpoints). So, content creation is in a way content curation as we provide context to the experiences we had in our lives, what we have learned and the ideas we picked up along the road. At the same time it shows the role of storytelling: we pick up stories our whole lives and reorganize them into new stories. However, the creation of stories and content matters most. But then, again, without someone who ‘shares’ the story, as Paul did, no one would know it. Content curation and content creation are very related in Joost’s view.

What is your favorite content strategy?

Joost de Valk: “My most valued content strategy is still the long form or ‘give it all away’ tutorial. Basically I have given most of what I know away on my blog and keep getting more back. I’ve done this for clients too with amazing results. The only thing that becomes hard is to find ways to give more away so you can get more back”.

Where do marketers still fail in terms of SEO and content strategy most often?

Joost de Valk:They’re telling a story they want to tell, instead of a story that resonates with their customers. A story should touch on their daily lives. It should either evoke real emotion or offer real help. As is often said, advertising is the cost of being boring. Good SEO can come cheap, if your product rocks and your story is solid”.

Joost de Valk on his favorite approach to content strategy
Joost de Valk on his favorite approach to content strategy

Short but sweet. My key takeaways:

  • Content curation and creation are both important. However, the human dimension of content curation and storytelling seems most important to Joost.
  • In content marketing and storytelling we still too often focus on what WE want to ‘say’ instead of what people want to hear, customers want to find, etc.
  • A content strategy is about giving and caring too. If you can’t do that, chances are you will not get much in return.
  • Storytelling is about evoking real emotion and offering real help. And if advertising is the cost of being boring, we better make sure our content – and stories are not boring too…