May 18, 2015


We get it. Unique content is hard. Like, last week of college hard. Budgeting your last $10 hard. After all, the need for a new blog post, a new eBook, a new video, or all of the above – is constant. It’s like making sure there’s food in the fridge, except that it’s food for your audience, who are always craving the newest thing.

Ever tackled a recipe that teaches you how to use common items you can find the fridge? The same idea applies to the content that already lives on your site – except old content doesn’t go bad. It just gets a little stale, but it’s still safe – and has awesome potential.

While new content is ALWAYS beneficial, and something you will never want to lose focus on creating, don’t forget about the old content that lives on your site. It’s still working and breathing and living, and you want to fuel it to work and breathe and live to the best of its ability.

For most sites, old content is just as important as the new. After all, it’s been working for you for awhile  – just look at that traffic that is still interested in that “Keywords 101” post from 2012. Look over your stats and analyze how much traffic is coming from your older content. The number may shock you. When you see how often people still enjoy and use your old content, you may feel inspired to do something. If not, listen to us, still. Old content is key. New content is key.

Like a can of beans in the back of the pantry, your old content’s still got some flavor. Discover a few ways you can get more from your old, perhaps stale, material:

Get Rid of the Worst

It may be high-school-yearbook-painful, but take a look at your earliest, most amateur blog posts and articles. You might feel embarrassed by what you have written. Perhaps there are a few of good ideas in there buried among the embarrassment; but, for the most part, you find that the content is NOT up to your current standards. These old posts may be ready for the trash heap. The good thing about this? If you find some good gems in there, revamp them. This is one of the easiest and most impactful ways to recycle old content.

Launch a new and improved post with a few edits, and take out the things in which you don’t believe anymore. Make sure this old content reflects the principles, style and swagger of your current business and site, and your audience will show their appreciation. If you end up trashing a full post all together, make sure to 301 redirect it to a relevant page.

Change the Format

For other older pieces of content, give them a makeover and make them pretty. Like that old can of beans, old content requires a little spice. Add a little spice by changing the format. For example, think about the old “FAQ” on your website. It’s organized by numbers, but no one’s actually counting them, so bullets are probably a shinier, sexier option.

Or, perhaps you’ve got some old blog posts in there that reek of 2013 WordPress updates. It’s 2015. What you can do today, you may not have been able to do that year. Seriously, though – you have no excuse for not formatting those photos to fit, shine and look pretty.

Update for Accuracy

It does not matter  the industry, there is always new research or data coming to light that will change the way information is perceived. For instance, in our world of content marketing, the way Google and the search engine gods process keywords has changed dramatically over the past few years.

By going to an old post and updating the information, it is possible to make old posts so new that no one will believe you wrote them out of your mom’s basement 5 years ago.

Work on SEO

Obviously. Times have changed, like we said, and when it comes to SEO, updated tactics can’t be ignored. In your early days as a publisher, how much did you know about SEO? Now, take what you do know, and sift through to optimize your old pieces. Take out those clunky, overdone keyword phrases and focus instead on quality content that will drive equally quality traffic to your site.

Part of this strategy is to check and replace nasty links. You should despise broken links. As you’re sifting through old content, update and remove as necessary. You can also take this time to add any pertinent internal links to other content you have published since the first piece initially went live.

Enhance Your Imagery

Remember how we talked about giving posts a makeover? A huge part of that are images – or lack thereof. Make sure your old content not only includes relevant images, but that those images are bold, beautiful, modern, fitting, optimized and totally shareable. Look for better pictures; create that infographic that you thought for years was needed for those specific posts. 

Great graphics can make a big difference in how your piece will perform. They are crucial in getting social media shares and a big part of boosting your site’s authority in the industry.

Spark a Conversation

Taking an older blog post and spicing it up a bit just by asking for feedback or adding a quality conversional “call to action” can spark a conversation in the comments or through social media. You want to encourage interaction, of course, so do everything you can to help make it happen.

People are more likely to respond to your content if you give gentle guidance within the content “telling” them that you want to hear their feedback or comments.

Promote Old Content

When you put time and effort into making your old content new again, make sure you give it the chance to succeed. Promote it on social media just as you do your new content. When do you Promote this new content, also make sure to share something new about it – treat it as if no one’s seen it before.

Not only may you get a response from old readers who are interested in your updates, you likely have new followers who missed it the first time. A little extra publicity (especially when it is free) is always a good thing.

Track the Performance

Now that you have your “new old” piece live, you have an excellent opportunity to mark your baseline metrics and start reporting on new metrics. 

You will likely see an initial spike and ideally a long-term boost in organic traffic. Once you see how well this updated piece is performing, you may be more inclined to update other articles, too.

While updating and refreshing your content is always a good thing, the best way you can get the most from your content marketing efforts (now and in the future) is to create content that is well-researched, fully authoritative and timeless. Make an effort to build a content library that will provide your readers value tomorrow just as it does today.

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