Whether you publish something once or three times a week, sometimes it’s just hard to come up with new content for your blog.
It’s natural for your creative juices to get depleted, after all, not to mention other tasks that pile up and demand prioritizing. So what’s a webmaster to do?
Apart from letting your editorial calendar run amok, you could crank out a half-hearted post with no real value or substance, or you could outsource your content creation needs. But these aren’t your only options.
You could also republish old content.
Why republish old content?
It’s not just a matter of saving yourself from writing a whole new article when you’re pressed for time or have no idea what to write about next.
Republishing old content also benefits your blog in several other ways:
- It gives your older content more exposure. Perhaps you published a comprehensive how-to guide or mega-post last year, back when your audience was half its current size. By republishing the piece, you’ll be giving it a second chance in the spotlight and increasing its chances of new traffic.
- It provides an opportunity to update and refresh your old content. As time passes, it’s natural for posts to become outdated. A complete rewrite may not be necessary, only a few changes here and there—in which case republishing a piece is the way to go.
- Since Google’s algorithm updates periodically, it’s a chance to reoptimize older posts. Google makes hundreds of changes (both major and minor) to its algorithm every year. As a result, posts that were published a while back could do with some optimizing for improved search visibility.
- Google likes republished content. According to research from Moz, a recent publication date correlates positively with search engine page ranking performance. In other words, Google appears to prefer fresh content.
For those concerned about incurring the wrath of Google, there’s no need to worry about a duplicate content issue when you republish old posts. Republished and duplicate content are not one and the same, contrary to what some may think.
Duplicate content describes content that is identical or very similar to that published on another URL. Republished content, on the other hand, refers to updating and improving existing blog content.
So, are you ready to get started on republishing your old content?
Review your blog archive.
You’ve got months, or even years, of blog posts. How do you pick which one to republish? Here are a few options.
See what performed well
It’s worth taking a look at your blog metrics to see what resonated with readers. Consider the following questions:
- Which posts have had the most traffic?
- Which posts have seen high conversion rates?
- Which posts accrued the most backlinks?
- Did any posts get shared more than others?
If you’ve got an old post that performed particularly well, it may be worth resurrecting for some extra attention.
Of course, remember that what you choose to republish should be old content. That is, don’t go about republishing a high-performing piece from last week in hopes of dragging out its success. Touting just one post will make your website feel like a one-trick pony, and deter readers and subscribers interested in seeing more.
Identify content that needs to be updated or optimized
Alternatively, are there any old posts that have since publication, become outdated due to new information?
This content makes for great republishing candidates, as Google’s mission is all about providing users with the most relevant information.
You’re not limited to republishing posts that only require information updates and corrections, though. It’s also worth identifying content in need of optimization for better search visibility or conversions. Conducting a site audit, which provides a big picture of your content’s performance, can help you determine which posts fit this bill.
Look for trending topics
Are there any subjects that you’ve once written about and that have become more relevant recently? It’s worth republishing old content of this nature to capitalize on the latest news.
To see what topics have hit the mainstream lately, check out local and global news headlines as well as Google Trends.
For instance, perhaps Halloween is approaching, and you have an old article ranking candy bars from the healthiest to the least healthy. According to Google Trends, interest in the search term “candy bars” grew through the end of September and into October in 2017, spiking in the week of Halloween.
You could take advantage of the holiday’s imminence and this noted pattern of interest by republishing your article on candy bars. Its relevance could result in a surge of traffic to your website.
Clean up your post.
Once you’ve decided on which post to republish, it’s time to fix it up. You’ll want to review it carefully before making any changes, and it helps to compile a list of necessary edits before diving in.
Here are some of the changes you can make:
- Improve readability. Looking back at your old post, maybe you’ve noticed that it’s not so easy on the eyes. Enhance your post’s readability by breaking up long paragraphs or incorporating relevant images and infographics.
- Re-optimize for your target keyword. Is your old post performing well for its target keyword? Check your site analytics to find out, and make changes accordingly, e.g., by editing your title tag, h1s and h2s, and metadata.
- Add new internal links. You’ve got new content, so it’s worth finding opportunities to link to these more recent posts. Inserting more internal links raises the chances of readers staying on your site, and thus boosts user engagement in the long run.
- Update old stats. Does your post cite any reports or figures? Perhaps there are new statistics or findings that better support your old content. Including this information will make your content more timely and helpful for readers.
- Fix and remove broken links. On a similar note, you may notice that some of the sources you linked to in the past no longer exist, leaving you with one or a few broken links. Now’s the time to clean up your post by replacing these links to pages that do work, whether they’re internal or external.
- Focus on conversion rate optimization. Some of your old posts may have seen plenty of traffic but few conversions, in which case you should make changes to boost your conversion rate. This might include adding or editing existing calls to action (CTAs), and inserting content upgrades.
Remember to keep the original URL.
It’s possible for you change the slug of your updated post—but just because it’s possible doesn’t mean you should do it.
Since this is old content, it’s already been indexed by Google and may even rank on search engine results pages. Thus, changing the URL’s slug would mean deleting the old page altogether, and creating a 404 error for anyone directed to it.
On top of that, a change in the URL would break any existing links from internal or external web pages. This means losing traffic as well as link equity, the SEO value passed within or between websites through backlinks.
And, since link equity is tied to search engine rankings, that means taking a further hit in your traffic and search engine visibility. With that in mind, it’s best to retain your old piece of content’s permalink.
Label your update.
You’ve made all the necessary changes to your content and are ready to republish it with a new timestamp.
Whether it’s WordPress or Squarespace or some other content management system, the process is fairly straightforward. Navigate to your post’s publication info and adjust the date for the new date and time you’d like to republish your content.
But aside from changing the timestamp, you should also clearly label your update within the content itself. That could mean noting the update in your post’s title or its text.
Why do this?
Clearly labeling your update makes your blog more transparent to your audience. Readers probably wouldn’t remember a post’s original publication date, but would likely recognize a piece that’s only been slightly edited. Whether it’s a preface, footnote, or a note in your post’s title, labeling your update helps to clarify to your readers why they’re seeing an old post again and what new value it has.
For an idea of how you might do this, take a look at the examples below.
The Inventory’s piece on bath sheets was originally published in 2017, and has since then been updated multiple times. These changes have been recorded as timestamped footnotes at the end of the article, but the title itself also includes “Updated” in brackets.
Similarly, the entertainment website Collider periodically updates its lists of bests, including one about the best movies currently available on Netflix. You can see this in both the title and the first line of the post; republishing it with a new date helps to renew the article’s relevance on a monthly basis.
Share your republished content on social media.
Breathing new life into your content means it’s also worth sharing again on your social channels.
Content isn’t meant to be shared only once on social media, after all. However, with new changes to your old posts, you’ve got even more reason to blast your republished content on social media.
When sharing these republished posts, though, it helps to announce that you’ve made changes.
Check out how Ahrefs shared one of its republished posts on Twitter:
There’s no doubt Ahrefs has tweeted this guide before, although this time, they’ve announced that it’s been “freshly updated” for 2018. Resharing the post and noting that it’s been updated helps to reel in two different kinds of audiences:
- Readers who’ve seen the original post, prior to the update
- New readers who haven’t seen the original post
Without announcing the post’s update, old readers may brush the piece off, unaware of any new value added to it.
Novice bloggers leave old blog posts in their archives untouched, gathering dust and becoming more and more irrelevant as time passes. But doing this is a waste of the time and energy spent crafting these posts, not to mention the actual content itself.
Republishing your old blog posts can save you the time of brainstorming and creating completely new content. Not only that, it gives your old content another chance to reach and convert more people, all the while maintaining the freshness of your site.
About the Author
Joyce Chou is a Content Specialist at Compose.ly, a content platform that matches businesses with seasoned freelance writers. She writes for Compose.ly’s blog as well as other publications about digital marketing, personal finance, small businesses, and more. When she’s not writing, you can find her hiking the great outdoors, painting, or trying out different sports and activities.
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