Making Old Content New Again for SEO
5/1/19 Update: We were recently quoted on databox talking about repurposing content, so we thought it would be a good time to…repurpose this piece of content on…repurposing…No keyword stuffing here!
Creating and posting regular content is one way of building an SEO presence for your company. But creating new content is not the only way to help improve your SEO ranking. Another way is repurposing content in a way that doesn’t risk duplicate content penalties and content fatigue.
How long is the shelf life of an average blog post? A week? a month? If you’re talking about SEO, like we often do, things change regularly. Something you wrote last month might not be relevant now. So, what happens to the old stuff? It sits on your blog gathering virtual dust, not getting clicks or links. Well, not anymore…
Finding the Diamonds in the Rough
When we are looking for content to refresh the first tools we look at are Google Analytics and Google Search console. GA can give you an idea which of your posts are getting the most traffic. While Search Console can help you work out the search terms people are using to find your blogs.
When we’re looking for the most successful posts we go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages then we filter the pages with the most page views. Other
statistics we look at are page value, time on page and bounce rate in comparison to the average for the site. This helps us get a rounded view on how a post is performing and if it’s worth refreshing. Once we’ve picked out the best performing posts, we start looking at Search Console to find out if there’s anything to optimize on the keyword front.
One of the things we look at in Search Console is which search terms are bringing people to the website. To do this you go to Performance. Here you will be able to see how to optimize your content to more closely match your search traffic.
For example In the screenshot you can clearly see that “centennials age” is something that people are searching for, when visiting that post. So, if we want to update that specific blog post we now know the focus should be on centennials rather than say millennials.
Often the information you see in Search Console is confirming what you already know, but it’s useful to see how your customers are phrasing their search terms. Because they won’t always match what you think they’re going to write.
After checking the data in Google Analytics and search console, and picking which posts are worth working on, you can start updating. Here are three other important things to consider when you’re improving older content.
Just Give it a Fresh Coat of Paint
- Refresh dated content – The idea that old content should be consigned to the trash is pretty common place. But actually, with some work, old content can be recycled into something useful again. Some topics are evergreen and don’t require a full rewrite to refresh its relevancy. For example, an article on Google Ad creation best practices from August 2018 will be different to August 2017, as Google are constantly tinkering with the platform. However, much of the advice given will still be relevant, even if technical details, like ad text length, have changed. This kind of material is the perfect candidate for an update. The old post may have generated inbound links (read: Google love). By modifying the post and republishing, you don’t lose those votes of confidence from other websites.
- Promote evergreen content – Some content you create will not have an expiration date. If you’ve written something on a topic that is still relevant, then why not promote it again. Share the content on social media, or via email. Don’t be dishonest and pretend it’s new. Just make sure that it’s still factually correct, the hyperlinks still work, and then get tweeting. Be careful to leave enough time from when you first publish the content, to when you start promoting it again. We would recommend not plugging an old post again unless it’s been a year since first publishing.
- Convert old content into something different – Similar to the first point, when you create a piece of content don’t be afraid to repurpose it. If you spent time and money creating a whitepaper, or video, then why not turn it into a series of blog posts or an infographic? Changing the format the content is presented in can make it appeal to a different type of customer, or even into a different place in your marketing funnel, as well as giving it an update.
The Don’ts of Repurposing Content
Now that we’ve shown you ways that repurposing content works, let’s talk about what you need to avoid.
First, you don’t want to have the same piece of content (or something that’s substantially the same) republished on your website or blog. Google defines duplicate content as “substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely matches other content or are appreciably similar.” This is why you don’t want to publish a blog post and then post it as a LinkedIn article.
Second, don’t ignore any feedback you received on the old content. Feedback can be comments, forum discussions or other ways your audience has voiced their opinion. Refreshing the post and addressing negative or constructive criticism demonstrates you’re listening. Now you have the chance to add supporting evidence or change your mind.
Third, as we’ve said above, choose your strongest posts or pages rather than those pieces which landed with a thud. The only caveat is material vitally important to your business that perhaps hasn’t performed as well as you would like. Giving it a refresh may help it get better traction. Remember, it’s the web. Nothing is set in stone.
Don’t Change the Date
Fourth, and finally, when adding value to evergreen posts it is important to keep the same URL while only refreshing the date. This can be done by replacing “published on” with “last updated” to maintain freshness – a tactic that has been tested and proved successful by Brian Dean at Backlinko.
You can also list the updated date beneath the original publication date, which is commonly used by SEJournal and recommended by Google’s Gary IIyes as best practice. Whatever you do, do not change the original date as it can lead to manual penalties, where Google blocks dates from showing on any of your posts. Gary Illyes confirmed this in 2017 when asked if there could be consequences for changing the dates in articles.
Why does this matter, if you aren’t a news site? Because Google’s Search Index has included Caffeine – an update for freshness since 2010. With Caffeine, the goal was to find fresher information faster regardless of where it originated from.
If you’re trying to get ahead of your competitors and keep your brand in the front pages of the SERPs, it ’s imperative to keep your content fresh but also to never try to trick Google into thinking you published the original piece sooner. This will hurt you more than help you.
Recycling Goes in the Green Trash Can
Have you done anything interesting with your old content? We’d love to hear your ideas for repurposing content.