Struggling for new content ideas? Or just struggling to find the time to write regularly enough? I may have a solution for you. Those old blog posts lurking in your archives - the ones you've either forgotten about or have been rendered obsolete over time - they could be gold dust.
Particularly if they are still generating some traffic, injecting these posts with a dash of new knowledge and recharging their optimisation could see your traffic surge.
I'm going to talk you through the whole process in more detail, but firstly, let's take a look at why you should invest some time into your historic content.
Historic posts can often account for a large proportion of your traffic. Even some of the most authoritative blog platforms, like Hubspot, generate more traffic from historic content than more recent posts.
These tend to be your posts that are evergreen in nature, offer highly shareable and valuable information, and have acquired a number of trustworthy backlinks. It's also likely that these posts garner a lot of organic traffic since they’re probably no longer promoted.
What that means is that they have earned a viable dose of ranking juice, and prospects could stumble on this content at any time through the search engines. This is why it's so important to maintain and optimise them as much as you would a new post. When you think about all of the new optimisation techniques that have come about in even the last year or so, posts as early as 2016 might not be optimised to their full potential. Especially if they're ranking for a high volume keyword.
Your new audiences might have missed it
It’s inevitable that over time you’ll have accumulated new audiences, subscribers, followers and leads. These leads will often only see your newer content; content that has recently been published, promoted via eNewsletters, social media or linked back to in more recent blog posts. Old blog posts could still bring value to those audiences.
Things have changed
In the ever-changing world of blogging and content marketing, I can pretty much guarantee you that things have changed since you wrote a blog 12 months ago, let alone a few years ago. For this reason, it’s always worth dipping back into your archives to see if there's anything worth reviewing.
While the content might still be informative, engaging and valuable (there’s a reason it’s performing so well), links could be broken, language and terminology could be outdated and you might have missed opportunities for optimisation that you simply weren’t aware of at the time of writing.
Plus, concepts that were relevant a few years back may have been replaced by new ideas and concepts, such as standalone keywords being usurped by topic-based content, for example.
It’s an easy win
And finally, it’s an easy win. It can be difficult to find the time to blog regularly and create high-quality content every time. If you’re short on ideas or short on time, republishing is much less onerous than writing something from scratch. But there are a few best practices to follow to ensure you don’t lose any of that precious ranking juice, which we'll delve into now.
How to republish your old content
1) Run a content audit
Establish which content and topics are attracting a lot of engagement. If anything crops up in your data from a few years back, there's your potential opportunity for republishing.
2) Keep your URL and keywords the same
Don't risk 404 errors, redirects, or a loss in SEO authority by dabbling with the URL and keywords. Similarly, if you change the title, be sure to still use that high-performing keyword.
3) Check the formatting
Is the formatting inconsistent with more recent posts? Or maybe, you've recently acquired some new photo software that helps you edit and resize your images more effectively. You might even want to change the image entirely. Just make sure everything is aesthetically consistent with your more recent posts.
4) Check the links
Check all links - internal links, outbound links and backlinks. Check they are not broken, and that the reason remains for those linking to the post to continue to do so, for example, a stat or a piece of evidence.
5) Analyse the terminology
Review and edit any out of date terminology which will ramp up the relevance and accuracy of the post. In an historic Equinet post I recently republished, I noticed that the term 'customer profile' was used in place of 'buyer persona'. This must’ve been written before the term ‘buyer persona’ was widely being used when speaking about ideal customers.
6) Identify new link opportunities
You've probably written a lot of new content since the original publish date. Are there any new opportunities for internal links? Give the reader as much opportunity as possible to venture deeper into your content by pointing them in the direction of other useful, relevant and helpful posts.
7) Refresh the CTA
A more recent eBook, white paper or webinar might be the perfect call to action for readers. Conversely, if your old CTA is an outdated piece of gated content, you could risk losing conversions. The same principle applies here - could that content be refreshed? Refresh that CTA - it's important.
8) Add an editor's note
Add an editor’s note to the top of the post so readers are aware when this was originally written, and when it was revised.
Hit the republish button. The date should be updated accordingly so that this republished post sits up the top of your blog with newer blogs.
As most blogging software won't consider your 'republished' content as a new post, automatic updates might not be sent to your subscribers. Therefore, it's an idea to manually set up a blog notification email, giving new subscribers the opportunity to see this refreshed post. Meanwhile, you might want to consider adding this post to your newsletter or social media schedule. Don't be afraid of being transparent with your subscribers - if you feel more comfortable presenting this as an old piece of content that was recently updated for optimal accuracy, then say so. It just lets your audiences know you care about the content you are placing in front of them.
Make a note of your baseline metrics before the post is republished, then monitor traffic and interactions after. Do you notice any measurable improvements?
This reviewing strategy should be a part of your blogging strategy regardless. Checking which posts are performing well, which aren't, where peaks are, and if there are any correlations with certain topics.
Having a firm idea of which topics attract the biggest streams of organic traffic will inform you of what your prospects are searching for online and equip you with the knowledge to keep on fuelling a topic-based content model, for maximum visibility online. If you would like us to write more about optimisation strategies, please let us know in the comments below.