Writing B2B content is hard – and often the most difficult part is repeatedly creating new content on a regular basis. Coming up with ideas, searching for new topics to cover; all the while ensuring that they are popular enough that your audience will be out there looking for them.
Once you have been blogging for a while it becomes a lot easier. Partly because you naturally become better at it, but partly because you can use the previous body of content you've created to produce new articles and to create content in other formats. You can even just publish it again – provided a few simple rules are followed.
So how can you make this old content work for you?
It may surprise you to know that there is value in just re-publishing an old article. The best candidates for updating are articles that were popular and/or generated the most engagement the first time round. Have a look through your oldest articles - is the basic topic or content still relevant today? If so, you can update it and re-publish it.
To do this you need to run through a short checklist:
- Are there any time-dependent references in the text? Update, or better still, try and remove these (see evergreen content below).
- Have you quoted examples to illustrate your points? Find more recent examples and update the text.
- Has the situation - i.e. the environment, industry or other factors - changed? Replace the appropriate copy with new copy covering the current situation.
- Are the links in the copy still active? Replace any dead links with appropriate alternatives or remove them.
- Do a quick SEO check. The requirements for SEO have changed over the years, so make sure to revisit the SEO.
- Is there anything you can now add to the article to improve it? Any new evidence? New data or statistics?
- Does it need a new headline to bring it up to date? Or to make the most of what people are searching for right now?
- Always make sure the main thrust of your argument still applies and hasn't been overtaken by events.
- Update the call to action (CTA) – it's very likely that the original CTA is irrelevant now.
Should you revamp or re-publish?
The first consideration about using old articles is whether you simply revamp the original content and leave the URL the same or whether you publish a brand new article. Both approaches have their pros and cons. I would suggest that if you are radically changing the content, you create a new post, but if you are only updating facts and figures, then just edit the existing content. This should ensure you don't lose the SEO benefits the original article has gathered over time.
When using this second approach, it's best to include an "updated on" date, so that readers can see the information is up-to-date. How old the information in an article is has a huge bearing on the value that visitors place on that information. For this reason, it is essential to have a date on your content. Don't forget to re-share updated or new posts on social media.
Never miss an opportunity when creating new content to link through to an old piece of content, where relevant. Doing this ensures you get the maximum value out of your hard work in the past, and offers additional value to readers. Similarly, it's good to have a "related posts" feature at the end of each post.
The art of repurposing - using old content in new ways
Re-purposing content has become a bit of a mantra in the content publishing world. With so many different channels and content formats out there, it is total madness to create brand new content for every format. The sensible approach is to create an original piece of content and then re-purpose it for as many formats as you are using.
Here are just a few ideas of ways to repurpose content:
- Infographic – turn your best content into an infographic. These are perfect for sharing on social media and driving traffic to your post.
- Social media card – take a final quote from a post and turn it into an image, which can be easily shared on social media and that links back to your website.
- Podcast* – use the content as the basis of a podcast, in which you cover the topic or discuss the issues raised by the post. Or you could ask a guest to discuss it and get their views. The recording can also be offered as bonus downloadable content too.
- Video* – use the content as a basis for a video in the same way as a podcast, but remember to look for opportunities to engage the viewer with visuals or filmed examples.
- Webinar/ live stream* – hold a webinar on the topic or use a live streaming platform like Periscope or Facebook Live, to discuss the issues raised by the post and engage with a live audience.
- Newsletter – take a synopsis of each post and compile them into a newsletter. Only feature a quick overview in the newsletter and then link through to the main article.
- Slideshare – turn your content into a slide deck with appropriate branding and calls to action, then post to Slideshare.
- eBook – take a series of posts and turn them into a PDF eBook that you can offer your audience.
* Don't forget to include CTAs when creating these.
Always aim for evergreen content
While reusing or revamping old content is a great way to get additional value out of posts that might otherwise be stale and dated, a far better approach is to develop content that is timeless or evergreen. This is content that is (as far as is possible), always relevant, always pertinent, always useful.
Evergreen content is based on two factors – timelessness and quality. It's content that will always be searched for and appreciated by your target audience. According to HubSpot, the ultimate question to ask yourself when trying to decide whether content is likely to be evergreen is: will people still read this and think it's interesting a year from now?
So how do you develop evergreen content?
Certain formats, by their nature, are more likely to result in evergreen content. These are:• Lists
• Top tips
• "How to" guides or tutorials
• Definitions or encyclopedic type posts
• Product reviews
• Industry overviews
The importance of SEO to evergreen content
You should base your evergreen content around keywords that you want to rank on. After all, it's no good writing a great, useful article if nobody can find it or if no one is searching for it. Writing style is also important - the best evergreen content posts are overviews, or summaries, or basic guides, so don't get too technical or use jargon. Keep it simple. There will always be people who are new to the topic.
And what's more, there are many people out there who would rather search the web for a basic primer on a topic than admit to their work colleagues their lack of knowledge on that particular subject!
Create the content around one idea or topic. If you want to cover a range of topics, create a series of linked articles. This works much better for SEO, and helps readers who only need to read up on one aspect of the business.
And while it is important to keep the writing simple, it is equally important to write in depth on the subject you are covering. Try and be definitive. Try and create an article that is the last word on that subject – the only article your reader will ever need.
Timelessness may require a little help
No matter how hard you try, it is almost inevitable that your content you've designed to be evergreen will become dated – links and technology information are just two areas where this is most likely. So, it's enormously important to check, update, and update your evergreen content from time to time – every six months, say. The checklist in the first part of this article will help.
Re-using and repurposing old content is a great, cost-effective way of maximising your return on the hard work of producing good, original content. There is no downside if it's done properly and with a mind to all the points mentioned here.
Ultimately you are aiming to produce evergreen content – good quality, timeless, useful content that will generate leads and business over a significant period.