Reusing old content seems like it’d paint a huge Panda-shaped target on your back, but is that really the case? Well, if all you’re doing is reposting unedited content, sure; you’re going to have a duplicate content penalty. Instead, repurpose your content in a constructive way and you can avoid penalties and boost your blog in one swift action. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind.
Do: Convert Blog Posts into Infographics
Infographics are eminently shareable and are a great way to get something with your brand name on it out in the wild, so to speak. They’re also somewhat annoying to create, when you have to do a bunch of research and compile statistics, come up with conclusions, lay it all out and illustrate it.
If you have blog posts that include case studies or statistics that would look good in a graphical format, you can reformat that blog post into an infographic. You can even edit the old blog post to include it, and link to the post on the graphic itself, to further cycle the traffic you gain around your site.
Don’t: Re-Create Infographics with No New Information
Sometimes, your old blog posts came from infographics themselves. Sometimes another infographic already exists covering that information. Just like anything else, strive to make your content unique. Don’t re-create an infographic based on an older graphic, unless you have something significantly new to add.
It doesn’t need to be much. Cover the same statistics in a new way and add new conclusions. Update old statistics and make an updated version of the old graphic. Generally try to bring something new to the table, regardless of what that something may be.
Do: Update Old Content for New Realities
Things change. Nothing changes faster than the news. When you’re writing blog posts, they fall into one of two categories; evergreen and temporal. Temporal blog posts are relevant, even popular, for a short time before they lose their appeal. The longer it has been since they were written, the less likely they are to be relevant.
If you’re repurposing old blog posts, look for posts that cover subjects that are relevant today but are using information from the past. For example, an article about guest posting for SEO from three years ago will look very different from what’s relevant today. You can take that resource – with all of the links and references it has accumulated – and update it.
Don’t: Waste Time Salvaging Completely Dead Content
Some content just can’t be salvaged. It’s too old, it’s too thin, it’s about a subject that’s no longer relevant. For example, a post writing about the upcoming release of the iPhone 4 isn’t going to be valuable to anyone except as a historical relic. Subsequent phones have come out and any actual relevant information, like release dates, can be found on wiki pages. There’s no reason to try to revamp or repurpose that content.
Note: you shouldn’t delete old, potentially valueless content. It won’t hurt you to keep it around, but the 404 pages that come from removing it could hurt you over time.
Do: Promote Repurposed Content
When you edit an old guide to comply with modern rules and information, or you create a new video based on an old blog post, don’t forget to promote that content. This is particularly true of editing old pieces. No one can see that you made those edits unless they check or you tell them. This includes Google; they need to index your page again to notice the changes.
When you’re creating new content based on old content, like a video or infographic, you can promote it in addition to promoting the edited old content. This gives you an extra vector for incoming traffic.
Don’t: Claim the Content is Brand New
You don’t want someone to call you out on using old content in a way it wasn’t intended. For example, if you take a two-year-old blog post and make it into a video word for word, you’re not creating new content, you’re just changing the format of the existing content. This is more redistribution than it is repurposing.
In general, whenever you’re repurposing old content, you should add a “based on” line with a link to the original content. If you’re editing old content, you don’t need this; it would be cyclical and useless.
Do: Convert Blog Posts into Videos or Podcasts
Blog posts, particularly compelling posts and popular articles, can be made into audiovisual media for an extra audience and new wave of viewers. Take the blog post and make it a script, and read that script as a podcast. Take that podcast and add animation or footage, to make it a video. Post these pieces of content in the appropriate places – iTune, YouTube or whatever – and share them around.
Keep in mind that you may have to do some minor or significant editing of the blog post to make it suitable for a script. Some posts just don’t work well in an audio format.
Don’t: Ignore Reader Comments
One great way to add new life to old content is to take reader feedback into consideration. When a user asks a question, post their question as an edit in the blog post and add your answer there. If a particularly insightful user adds their comment, feature that comment in a spotlight. This gives you extra content you didn’t need to work for. Just make sure to fact-check what they say, so you’re not parroting something blatantly incorrect.
Do: Use a Post as the Base for an EBook
If you have particularly lengthy posts or evergreen guides, you can take those and use them as basic outlines for an ebook. For example, take this post; I could expand each ~100 word section into a 5-page guide on how exactly to accomplish each step, and publish that as an ebook for sale.
The caution here is to make the ebook valuable enough that it doesn’t fall flat. You can’t just copy and paste blog posts and sell them; the content is free publicly already. You need something behind the paywall that users can’t get any other way.
Don’t: Break an EBook Down Into Blog Posts
This is the same problem in reverse; if you have an ebook and break it down, publishing chapters individually, you’re removing the unique value from the book. If users can find every chapter online for free, they’ll never buy the book.
Next time you’re struggling for an idea for what to do, take a look to your old content. You might find something valuable to repurpose.
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