For all the benefits content marketing provides, creating a steady stream of original content takes time and money. But the longer you’ve been creating content, the more opportunities you have to repurpose it to suit your current goals.
Use these seven smart strategies to get more out of the investment you’ve already made.
1. Perform a content audit.
A thorough content audit will help you spot the most valuable opportunities for updating and reusing your existing content.
HubSpot has built this process into their ongoing editorial calendar. “Because we have a large archive of old content and challenging traffic targets each month, we’re very particular with which content we update and how we update it,” says Braden Becker, Senior SEO Strategist at HubSpot.
In their analysis, they divide content into a few main categories in order to prioritize which pieces to update and what approach to take with each.
“Our highest-trafficked content is analyzed for its lowest rankings across its keyword profile, then updated to better serve those keywords,” he explains. “Content that is declining in traffic is diagnosed with a cause of decline—a new Google search feature is eating clicks, we lost rank for a high-volume keyword, etc.—then optimized to solve for this issue,” he added. They also use content updates to make old pieces better serve their current content strategy of creating topic clusters.
2. Update outdated content.
The next step is updating the content you’ve determined can benefit from a refresh. When updating old content, a few best practices can pay off:
- Change any information that’s no longer accurate. This especially comes into play for content covering topics in fast-moving industries—an old how-to post about using a product that recently underwent a redesign needs updated information and screenshots.
- Beef up the information that’s there. You can add more examples to a list post, or more detail on how to accomplish the tips you’ve provided in an advice post. Making content longer and more useful will make it more attractive to both users and the search engines.
- Add other content formats. Enhance an old post with a related video or infographic to give users more ways to consume it. According to Jackie Tihanyi at Fisher Unitech, they’ve found this encourages visitors to stick around. “[On] an older blog post with just text, the overall time on page was one minute, compared to a blog post that included an infographic and video, which had an overall time on page of nearly six minutes,“ she explains.
- Optimize it better for the keyword you’re targeting. Becker shared the example of a blog post on customer service technology that was declining in traffic. They realized it had dropped in the rankings for its main keyword, so revised it to better target the term. The updated version saw a 180% increase in organic traffic within two months of the update.
Updating old content signals to Google that it’s fresh, and makes it more valuable to your visitors at the same time.
3. Promote old pieces.
Most businesses are in the habit of promoting new content once it goes up, but fewer think to do so for content that’s months or years old. Any content you have that’s still accurate is worth driving new traffic to.
Chaya Milchtein runs the Mechanic Shop Femme website, which regularly covers topics that are seasonal. “Since content like ‘Maintenance Tips Before a Road Trip’ or ‘Why Is my Car Air Conditioning Not Working?’ doesn’t change much, I repost them on a regular basis in the correct season.”
“I intentionally set up my website so it does not include the date published in the link or anywhere in the article,” she added. That makes the pieces seem as current a year later as they were when first published.
4. Create best-of content.
Give old content new life by highlighting your best work. A common version of this is writing a blog post at the end of the year that features the most popular content of the preceding one. This can help draw in new readers and remind people who already read them to apply what they learned.
5. Send it to new prospects.
Many marketers create content answering common questions they or their sales team hears. When a prospect asks one of these questions, sending them a link not only answers their question, but also drives new traffic to the old content.
James Pollard, the Advisor Coach, finds this tactic useful both for online queries and direct mail campaigns. “If someone reaches out to me and wants to learn more about marketing financial services, I follow up with a few articles I’ve written about the topic or send a printed version as a credibility booster,” he explains.
You can also employ this tactic for new email subscribers. Visitors who show an interest in your content but haven’t been around long enough to see your old stuff are primed to appreciate your best pieces. When you sign up for the BigCommerce email list, the welcome page right away includes a few of the blog’s top posts for readers to check out.
6. Repurpose old content.
Your old content may have the seeds for your next great piece. Long-time content marketer Rio Rocket is a proponent of building repurposing into every content campaign he creates.
“If you publish a podcast or short audio recording, transcribe and repurpose it into a press release. If you publish a press release, repurpose it into a blog post and an e-book. If you publish an article on the best ways to perform a certain task, then create what’s called an ‘evil twin’ and repurpose it into an article on the worst mistakes when performing that task,” he recommends.
For one legal client he worked with, a piece on a state alimony reform bill worked as an audio clip on YouTube, a press release and an e-book on SlideShare, making the same information discoverable in three different formats.
7. Create new images.
As image-based social media sites grow in popularity, creating original images for your content is now a savvy strategy for sharing it with new audiences.
Marc Andre of Vital Dollar uses this as a way to drive more traffic to old posts on Pinterest. “I regularly create new images and pin old content to make sure that it still gets some traffic,” he says. “It takes only a few minutes and is well worth the time.”
He’s used this strategy with great success for his post, 21 of the Best Passive Income Ideas.
“I create a new pin for that post every couple of months and, as a result, it has been pinned over 1,000 times and received thousands of visitors from Pinterest,” he explains.
A good image shared in the right context can draw new attention to an old post.
Repurposing Content Pays Off
Once you have an extensive library of content built up, you can start doing less work to get more results. Repurposing a piece of content takes less time than creating an original piece from scratch. Yet as these examples show, that time can pay off in better SEO results and new traffic.