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One of the unexpected consequences of blogging for any length of time is that at some point, part of your job becomes managing all of the content you’ve written. Older blog posts can lose their popularity over time, but that doesn’t mean you should send them out to pasture!
Instead of constantly churning out new content, I make it a point to press the pause button every six months or so to review, refresh, and revive my older content in order to drive traffic, generate new leads, and even monetize that content!
This usually takes me a few days, but I always see benefits in search as well as increased traffic to older posts. ‘
If you’re game to dive into the deep, dark archives of your blog, here are 10 ideas for the things you can do to breathe new life into them and extract more value from the content you’ve already written…
- Update Outdated Information
- Fill In The Gaps
- Update Internal Links
- Create A Pillar Post
- Add New Email Opt-in Incentives
- Make It More Visual
- Update Graphics for Pinterest & Social Media
- Turn Them Into Social Media Posts
- Turn Them Into A Digital Product or Course
- Turn Them Into A Lead Magnet
- Turn It Into Audio or Video Content
Update Outdated Information
The first and most obvious thing you can do is review your older content for outdated information and revise it to keep it current. Some content is naturally “evergreen” — you can set it and forget it — but some needs a bit of maintenance to make it so.
People tend to prefer and trust content that has current information, that’s why I use the plugin “Last Modified Info.” Rather than displaying the original post date, I display the date it was last modified so my audience knows I’m keeping things up-to-date.
And I can’t prove it, but I’m 100% certain this has helped my SEO game. (This post goes into more detail about that.)
Fill In The Gaps
When you have a post that’s a bit “flimsy” — skimming the surface of the topic rather than going in-depth, look for ways you can add substance to the post and beef up the content outline.
You can also go to your Google Search Console and look for keywords you’re ranking for and make sure you’re answering the specific questions people are searching for. Often times you’ll see that you’re ranking for a search query you’re only indirectly answering. Answer them more directly!
For example, I have a post about brand personality and people were finding that post by searching, “What are some examples of brand personality?” only I didn’t have any in the post. So I added a section with examples and it bumped that post up in search and brought a ton of new traffic!
Look for gaps — those gaps are opportunities for you to flesh out your content and provide a better user experience and even get better SEO results.
Update Internal Links
One of the best ways for Google to understand what your site is all about so they know which topics you’re an authority on is to do strong interlinking between related posts.
This tells Google that you’re writing a lot of content around a specific area of focus and you’re an expert on these subjects. Internal linking is a huge priority for SEO, but it takes going back into those older posts and making sure you’re linking back to your newer stuff.
Do NOT just install a “related posts” plugin and call it good — those are notorious for slowing sites down and it’s just a lazy way to go about it (believe me, I’ve tried to get away with it lol) … YOU need to be steering people in the right direction and tell them where to go next. I promise, the extra effort will bring you more page views.
Also, the more links you have on your content, the better the user experience — you’re providing a path to additional information and helping them solve their problems more of the way.
The more internal links you have, the more likely it is that people will click through to a second page – this helps not only your page views, but it sends a signal to Google that you’re creating that great user experience.
Create A Pillar Post
Once you have a bunch of content around a certain topic, one way to do even more valuable internal linking and get some sweet action with Google is to create a pillar post.
A pillar post is one that generally goes after a broad SEO keyword (phrase) that allows you to go in-depth and discuss multiple topics that exist within the larger topic.
The outline for your pillar post will essentially consist of all of the subtopics you’ve already written about in older posts. You’ll reintroduce each subtopic (using fresh language to describe them) and then link out to the full post for people who want more detail.
>> I go into more detail about the three different types of posts that create a great blog content mix here.<<
For example, I blog quite a lot about branding and created a pillar post called 10 Essential Branding Factors To Build A Successful Brand.
That post consists of an outline of topics that relate to older posts. I introduced each topic and then linked back out to the older content.
The result? Well, I missed snagging the rich snippet but I am ranking #2 for this keyword and it’s still a relatively young post. It’s brought a ton of new traffic and it wasn’t all that crazy to write because I had already done most of the “thinking work.”
This post happens to be around 3,600 words which is pretty short for a pillar post… they can range anywhere from 4k to 6k – even 8k words or more!
Remember, the reason you’ll create pillar posts is to get traction in search, so that means that your content needs to be more in-depth than your competitors who are ranking on this topic.
If they’ve written a piece that’s 5,000 words? Write one that’s 6,000 or more. Add more visuals, do original or secondary research and cite statistics to beef up the credibility and uniqueness, reach out to get expert quotes, etc.
If it sounds like a lot of work, well, it is… but since much of it is repurposing your older content it’s really not as horrible as it sounds and definitely worth it!
Add New Email Opt-in Incentives
Anyone with an email list knows that it takes more than creating one opt-in freebie and calling it good… over time, you test what works and try new things.
When you create a new opt-in incentive, go back into your older posts to make sure that you’re adding it wherever it’s relevant. (The more relevant your opt-in incentive, the better results you’ll get.)
Also, check out my Top 10 Ride or Die WordPress Plugins post, I go into detail about using Thrive Leads to make this EASY. There’s even a feature that allows you to automatically insert new forms into specific blog categories (which can save you TONS of time).
Make It More Visual
Even though I’m a designer, I have overlooked the importance of making my posts visual. Once I pour my blood, sweat, and tears into a post I just want to be done with it and get it out there!
But I’m trying really hard to take the extra time to break up my content and make it visually interesting. It’s one of the things I am always looking to improve when I do a blog content refresh.
This makes the experience more pleasant for the reader and when that happens, they tend to stay on the page longer. This sends a super powerful signal to Google that you’re creating a great user experience.
So um, yeah, you’re probably noticing a trend — I keep saying “great user experience” like a broken record, but here’s why…
People tend to focus on keywords, but in fact, keywords are only one piece of the puzzle. Google is SMART and keeps getting smarter, don’t forget that.
Google knows when people are digging your content, that’s what it’s looking to know about you. As you freshen up your old content, think about ways to make it more helpful and easy to digest.
Put them first and Google will reward you. Look at it from Google’s perspective… they don’t want to send people to websites where people are clicking away quickly, “Meh, this ain’t it.”
I’ve even seen SEO professionals who charge oodles and gobs of cash only to create horrible experiences on page: KEYWORD KEYWORD KEYWORD KEYWORD KEYWORD!
And your website visitors aren’t stupid, it’s transparent when bloggers are doing this.
And guess what? The sites that once enjoyed tons of traffic because they’re “keyword optimised” are now tanking *sad slide whistle sound effect* and wondering what the heck. Again, this is an OLD strategy that just doesn’t work anymore.
Now, it’s all about the experience: good content, good design, good site performance.
If something is detracting from the experience? Fix it or get rid of it. For example… putting a huge gigantic PIN right on the top of your post isn’t a nice experience for your site visitors. Get rid of it and help them get to what they came for.
SO. When you’re refreshing old posts, keep that in mind — there’s usually ALWAYS something we can improve.
Of course adding photos, infographics or illustrations to your posts is one way to go about it, but it’s not the ONLY way to make things more visual.
Things to make your content more visual besides stock photos
- Block quotes
- Special call outs
- Table of contents
- Call to action buttons
- “click to Tweet”
- Related posts
- Animated .gifs that demonstrate something
- Photos of you
- Screen captures
- Video embeds
- Audio embeds
- Info boxes
- Beautifully designed opt-in forms
If you’re using Gutenberg, there’s a treasure trove of things you can do to add visual interest to your posts. I demonstrate this a bit more in this post, where I recommend the Ultimate Add Ons for Gutenberg (it’s free!).
Update Graphics for Pinterest & Social Media
This is one of my best-kept secrets for extending the life of my content. As a matter of habit, and whenever I have a bit of free time, I’m hard at work creating new graphics for older content.
Once I’ve shared a piece of content on social media for a while, I change up the graphic so it doesn’t look so obvious that I’m recycling older posts. It’s amazing how a piece of content that gets ignored can suddenly appear new again by just swapping out the graphic! You can even change up the headline and the description.
If you’re using Pinterest to promote your content, it’s important to know that…
Pinterest no longer rewards spammy behavior — sending the same pin to a ton of boards over and over and over again is so 2017 and it just doesn’t work anymore and can even get your account suspended.
You need to be creating new and different Pin graphics for each piece of content if you want to win the Pinterest game in 2020.
What Pinterest is aiming to do is show people a variety of fresh ideas to keep them engaged on the platform — think about it, nobody wants to log in and see the same-old same-old stuff.
What that means for you is that your focus should be to continuously create FRESH PINS. And this doesn’t mean you need to write a new blog posts to get it. When they say “fresh pins” they’re talking about the graphic, the actual pin.
I’ve been focused creating multiple pins for each piece of content — starting with the best performing content — for the last few months now. Every single time I check my analytics, I only see green upward arrows.
I was struggling to get past the 150k mark for what seemed like an eternity, so I stopped doing the outdated strategy of sharing old pins to the same boards and now my Pinterest game has momentum, baby. 💪
Even if you’re using Tailwind and their SmartLoop feature – which is all about “looping” content to the same boards at intervals that are timed long enough without triggering “spammy behaviour alert” to Pinterest, you want to go in there and freshen those up from time to time too.
The key is to create a system for creating graphics FAST, and that really comes down to using templates rather than recreating the wheel each time.
Because I’m a designer and I work fastest in Adobe Illustrator, that’s what I use. But, Canva is BUILT for this type of work. While Adobe programs are design tools, Canva is a TEMPLATE tool and that’s really what this is about:
Ease, speed, and consistency.
But, your graphic design is also about building your reputation on Pinterest and social media, so you want to be using templates that are visually interesting and will get people’s attention in the feed while also staying consistent with your brand identity.
And, just a caution — if you’re using Canva templates, be aware that EVERYBODY who uses Canva is also using those templates so you really want to find a way to make your pins, well, not look like a Canva template.
Spend some time looking at your Pinterest feed and notice what grabs your attention and think about why that is. Chances are, they’re using design wizardry to get your attention and that’s what you want to do too. The key is NOT to follow what everyone else is doing, but to make sure your pins STAND OUT visually.
Here’s an example of a piece of content that does really well for me on Pinterest, it’s been repined thousands and thousands of times… being able to experiment with different ways of displaying the same information really helps.
Over the course of the year or so since I wrote this post, I’ve probably created 10 different pins! It only takes a few minutes to do but drives fresh traffic to an older post.
Some people will respond to certain colors, layouts, headlines and having a variety in your graphics can really help you get massive mileage out of the same content. PLUS you’re making Pinterest happy and they’ll reward you in the feed!
If this is an area where you struggle, a couple of recommendations:
Biz in a Box Toolkit – Templates for Canva — this really is what it says, a business in a box. You’ll get loads of templates for quickly creating social media graphics and Pins, but also the other types of graphics you’ll need — opt-in graphics, lead magnets, and even logo templates.
You can also check out my Brand with Confidence Toolkit that will help you make decisions about your brand (your brand personality, color palette, fonts, etc.) and it comes with a Brand Guide template for Canva (that link will take you to a free tutorial on creating a brand guide) to help you stay consistent.
Turn Them Into Social Media Posts
Social media can turn into a huge time suck if you’re not careful, so one of my favorite strategies is to BATCH scheduling content to social media. I will clear a day in my schedule and queue up a ton of posts and set them to “evergreen” (they will recycle until I clear another day to freshen things up).
This means that I’m not spending 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there posting things to social media as part of my routine — we all know that there’s no such thing as “5 minutes on social media.”
The time you spend squirreling out on social media amounts to days and weeks of your time when you add it all up. Use that time, instead, to create new graphics, freshen up old posts, and create new content.
Smart marketers spend 90% of their time CREATING content for social media so that’s what we should be doing too.
But one of the most challenging things, when you sit down to schedule a bunch of posts, is figuring out what the heck to post.
One of my favorite tips is to dig into those old blog posts and pull out snippets, factoids, stories, insights and lessons and create a “mini” version for social.
Because these platforms mostly want their users to STAY on the platform, you don’t necessarily always want to be linking back to the original post.
Just use the post as inspiration to tell a story. Create a fresh graphic for it in Canva, take a selfie, or grab an eye catching stock photo — then type up a little story around it and schedule it.
I use categories like “Mindset Mondays” and “Quick Tip Tuesdays” within my social media scheduler and I just take small stories from older posts to do that. I can knock out loads of posts in one day and then I’m done for awhile.
Turn Them Into A Digital Product or Course
The first digital product I created was an eBook/workbook that was really just a fleshed-out, organised, and better-designed version of a bunch of blog posts I wrote that dealt with mastering the art of client attraction.
Sure, pretty much everything in that book is information you can find for free if you want to take all day exploring my blog and connecting the dots for yourself…
And that’s how it is with MOST courses, digital products, eBooks, etc.
Gary Vaynerchuk, arguably one of the leading minds in online marketing today is a HUGE proponent of repurposing content. He said point blank that the stuff he puts in his bestselling books is all stuff he’s shared for free elsewhere.
I know a lot of people these days have their sights set on creating premium courses, but those take loads of time and then you have the problem of needing to create a launch and promotional strategy in order to sell them.
Repurposing your old blog posts and creating snack-sized workshops, mini-courses, audio books, workbooks, ebooks, etc. are all things you can create in a week or even a weekend. And, if you price them at $50 or below they’ll sell easily without needing a huge, drawn-out sales funnel to sell it.
Check out this post on creating “tripwires” to see one of the main ways I generate passive income in my business with low cost offers ranging from $5-$49 bucks.
You can also turn your old blog posts into a course! In my course, The Client Machine, that’s exactly what I did. I had written quite a lot of content about analytics and website optimisation but I knew those posts worked better together.
By combining and organising them logically, then beefing it up with a couple of video tutorials, a website audit checklist, and a custom Google Analytics dashboard, I was able to create something that can take someone from Point A to Point B in a couple of hours’ time investment.
And because this course sells for $49, it still qualifies as an impulse purchase so I don’t need to construct complicated sales funnels to sell it. I mostly just let people know about it and if it’s the problem they’re struggling with at that moment, they buy it!
Turn Them Into A Lead Magnet
This is very similar to the previous example, only rather than selling a product, you give it away for free.
Look for opportunities to “pull out” content you’ve written that has tremendous value and re-organize it in a resource library, an “ultimate guide” or an eBook.
This might serve as a more “generic” lead magnet (as opposed to the more specific content upgrades) that you can offer to people to at the end of every blog post, in your main navigation, on landing pages you promote on social media, in an exit-intent pop-up form, etc.
Turn Them Into An Email Sequence
If you’re like me you also struggle with what the heck to send your email subscribers.
One thing that’s worked for me in terms of generating more engagement with my email list is to turn some of my old blog posts into free email courses and challenges.
It’s basically the same deal as above – turning old posts into a product or lead magnet — only they’re set up in a logical sequence and delivered via email.
The benefit, I’ve found, is that people tend to be more engaged with my emails after the sequence is through!
Turn It Into Audio or Video Content
Okay truth. I’ve not done a whole lot of this but it’s going to be my focus for 2020. Now that I’ve written more than 100 posts and I have a pretty good handle on this blogging thing, it’s time for me to start repurposing that content by creating different TYPES of content.
For me, that means YouTube. (More on this in a sec.)
For you, if you’re more into social media, you might start creating and sharing video to Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Or maybe it means turning your older content into audio content or even a podcast.
The reason why I’m choosing YouTube as the platform to repurpose some of my older content (and new stuff too of course), is that to me, YouTube is just “Video Google” and what has worked best for me is SEO. It’s a bit more social of course, and I realise that this is a leap into terrifying territory for a lot of us. (Me.)
But, my goal right now is to “make 100 bad videos” because getting comfortable, gaining confidence, and learning how to make great videos happens in the DOING like so many things.
So, what do you think?
I hope you’ve learned a couple of tips and tricks for how you can get more value out of your older content! Are there any ideas here you’d like to try? Anything I’ve missed? Hit me up in comments and let’s talk about it!
Taughnee Stone is an award-winning designer, brand strategist, and location-independent business owner for over 15 years. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, she now lives in Croatia with her husband, energetic Samoyed, and three bossy cats.