Let’s be honest about that fact that some pieces of content age well, like fine wine, while others do as well as milk left in the sun. As you look through your own content inventory, be as objective as you can and ask yourself if there are, for example, blog posts or other materials that still have value and merit but could benefit from a trip to the content beauty salon.
Learning when and how to do it is key to putting a new face on old material.
Play Dr. Frankenstein and move parts around as needed
First of all, let’s think about when content needs an update. As marketers, we have a lot of responsibilities. It’s not possible to spend long hours each week searching for new data and turning it into totally fresh content. Let’s take a look at some of the following factors:
1. Keeping your data as current as possible
Data used in old posts and other materials gets, well, old. Using irrelevant or outdated statistics tells readers that the content they’re reading hasn’t been touched since it was first posted. It’s not the end of the world but it doesn’t make you look good either. New resources are usually published regularly — per quarter or per year. Make a good use of them.
2. Wild hearts can’t be broken — but believe me, links can be
Links happen to evolve — they may be changed or redirected, which leaves your reader with a sad 404 page after clicking or something else they didn’t expect. Luckily, we also have good news — you do not have to do it manually and check every link separately. There are tools that can do this job for you — such as backlink checkers on the Chrome Extension store, Scrape Box, Broken Link Checker or W3C Link Checker.
3. Getting the right tone for the audience
As a content marketer, your skills and experience develop over time. If you travel back far enough, you’ll probably find the blog entry equivalent of a highly embarrassing picture of you at your teen-age worst. You know what I mean, the “Not proud of it, but it happened” kind of text that you would scrub clean from the internet forever if you could. Well, it turns out you can (more or less). Look through your own back catalog and touch up the bits and pieces that sounded like really good ideas then, but look like tragic failures now.
Don’t forget that visual elements — from gif’s and pics to charts and infographics — are more important now and reader are much more used to them than there were even a few years ago. They increase the text’s usability. But remember that their use has to be adjusted to the context of your audience. The cute cat gif that’s just right for one audience might be horribly out of place for another.
P.S. Pro tip — It is better not to embed images from websites, just download them to your own servers. If the link to the original becomes invalid for any reason, you’ll have a problem on your site whereas making your copy avoids the problem.
So much content, so little time — where should you start?
Start with your top-performing posts. You know they’re getting traffic already so keep the flow going by making sure that they are updated as needed. Knowing which keywords get the best response can be your guide to making a list of priorities for maintenance and refreshing. And once again, there’s no need to do it manually when there are so many resources available to do everything for you.
We recommend two handy tools that will become big time savers in your content factory — SEM Rush and Google Search Console. Using them will allow you to attract new users to old posts without much commitment and extra work. Extend the useful life of your content and keep users engaged — that’s what I call a win-win situation!
How to refresh old content — more ideas
Here are a few more tips for extending the useful life of your marketing content:
- Cross-link to other relevant materials on your website. This will bring more traffic to your webpage and boost your online profile. But remember: do not do it by using “to find out more about issue X click here“ since “here” actually means nothing to search engines. It’s much better to phrase it as “Find out more about issue X”.
- Enhance existing posts with new, extra content. With the passing of time comes more knowledge about the topic of the post. Add new and relevant information as it becomes available and change the cited research to more up-to-date resources. Give everything a human touch by adding an interesting current quote about the topic under discussion.
- Re-date it. You can arrange for your posts to include the date when they were first published next to the name of the author. After you refresh it remember to change this date — doing so will allow search engines to show it to users as up-to-date information.
- Ad an editor note. Be transparent with your readers and include a note explaining that a particular post has been updated. They’ll appreciate the sign that you’re interested in adding some fresh air to old posts.
- Do not change the URL. Trust me on this. This is a bad idea no matter how you look at it. It’s been tried, checked and verified as a sure way to lose the SEO positioning that you work so hard to get. Write it in marker across your computer screen if you have to — ”Don’t change the URL!”
- If you have no choice but to change the page URL, make a redirect 301(previously, the content was available at address A but the user will be automatically taken to address B, where the updated content is). Failing to do this is like playing hide-and-seek with your customers, users and fans. Does that sound like a good idea to you? Didn’t think so.
- Engage your readers. I know this can mean a lot of things but in the context of sales I like the idea of adding testimonials and product reviews and encouraging customers to share their own opinions. It shows legitimacy and builds social proof. Take a step back and let readers comment — you may be surprised how much a lively discussion can bring to old content. Finally, you can also get a visibility boost by asking readers to share your content on social media.
- Re-promote it. After you’ve done all you could to bring an old post back to life, you can always arrange a return visit to your social media profiles and professional groups. Bear in mind that not everyone saw it when you posted it before and it still has a business value. There’s no rule that says everything only gets one shot at going viral!
To refresh or not to refresh — that is the (easy) question
For anyone still debating the pros and cons of refurbishing your old marketing content, let me give you an example of just how beneficial it can be.
Let’s say that you’re writing about technology. You’ll probably agree that your readers will be looking for information concerning the latest trends, not tips on getting the most out of Windows 95 or advice on buying the best VCR. Being on the cutting edge at all times is of the essence and any hint that you’re not up-to-date can be fatal. Updating your content — and making sure that readers know it’s updated — is key to establishing yourself as an expert.
On top of that, a busy blog is a signal of a busy company with busy marketers. It just makes everyone look good while enhancing your organic SEO and SEO engine rankings. What’s not to like?
Summing up: When it comes to making over your content, I would say the risk is worth the reward, but there is no risk. It’s a little bit of work and a lot of reward. You’ll see it when analyzing search engines rankings. Refreshing old posts should become a routine of your content work, and, with each revamped post you make, improving future pieces will be much easier.
Get to work!