Turning Your Old Content Into High Traffic Gold

Turning Your Old Content Into High Traffic Gold

by Sujan Patel, Contributor

15 minute read

Blogging is like breathing to me.

I’m in a state of constantly writing blog posts across a wide variety of sites, so I know what it is to feel the pressure of finding ideas and writing great stuff that doesn’t completely suck. When I hear the excuse “but it’s so hard to create all that content!” I have to say that it doesn’t really work on me.

But here’s the thing: I don’t shirk away from creating new content, but I’m also a huge proponent of repurposing your old content. That’s what helps make it all possible.

Now, you have to be careful. We’re not talking about making your entire content marketing life one of playing and replaying your greatest hits. But there is a way to reduce the load a bit and make your old content as valuable as something new.

The Importance Of Evergreen Content

The challenge you have as a content marketer is creating a seriously regular amount of content all the time. Content marketing sounds so easy, until you hit the ground running and realize you have to keep running.

That’s where evergreen content comes in.

Evergreen content is content that doesn’t get old. In other words, it’s timeless and isn’t locked into trends or based on current news. It’s content based on topics that your site’s audience is always interested in. It’s high quality.

You’d be surprised at how much of your content is Evergreen (or can be, with a few updates).

This matters, because evergreen content drives traffic over a longer period of time instead of just the bump you get when you initially share it on social media. Evergreen content can help improve your search rankings. The longer that piece of content is out there, and the more useful and timeless it is, the more links and engagement it will attract over time. Google likes that.

But for our discussion on repurposing content, evergreen content is going to be a workhorse for you, something you can make last far beyond the day you publish it, and far outside the limits of a single blog post that brings search traffic. It can become entirely new content, and that’s happy news for busy content marketers.

Why Repurpose Your Content?

Frankly, I consider repurposing your content as something that should be a regular component in any content promotion plan, and I’ve talked about it before. This isn’t just something you do when you’re desperate or out of ideas. It needs to be a standard practice.

Think about it: why would you put all that work into a great piece of content — maybe an epic long-form blog post — and then never do anything with it ever again? What a waste.

You save money.

Let’s be realistic. Time is money, and you are usually pressed for both.

Repurposing content saves time, and that means it also saves money. This is especially true if you hire designers, writers, or other people to help you create content. You do the bulk of the work and effort of front, and from then on, you make derivatives that come from all of that initial investment.

You build on what already works.

Repurposing is based on content that you know is already a winner. You build on what you know will work.

New content is different; you do your best, you get the SEO in order, you write that killer headline, and then you find out if your audience loves it or not.

You establish consistency.

Repurposing content  keeps you from wandering around thematically, and leaving your niche. When you build on previous content, you will obviously keep your topics related. Anything that you create that springs from the same previous content will feel consistent to your audience. They learn to know what to expect from you.

By consistency, incidentally, I don’t mean repetitiveness. Repurposing should never feel like perpetual reruns to your audience. But when you repurpose content the right way, you create the feeling that the content they are consuming is related and that they are on a progressive course instead of wandering in the wilderness.

You reach a new audience.

When we talk about how to repurpose content in a bit, you’re going to see that a fair chunk of it is fixated on putting old content in new places.

Your audience loves you. They pretty much live in the space you’ve created. But you have to leave that space to find new people, too, and repurposing content naturally leads to your content getting placed somewhere besides your usual hangout. It’s part of accepting that not everyone wants to consume content in the same place and the same format, and if you want the biggest audience possibly, you have to go where they are.

You get the right mindset.

Salma Jafri, of Search Engine Watch, has the right idea: create less, promote more.

Success with content marketing isn’t so much about how many words you can churn out and how often you can do it, but is more about promotion. Repurposing content makes that possible.

You create less (but of high quality). You promote more (using that repurposed and repackaged content). It’s not a question of how much you can create, but how many people see it. And that’s a question of promotion, not creation.

How Often Should You Repurpose Content?

How often you repurpose your content depends on what you do with it. Breaking it down into statistics you share on social media and spreading it out can be done more often than if you are making a minor change to a post and publishing elsewhere. You’re promoting, not merely recycling.

My rule of thumb is that I limit the reuse of blog posts to my top three posts each month. Notice what I said there:

  • I don’t recommend reusing content more than two or three times a month.
  • I only reuse my top posts.

Some content doesn’t perform well. Some topics no one cares about. Why reuse that?

How Do You Repurpose Your Content?

First off, repurposing your content isn’t the same as you spamming the internet with endless multiple copies of everything you create. All you’ll do with that sloppy approach is incur Google’s wrath and annoy the hell out of people.

Repurposing content is, instead, seeing content as a raw building material. You did the research, you did the interviews, you wrote the blog post. That means you have a lot of other things you can still do with that content beyond merely copying and pasting it. You can turn it into something else entirely.

Find your high performers.

Not all content is worth repurposing. We’ll talk about this later, but the key here is that the first thing you need to do is find your most popular posts and your most popular topics.

Sometimes you didn’t do a great job writing about a topic, but you notice a trend of people looking for and commenting on anything related to that topic. Your posts might not be winners, but the topic is.

Look for high performance. That’s what you’ll build on.

Make your best posts easy to find.

It’s sad, but there’s a simple thing too many content marketers forget: you make it too hard to find your Hall of Fame content.

Those are the blog posts you’re proud of, that people still comment on, that got serious attention. They are your best. They are the ones you discovered in the previous step that still pull in the traffic.

I hope you don’t leave it to search engines and random readers to find them and re-publicize them. One of the most basic elements of repurposing your content is simply helping people find it again.

No rewrites involved in that.

Maybe you have a list on your blog, or you include your top posts on a rotating basis in your regular email to your list. Maybe once in awhile you do a long list post in  which you cover a topic by linking to your past posts. Maybe you pull together some related posts and package it as a series and promote that. For sure you should share and reshare on your social networks, always bringing the old posts to the top.

Whatever it is that you do, you have to make your good stuff easy to find. Don’t bury it and expect people to magically find it on their own.

Find new places to share your content.

Repurposing your content doesn’t always mean major rewrites every time. That’s not much of a time saver. Sometimes it means finding a new place or way to share it.

  • Social networks you’re ignoring. Maybe you have Twitter and Facebook as your go-to networks, but don’t bother with Pinterest or Instagram. Share it on new networks. Find new people.
  • Publish on another platform. Publish in another place, and find people that are using that platform. You build a bigger audience that way. Think Medium, LinkedIn, Facebook Notes (new and improved) or even Google Plus. There’s no shortage of places you can publish easily. Submitting an RSS feed to a site that carefully chooses quality content to share with their larger audience works, too.
  • Syndicate your content. The idea of syndicating is that you share the same thing on multiple publishing outlets. While you may not want to take a word-for-word republishing approach, you can still make minor changes or condensed versions of your original blog post and publish elsewhere.
  • Find quality bookmarking and community sites. These are the sites where people share links around a specific topic. It’s the perfect place to share your best content as long as it fits the criteria of the site. Sites like Inbound.org or Hacker News are not only great places to share your content, but also a great place to do research or get ideas. Don’t forget StumbleUpon, Reddit (choose the appropriate sub-forum), and Quora. Remember, though, to find sites that fit your niche and to not behave like a spammer. Only your best content, and not every day.

Change the format.

Got a great blog post? That’s fantastic. Now turn it from words on the screen into video or sound or image. Change the format and set it free from your blog.

Online class. Take your best blog post(s) and rework them into an online class. You might use Udemy, Teachable, Guides.co, or any number of other great online course creation sites. There’s something about offering a structured class — for free or for money — that helps show that you’re about teaching, helping and learning. Online courses on your most popular topics are also a great way to get emails and leads through a call to action in a blog post. If you have enough of them, it’s easy to find a class that relates to just about any blog topic you might cover.

  1. Some of your best posts probably have a fair amount of data and statistics. These are the pieces of content that will convert easily into an infographic. If you’re not a professional designer, use Infogr.am or Canva to create attractive graphics. Then encourage others to share and embed your infographic.
  2. Maybe you’ve gotten tired of people constantly suggesting that you turn your content into a slide deck over on SlideShare, but have you bothered to do it? Slide decks are such a great way to not only repurpose content, but make it easy for people to share and embed your content in their own blogs. They also give you a tool you can use in later blog content should you need to supplement it with something interesting. And you can go further down the recursive hole by turning an infographic into a slide deck.

Share statistics. You probably have statistics or pull quotes from your original content that make for interesting stand-alone facts on their own. Use them on social media as a way to grab attention and bring it back to your original content. Create graphics out of this singular points of interest. If you’ve made an infographic from a post, you can scavenge it to create related visual social media posts and turn the whole thing into a campaign.

  1. Podcasts are resurging in popularity, and you can easily turn a blog post into a podcast segment. Bring people in to discuss the topic. Interview people mentioned in the post. Add new or exclusive information that wasn’t available at the time of the post. Heck, just talk about the content and the response you got from it, or the story behind why you created the content.
  2. Start by turning your blog post into a video script. Hopefully you wrote your post with an outline, because that will be helpful. How-to blog post make great videos, but don’t limit yourself just to how-to videos. Your videos can be lectures, artsy, a conversation or video version of your podcast discussion — whatever route you take, you base it on the original post. Videos are not just for how-tos.
  3. Whether you use Periscope or a different form of live video feed, you are turning old content not simply into video, but into an event. Maybe you simply look into the camera and answer the questions people have asked about the original content.
  4. Let’s not forget the classic ebook as a way to reuse old content. If you’ve pulled together old blog posts into a series or into an online class, you’ve done much of the work of creating an ebook. Ebooks are a great for generating leads, such as serving as an enticement for gathering email addresses for your list. They can also be a money-maker on their own; why not sell your ebook on Amazon?

Create an email drip campaign.

Remember the whole spiel about making your greatest hits easier to find? An email drip campaign is the perfect way to do that, and it’s pretty painless.

Basically, it involves you defining the scope of an email campaign, determining what gets sent out and when. Anyone who subscribes to your email campaign receives a steady diet of your content. Such a campaign relies on a very powerful attribute: you keep people engaged.

They remember you. They are learning from you. They grow familiar with your brand and your content. You become an expert. You get their email address and grow your list.

Using repurposed content, you can pull together blog posts and turn them into individual emails. It’s a bit like serving up a blog series, but with the convenience of coming right to an inbox near you. These emails can point back to landing pages, blog posts, or other action items that convert readers to customers.

Plus, by having several campaigns set to go on various topics, you can promote the email course itself and use the sign-up as its own call to action.

Resurrect those old dogs.

You have some seriously crappy posts on your blog. I know you do; we all do. When you first got started, your posts were nowhere near as good as they are today. Bad writing, wonky SEO — it could be anything.

But just because the way you ultimately wrote the post embarasses you now doesn’t mean that the original idea is no good.

Not always.

It’s even possible that some of those old posts might still be getting a fair amount of traffic, but you hate that you are being represented on the topic by that old dog of a post you wrote. You can resurrect those posts with a fairly painless approach:

  • Is editing all that’s needed? Assuming you’ve become a better writer since your good old days, maybe your post just needs some editing. That’s easy enough.
  • Does the headline need a do-over? Do a little A/B testing on the headline. Maybe a simple headline change is all you need to make before commencing on another round of promotion.
  • Does the SEO need tuning up? Sometimes older posts suffer from bad SEO simply because things change so much. Take another look at keywords and headlines. Tuning up your SEO isn’t all that difficult and really makes a difference in the traffic that old post will start to receive.
  • Does it fit your style? Perhaps your writing style has changed, or, more importantly, your blog posts now are of a particular format (e.g. you put CTA’s in the content). Rework it to fit your new style.
  • Is the research too old? Even an evergreen post with a timeless topic might need a research update. If all of your links are to posts from 2012 and earlier, find some new research. Link to new posts. Keep it within the last year.
  • Is the content crap? Maybe the truth is that the idea is great but what you wrote was terrible. That’s going to call for a major rewrite, starting fresh with a new outline. List your best points, and then forget about the old post and start over.

The beauty here, if you’ve been blogging a while and have accumulated a decent-sized audience, is that those old posts have probably not been read by most of your audience. If you decide to rework and republish them entirely, consider a 301 redirect to the new content, particularly if that old dog, for some reason, was still attracting a fair amount of search traffic.

Yes, you can teach old dogs new tricks. You just have to find them. Look for posts getting search traffic or that cover a topic you hear discussed a lot by your audience. That’s a topic that people still care about.


This article was written by Sujan Patel from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.