If you’ve been blogging for a while, even if it’s just once a week, it won’t take long to accumulate an archive of “old content.” Some of the content will be great at bringing in traffic from Google Search and links on other websites and regular social media shares, but what about the rest?
If you have old articles on your site which you think should be bringing in more traffic than they are, this post is for you.
Why Revive Old Blog Content?
First, this isn’t about trying to get random old content, like this video, to keep popping up:
This is about specifically targeting important pieces of content, blog posts, that just aren’t performing as well as you’d hoped or planned. But what, exactly, does that mean?
When we’re creating articles for our blog site, every post should be part of our larger content marketing strategy and have specific blogging goals in mind. If we’re newsjacking, for instance, we’re trying to hitch a ride with a larger story and increase our readership and brand awareness quickly, but with the understanding that after the furor dies down, that post will likely never be read again. It’s old news.
But if we’re writing up a detailed How To article, while we would still hope to get a nice bump initially when we’re heavily promoting it on social media, the long-term gain should be steady and increasing search engine traffic of people looking for that information.
For instance, I wrote an article called “How to Schedule Google+ Posts” that specifically talked about using the DoShare extension to schedule personal Google+ activity. I can see from my analytics that it continues to perform better and better each month, even though most of the initial excitement over the information has long since passed.
On the other hand, I wrote an article over a year ago about how businesses can use Facebook Nearby that’s received very little interest. Perhaps it’s the topic, or maybe it’s the article itself.
When to Revive Old Blog Content?
Now, just because an article is old and hasn’t received the amount of interest you were hoping for, doesn’t mean it’s a good candidate for revival. Some articles are simply DOA.
Instead, only choose to invest your time in past posts that you have actual reason and evidence to support the renewed interest.
Start with your own internal metrics. Look at your content and page views and determine which of your articles are getting the least amount of traffic, and consider whether or not you want to update them and if you can update them, and of course, if you should update them. These questions all have to be answered with a Yes!
If you have zero interest in returning to a particular topic, either personally or because it no longer is a good match to your business goals, move on to the next piece of content.
If you can’t think of anything else you could possible say or add to an article, consider moving on as well, though we’ll get into some specific ideas on how to update and revive that old post in a moment that might help you here.
And of course, it’s critical that you determine whether or not you should update a post. Did it get any interest at all when you first published and shared it? Is it getting any traffic at all now? How much traffic potentially might it get?
This is where we’ll get a little technical for a moment, as you’ll need to do some basic keyword research. Go to Google AdWords, https://adwords.google.com, log in with your Google account, and open Google’s Keyword Planner. Here you’ll want to do some searches on keyword traffic. Plug in some keywords that describe your post and what your target audience might be searching for.
In my case, still thinking about that Facebook Nearby post, I plugged in:
What is Facebook Nearby
Facebook Nearby for Business
And my suspicion was confirmed – it’s not the article that’s the problem, it’s that NO ONE is interested enough in Facebook Nearby to Google it. 210 monthly searches for “Facebook Nearby” and 0 for the other terms.
So optimizing and updating that content would be a waste of time.
I continued down my list of articles and found another candidate, “Bounce Rate. What is it, and why is it important?”
Would I and could I update that one? Sure. Should I? Well, according to Google, the phrase “what is bounce rate” hit over 1,400 average monthly searches and the competition is low. Bingo! Sounds like we have a winning candidate.
Now the question is, what do I do to this article to revive it?
Note: My purpose for this article was not to provide a specific case study, so the article referenced is still intact and has not been updated. An analysis of changes made and impact on search traffic will be the subject of a later post.
How to Revive Old Blog Content?
Now, while my end-goal may be to get more search engine traffic, my means of doing so is not strictly from an SEO perspective. Instead, I want to focus on improving the article so that it’s simply better and more attractive to potential readers, which will make it more attractive to Google. Simply spinning some SEO magic might get me a bump in traffic, but if I haven’t done much to make the article itself stronger, it’s likely that the new visitors won’t be any more impressed than the old visitors, and Google will notice a high bounce rate and poor time on site. (Obviously, read the article if you don’t know what bounce rate even is – it’s a good piece to read, trust me!)
Search Engine Optimization
I start with SEO because that is important, particularly the keyword research part. You need to be aware of what phrases people are actually searching on and work to incorporate those into the post and image tags and meta tags. This may mean changing the Title of the post (just being careful not to change the URL), adding more sections with section headers, and so on. With Google Semantic search, SEO becomes less about using specific phrases, and more about understanding what it is your audience is looking for, and doing your best to answer that and provide as much relevant information as possible.
While it’s true that Google and other search engines tend to ignore Meta Tags like “Keywords,” that doesn’t mean you should ignore meta tags. In fact, I make sure that all of mine are completed on every post, particularly the description field. This field is what is displayed in search results and savvy marketers use this field to help capture search engine traffic. Use that 200 characters to quickly describe the article and present your case for the value of the article. Why should I click it to read more?
To that end, it’s important that we look for ways to update the information we’ve included in the post. The simple fact of updating the text and sending a signal to Google that the content has been updated can help ranking, but if we can take it a step further and go into more depth and detail on the topic, even better.
Any stats or figures should be updated with new sources.
Any additional background information or conclusions or educational information that we can add should be considered. While we don’t want our posts to read like Wikipedia entries, the goal here is to make the article a true resource that will be linked to and shared and visited for a long time, which means it has to offer real value. Typically, that means a short two paragraph post isn’t going to get the job done. It’s likely that you’re going to turn a standard blog post into “long form copy” – so be prepared for that possibility.
Consider adding an Updated Date while you’re there, particularly if your post already displays a Post Date. It will be important for future visitors to see that the article has received more recent attention.
If the post doesn’t already have a great main image, start there. Every blog post must have an image, as it represents your post on social networks and elsewhere, and provides an additional SEO opportunity for keyword usage. Take this opportunity to ensure your main image is perfect for Pinterest and Google+ by putting text over the image and branding it, and then make sure that it has a Title, Alt and Description set that uses some of your keyword information.
Next, look for opportunities to add new or updates images throughout the post. Can you include screenshots or other images? Are any images you had before out of date? Again, don’t add more images just for the sake of more images, but try to think of ways you can add more value to the post.
New Rich Media
Along the same lines, are there videos or slideshows you can embed? Consider repurposing the content and then putting everything together within the same post:
– Create a presentation of the main points and upload to SlideShare
– Create a video that runs the slideshow presentation with your own voiceover reading presenting the material
– Create a podcast reading the post
– Create an Instagram video that highlights three main points of the post
– Create a new image that pulls a quote out of the article
You might also embed a tweet or Facebook post that is particularly on-point.
New Social Media Shares
Once you’ve taken the time to update your post, don’t just save it and run away. Promote it again! Heavily!
Late last year, I revisited my post, “How I Promote My New Blog Posts.” I knew that there were one or two things I and been doing when I first wrote that post, but that I wasn’t doing any more. I went to edit the post with the idea that I would quickly strikeout the steps I was no longer taking. But then I realized that not only were there a bunch of things I wasn’t doing anymore, but also a bunch of new steps I was taking and needed to add. By the end, I had increased the overall number of promotional tasks, and improved the entire post. I shared it again as an updated post and it was my hottest article of the week.
Just like any evergreen content, it’s likely that your newest followers weren’t around when you shared the original post. And if you’ve done a good job of updating it, even people who read the original will be impressed and appreciative.
More importantly, it’s an opportunity to share the article in places and ways you may not have done before. Were you on Google+ the first time you published the post? Pinterest? Share the great new image you created as a full image and write a compelling introduction to the post. Pin one or two of the other new images to Pinterest as well. Get some tweets and Facebook shares going, and promote it like it’s a brand new piece for you.
Not only will you get a new bump in traffic for the post, and create opportunities for ongoing click-throughs from other people’s shares and repins, but you will send strong social signals to Google regarding this old piece of content, that it’s receiving renewed interest and needs to be ranked higher as a result.
Reference the Updated Post in New Blogs
Finally, when possible, reference these old, yet updated, blog posts in new articles that you’re writing. This is why it’s so important to be selective and particular about which posts we spend time updating. If they still align with your overall business goals and objectives, referencing them in new posts should be easy, and at the same time provide more value and interest to our readers.
Monitoring Your Blog’s Pulse
Developing a rich archive of blog posts that consistently attract new visitors and potential clients should be one of the top priorities of any business who is serious about Content Marketing. Therefore, rather than let an old post whither on the limb and die, the smart marketer will constantly monitor their blog’s pulse and do everything they can to revive old, struggling blog posts.