Complete Guide to Repurposing Old Content

Article written by: Lori Soard
  • Blogging Tips
  • Feb 02, 2017

TL;DR: Make your old content relevant again with fresh ideas for repurposing that content. Bloggers and strategic growth managers explain which content is best repurposed and offer takeaways to implement today.


Your content is one of your biggest assets as a website owner. You’ve likely invested a lot of time, effort and money into developing the best content you possibly can for your site and your readers. When you factor in keyword research, time spent researching the competition, writing or hiring writers, and editing, this is likely one of your biggest investments. It only makes sense that you should get the most mileage possible out of your content.

One way you can take your content to the next level is by making sure it stays at the forefront and continues to grab attention long after it is initially published. You can do this by repurposing old content.

How Much Can You Save by Recycling Old Content?

Penny Sansevieri, CEO of Author Marketing Experts, said,

“A lot actually – I mean in terms of having great content that is just dated. Sometimes it’s really fun to update these and run them on “throwback Thursday” – and sometimes we might just link to the old post (if it’s still current) as a #throwbackThursday idea.”

Of course, the amount you save will vary, depending upon costs. The skill set of the writers working for you may vary widely. You also may pay rates in a wide range from a free guest blogger post to $100 or more for a technical article. White papers and guides cost even more.

penny sansevieri
Penny Sansevieri

Let’s look at this from a middle of the road perspective.

Let’s say you have a writer that you pay to create content who is somewhat experienced and the topic isn’t extremely technical or in-depth. You pay him $50/article for that work. Add to that cost a few stock images at about $1.00 each. In addition, you have likely spent some money on advertising, some time researching the best topics and keywords, and perhaps paid an editor some money to polish the piece to perfection.

Time is Money

Even if you did all the work on your own, it still has the same value. You’ve just spent your time instead of actual money when you do all of the work yourself. It has often been said that “time is money”, so we’ll go with these figures. Let’s say your estimated cost for that article is $100 after everything.

If you recycle that same piece later, you save the $50 writing fee, the $3 in images, and the editing fee. You also save time because you don’t have to do as much research this time around.

Now, let’s say you find more than one way to repurpose that same content. You’ve just saved money exponentially.

Choosing Which Content to Repurpose

shaley mckeever
Shaley McKeever

If your blog has been in existence for a while, you may have a ton of old content to sort through. It can be difficult to determine which content to repurpose first.

Shaley McKeever, the Strategic Growth Manager at Red Branch Media had some interesting thoughts on choosing which content to repurpose.

“We recently implemented a practice called historical optimization process. It’s all about taking your old, high-traffic content and refreshing it to keep it up-to-date and increase conversions.”

Shaley went on to explain that they discovered hundreds of blog articles from the previous year that were still getting high traffic. The first step was to identify these articles and know what was still relevant.

“While we knew our content was great, we just hadn’t wrapped our heads around how much of our old content was still being seen out there.”

Step # 1: Analyze Stats on Your Site

Your first step in identifying which content to repurpose should be to study your site’s backend analytics and figure out what is getting the most traffic. Start with articles from the year before and then work your way back. Navigate to your control panel and to the Metrics section as pictured below.

webalizer
Choose Webalizer FTP for a report of your site statistics. Depending upon the cPanel theme you are using, your icon may look a bit different.

Click on Webalizer FTP. You will be given a report. Below is a screenshot of a site a client of mine started about four years ago during the initial few months. You can see how I can look at overall stats and then click on any month to get more detailed stats (more on that in a minute). I’ve grayed out the domain name to protect the client’s privacy.

webalizer stats sample
These are the general statistics for a website via Webalizer.

Next, you can click on any of the months to get better details of which articles are still getting traffic. For the purposes of this analysis, you want to start with the most recent month in your reports and then go back a few months. Scroll down to the top URLs and you’ll see which pages got the most hits.

Step # 2: Look at Google Analytics

Your next step should be to check out Google Analytics. If you aren’t already using webmaster tools at Google, you should be. These can give you some in-depth information about where your visitors are coming from and their behaviors on your site.

Let’s look at a report from around the same time for that same client with the brand new site.

google-report
Notice the bounce rate? Ouch. This is easily fixable, though, over time.

You can break this info down even further by running additional reports. This will help you see what content is most popular and possibly help you figure out why not many visitors are returning.

Step # 3: Pretend You’re a Competitor

Search your site the same way you would a competitor’s. Look at everything with fresh eyes. For example, you can head over to SpyFU.com and type in your domain name. See what comes up as your most popular pages. By combining three different sources, you will catch all of the most popular articles that are still at least somewhat popular with readers.

Step # 4: Sort the Results

Once you have a strong list of articles you might consider for repurposing, go ahead and throw out any that are not evergreen. If it is a topic that won’t still be timely next year, you probably don’t want to bother with it right now. There is a time and a place for revamping those articles, too, but for now you are going to focus on evergreen content that will stand the test of time.

Try to figure out which of the remaining articles you can add something to, tweak a bit, and reshare.

7 Ways to Repurpose Old Content

There are many different ways you can repurpose old content besides just republishing or sharing on social media, although those are vital activities as well.

# 1: Write a Roundup

Create a roundup of similar posts and link back to your old content. You’ve probably seen sites do this with things like recipes and decorating tips.

Some ideas to write on:

  • Our 10 Best Tips for ____________
  • Top Ways to Celebrate __________ (fill in holiday)
  • Articles about __________ that Our Readers Love

You get the idea. Figure out a way to round up several older articles and share them again through a fresh lens. This will be a quick write, because you only need to summarize each article, write an intro and closing, and post.

One thing that is really important if you are reusing old content is to make sure you are changing how you present it and refreshing what needs refreshed and not just putting it back out there.

“Always, always [we refresh content] – it’s also bad if you just re-run old content, I mean in terms of your Google ranking. UNLESS as I mentioned above, we’re using them for a #throwback.” – Penny Sansevieri

# 2: Make a Slideshow

Take screenshots and snippets of info and make a slideshow to put up on SlideShare (look at that, I just shared an older article of mine that is still relevant). This can help you reach new readers who otherwise might not have seen your content.

# 3: Create a Video

You can add some fresh content from old content by creating an addition to the initial piece.

For example, if you have a post on your site about how to clean the filter on your heating and cooling unit, then you might make a video actually showing how to do it and refer back to the article. You can add the video to the old post and link an upload on YouTube back to the article. This gives both pieces of content extra exposure.

# 4: Blog a Book

Darren Rowse of ProBlogger recommends streamlining content.

For example, he packaged his “31 Days to Build a Better Blog” series into an ebook and sold it. If you have enough content that is related, or have done a series, you can easily gather this info, add a bit to it and create another revenue stream out of your old content.

# 5: Create an Infographic

Infographic credit: Kiss Metrics
Infographic credit: Kiss Metrics

The Web is a visual medium. That is probably why infographics have become so popular. If a visual has vivid colors, people are 80% more willing to read it. Simply add some charts, images, and tie it all together with your text and some statistics to back it up.

Offering complex information in a digestible visual format is certain to attract new readers who might not have the time to read an in-depth piece, but can read shorter content. It is important to have both formats on your site.

# 6: Quick Refresh

If a post is still popular but you feel it is a little dated, go ahead and do some updates. Add a new call to action or some brighter and better images. Do a quick search of current keywords and see if the SEO needs adjustment. Then, republish the old content to see if you can regain traction with it.

# 7: Create a Series of Emails

Use your old blog posts to create a series of emails on a particular topic. This allows you to accomplish a couple of things. First, you can build your mailing list by collecting emails. Second, you can push the content out on a daily basis when a visitor might not return to your site day after day. You will have a captive audience.

 

Social Media and Repurposing

Most marketers these days understand how important it is to have a strong social media marketing campaign. Over $9.5 million was spent on social media advertising in 2015. If you want to reach people online, social media is a great place to do it.

Of course, there are a lot of fine details that come into play about which social media network you should use to reach which target demographic and what times are best to post. You can learn more about the ins and outs of where and when by reading KeriLynn Engel’s “Which Social Media Platform Should Your Business Be On?” and Luana Spinetti’s guide to analyzing user interaction on social media to boost engagement.

When you revamp a post in any way, you should shout it out to your followers on social media. How will they know you’ve made a change if you don’t share that change? Here are some ideas:

  • Share the link to your blog post again and explain what you’ve changed or added.
  • Ask followers to comment on the changes.
  • Offer a free copy of the book or series to current followers if they’ll share your post about the repurposing.
  • Ask followers what else they’d like to know about this topic. If it is popular enough to still rank well, then there may be additional blog posts you can write about it.

Social media is an excellent tool both for marketing and for interacting with your site visitors.

Your Takeaway About Repurposing Old Blog Posts

One blog post that covers a popular topic can be repurposed in many different ways. If it is a topic that people are consistently interested in, then it is more likely to offer continued success for your site. That is why it is always smart to focus on content that answers a question or solves a problem for your readers.

Some simple tweaks, such as adding new images, refreshing any aged content, and even enhancing your call to action can make a fairly successful piece of content a phenomenal success.

 

Article by Lori Soard

Lori Soard has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 1996. She has a bachelor's in English Education and a PhD in Journalism. Her articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines, online and she's had several books published. Since 1997, she has worked as a web designer and promoter for authors and small businesses. She even worked for a short time ranking websites for a popular search engine and studying in-depth SEO tactics for a number of clients. She enjoys hearing from her readers.

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