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Bring old content to life. How to revive old blog entries?

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“Quick, quick, give me new artwork!” – these are words that would not be ashamed of any content marketing specialist who has been entrusted with the task of resuscitating old blog entries. How to go about it wisely?

The post introduces the Frankenstein Method, by which old entries are brought to life by Malaika Nicholas – Product Marketing Manager on Twitter.

Why should you update old blog entries?

Before we move on to the practical tips on how to revive old content, let’s stop for a moment why it is worth doing it at all. Here are some arguments.

You only get one chance to make a good first impression.

It is common to think that old blog entries are lost somewhere in the depths of the internet, and until you bring them to light through social media publications or paid advertising, no one will ever see them. This is not entirely true. Many texts, long forgotten by their authors, still rank high in search engines for given phrases. Often these are texts containing outdated knowledge, linguistically weak or misleading the reader by, for example, the title being incompatible with the content. The reader who comes across them will get the impression that your company blog is not worth attention and will avoid it in the future. The latest entries can be of really high quality – but what if the reader discouraged by reading the older ones will never find out about it.

Search engines like fresh publications. Regularly updating your content is a step towards higher positions in search results. It also helps to increase the authority of your blog. Moreover, updating your content is a good opportunity to look at them critically in terms of SEO:

  • Perhaps when they were created, nobody paid attention to the keywords and it is worth optimizing them in this regard?
  • What about internal and external linking?
  • Do images have alt attributes, and all text – meta description?

These are just a few questions that will help you improve your ranking in search results.

Updating your content is a good opportunity to reach completely new audiences. You can do it, for example, by inviting someone from outside to cooperate. By adding statements from industry experts to the article, you will not only enrich the content with substantive advice from respected authors, but you will also most likely reach their recipients – most specialists are willing to share with their network of contacts the information that their statement has been published in a given place.

Is every entry worth updating?

Another question that arises when sitting down to revise old entries is: “Is each of them worth updating?”. This is a good question. Updating requires time and resources (for example, person-hours of the person who undertakes it) – it is worth considering it carefully.

The answer to the question above is no – but it is worth doing something with each entry.

The origins of many corporate blogs have one thing in common: the absolute lack of a content strategy.

At the beginning of their activity, many companies assumed that “everyone runs a blog, so we should too.” This idea is not bad in itself, but its implementation has often been bad. In many enterprises, the blog acted as a kind of agora, where each team member could speak on any topic loosely related to business. It is not so bad if someone from the marketing department supervised this content – Unfortunately, this was not always the case. Texts that were not thought out in terms of marketing strategy, target groups, and keywords were published much more often; uncorrected and edited, not optimized for search engines. As a result, on the archival blog pages of companies, you can find a whole range of content not related to the activities of a given organization: from science-fiction texts about what online stores can look like in a hundred years, up to the history of how a team member of the company complained about Apple equipment (These are real-life examples!). It is not difficult to guess that such content does not give the company the opinion of an expert in its field – I have already mentioned the first impression that can only be made once.

It is important to look at all archival entries and think about what can be done with them to meet the assumptions of the brand’s content strategy (or at least not interfere with its implementation).

For starters, look for low-hanging fruit – texts that already generate a lot of traffic in their current form, and after corrections, this traffic can turn into conversions.

Also, take a look at the entries that rank high in the search positions. They definitely need optimization – it would be a shame to miss the opportunities they already bring.

Pay special attention to evergreen texts – articles on topics that are key to your brand, always up-to-date, and attracting the attention of your readers. For example, if your company specializes in rebranding, such an article might be “When is it worth doing rebranding?”

Finally, take a look at what’s left. You will surely come across texts that do not promise – to meet the assumptions of the content marketing strategy, and they would have to be rewritten in more than half or even written from scratch. Think about what articles could replace them and take care of appropriate redirects.

Frankenstein method. Step 1: Head

Let us return to the Frankenstein method I mentioned at the outset. Let’s start with the head – this is how the author of this method determines the first step in updating content, i.e., SEO optimization.

Update publication date – search engines prefer fresh content. Having a choice of two equally good texts matching a given phrase, the newer one will be in the first place of the search results. This is not silly – newer content is much more likely to be up-to-date. Application? When updating the entry, change the publication date to inform search engines that there is fresh, up-to-date content under the link. It is worth leaving the information on the original publication date.

Update Title and Meta Description – Another way to notify search engines that your entry has been updated is to change the title and meta description. I do not mean a revolution like a completely new title, but rather adding a note to it, indicating an update.

Update the listing’s URL – especially if it has an old date! Don’t forget to redirect the old address to the new one.

Take a look at the ALT attributes – the alt attribute is an alternative image description, i.e., text that helps the search engine understand what is in the graphics on a given page. With many blog posts in the past, you will likely find that the images they contain were not described this way – due to the author’s ignorance or lack of time. It’s your job to make up for it. It’s good that the alt attributes should contain keywords for which you plan to position the given post.

Frankeinstein’s method. Step 2: Hands and feet

It’s time for the old content to gain … arms and legs – that is, everything that increases readers’ engagement and improves their reception of the post. Below are some marketing tactics that you can apply at this stage.

Add the possibility of sharing – if your blog entries previously had no buttons like “Share” – it’s time to catch up. By the way, this is a good time to take a look at what graphics automatically appear during publication – and perhaps replace it with a more engaging version.

An interesting hint from the author of the Frankenstein Method is to enable readers to share the entire text and its most interesting fragments: quotes, key statements, infographics.

Moderate old comments – if you have not done so already – remove spam comments and those inadequate to the article’s content. It is also a good idea to ask someone to comment on the refreshed entry: this is another sign for the search engine that your content has revived and attracts readers’ attention in its new form – so that it is worth showing it to more people.

Frankeistein’s method. Step 3: Torso

Time for the biggest revolution. At this stage, we will deal with the essence of the article – it’s content. We will optimize the text and graphics, add interesting data and other content, thanks to which will significantly increase quality. Let’s get started!

Change graphics to newer ones – do you know that users will scroll content instead of reading it cover to cover? This is what prevents those who have already seen your entry from clicking on its refreshed version or, if they do, they will quickly leave the page. By simply seeing a familiar graphic, they are convinced that it illustrates a text they have already read. When refreshing old blog content, the solution is straightforward, doesn’t stop at the text itself, and takes care of a new graphic design.

Enrich the text with the latest data – this is the first thing that comes to mind when updating an article. Certainly, a lot has happened since its publication. Perhaps research has been conducted that shed new light on the issues raised in the publication. Or maybe there was a situation interestingly illustrating the topic?

Complete the old article with:

  • data from the latest reports,
  • real-life examples,
  • good practices that have emerged since its release.

Ask an expert for an opinion – this approach, apart from enriching the text with further substantive content, has one more advantage – the possibility of reaching a completely new audience. As I mentioned, people like to boast that others take their opinion into account – the expert you ask for comment may share the link to your article with their network of contacts. But that’s not the only group you can reach!

Also among your reach are people who would not normally click on a link to an article but will do so when it is signed by the face of an expert respected by them. You can ask your specialist for permission to put his quote along with the photo on the graphic promoting the article or mark it in the post – in the latter case, be sure to do so at the beginning of the text before the “Read more” tag.

Add internal linking to newer entries – this will help you keep the user on the page for longer, gain favor with search engines, and show that your content is up-to-date since it is related to newer publications. Remember that each link opens in a new tab not to lose sight of the original entry.

Convert an old entry to a completely different format – this is the most radical method, but it has its advantages. Instead of just updating your blog post, you can go a step further and create a pdf, infographic, or presentation out of it. Sometimes something that did not attract recipients’ attention in the previous form will win their hearts in the new one.

Bonus: downloadable materials can enrich your contact database. All you need to do is link them to the appropriate form, for example, subscribing to a newsletter.

Add a note from the author – it is worth informing recipients that they are reading a refreshed version of the article. A short note from the author at the beginning of the post will help. You can let us know why you decided to refresh the article and what’s new in it.

Sample note from the author:

Update 2021: You are just reading an enhanced version of the tutorial on refreshing old blog entries. A lot has changed since we wrote the first draft. We have always thought to provide our readers with the most up-to-date data. That is why we have updated this post with 25 best practices in refreshing old entries on company blogs. Enjoy reading!

Frankeistein’s method. Step 4: Give life to what you have created!

Just as Dr. Frankeinstein didn’t stop at creating the monster physically, but chose to breathe life into it, so don’t stop at updating your old content – let the world know you did it too!

Readers will not find out on their own that you have enriched old articles with new, noteworthy content. You have to let them know. Here are some ideas on how to do this:

  • inform the newsletter recipients,
  • upload posts with an updated social media post,
  • put on paid advertising,
  • publish new content and information about its updates in Facebook and LinkedIn groups, where previous versions have been warmly received.

Are you hesitant to serve your readers twice? Remember that on social media, posts never reach 100% of the audience. Some people who did not see the text the previous time will find it now.

Also, look for new places to promote. For example, if you promote your content in groups on Facebook, before you post an update, invest time looking for completely new groups with completely new recipients who have not seen your content yet.

Another point: invest in your content. Unfortunately, great organic results aren’t easy to achieve these days. Even the most substantive posts are hard to get enough audience to recommend further, creating a snowball effect. Meanwhile, often it is enough to lightly… push the ball—for example, a paid promotion.

Also, consider the COMPLETELY new places to promote. Perhaps the text is so good that it is worth taking it a step further and, for example, trying to get published in a trade magazine? Your imagination only limits you.

Summary

We all know the story about Dr. Frankenstein – and we know it didn’t end well. What does it have in common with reviving old blog entries? The effects of these actions can be just as unpredictable – with the difference that this time in a positive sense. Until you test the methods in the above article for yourself (blog), you won’t know how much traffic, new visitors, conversions, and so on they can bring you.

This is how? Maybe it’s time to breathe new life into old content?


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