How to Turn Your Old Articles into Successful Long-Form Content
Food, medicine, vaccines, almost everything humans use have an expiration date, and so does content. Therefore it’s important to recycle older content to stay relevant in this fast changing digital world.
Content creators are often overwhelmed by the idea of “not having enough content”, and truth be told, it’s painful to be in a situation where you have run out of content.
In this blog, we are going to talk about the “Art of repurposing old content” into long-form content which can be leveraged to build a dynamic blog that attracts visitors organically.
Image source – Mailmunch
But before that, let’s explore the advantages of updating old content:
- Better user experience – Nobody wants to consume irrelevant content
- Improves SEO – Google hates outdated content, and there’s always someone new
- Saves time, energy, and resources in creating new content
- Increases engagement, and the probability of being discovered
Steps to take before investing efforts into converting older content
Content creation, and content updation are both time consuming and intensive processes. Hence, it’s important that blog & website owners create a strategy to approach this process.
Pro-tip – It is recommended to hire freelancers to do this job, since it saves time in explanation, and saves the website owners from investing their own time, and resources into repurposing older content.
Let’s take a look at the things one should follow before they get started:
- Content Audit – Before one starts working to convert older content into new shapes, and sizes it’s important to do a “Content Audit” to identify potential content pieces that are worth spending time, and efforts on.
One should look for blogs, and content pieces that are built around high-volume keywords that may not have received decent traction, or identify pieces of content with no media files to provide context.
This allows users to focus their energy, and efforts on the older pieces of content with the maximum potential.
- Create A Checklist – Although the content pieces are different in nature, and style, the amount of work needed to replenish an older resource form can be broken down into executable steps. It’s important that one prepares a checklist, else it’s super easy to feel overwhelmed, and get lost with the work.
A few things that could/should be included in the checklist are:
- Check for keyword relevance, update if needed
- Check if the content pieces have media – Images, infographics, etc
- Measure the speed at which pages load, if they are slow – optimise them
- Check for broken links, and fix if any
- Add data – Statistics, examples, relevant information that adds value to the reader
- Optimise for SEO – Tags, Alt tags, Internal linking, external linking, etc
- Sharing the older content on social media handles – Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Quora, etc
Pro-tip – Hiring an SEO-Expert is a handy way to accelerate the process of converting older content into SEO-friendly content that brings you fresh traffic.
How to update older content
A quick note before we begin this – “Updating content does not necessarily mean re-writing the older content”, it can often be something as simple as adding some statistics, or an infographic, or a video, or some data points that can build more context to the content that is already there.
As per Google’s standards, content pieces with 1200 words or more that have been written in depth covering all aspects of the topic will have a higher chance of competing for the first page of Google as compared to a listicle.
Let’s take some examples for this, to better understand this:
- A Chartered Accountant has a blog where they have explained about the GST law in detail for small businesses, and freelancers. Now suppose, the government changes the GST laws? In this case, the blog with the older content will be rendered useless. What should this CA do? Should they write a fresh blog piece, or should they invest their time in updating the older blog? The answer is obvious, right?
- Suppose a company has written a listicle on “Top 10 tools to use for Digital Marketers” – In this case the blog owners can spend time to explain the use-case of each tool in detail, and that would allow them to convert an older short-form content into a high value long form content
- An old blog article that talks about the impact of the algorithmic changes by Instagram in 2016 may be very old, but if the website owner updates it, and changes the narrative to include the details of other algorithmic changes, then this blog can be revived to stay relevant and fresh.
- A company’s blog that talks about their journey from 0 to 100 customers, can perhaps now include the testimonials of their first 100 customers, and further get the landing page shared by their customers. This allows them to not only convert an older blog into a fresh piece of content, but also distribute it on their social media handles to drive engagement amongst their audiences
In the above 4 cases, we have observed that the website owners could have attempted to write a new piece of content, but instead of that the smarter way was to repurpose the older content, and update it with new content to keep it fresh, and relevant.
Some useful ideas one can use while they are repurposing older content:
- Improve the Title, Headlines, and Meta tags – Search engines, and trends keep shifting time to time, and if you can spend some time to optimise the older titles, and headings, your content will get a new life, and typically behave as a fresh piece of content
- Invest your time in creating media rich content – Images, Audio, Infographics, videos, etc – Gone are the days when text would do the magic. The audience needs to be engaged, and if your content lacks visual content, high time you change that.
- Add data, tables, statistics, and quotes from Industry Experts to validate the content presented – This helps your content build credibility
- Add a FAQ(Frequently Asked Questions) section to improve readability
- Update or add internal links, and fresh outbound links
- Update the date of the published blog – How would the crawlers of Google know the date the blog was written, and the date it was updated on?
- Re-share the content on different social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Quora, etc
Avoid these while you’re repurposing older content –
- Avoid use of automated plugins that promise changing older content pieces to make it fresh. These may harm your website reputation in the longer run.
- Do not change the URL of the article – You might end up losing the existing backlinks to the content piece, and throw 404 errors which is catastrophic.
- Do not just change the publication date if you aren’t making substantial changes to the blog, Google algorithms may not like this.
By updating older content one can get a lot of advantages in SEO terms. It requires much lesser efforts as compared to generating content from scratch. Website owners, and growth marketers should be actively strategizing and focusing their efforts and energies on revisiting older content to find traces of good content, and optimise it for a fresh wave of traffic and engagement.
Hetvi works as a Product Associate at Refrens.com – India’s most powerful platform for freelancer’s finances and growth. She has worked for some renowned companies as a Brand and Digital marketing associate. You can follow Refrens.com on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.