Original article first published on jeffbullas
It’s a commonly accepted truth that writers write to be read.
If you’ve been writing for a while, you’ll probably agree that each new piece of writing attracts a different level of publicity.
Some posts will blow up with views just days after publication, while others can languish unnoticed months later.
Even though they’re of relatively the same standard.
So what gives? And what actually attracts traffic online?
Interest in new content is a subject close to the heart of most digital publishers.
Refinery29‘s senior vice president of content strategy and innovation says, “We are not after building our business from lone fragments of celebrity news. Banking exclusively on the news cycle is far too risky a move if one is after sustained loyalty and growth.”
Ben Robinson, chief creative officer at Thrillist, agrees and notes that content is an area which needs to be approached strategically and methodically.
In his words, “Assuming we roll out a list of best burgers you could find in San Francisco, not updating them at least annually or even so often, would be a great downfall on our side.”
Evidently, the need for fresh and compelling content is a top priority for most of today’s brands. But increasingly, digital publishers are digging deeper into their archives to resurface buried gems, and it’s becoming clear that evergreen content does not necessarily have to be brand new.
Old is gold
Little tweaks here and there to previously published content can go a long way to effectively maximizing traffic to your site.
Old is gold, well, at least to those who know how to mine it. For brands growing into independent publishers, creating new content can be a great challenge.
But what makes the challenge even greater is that not many brands have creatives among their workforce. The other challenge is keeping up to speed with industry insights, and creating content on the go.
Creating new content only every so often has proven to be an uphill battle for many.
But what if we could get this out of the way by using what you have on your hands – your old and dusty (but still valuable) content?
Here are some helpful tips to see you through growth by creating a larger following to your content. Firstly, by attracting new readers, and secondly, by encouraging loyalty from existing traffic.
1. Learn from your audience
Content marketing is all about developing content that satisfies the needs of a particular audience. In order for your content to find relevance in its intended niche, proper homework needs to be done.
For digital publishers, creating surveys or engaging user interactive content can help get your audience talking. After collating their opinions, it is time to put them to use by revamping your old post ideas.
This can be approached from two perspectives:
- Create spin-off posts
For posts that did statistically well, you focus on creating spin-off posts. Identify any ideas that might have been overlooked while compiling the post and give it an in-depth touch. Using readers’ comments and feedback emails, you might be able to know what they felt was left out and maximize on that.
The above post from Inked Hub Writers, for example, targets digital publishers and tells them what to look out for when putting up content that stands out for a specific audience.
This same post recently got a revamp, and this time, the SEO bit was left out of the post. As it turns out, there was conflicting interest mentioning SEO and audience, seeing both could have differing ways of analyzing what fares well.
With that information coming in, it was possible to put out a post on the same topic, which now went straight ahead to address the audience as the big focus in the post, as shown below.
These spin-off articles make ‘cluster’ content, which continues to link back to the original content, helping it to rank higher. In other words, it’s the same content, but with a fresh feel to it.
- Try rebranding
The second consideration in doing this is concerning posts that didn’t perform to the writer’s expectation. Ask yourself what a salesperson would do to increase the sales or shelf life of an under-performing commodity, and re-spin it.
Identify the places that could use a makeover, incorporate new ideas and better editing, or lend themselves well to additional graphics and anything else likely to jazz up the article. A new take on the general outlook of an article could be all it takes for audiences to realize how great your content is and engage with it afresh.
2. Experiment with creative promotion
Not being creative or bold enough with marketing strategies is a common sin that creeps into many brands’ publishing departments. There’s a genuine phobia about promoting already-published content. The truth is that most of the archived content is simply there growing dust because it lacks a focused, creative promotion strategy to begin with.
Try sharing across multiple social media platforms. In today’s world, promotion has become much harder and easier at the same time. Thinking creatively as a publisher can help you leverage your old content and close in more viewership. A start to that would be asking some very simple but worthwhile questions.
The major one is, how has your social promotion performed so far? Today’s many available social media platforms provide a virtually unlimited target audience. How you sell yourself on these social platforms is what will count. Focus on the things that your audience will easily relate to.
For example, you could share one post across multiple platforms by simply playing around with the headlines. An online pesticide store could be launching a new product, for example, and publish a press release on it. Seeing as it would appear too redundant to keep sharing the same title, the editor can get creative in this scenario. Possible ways for sharing this across different social media platforms could be:
- Writing an interesting post on the overarching need for households to keep their houses pest-free by providing simple executable do-it-yourself tips on Facebook
- Highlighting the prevalent problem the pesticide seeks to solve. Making audiences feel like you relate to their problems and frustrations to help them get interested in your proposed solution for it in a simple tweet
- Creating a discussion reel around the subject, and letting your target audience share their input around it on Instagram. This could look like: passive opinions, shared disappointments and a mention of what has worked for them.
Simply put, settling for only one way of running a promotion could only limit the chances of the content’s performance.
3. Republish on a different platform
This can also do the trick. Guest blogging has become a networking boon for the digital publishing industry. Not many brands, though, have mastered the art of republishing.
While guest blogging in most cases, takes in new content from scratch, some sites are willing to republish a piece on their site with your permission.
While this can be viewed differently by different parties, it sure can be an opportunity for an expansive reach. There is no limitation to how many times you can self-publish your own content.
To mean that, you don’t have to publish the content entirely, but you can share the link to a piece through other published pieces that are relevant to your content.
Whether you are self-hosted on a private website or use WordPress or BlogSpot, you can choose to increase the breadcrumbs leading to your content by posting it on various other sites. The more links you put out there, the more likely you are to increase your page views.
4. Optimize for SEO again
A great way to get URL topping results in search engine searches is to effectively optimize your content. The SEO landscape is crucial to successful content production so it makes sense to update your publish times and keywords as it changes and evolves.
You might have noticed that among even the most informative posts in search engines, some of them date way back, beyond three or four years. That does not mean that the information has changed since – but people may not be as likely to click on the link if they think the content is dusty or outdated.
Posts actually often reappear years later because they were well-researched and optimized for the particular needs they were addressing. The publishers can therefore keep updating them in any case where information has changed over the years.
Using Google’s keyword planner, you can identify relevant keywords that will link well with your work. It also gives quick ideas for terms the page was not targeting.
A little tweak on a title tag and inclusion of relevant modifiers in the body part of the article can also go a long way to putting your content out there.
It may be a wise idea to consider engaging the services of a professional SEO writer or agency who understand the steps involved to achieve this.
5. Digitally repackage your content
Branded content has an appeal that helps your audience identify with your brand. Most times, what this calls for is effective packaging.
So how do you go about updating your content packaging?
Firstly, consider visual appeal. A larger percentage of humans tend to be visual learners; this is a proven fact. You can rejig content in the form of an infographic, which in simpler terms is a visual summary of your content.
Infographics can be as detailed and as engaging as you’d like them to be. On the other hand, they can be as simple and minimal as the one below.
To some, infographics appear to be more ‘snackable’ than consuming large pieces of written content.
You can also consider revamping your old content into videos, podcasts or maybe even live chats that showcase its value.
For instance, video blogging, or what is commonly known as ‘vlogging’, has taken content development by storm. Most online users are engaging channels like YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and Instagram to get their content out there.
Many marketers and content strategists are now pushing their brands to produce more graphics and video content as a result.
What’s good about video and infographic content is that it is, by nature, very interactive and easy to understand. This increases its likelihood of being shared widely, hence reaching a greater audience.
6. Create ebooks and white papers
Traditional publishing, or more notably, print media once held a fair share of the content market. But that’s not the story today. In the wake of the digital media boom, today’s consumers of content are more accustomed to reading things online than in print format. For brands and publishers, this presents a great opportunity.
If you have published content or flyers relating to a certain topic, you can consider compiling these previous articles to form an eBook. Make it easily downloadable on various sites for free, but if you want to make that extra buck by ‘gating’ it, that’s all well and good.
White papers, like eBooks, can help identify you as an industry authority. All you need is to compile your different informative and relatable pieces to create a very informative white paper.
Content has been, and will always be, an interaction point between brands, publishers and consumers.
Publishing content may continue to be a necessary burden for brands. But with the different possibilities that dusty old content in the digital archives can offer, this burden can be somewhat reduced.
Paying attention to the six tips above can help you revamp your old content and develop a good readership from it.
The three main takeaways that I hope you will get from this post are to learn from your audience, engage creative promotion, and uphold dynamic content packaging. These will set you off to a great start on your ‘old is gold’ journey.