Far too many bloggers fall into the “One and Done” phenomenon where we publish a post, throw a link or two up on Twitter or Facebook, and then let the post wither away as the days click on.
All that energy and time that we put into making that post the best it can be should not only give us a day or two of blog hits, and that's it. That's not a very good use of our time as bloggers and digital marketers.
What if I told you that there is a way to recycle all that content you wrote previously in a way that continues to add value to your readers?
From a digital marketing standpoint, the implications are profound: Recycling content saves us writing time and keeps our audiences clicking through our pages much more often. It gets into their RSS feeds much more. Multiple uses of the same content make blogging significantly more efficient, and it's not very tough.
I like to call the revise and republish strategy, and it has worked out very well for me over years of blogging.
The Revise and Republish strategy
Here is the deal: You are not simply republishing older content as-is, so it hits your reader's RSS feed again – that’s not a strategy that gains trust and loyal readers.
Instead, use this strategy to improve your older stuff, update the details, and give your blog readers something interesting to read. You’re recycling content, not reusing it. The difference is significanto!
Why might you want to revise and publish? A few reasons:
New details / perspectives / facts / links
Life-changing experiences have profound effects on us humans. They change the way we look at life. They alter our motivations, perspectives, and opinions. As we change, we might want our blog to change with it. If someone stumbles on one of our previous articles, it may include details that are either no longer true or are downright misleading.
You’re no longer the same person that you once were!
And, facts and statistics change. New details alter conclusions. As the world changes, staying up to date with your previous content is that much more important.
You may also use this opportunity to create links in older content to some of your newer blog posts, encouraging the user to stick around a bit longer. Inward links decrease your bounce rate and increase your eyes on your content.
A much wider audience
Many of us write some killer content before our blogs become well-read.
Yeah, I’m talking about that post you spent 60-hours writing, full of well-researched facts and figures, graphs, charts, and wizard-like insight.
The problem? Only 17 people read it because you happened to write that sucker a week after you sent your blog into the digital airwaves. Man, it sure would be nice for your present-day 10,000 readers to take a gander at that gem, eh?
Your older stuff was pure junk.
Hard to bring yourself to admit, eh? But, let’s face it – for most of us, it’s true. It certainly was for me. When I first started designing websites back in the 1990s, my content was horrid. It's long gone now, and frankly, I'm glad it is.
My older blog posts were utter crap compared to what I’m churning out today.
Today’s posts are more detailed, better researched, and, hopefully, just more interesting to read. But, I’d also like to avoid wasting some of the stuff I wrote years ago.
And, I’d like newer readers NOT to stumble onto anything that I’d consider to be…well, junk.
Increase / maintain the frequency of posts
If you are struggling to write new content, revising and republishing, some of your older stuff could keep the posts coming and maintain your blogging schedule. It’s basically free content that you get to publish again. How convenient!
How to Revise and Republish
We all know how to revise a post. Correcting details, re-wording things, or deleting stuff that is no longer true is easy. In WordPress, pressing the blue ‘Update’ button on the right saves the post in its current date-published spot. Meaning, any new hits to that post will reflect the changes you made.
But, your readership won’t know that you made those changes. In fact, they might not know that article exists if they discovered your blog after that post was published.
Here’s where the wisdom of republishing comes into play.
Republishing in WordPress is essentially the same thing as publishing a brand new post for the first time. WordPress will put the post at the top of your RSS feed (and in theirs in their RSS reader). Any email subscribers will be alerted to your “new” post if it's automated (ConvertKit does this, but I don't recommend automatically emailing your readers when your RSS feed is updated).
It’s as if you published a brand new post.
This is NOT duplicate content. You aren’t posting “another version” of the content. You’re simply re-broadcasting one of your older posts “in place” to your blog audience using the same URL as before.
Note: If you are letting WordPress include any part of the URL date as a part of your permalink structure, this strategy will not work properly as WordPress will physically change the URL to the new date after republishing.
Date in URL: wordpressdomain.com/2015/06/28/my-post-url
Once the post gets republished, the 2015/06/28 part of the URL will be changed to the current date. Any bookmarks or links to your previous article will be broken unless you establish a permanent 301 redirect using .htaccess or a WordPress plugin. There are tutorials online about how to build 301 redirects if you chose that route. If you include dates as a part of your URL (which I generally don't recommend), continue reading for some alternatives to republishing.
My URLs do NOT include the date as a part of the URL. Thus, republishing works wonderfully.
To republish in WordPress, follow these steps:
1: Find the post that you’d like to edit from the ‘All Posts‘ page.
2: Make your changes. Simply click the ‘Update‘ button on the right (this does not republish).
3: To republish your post, click the ‘Edit’ link next to the Publish line on the right; then, select a new date and time (screen capture of this link appears below). Choose a date in the future to enable publishing.
4: Lastly, click ‘Schedule‘ to schedule that post for publishing.
Note: If you're using the new Gutenberg editor, click on the published date on the right to make changes.
WARNING: Be aware that WordPress will remove the post from public viewing until the scheduled date and time occurs (even if previously published).
This means that if you scheduled the post for publishing tomorrow morning, it would not be available on your blog until that time. This could negatively affect search engines if they happen to crawl your article during the period that it’s not available. It could also anger a few of your readers who click on that blog post.
What if the published date is changed to a date that's not in the future (i.e., 5 minutes ago)? This technique is perfectly reasonable. This will bring your article up to the top of your homepage and RSS feed. However, it won’t dispatch an email to your subscribers alerting them of your new post (again, if this is automated). It’s not the same as republishing.
A few strategies to help:
1: Make a note that tells readers that the post has been updated and republished.
2: Schedule the post for a minute or less in the future. This will minimize the chances that a reader or search engine will attempt to access your post between the time that you saved the new publishing date and the occurrence of the date itself. This means you will need to be at your computer when you republish your post physically.
3: Use this strategy sparingly and only for content that’s sufficiently old. For example, I never republish anything from the past year because I know most of my readers would have already read it (I will still make updates as-needed). My personal threshold is at least 1.5 years old…but two is even better.
4: Remember to update and revise – not just republish! The key is to add value to the post. Read every word as if you were a new reader to your blog. Are those details still accurate? Can it be reworded to make more sense? In general: If I can’t make any improvements, I won’t republish that post.
5: Choose posts that you believe have potential. Even after updates, don’t republish the post unless you believe it to be your best work. Otherwise, click the ‘Update’ button, so it still reflects your revisions, but don’t schedule it for republishing. Just leave it be in its current position on your blog.
Alternatives to Revise and Republish
If you don’t want to republish, or you use dates as a part of your URL structure and don’t want to mess with redirects, here are a few alternatives to help revive older content:
1: If the post has changed enough, write a whole new post and refer back to your original one. Make sure your new post is sufficiently different than your older one. Don’t let Google believe you’re duplicating content.
2: Write a follow-up post that might argue the opposite point, or looks at the issue from a different angle, or otherwise provides another avenue or thought to consider after reading what you had written before.
3: Create a “Best of” post that links to some of your older stuff.