How to Give Old Content a Second Life in 5 Easy Steps
TLDR; The five steps are to assess, research, analyse, ask and test.
You assess the old content by its own merit to see if it needs revitalising. You research to see if the content is worth updating. Check your analytics and strongly consider changes if its traffic numbers are almost dead. Ask your viewers what they think, and test with an article or two.
Those are the five steps to giving your outdated blog articles a second life. How you give them life is a different matter.
Here are some methods for revitalising your content.
They are each stand-alone ways to give your old content a second life, and each applies to certain situations.
Consider Leaving Them Where They Are
Let’s say that you have gone through the five steps, you have done your research, checked your analytics, and you are undecided about what to do with one of your old blog posts.
In these cases, it may be worth simply leaving your old blog content as it is.
Even if its analytic numbers are low, it may still form the bedrock of your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and may still have tens of backlinks (followed and unfollowed) pointing towards it.
The page itself may be a poor performer, but it may have quite an online presence that helps direct search engines, web spiders and online directory bots to your website.
Updating: Adding and Changing The Publishing Date
On website content management systems, such as WordPress, you can go back to your old content, change the publishing date on it, and then click “Update,” and your web page keeps all of its old backlinks, content, and status, but on your website, it appears in your feeds like you just published it.
This is a very SEO-safe way of bringing your content back to your front pages without taking it offline and re-publishing it.
Evergreen content is the sort of stuff that ages pretty well (within reason).
For example, weight-loss advice often ages pretty well, except for articles on highly-popularised debunked dieting methods like Atkins or Gluten-free dieting.
If your content is evergreen, then leave it alone.
On the other hand, if your content is a little dated, then revamp it a little, add to it, and then change the publishing date to a more recent date.
Some popular websites will even add a note at the top of the article saying, “Updated XX Date.”
Updates by adding content mean expanding the research. It means fleshing out the content, making it more interesting, or adding more detail. Since it was written in the past, you can make it more relevant to modern viewers.
Ecommerce websites can take advantage of this method, too, especially since products tend to have iterations that stretch into the future.
You may have covered how a Dyson vacuum worked in the past, and you could now update it with how they work today (perhaps even showing the mechanics and physics of how the vacuum worked then and how it works now).
If you are running promotions on your Kitcast digital signage TV in your store, displays on the evolution of your products could be quite a draw and could act as a segue into getting people to visit your website.
Updating the Story with Recent Developments and Publishing the Date
Plenty of content is disposable. It is the opposite of evergreen content.
News content is considered disposable because it has a tiny window of interest. However, even if that is the case, remember that old news content may still be of interest to people in the present.
Take the 2021 example of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in their “Royals are Racist” news story.
There are news stories from 2005 about when Prince Harry dressed in a Nazi uniform.
That old content was pretty dead after 2005, but the savvy website owners who kept the 2005 content on their websites now see a massive resurgence in traffic numbers.
Nevertheless, in many cases, older disposable and news-based content will see a drop off in traffic numbers that never return.
In these cases, consider updating the content with information from the present.
For example, suppose you had a blog post about the anticipation for the movie Marvel Avengers.
In that case, you could update it with box office figures and possibly a round-up and ratings comparison with the other Marvel movies to see how well Avengers did in comparison to other movies.
Refurbishing Old Content and Republishing
When you add to the content and then change the publishing date, update content and then change the publishing date, your blog article doesn’t go anywhere.
It stays in the same place, which means all the links going out and all those coming in stay the same.
When you re-publish content, you are removing old content from your website.
Updating, changing, and maybe even rewriting it, and then you are uploading it as a brand new piece of content.
The refurbish and re-publish method has its upsides and downsides.
The most obvious downside is that you lose all the SEO benefit of the content, including all its backlinks (followed or unfollowed).
All of its listing in directories will lead to nowhere, and its effect on your online reputation and authority will be lost.
Now, there is a way to offset some of this damage through redirects, but they are not recommended if you use the “Refurb and re-publish” method.
The upside to refurbishing and re-publishing is that you have seemingly new content, mainly if you publish a new article at least six months after you took it offline.
Six months is how long it usually takes for most search engines to scrub your old content from their directories.
Also, if your old blog post has a terrible reputation, perhaps it has negative reviews attached or linked to it, or perhaps it has backlinks from some very low-quality low-reputation websites – taking it offline to refurb and re-publish is a good idea.
Plus, if large parts of your blog article have been plagiarised on other websites, then removing it, changing/rewriting it, and publishing it as a new article may also be a good idea.
If you use this refurbish and re-publish method, make sure you scrub your website of its presence.
Delete all the images it used and any other media assets it used (unless it was sharing them). And, be sure to remove any internal links to your blog post.
Consider running a broken link checker over your website to be sure you got them all.
When you re-publish, treat it like a new article and give it the same care and attention you would give freshly written content.
Sell Your Old Content
“If you love them, let them go.” That was a quote from “I Ain’t Much Baby—But I’m All I’ve Got” by Jess Lair, privately published in 1969.
Sometimes, your old content is excellent, but you have to let it go.
Some consider the idea of selling your old content to be a last resort, but that is not always the case.
There are two reasons to sell your content. The first is because you have examined all the methods above, and none of them fit.
The second reason is that your website has evolved, and your old content doesn’t fit in with your more modern website content.
Sometimes the tone doesn’t fit. Such as when you start your blog and try to make it funny, it evolves into more of an opinion website rather than a funny one.
And, sometimes the content itself is out of place, such as when people start their blog making reviews of apps, but it turns into a blog detailing app alternatives and comparisons.
If the tone of your blog has changed, then you could consider revamping your old content.
As with the funny-to-opinion example, you could revamp your old content and take out the funny stuff. However, it is more convenient and far more pragmatic to sell your old content and let somebody else use it in most cases.
Similarly, if the focus of your blog has changed, as with the example of the app.
The old content is pretty useless in terms of what you are focusing on now, so it may be better to give your articles a second life by selling them and letting somebody else use them (perhaps on their app review website).
Selling your content can also be a last resort.
Below, you will find a more detailed explanation of the five steps to giving your articles a second life.
It employs a process by which you can check to see if your old blog posts deserve a second life.
After running through the process and considering the methods above, you may concede that you should sell the content.
It doesn’t mean your old content is terrible. It is just that some old blog posts are like a jigsaw piece where they do not fit into your puzzle but may slot nicely into somebody else’s website.
The 5 Steps to Giving Articles a Second Life
The five methods listed above are all tried-and-tested ways of giving your articles a second life. But, how do you decide which deserve this special treatment?
As mentioned in the introduction, there are five steps to follow. To recap, here they are:
1 – Assess
2 – Research
3 – Analyse
4 – Ask
5 – Test
As an example, here is how you use the five steps. Take an article on the old game Command & Conquer.
You assess and see that the article is pretty extensive, pretty comprehensive, and pretty accurate. It is not a cheap piece of content you bought from a content mill, so you decide to update it.
Now you research. You note that developers remade the game in HD, and what’s more, all the levels are the same. This means that new players can still use your old content to guide them on the game. This is another sign that you should give your content a second life.
Now check your analytics. If the content has suddenly started receiving views, possibly because of the new HD release, there is no need to revamp the content. On the other hand, if it is still getting very few views, you should consider action.
How you ask is up to you. You could run polls on Facebook or ask people via stories on Instagram, or you could make content questions part of your website. If you don’t get much of a response, it doesn’t matter too much. However, if you get a significant positive response, you should prioritise that piece of content.
The key is not to revamp your entire site and your entire backlog of content. Test with just a few and see if it makes any difference. If not, try revamping differently, or even consider selling the content rather than re-doing it repeatedly.
The Final Step
Your final step is picking one of the methods listed earlier as a way of giving your content a second life.
After running through the five steps, you will have a clearer view of what you should do.
For example, if the Command and Conquer content was starting to see new views because of the HD remaster, then leaving the content (Method 1) is quite suitable.
Plus, your website may be regarded as a bit of an old-gaming tips archive, which would mean deleting, moving or selling your old content may damage your online reputation.
On the other hand, after going through the five steps and thoroughly evaluating your old content, you may find that it works better on another website and decide to sell.
It all depends on the content you have in hand.