How to Reuse Your Old Content (Without Getting into Trouble)

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Reuse. Recycle. Repurpose.

Those terms look great when you’re talking about environmentalism. However, when mentioned in reference to content, those same terms are connotated with the darker reaches of SEO and Internet marketing, including content spinning, plagiarism and resulting Google penalties.

However, what if there was a way (or several ways, in fact) that you could safely repurpose your old content? Even better, what if that content recycling program resulted in you saving time, especially now with the holidays coming? And perhaps most incredible of all, what if your content reuse actually made you extra money?

It’s all possible if you know how to cleverly reuse your content. So, how do you start?

1. Review your legacy content for popularity and feedback.

Take inventory of your legacy content, which may be defined as any content that’s over two months old. Assess your content pieces for the total numbers of views and comments. Also, go over the feedback you’ve received on your pieces to better determine how much of an impact they had on readers.

If a given piece generated lots of traffic and quality feedback, set that piece aside.

2. Assess the relevance of the information.

Once you’ve collected your popular content, assess it for relevance. In other words, could the information still be published today and make sense to readers? Granted, if it’s simply in need of updating with the latest news, that doesn’t mean your chosen content isn’t relevant. For example, an article about Google’s Hummingbird update is still relevant today- it simply must be updated to include the latest batch of algorithm changes.

3. Group your content into categories.

Now that you have popular and relevant content, try to group that content into general categories. For example, you may have 10 content pieces that center on email marketing. Or maybe you have 10 product reviews about gelato machines. Having a series of pieces on one topic is invaluable because it gives you certain options for reusing your content, as will be discussed below.

4. Update your content and publish it.

For one-off pieces of content that did really well but had no content follow-ups, it is fine to just update the respective article, blog post, etc. and then hit publish. When doing so, don’t create a completely new page with the aforementioned content piece- instead, simply update the publication date of the content. This is easily accomplished on the WordPress platform, where you can click the “Edit” button on a published piece to adjust its date.

If you’re worried that search engines like Google will “remember” your older content and penalize you for posting some of the same stuff, don’t be. Google actually has an intriguing algorithm for judging content freshness (based on a group of patents collectively called ‘Systems and Methods for Determining Document Freshness‘), with only one of the parameters being a completely new page with 100% new content. In fact, you’re more likely to get Google love for posting frequent changes to existing content than publishing all new stuff every now and then.

5. Transform your content groups into sellable collateral.

If you have a series of blog posts on operating an online business or managing a storefront, why simply update them to give them away for free? Instead, update your content and generate an e-book or even an online course from your efforts. Then, offer this content in exchange for something, whether that be an email opt-in, a sum of money, or a review about your wonderful product(s).

You might also consider ‘spinning’ your legacy series into a webinar. This is useful if your content is not written but visual, as in a set of infographics or even pictographs about a subject matter. With such content, all you need to do is line it up, slide by slide, and explain what objectives you had in mind for generating it.

6. Guest post your content.

Contact fellow bloggers and webmasters and pitch them about a topic you previously covered on your own blog or website. You needn’t announce that this content was previously published because you will be tweaking and adding to it prior to submission. Get their feedback on your ideas, then submit a few pieces. Doing a bulk send-out of your content will create the magic of what Pat Flynn calls “being everywhere” and generate immense traffic for your site.

As a bonus, if you couple this occasion to the launch of a product (e.g., e-book, online course) you can generate some sales revenues too.

7. Create sales collateral from your marketing collateral.

While reviewing Jeff Goins’ Tribe Writers course, I was intrigued by how he called out blogging as essentially being copywriting. In light of this idea, you may wish to repurpose your content as advertising. Consider, for example, pulling out several key phrases from one of your longer articles and using those phrases in a banner ad or opt-in prompt.

You could even “beef up” your article and create a small white paper from it. An excerpt of your white paper could be placed as an “appetizer” on a landing page. Once at this landing page, most readers will agree to trading their email address, or completing a small task (e.g., posting a tweet about your blog), in exchange for a meaty piece of content.

The Bottom Line

Reusing your legacy content doesn’t have to result in spun or plagiarized or even second-rate content. Skillfully executed, repurposed content can breathe new life into your blog or website and even generate extra traffic and sales. And even better for you, repurposing your content can save you a ton of time around the holiday season…all while making you appear to be hard at work.

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