Evergreen content is the kind of content your visitors keep coming back for. But what about those articles that slowly grow irrelevant because their details aren’t up-to-date?
Evergreen content can age out.
Luckily, there is a pretty easy fix. And, even better, one that saves you time in your current marketing strategy.
Repurposing and updating your content.
You can use that old content you’ve already spent time creating and shift it into something current and useable now.
What is Repurposing Content?
Brands are doing it all over the place and you probably haven’t really noticed. Some brands, however, are failing to take advantage of repurposing their content and wasting great material. Have you ever searched for an article to post or reference, only to say “hmmm…this is what I need, but it’s from 2011!” And then you keep searching, only to choose your runner-up choice that isn’t quite as perfect for your needs because it was written within the past year.
The problem is: things change, and we don’t want to use old material.
There is a kind of unspoken expiration date on content. It’s not that no one will use or reference the article, but the value of it drops significantly after a year or two. And that expiration date depends a lot on the type of content.
Think about COVID-19 updates—are you still sharing any medical articles that were written in March of 2020?
But what about marketing articles—going back to March of 2020 would feel really relevant, right? In fact, you could go back to March of 2019 or 2018 and still feel great about the content. Most things are still good from 2017. What about 2016?
How about an article that was posted in 2009?
You might still be feeling like you would use it. But I know you wouldn’t.
Here is something that would have been relevant just two years after my college got Facebook and we were all still newbs on the platform:
But Facebook currently has over 2.6 billion active users each month. He also has a broken image link and puts likes in quotes because the term is new and still feels grammatically strange to him.
Yet, the title and probably some of the tips aren’t actually wrong. It’s just way past the expiration date. And who is really using it, except for a marketer that is purposely rounding up outdated content examples?
I clicked on one of his content examples for “5 Ways to Optimized Your Facebook Marketing” and the page was gone from iMedia. So, instead of repurposing that article, they just deleted it after a while.
Okay, not to pick on that guy. You get the point. And a lot of people are doing this—they either leave old content to rot in their proverbial fridge, or they chuck it into the trash, leaving broken links and wasted effort in their wake. You could be wasting some of your best content.
To Date, or Not to Date, That is the Question.
The next question you are going to probably ask is, “should I date my blog articles?” There are a lot of different opinions on this. But I would say: yes. Date away. Now let me clarify:
Dates also prove relevance: If I’m looking for Facebook tips, the first thing I’m looking for is to see when it was written. I don’t want to read through the information to realize that the content is way old. If I see the article is from the past year or two, I will spend the time to read and see if I agree with the sentiments.
Dates supply context: If you are writing about a specific event, then the date is pretty important. Also, the date can help make sense out of content that is seasonal or centered on a holiday.
Dates help with search: You can improve your SEO by including dates in your content. Have you ever searched for the current year with your terms? I do all the time. “2020 copywriting tips” or “marketing statistics 2019” are examples of searches I’ve done recently. I add the year because if I don’t, I will probably get a lot from 2017 and older.
No dates in the link: In my personal blog, I started with dates in the link and quickly realized how bad of an idea that was. When your link contains the date, repurposing content successfully is harder. The content might be up-to-date, but the link contradicts that. If you have already set up your blog to contain dates in the links, you can change the format and reroute traffic to the old links toward the new ones. The reroute is a super simple line of CSS code that you add into your blog stylesheet that tells any incoming traffic with “website.com/date/blogtitle” to go to “website.com/blogtitle.” You can look this line of code up or talk to your web developer about changing it.
Updated and optimized posts achieve a 106% increase in monthly organic search views and double the leads. (Hubspot)
Now, let’s look at those old articles you have sitting around and gathering dust, and how to repurpose content.
How to Successfully Repurpose and Update Content
So, you get that repurposing your old content is important. You probably can think of a couple of important articles you wrote and spent lots of time on that are almost still relevant. How should you update your old blog content?
Perform a Content Audit
You should have a marketing strategy in place and part of this should be updating, deleting and repurposing old content with a content repurposing strategy. Start with your oldest pieces and look for content that needs to be revamped. Don’t try to do it all at once, just add them to your content calendar.
- If your content is flat-out wrong (like a prediction that didn’t happen or a perspective you no longer hold), delete it
- If your content is outdated, update it
- If your content is old and relevant (like if you blogged about a community event you participated in), then leave it.
- If your content is truly evergreen (like recipes, crafts, event ideas), then check to see if you need to update the links or formatting and add images or Pins.
- If your old content is more along the lines of news (not outdated advice or tips), then leave it to show history—it will give you deeper archives.
There are times it is okay to have old content, because it can show you have been in the game for a while. Part of your content game should be setting yourself up as an expert, so you don’t want to have only new content or you will look like you just started. But, you want to curate your archives so that it is all still serving a purpose.
Still tracking with me?
Updating the Content Details
The first step is kind of obvious, check all the details in your old articles. The biggest things you will probably find issues with include:
- Outdated facts and statistics
- Referencing old events as recent
- Broken links
- Lack of links (inbound links and links to authoritative references)
- Lack of images
- Images that are not properly compressed for optimized speed
- Old-style formatting (large blocks of text or stuffing too many keywords)
- Voice (does your content sound a lot different now?)
Changing the Title
You can change the title, as long as it doesn’t require you to change the slug (ending on the URL). Sometimes, changing a word or two to make the title better will help update the article.
But changing the link is much more serious.
When you change your link address you create broken links anywhere someone’s shared or referenced your article. And if you are doing that a lot, you are going to have a lot of broken links with your name attached to them. This can hurt your credibility and wreak havoc on your SEO.
So, if you do have to change the title to keep it relevant, you should include a 301 redirect page.
If the title is flat-out wrong and the content is still good, you may want to just completely redo the article and delete the old version.
Adding an Update Note
One thing that can give both credibility and prove your history is updating your old content with a note. “This post was originally published on Xdate” or “Updated on Xdate” are both ways to achieve this. Sometimes the note about when it was orgionally published will be very small and at the bottom. Sometimes it is right at the top (especially if it is an “updated on” note). The note should be italicized to make it less prominent.
Update Noted First
Here is an example of an article that didn’t show an original publish date. A topic like “Cyber security for your workplace and mobile devices” is evergreen but ages out quickly.
I personally think most articles should include the update at the top. It immediately lets the reader know that the content is current.
Update Note at Bottom
Inc. includes their update note at the bottom. You can see they also keep the date in the URL, so this article on “5 Tips for Using Collateral to Secure a Small-Business Loan” was originally published in 2011. This evergreen content isn’t as fast-changing as the tech security, so updating every several years would make sense if they want to keep it relevant.
The downside I see here is that I would notice the old date way before ever seeing the new one. This is where a note at the bottom could hurt your credibility a bit.
Update Note with Details
Another one at the bottom. This time, they provide a link to the original article and a note about its history. The original article on “Is Loss Aversion Hanging in Your Closet” was written in 2017 and updated in 2020.
This is an example of where a note at the bottom is helpful. But a note at the top might not be a bad idea, since “published on April 8, 2017” is up there.
Okay. Coming out of the weeds now. I think you’ve got it.
Once you’ve updated your content, share away! You can save a lot of time by repurposing that old content. Why reinvent the wheel when you’ve already put in the work? With a constant demand for regular posting, you should already be mixing in old content with the new.
Write Content You Plan to Update
Now that you know how to repurpose the content, let it influence how you write. Create evergreen content that is easy to update and stays relevant for as long as possible. You can even set alerts for when you want to check back in on certain articles and update them for accuracy.
Need help writing great evergreen content or updating existing work? This is one section of your to-do list you can certainly outsource for efficiency. A content writer will help you improve your formatting, clarify your content and improve your SEO. You won’t have to muddle through the process or end up pushing it off again.
Alethea M. has worked as a freelance content writer at WriterAccess since 2013. She got her B.A. in Communication Arts and Graphic Design from the University of Saint Francis. She enjoys the flexibility of freelancing as a stay at home mom of four. She spends free time in her vegetable gardens, cooking, painting, teaching art, and blogging.