If you’ve been blogging for a year or more, you might feel like you’re running out of ideas. There are plenty of great posts in your archive, but you’ve covered so many good topics already.
Where can you go from here?
Well, one place to go is… backwards.
Instead of struggling to come up with brand new ideas, look at the ones you’ve already had.
Are there posts buried in your archives that new readers would find helpful? Have some of your best posts become a little dated?
This is a great opportunity to update and republish your posts to get them in front of a fresh audience (or remind long-term readers they still exist).
I’m going to take you through the hows and whys of republishing old posts. We’ll also take a look at some other ways to recycle old content (such as turning posts into a podcast, an ebook, or even an online course).
But before we get too far, let’s deal with a couple of worries you might have.
“Will readers complain if I republish an old post?”
No. In fact, they may well thank you. New readers probably haven’t dug into your archives and found some of your best posts. And old readers may have forgotten them.
Even readers who keep returning a favourite post over and over again will be thrilled you’ve updated it.
“Will Google penalise me for republishing content?”
No. You’ll keep all your backlinks and page ranking for that post if you republish it the right way. (I’ll explain how to do that in a moment.)
How to Decide Which Posts to Update and Republish
If you’ve been blogging for a while, you might have dozens – even hundreds – of posts in your archives.
How do you figure out which ones are worth updating and republishing?
There’s no right answer to this question. But a good place to start is with posts that bring in most of your search engine traffic, especially if they’re more than a couple of years old. They could probably do with updating (so first-time readers get the best possible impression). And chances are they’re about popular topics, so republishing them will help your existing readers.
For more on how I select posts, and the process I go through when updating them, check out How to Update Old Posts On Your Blog (and When You Should Consider Doing it).
How Much Should You Change When Republishing a Post?
When you’re preparing a post for republication, you should:
- Read it carefully. Did you miss any typos the first time round? Are there any factual errors? Do you need to tweak any clumsy or confusing sentences?
- Update the post to fit with what’s happening today (particularly if you write about software, social media, or any other area that changes rapidly). For instance, if you posted about setting up a blog on WordPress.com, you might need to take new screenshots and make sure your step-by-step instructions are still accurate.
- Consider adding more detail. Are any areas of your original post a bit sparse? Flesh them out.
- Check all links. Even if a link is working, you may need to point it to a more recent resource.
- Link to some of your (recent) posts. If you wrote your post two years ago, you’ve almost certainly written something since that relates to it. Add a link at an appropriate point.
- Spend the time to make it more attractive. One of the great things about republishing is you save a lot of writing time, which means you can put extra effort into sourcing images, laying out your post, and so on.
There’s no hard and fast SEO rule about how much you should change or keep the same. For a post that’s already ranking well, try not to change any of the title tags, especially if Google is already using them as a list to answer a search query in a ‘featured snippet’. Ultimately, what matters is that you (re)publish the best post you can.
How to Republish Your Content in WordPress (the Right Way)
Don’t create a new post and copy the old one into it. You’ll lose all the links and other benefits of republishing.
Instead, edit the existing post. Change the date and time to schedule it for the future. If you’ve made the changes and want to republish immediately, changing the time to a few minutes ahead works fine.
Make sure you keep the URL the same. If you’re using a URL structure that includes the post’s date, it will change because the post’s date has changed. In that case you’ll need to use a 301 redirect to point the old URL to the new one so you don’t lose all that link juice.
As well as making your edits, you may want to put a note at the top of your post:
This post was originally published on (date) and updated on (date).
That way, if people come across a link to the post predating the (new) publication date they won’t be confused.
You can delete the post’s old comments (to avoid people replying to very old comments), or leave them as social proof that your post is popular.
Of course, republishing blog posts isn’t the only way to reuse your blog content. There are plenty of other options, several of which I’ve used over the years with 31 Days to Build a Better Blog.
Case Study: 31 Days to Build a Better Blog
I first created 31 Days to Build a Better Blog as a series of posts back in 2007.
It was so popular that in 2009, I turned it into the first ProBlogger ebook: 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. This used the original blog posts, plus extra material.
In 2012, I published an updated edition of that ebook.
When I launched the ProBlogger podcast in 2015, I turned 31 Days to Build a Better Blog into a series of 31 podcasts.
And now I’ve re-designed 31 Days to Build a Better Blog as a course that includes video presentations and worksheets along with fully updated information for the current blogging world. (It’s currently running in BETA, but if you’re interested in doing the course then sign up and we’ll contact you about getting in.)
All that from one month of posts.
Even if you don’t have a similar series to use, you might want to think about how you could recycle old posts into new formats. For instance:
- You could record yourself reading a blog post and use it as a podcast episode.
- You could take excerpts from a long blog post and use them in your newsletter.
- You could collate dozens of your best blog posts, add some extra supporting material, and turn them into an ebook or even an ecourse.
This week, look in your archives for an old post that deserves a bit of extra attention. Make a plan for how you’re going to update it (a quick edit, or extensive changes?) and use it as your next blog post.
Don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to share how you got on – and how your readers reacted.
Photo Credit: Aziz Acharki