Publishing fresh, relevant, engaging content is every content marketer’s goal, but what do we do about older blog posts from months, even years ago that aren’t getting any traffic?
“Update and republish old blog posts,” they say, but adding a new title, a few photos, and a few new paragraphs aren’t enough–for me at least.
Reviving a dead blog post, to me, feels like I’m a mad scientist bringing a cadaver back to life, just like the story of Frankenstein.
Frankenstein’s monster is composed of various body parts from cadavers stolen from a graveyard, sewn together by a mad scientist, and brought to life with electricity.
Similarly, I use various marketing optimization tactics that each help me bring a specific part of my dead blog post back to life. I haven’t given my personal method a name before, but I think it’s appropriate to call it The Frankenstein Method.
As a (mad) scientific marketer, I need 4 important “body parts” to create my Frankenstein-ed blog post:
“Can you revive a piece of dead content with only some of these parts?”
Sure, at least for a short period of time. For instance, you may see a little bump in traffic by resharing a post, without any changes, to your social media profiles, but even that won’t last very long without some necessary updates.
To successfully acquire and retain organic traffic to your site using older blog content, I’ll share specific, actionable content marketing tactics that I’ve used to give new life to dead content.
Just like a body cannot be revived without a head or working brain, dead content cannot be successfully revived without organic traffic from search engines. That’s why I recommend using all of these on-page SEO optimizations on your any outdated blog post you plan to update. Let’s start dissecting the braaaaain!
Search engines prefer ranking “fresh”, relevant content. To signal to search engines that your content is new, update the original publishing date, but mention in the body of your blog post when it was originally published.
Alternatively, you can also display the last updated date instead, especially for posts that are updated regularly. Click here to learn how to display the last updated date in WordPress.
The meta title and meta description of a blog post is the title and link description displayed in search engine result pages. Another way to signal that your content is fresh is by updating your meta title and description reflect the new information included in your post. I recommend adding the terms “new”, “updated”, “trending”, or the current year of your meta description or title.
Finally, make sure to include your primary keyword in the meta title, and at least one secondary keyword in your meta description.
If appropriate, consider updating the URL of your old blog post, especially if it contains an old date, time, or year. Also, consider truncating your URL to your post’s focus keyword. This could look something like this:
However, it’s important to note that it’s absolutely mandatory to do a 301 redirect from your old URL to the new one if you change your URL. Otherwise, inbound links, social traffic, and SEO value for that page will be lost.
Aside from including your primary keyword in your meta tags, make sure to also include it in the alt text of your images, especially your featured image. This will help search engines understand what’s going on in the image and what the content is that surrounds it.
The arms and legs of The Frankenstein Method involve optimizing your new content to increase engagement with readers. This requires you to decide what action(s) you want your visitors to take before, during, or after reading your blog post. Try to utilize at least one of these engagement tactics in your revamped post. Here are a few marketing tactics that will improve user engagement in a dead blog post.
In your revamped blog post, insert “Click to Tweet” buttons with important highlights, quotes, key takeaways, or data from your new post. This will encourage readers to not only share your post on Twitter, but also share the tidbits they find the most fascinating.
If you have Disqus or another commenting section on your blog, clean up old comments that negative, aren’t relevant anymore, or are spammy. However, you may want to keep comments that are evergreen or have positive feedback about your original post.
The largest chunk of my Frankenstein is its torso. These are the content optimization tactics that I use to completely transform the content of a dead blog post into something fresh and relevant. Depending on the type and format of the content, I always use at least two of these content optimization tactics. Let’s take a look!
Even if the topic of your post remains the same, I recommend adding a new, custom banner image to the top of your post and as the featured image. This is a great visual queue, especially for returning visitors, that your post has been updated with new visuals and information.
In your dead blog post, look for opportunities to add at least 2-3 links to newer blog posts. This will lead your readers down a rabbit hole of evergreen content. But remember to focus on keeping the interlinked posts relevant to the anchor text and avoid an overabundance of links that direct traffic away from your blog.
To dramatically change the content and format of an old piece of blog content, repurpose it by turning it into a downloadable PDF, infographic, or Slideshare Presentation. As an example, we’re turned our blog post on tools in our marketing stack into a downloadable infographic for lead generation and in Facebook Lead Ads to grow our newsletter.
We’ve also transformed several of our blog posts, like this post on test driving a business idea, into PDFs using PDFmyURL.com, allowing us to generate leads and giving our users to option to read our content offline when they’re on the go.
Finally, if your post is a step-by-step guide, a how-to tutorial, or a listicle, consider transforming it into a Slideshare presentation. Summarize the main points of your long-form writing and use the most salient parts to create a slide deck. Not only can you embed the presentation in your revamped blog post, but you can also earn organic traffic to your blog from Slideshare.
Pro Tip: Downloadable materials can be used to accomplish other business goals as well, like increase the number of qualified leads or adding new subscribers to your email list. In your blog post, you can offer a free, new PDF, infographic, or presentation in exchange an email address.
A great way to update outdated content to include new data, metrics, research, or findings to the dead blog post. Alternatively, if you’re upgrading content you published a few months ago, you could also include future predictions about industry trends or how you think your data will change in the future.
You should always add new, relevant photos to an outdated blog post, but this is especially important for pictures of products or processes that may have changed since your post was published. Similarly, make sure to also update any step-by-step instructions or how-to processes that may have changed due to a product update.
In the case where you choose not to update a large portion of the text within an outdated blog post, make a brief editor’s note about what you’ve added, removed, or changed, and when. Make sure to add this note to the very top of the blog post so both new and returning blog visitors know what to expect.
Finally, to bring your new creation to life, you’ll need the help of electricity; well, in this case, new content distribution tactics. These tactics focus on finding new distribution channels to get your content in front of your target audience and encourage others to share your new blog content on various channels as well. Ideally, you should spend 3 times as much time distributing your content than you do writing it, so try to use all of these distribution tactics with your revamped blog post.
When you’re finished updating your blog post, you can optimize it for social sharing using Open Graph Tags in HTML. Open Graph Tags are social meta tags that are recognized by the most popular social media platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus. They allow you create a unique title, description, image, and more that will be displayed in your social media post.
If an Open Graph Tag is not defined, most social media sites will simply use the content provided in your meta title, meta description, and featured image. To edit an Open Graph Tag, edit the HTML code in the text editor provided by WordPress, Ghost, or another CMS. Alternatively, you can use plugins like Yoast to edit this data as well.
It’s a given that you should share your content on social media, but you can automate where, when, and how many times your content is shared by using a social media scheduling tool, like Buffer, Hootsuite, or MeetEdgar.
Pro Tip: If you have a content marketing budget, try Quuu Promote as a distribution tool. Quuu Promote will distribute your content using a network of influencers interested in the topic of your content on the most popular social media platforms. You can try it for free and upgrade depending on how much content you’re planning on producing and distributing.
Don’t think that you’ve done enough by sharing your content on Twitter and Facebook. There are a ton of other distribution channels you probably haven’t tapped into yet. For instance, look into Reddit subreddits, Google+ Communities, LinkedIn Groups, Facebook Groups, Quora answers, and link sharing sites–just to name a few.
To help distribute your new content, reach out to an influencer with a similar sized audience and offer to do a share exchange — you promote their content to your audience and vice-versa. This typically only works if you have a similar level of audience size and an overlap in audience interests–this can be a complementary audience, for example, an audience into high end watches overlaps with an audience who stay in high-end hotels.
Share your revived blog post with your email newsletter subscribers and, if possible, also include it in your email drip. This can significantly increase open rates and reduce unsubscribe rates.
Share your updated blog post in a promoted social post to get relatively cheap visits to your blog. All you have to do is publish a post on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, and use their native advertising tools to promote it. Choose your target audience, set a budget, and watch the clicks and visits roll in.
That’s all that goes into The Frankenstein Method! Give it a try on one of your old blog posts from 2016 and let me know what you think! Send me your thoughts and favorite Frankenstein GIFs on Twitter: @Asa_Lama_Laika!
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