The Internet is a dynamic place, and many of the best sites change and refresh their content constantly to keep up. Does that mean you can't use those articles you sweat blood to write just because they're a few months old? Of course not! Keep reading for some ways to breathe some life back into your favorite old content.
Most of the ideas mentioned here were mentioned by Stoney deGeyter writing for Search Engine Guide. He notes that there are many reasons you may need to update your content: getting rid of old products in favor of new ones; data becoming outdated; and some information becoming irrelevant. So what can you do?
The first step is to keep your content up to date in the first place. This can be very difficult if you have a large website with hundreds of pages. But it's important. Just imagine if a visitor finds a page for a product that you no longer sell, and tries to buy it. You'll have a disappointed customer on your hands. Even if you can redirect him to another product that serves his needs, he may still be somewhat dissatisfied.
You can prevent this scenario by setting aside some time to review all of your editorial content to make sure it's completely up to date. Don't skip anything; even the Contact Us pages will bite you if they're not fully up to date. You may want to do this once a year, once a quarter, or even monthly if you turn over products really frequently. Or you may want to do a quick skim monthly and save the deeper examination for once a year. It's up to you.
While you're doing this examination, you may discover some deleted pages. There are any number of reasons you may need to delete pages, from restructuring your site's architecture to removing obsolete information. But don't leave those pages like that! Those URLs might still draw in traffic, whether you realize it or not. Set up “301 redirects” or build a custom 404 page so that visitors won't immediately be greeted with an unfriendly page when they can't find what they were looking for. Perhaps they'll be able to find something else that will meet their needs on your site. By setting up the redirect, you let their engagement with your site continue, rather than slam right into a brick wall.
Now let's take a look at some of your genuinely old content. If you maintain a long-running blog, you may have a lot of it. Guess what? Just because it's old doesn't mean you can't use it again. I don't mean copying it word for word, of course! But you might want to go through your old posts and see if any of those topics are interesting enough to be worth revisiting. If you write about a quickly-evolving field, you can make a virtue of necessity by talking about how the field has changed over time, and why old practices that worked before won't work today (or are at least considered inferior). Or you can take the opposite tack, and explain why you prefer some tried-and-true practices over the new-fangled stuff.
And while you're writing these new articles, don't forget to link back to the old ones! For example, say you're writing an article about how to build a bookcase from scratch – a nice bookcase, where you want everything to be even. If you've written a previous, more basic article on how to use a level, you might want to link to it when you reach the appropriate point in the bookcase article. That's just one example; I'm sure you can think of others.
Everything old is new again, when you handle it correctly. Recycling content is a wonderful idea, when you do it right. After all, you put a lot of work into it; why not put in a little more to keep it working for you? Good luck!
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