11 Tricks for Revitalizing Old Content and Increasing Its Lifetime Value

Don’t just abandon your content once it’s been published. Your old content can be just as valuable as your new content — you just need to keep it updated and circulated. In fact, old content can actually be more valuable than your newer content because it tends to rank higher in search engine queries. Well-written content can be leveraged for years to come with just a few simple techniques.

pages1. Add Interlinks to New and Old Content

Go through your older, more popular pages and find areas in which you can potentially interlink new content that you’ve written. Interlinking can greatly reduce bounce rates — provided that it is done sparingly and usefully. At the same time, make sure that all of your new content is properly interlinked to relevant content that you have created in the past. Conscientious interlinking is one of the best ways to push traffic towards older articles and to improve overall engagement.

2. Improve Your Most Popular Content

Your most highly-trafficked pages and posts are the cornerstones on which your traffic is built. If they fade from relevance, your site will fade from relevance. You can’t always guarantee that you’ll have a new “hit” on your hands. Protect your traffic by improving the content that is most often visited on your site. Add new information, curate better links and answer any relevant questions you’ve received. One important thing: don’t remove content while you update. If you need to update, it’s better to add additional content either at the top or the bottom. Apart from glaring errors or mistakes, removing content can be harmful.

brokenlink3. Periodically Check for Broken Links

Tools such as the Online Broken Link Checker can crawl your site for broken links. Articles that feature broken links will not be as useful to readers and not as readily shared. You may also have broken links to your own site and just not realize it — especially if you have restructured your website at any point. Broken images should also be reviewed for; nothing makes a website look unprofessional as easily as a broken image.

4. Share Your Old Articles on Social Media

Don’t use your social media accounts purely for new content. Share some of your most popular articles on your social media accounts from time to time. If you have a scheduling application, consider scheduling promotional posts in advance every time you post a new article. That way you can ensure your older posts are not forgotten.

oldletters5. Create Random and Flashback Features On Your Site

Your site can promote random, related and flashback posts to connect readers directly from new content to old content. Related posts are more likely to increase engagement because they are already related to what the reader is looking for — but random, popular and flashback features may be more effective for entertainment sites, where the reader may not be looking for anything in particular.

6. Elevate Everything to Current Content Standards

When a site is first developed, it can be tempting to try to build a content inventory through any means necessary. Due to the way that Google scores website quality, this isn’t a great idea; an entire domain can be dragged down by its worst pages. Go through your very old content and make sure that it meets your current editorial standards. Add images, improve grammar and extend the length of content as necessary. At the same time, you may want to check on the continued accuracy of any facts and statements.

comments7. Take a Look at Your Least Visited Content

If you have a few pages or posts that are never viewed, you might want to consider either redoing them or deleting them entirely. As mentioned above, a single low quality piece of content can actually have a detrimental effect on your site’s overall quality rating. But sometimes there’s a reason that content isn’t being viewed. Perhaps it is poorly keyword optimized or it has a particularly generic title. Improving upon this content could increase your site traffic without needing to create entirely new content.

8. Answer Comments and Engage Visitors

Many visitors — through many comment systems — will be notified when you’ve replied to them. If you want to create a highly engaging website, as well as build customer relationships, responding to comments and otherwise directly engaging visitors on older posts and pages is a superb opportunity to do so. Readers will also be able to benefit from the comment thread when they visit your post or page in the future.

grammar9. Run a Spelling and Grammar Tool

Sometimes there are issues that just slip past us. There are a few tools that you can use to check your spelling and grammar: Grammarly and After the Deadline are two of the most popular. If you’re already editing your old content, it can’t hurt to check for any grammar, spelling and style errors.

10. Try to Avoid Repeating Yourself

If you post too many articles on a single topic, you could end up in a situation where you’re actually competing against yourself. It’s better to improve upon old articles than to repeat or rehash them, as tempting as it may be to cover ground that is familiar to you. If you do need to write again on a similar topic, make sure that your new content is different from your old content in structure and focus.

archive11. “Archive” Content That You No Longer Want to Promote

What do you do with content that’s still valuable but isn’t great? You don’t want to get rid of it — but you also don’t want to be judged on it. Archive it by moving it to less often trafficked areas of your site. For instance, you might remove it from all categories except for one in a WordPress blog. It will still be accessible through search engines — and still contribute to overall SEO — but it won’t be as easily viewed by the casual reader. You can also add a banner or statement at the top, such as “We’ve covered this topic in a new article! Click here to read our updated thoughts…”

Every piece of content on a website contributes to its overall quality and health. If your older content is languishing unattended, your entire site will suffer. Taking some time to renew, revitalize and repair your old content is a great way to get a boost without having to invest in all new media — and it’s also a good way to take a bit of a mental break and get some inspiration for the future.

The Slow Death of Guest Blogging: the Good, the Bad and the Future

When Matt Cutts initially warned webmasters against guest blogging, way back in 2012, most just flat out ignored him. Many believed that their guest posting strategies were inherently superior to other, spammier strategies. Some even saw the negative influence of guest posts as an opportunity. Popular bloggers would do “blog tours” to promote new content and less scrupulous marketers constantly swapped low-effort posts in an effort to expand their audiences. So Matt Cutts warned us again. And and again… and again. It seems as though no one really got the hint until Google began actively taking action against guest blog networks.

train stationWhy Are We So Stubborn When It Comes to Guest Blogging?

It used to work. But it used to work in the same way that Stephen King sending in a short story to Playboy worked and a teenager handing out CD mix tapes at a train station does not. It was all about the quality of the work and the context. Guest blogging started as a way for already popular bloggers to engage with each other and share their thoughts. When guest blogging became a method of developing search engine rankings first — and a method of connecting with an audience second — it became a flawed strategy.

Google has told us time and time again that all that really matters is the reader and providing the reader what they want. Everything else is just smoke, lights and magic. And there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, either: if someone approaches you with a guest blog, it’s probably not going to be the best content they are capable of producing. It may not even be unique. It may not even be theirs.

But in spite of all this, we’ve still stuck with guest blogs. Even if we don’t use it as an SEO strategy, we often use it as a strategy to sell product or build branding. Many guest bloggers are selling something specific — such as a new book. And the problem here is that any website accepting this type of content quite quickly becomes inundated with exactly that type of advertising. If every single piece of content on a site is trying to sell you something (and different things, at that!), you’re going to rapidly become disenchanted. You may even stop visiting the site entirely. And once that site’s authority plummets, it’s all over.

damage2But I Wanna Anyway: Limiting the Damage

It’s difficult to say that any strategy is bad. Strategies that are bad for 95% of the marketers may still be leveraged appropriately by that last 5%. Some marketers may find that guest blogs are still useful to them and their unique campaign. And when that happens, it becomes an issue of reducing harm.

The great news is that it’s not difficult: nofollow, nofollow, nofollow. Pretty much the only way to ensure that your PageRank isn’t adversely impacted by guest blog spots — and to make sure that your own site isn’t targeted by spam — is to only use nofollow links, which indicates to the search engine that the link should be effectively ignored.

Using a nofollow link still means that the audience can follow your links; so it’s still a good solution for audience building and general networking. It just means that guest blogging, contrary to what many have said for years now, isn’t really a good search engine optimization strategy.

And that also means that the content is, once more, at the forefront of the campaign. If the content isn’t good — and the site isn’t well-trafficked — it’s not likely to produce any significant results.

typingThe Peripheral Effect of Guest Blogging on Highly Trafficked Sites

There is, sort of, in a sense, a kind of roundabout way in which guest blogging can affect your traffic through a search engine — though, frankly, it’s a bit circuitous. Say you write a rather astonishing guest post on a blog with very high authority. Your guest post itself is going to have a high search engine ranking. And if that guest blog post happens to have a nofollow link to your own site, you may still see an influx of traffic indirectly through search engine results, because people are finding that guest blog through search engines and then clicking through.

The only reason we care about search engine rankings is because it makes it easier for people to find our content. So, technically, a guest post is still valuable in that sense. If you place a guest post on a site that already has good authority, you can easily drive traffic to your site through a search engine even if you are not actively increasing your own search engine relevancy. And, as a website owner, you can certainly build authority through quality content produced by guest bloggers, provided that this content does not serve as link spam.

But all of this already presupposes a high quality of both guest post and website, which again sends us back to the mix tape at the train station scenario.

audienceAudience Retention and the Guest Blogger

If guest blogging isn’t being used primarily to drive organic search traffic, then it’s being used mostly to bring over an audience. But the question is whether this audience is really retained. There are a few major goals that a guest blogger might have:

  • Building a brand through repeated exposure with a wider audience.
  • Creating awareness of a product or service that is either being launched or improved.
  • Driving social media engagement and bringing in new followers.
  • Improving website traffic (and hopefully conversions).

All of these goals are worthy ones, but they also need to function as part of a larger, concerted effort. Brand building and product awareness aren’t likely to be achieved without tremendous volumes of content. Social media engagement requires a dedicated social media strategy — as does capturing an audience once they have clicked through. For most, the traffic boost that they experience after a guest blog post will quickly wane.

businessinsiderGuest Blogging 2.0: What Will We Kill Next?

You know who doesn’t use nofollow links? The Huffington Post. And Forbes. And Business Insider. And…

Guest contributing has become the new guest blogging. And while Forbes and Business Insider may curate their links to ensure that the links themselves are already high authority, not all sites do. There are many entertainment, health, travel and hobby magazines today that run on guest contributions. And what is the difference between a guest blog and a guest contribution…?

Well, nothing really, except insofar that the websites are of a larger scale and they usually have a dedicated group of at least a few staff contributors. In reality, the only difference between guest contributions and guest blogs is — and this makes absolute sense — the quality and goal of the submissions.

But that doesn’t mean some people aren’t being sneaky about it. Many writers today are being paid by marketers to get information into HuffPo, Forbes and other similar publications. The press release junket used to be used for this purpose, until it was effectively tanked by Google for, of course, issues of quality, intent and user value.

So what’s the wrap? Guest blogging is a technique that has limited if any usefulness as a search engine optimization strategy, though it can be useful for brand awareness and audience building. Over the past couple of years, it has been slowly replaced as a strategy by guest contributions, which require a higher level of content standards but provide a better payoff with fewer limiting factors. But guest contributions, too, may eventually find themselves on the wrong end of Google’s sharp stick — it all depends on how they are used and to what end.

4 Actionable Mobile-Ready, Mobile-Friendly Website Tools and Tests

Is your website truly mobile-ready? Though responsive design is undoubtedly a big deal, there is no one aspect of a website that will make it entirely “mobile-friendly.” The modern website needs to be well-optimized, fast, user-friendly and technologically consistent if it is to both achieve search engine relevance and provide the best user experience.

fetchasgoogle1. Use Fetch as Google to Identify Any Access Problems

Tool: Fetch as Google

Google doesn’t necessarily see your website the same way that a visitor does. Google reviews your website with the “Googlebot,” also known as a web crawler. Occasionally, Google might be blocked from accessing certain parts of your site, usually through your robots.txt file. Fetch as Google will show you what your website actually looks like to the search engine.

Commonly, images, JavaScript, CSS or other formatting files might be blocked to the Googlebot. Some webmasters do this intentionally to reduce bandwidth and file transfers — though it’s really a legacy technique that is no longer necessary for most site environments.

Troubleshooting Fetch as Google

googlemobilefriendly2. Conduct a Mobile-Friendly Test

Tool: Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test

There’s no need to panic about mobile-friendly support; it’s actually very easy to determine whether your site is seen as mobile-friendly by Google. You just have to run their test, which is accessible both to the public and as a part of Google’s webmaster toolkit. Remember, though, that this just indicates that Google sees your website as mobile-friendly. It says nothing about how user-friendly your website actually is; for that, you need to conduct further cross-platform tests.

A mobile-friendly test is also critical for those who want to ensure that their search engine rankings are not hampered on mobile devices by Google’s new mobile-friendly measures. When Google says that they are promoting mobile-friendly links on their mobile search engine results page, this is the criteria that they are using.

Troubleshooting the Mobile-Friendly Test

renderblocking3. Run a Page Speed Test

Tool: Google’s Page Speed Insights | ySlow

Mobile users are generally more patient than desktop users, often waiting between 6 to 10 seconds for a mobile page to load. This can lead one to presume that page speed isn’t as important for mobile users. But mobile users are more patient because mobile connections are usually slower. If your website loads in two to three seconds on a desktop device, it will likely load much longer on some cellular data connections. In the best case scenario — a high speed Internet connection at home — you should try your best to ensure that your page is loaded in two seconds or less.

Troubleshooting Your Page Speed Test

mobiready4. Compare Your Site Cross-Platform

Tool: mobiReady | MobileTest.me

As mentioned, a website can be marked as mobile-friendly in Google but still not present as a standardized or easy to navigate web experience. Users today may be using any one of literally hundreds of platform combinations. Tablets, smartphones, iOS, Android — your user’s browsing environment could cause your site to break. The easiest way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to conduct a cross-platform test, which will emulate how your website looks on different devices, browsers and operating systems.

Troubleshooting Your Cross-Platform Test

The modern emphasis on mobile-friendly site design is an opportunity for any conscientious digital marketer and web developer. Mobile-friendly design may seem intimidating at first, but it’s actually fairly easy to achieve with the right tools, such as the above. Creating a truly mobile-ready website is just another way that a designer or marketer can differentiate their web property from the competition.

You may have noticed that many of these tools are provided through Google’s own webmaster tools. If you aren’t already doing so, paying attention to your Google Webmaster center is one of the best things you can do to ensure the overall quality of your site — not just its mobile optimization. For as much guesswork as we perform every day as designers and developers, Google actually presents quite a bit of information to us directly.

4 Tips for Creating Highly Specific Content

Content marketing has come a long way in the past few years. The best way to ensure that your content is neither irrelevant or ignored is to make it as highly specific and detailed as possible — but that isn’t always an easy task, especially in the wake of the sheer volumes of content that is often produced. “Unique” has become a fairly meaningless word; thrown around and rarely contemplated. But it’s still an extremely important word; content that isn’t unique is likely to be ignored.

men-311308_640Tip #1: Always Write to a Specific Audience Demographic

Marketing is always most effective when it is targeted and personal. Try to imagine the person that you’re talking to — and speak directly to them. Think of a specific person. Name them. Ask yourself what Roberta would want to know about your product or what questions Mike would ask about your service. The more personal you get, the better.

It can be easy to assume that casting a wider net will make your marketing more successful. You want to market to 10,000,000 people, not 10,000 — right? Well, that might be true, but you don’t need to market to them all at once. Most companies will achieve greater penetration by separating their audience into smaller demographics and tailoring their content to those demographics, rather than trying to address their entire audience as some form of amorphous whole.

mapsTip #2: Use Location and Context as Anchors

City, season, neighborhood, events — all of these can be used as anchors for highly specific and detailed content. It’s not enough to simply mention a geographical location in passing context; you need to insert details about that context to create a picture in your reader’s mind.

Think of a book. A book always has a setting and it’s this setting that usually draws the reader in. Without a firm setting, the reader is adrift; even if the characters are compelling, they just can’t relate. When you’re creating the story of your product, service or company, you want the reader to associate and engage. This can only be done if the reader is first grounded.

And there’s a more technical reason behind this, too — geo-targeted content performs much better in search engine rankings. The more specific you get, the better.

newspaper-159877_640Tip #3: Don’t Be Afraid to Get Current

Some marketers shy away from current events because they know that this content is naturally on a time limit. But that shouldn’t dissuade you from delving into news and current events for specific, industry-related and consumer-related information. It isn’t always about building up a lasting content catalog; it’s also about user interaction. The more often a user interacts with and experiences your brand, the more likely they are to trust, engage and convert.

A user seeing a contemporary news article today may not necessarily purchase a product from you today — but they may when they see your name again six months down the road. Every single user interaction is an investment in the future, regardless of conversion. Getting current is an opportunity to seed your chances for future conversion. All content, on some level, is temporary — and this should not be feared.

question-622164_640Tip #4: Try to Solve a Problem

Don’t create aimless content just for the sake of speaking about a particular topic. Your content should try to solve a specific problem — even if that “problem” may just be natural curiosity. Your content should always have a goal of its own, that goes beyond conversion. Remember: your audience usually isn’t specifically looking to buy something. You need to know what they are looking for.

Too often, marketers begin with conversion as their end goal and create their content solely with the idea of conversion in mind. This creates content that is generic and inauthentic; readers will rebel against overly-aggressive messaging. But if you try to solve a problem that your highly specific audience has, you’ll create content that they will be looking for.

It isn’t always possible to be more specific — at least, not without churning out something awkward. When you can’t be unique, just be great. The most famous of our inventors and innovators were not those who thought of an idea first, but rather those who implemented the idea best. If you absolutely have to cover ground that has already been covered, cover it well. A little polish and thoughtfulness will go a long way.

Quick Cheats for Quality Content

You need a continuous flow of quality content to compete. But, sometimes producing something fresh can feel like a chore. Are you pressed for time or coming up short on content marketing ideas? Try out these tips to shake out something new:

1. Update an old post.

renewChange is the only constant, no matter what industry you are in. Look at some of your old posts to see which ones contain out of date information. When you find one that is ready for an update, add new information. Explain how things have changed. This can be especially valuable if you’ve recommended things in the past that are no longer considered best practices or if you’ve referred to a service that no longer exists (Google Authorship, we still miss you). Then, repost as a new entry.

2. Do a round-up of posts from your industry.

round upSet up Google alerts for keywords that are relevant to your industry. You can set them up to arrive daily or weekly. Scan through and pick out the posts that you feel offer the best information for your prospects and make a top five or top ten list. Provide a brief summary, along with why you feel the post is worth reading. If you do this once a month, that’s subject matter for 12 posts a year that you have handled. When you link a colleague’s post, always let them know. Chances are good that they will either tweet about it or return the favor, bringing you more traffic.

3. Showcase a best-of of your own content.

showcaseThis should also be a regular feature on your site. Offer these posts, depending on how often you publish, either once a week or once a month. You can determine your best-of list based on highest traffic, most shares or most comments. Not only do you get new content, you get more love for the content that you already have.

4. Hire someone.

Yes, this still means work, but, it’ll be someone else doing it. People who run SMBs often have trouble letting go of the reins and delegating to others. If you can let go and let someone else handle just four blog posts a month, that adds up to a lot of time that you can dedicate to the core functions of your business.

Content creation is time-intensive. And, there are no short-cuts that can work every time. But, by putting these hacks into action every now and then, you can squeeze out more quality content and grow your business site.

6 Digital Marketing Tactics Businesses Can Learn From Bloggers

Why is it that hobbyist bloggers seem to be able to constantly outpace professional business marketers in terms of both growth and volume? Companies can spend thousands — even millions — of dollars on content marketing campaigns and end up with an audience that pales in comparison to a teenager posting cute digital gifs of their cat. Bloggers are forged from and tested within the Internet; they have acclimated and evolved to the web in ways that most digital marketers simply can’t fathom.

woman-420750_6401. One-on-One User Engagement

Bloggers don’t just send content out into the nebulous depths of the web and wait to get returns. Bloggers actively engage their readership and create a dialogue. Whether it’s simply joking around with a new follower or forging real friendships with other bloggers, they know that their number one priority is engaging their user base. In fact, this is one reason Twitter has become such a powerful force in the digital marketing arena; many consumers are enamored with the ability to tweet at a large corporation and actually get a response, even if the response is the same type of response they would get if they called in to customer service. Bloggers get personal with their followers because to them maintaining their user base and having exciting conversations with them isn’t a means to an end — it’s a pleasurable goal in itself.

macbook-624707_6402. Building Trust Before Marketing

It’s not as simple as “not marketing to your audience.” Almost every blog, hobbyist or not, is monetized in some fashion. Whether it be merchandise or digital media, bloggers know how to bring in the bucks. But they don’t market to their audience too early. Many bloggers don’t even begin monetizing until their readership asks them to. When done properly, the audience originates at the idea themselves. The audience becomes so interested in the blogger’s “brand” that they want to be a part of it. And that’s really the whole of brand building: making the audience want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Your goal as a digital marketer is to inspire your audience to look to give you their money rather than outright ask them to and that involves creating engaging, stimulating and exciting content.

worker-659884_6403. Having Passion — Even, Perhaps, Obsession

Many bloggers are absolutely obsessed with their content, even if it seems remarkably niche. There’s a blog out there that has rated thousands of different samples of beef jerky, for instance — and you’d better bet that they are the number one resource for reviews of beef jerky. Companies often fail at this because they hire marketers who aren’t truly interested and involved in their product but instead are just churning out content. This shows. It’s not easy to fake interest, especially when dealing with an audience that knows their own interests inside and out. If you are selling a niche product like ball-jointed dolls, you need to know that the ball-jointed doll community is going to be able to identify a writer who is simply working from an assortment of Wikia pages and product specifications.

pretty-woman-635258_6404. Developing a Personality

Why are “Internet personalities” so popular? People naturally gravitate towards others in a social context. They want to feel as though they connect to the sources of their information rather than simply being mired in generic, colorless words. Too often companies put out large swathes of information simply under the banner of “XYZZY Corp.” or “Staff Writer.” This is not the way to go. A reader wants to connect what they are reading to an image, personality and even a voice. This is why so many larger companies have a spokesperson to get their message out. Everyone loves the Geico gecko.

controversy5. Making Mistakes and Generating Controversy

Companies cannot be so afraid of making mistakes that they become paralyzed. In fact, companies today are learning that controversy isn’t a bad thing — as long as you finish on the side that your audience supports. Bloggers often make mistakes, devolve into in-fighting or simply alienate a portion of their audience. But they almost always recover and many of them find their audience even more receptive to them thereafter. There is something about creating controversy and then resolving it that binds a reader even more firmly to a writer. It’s a shared emotional experience and the feeling that they somehow contributed. By not understanding this, many businesses have shot themselves in the foot. Ignoring controversy or trying to hide mistakes does the opposite; it frustrates the reader or consumer because it makes them feel like they didn’t matter at all.

office-583841_6406. Being Completely Consistent

This isn’t just about posting on a consistent basis. A blogger is consistent on every level. They control every part of their blog and create a cohesive whole. Too often marketing campaigns are shuffled from writer to writer, leaving each writer unable to create a consistent voice. Separate areas of the marketing campaign are handled by different teams entirely, creating a disparate voice. This leaves the reader unable to properly connect with the brand because the brand tends to change from moment to moment. Once a marketing campaign hits a groove, it’s important that the content continues to hit similar notes.

Naturally not all bloggers end up being successful. For every blogger that succeeds, there are tens of thousands who failed. But those who really have a genuine passion for their work, engage with their users and consistently post new articles almost always achieve some modicum of success. Perhaps the most interesting thing to consider is what bloggers don’t have. Bloggers don’t have huge budgets. They don’t always pay attention to the polish of their writing. Most of them don’t even have a game plan or end game. These are all the things that marketers often concentrate on in lieu of passion. While they are important things, they simply cannot supplant genuine knowledge and interest in a topic.