How to bring old content back to life

Warning: this content is older than 365 days. It may be out of date and no longer relevant.

Want to get some easy wins under your belt? One of the easiest opportunities to increase your site’s traffic and conversion is to look for neglected things that you’re already ranking for and take advantage of them.

For the purposes of this post, I will assume that you already have a Google Analytics account, a Google Webmaster Tools account, and that you have bound the two of them together. I also assume you are familiar with Google Docs spreadsheets, have a free account and API key, and have a free Buffer account. That’s a lot of prerequisites, but I hope you’ll see why it’s worth it.

Identify High Potential Content

Start by heading into Analytics and looking at your Traffic Sources. Choose Search Engine Optimization, then Landing Pages. If you haven’t bound your Google accounts together, this is the point at which Analytics will ask you to do so.

What you’re looking at here are blog posts that could have a lot of potential, but are currently languishing in obscurity. These could be powerful pages, if only people actually saw them. Perhaps they don’t have enough links. Perhaps the content was good but not great. Whatever the case may be, there’s high potential but it’s largely untapped.

Identify these pages by the high impressions count and low position. Here are a couple of examples:

Landing Pages - Google Analytics

See all the pages that have high impressions but simply aren’t showing up in search results anywhere close to page 1? (ranking 1-10 is page 1 of Google search results, 11-20 is page 2, etc.)

Polish the Content

Let’s see some of the pages and why they might not be ranking well. The content curation one reads well and checks out okay, so that’s likely an issue of not enough attention. The Google Reader post was topical and timely in its day, but it’s old news now. Writing a new post might be a better choice than trying to revive that one. There’s a timeless one on stabilization of video that’s almost 5 years old now but the content is still good. That’s a good one to revisit, make sure any content is still relevant, and update.

So we’ve gone through and identified posts that are okay but need some love. Why do they languish? If you’ve been blogging for any period of time, you likely realize that attention has a very short shelf life. Only by putting content back in front of people over and over again can you sustain traffic to it, especially if your audience is very social. If you’ve been building up your audience, there’s an even better chance that new people in your audience haven’t even seen the old stuff, good as it is.

Promote the Potential

Let’s take our list of posts we know to be good but old from this Google Analytics report and feed them into Buffer. Hit Export to CSV at the top of the Analytics report. Load it into the spreadsheet of your choice and sort by impressions, then by position. If you’ve taken my advice about leaving the date in the URL of your blog posts, you can also screen out newer posts so that you can focus on the oldies but goodies.

Pick out the top 20. Go to the content, clean it up, and prep it for re-attention. Got that URL list ready? Now you’ll need a Google Doc spreadsheet. Start a new one. In column 1, paste in the URLs you’ve identified as love-worthy but attention-starved. In column 2, you’ll need a free account and API key. Make the formula for column 2 equal to:


Fair warning: if you’re reading this at any time other than February of 2012, you’ll want to check the API documentation as the syntax above may have changed.

Now drag that down column 2 and watch as all of your URLs are magically shortened. Take the time to write out a tweet for each URL and then concatenate all of the cells together, and you should have something that looks like this: it

Voila! You have a nice spreadsheet of tweets ready for Buffer. Queue them up, and you’re now on the road to bringing your old blog posts that have high potential back to life thanks to your current-day audience:

Dashboard - Buffer

I hope this guide helps you bring back to life the valuable content you’ve already written that just isn’t getting enough love. Look for my #obg (oldie but goodie) posts on Twitter.

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4 responses to “How to bring old content back to life”

  1. Thanks. It looks like a good way to reuse what’s not working.

  2. Urban Renstrom Avatar
    Urban Renstrom

    Great post Chris, I am all for renewing content and your techniques are well worth the effort.

  3. At some point I think you have to in order not to completely drop the ball.

  4. finalrune Avatar

    Wow, that trick is fantastic – definitely a black magic ninja marketer move.  Is it typical for people with tons of content to get systematic about the way they release tweets like this?

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