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Reviewing the usefulness of old content links

Old content can still be good or it can be out dated, depending on the topic and the opinions given.

Since May 2012, I have ended each month with a blog post referring back to some of my old content (from my newsletter and blog). I’ll list all seven posts at the end of this one.

It has been interesting to read things I wrote in the past and think about how relevant they are today and how else they can be applied to good business communications.

To be honest, much of my content does still apply as writing doesn’t change rapidly – had I written about mobile phones or social media it probably would have been a different story!

Did it work?

Looking back, reviewing old content each month:

  1. was an easy way to find new content I guess – there was some time involved in deliberately going back to that month of past years and I did have to think of what to write about the old content
  2. created easy posts to write in advance and schedule
  3. helped build more links within my site, especially bringing some of those older pages back to life.
  4. didn’t have any significant effect on the number of readers to those posts (compared to posts made around the same time, there was little variation in reader numbers – with the exception of making procedure manuals accessible which was 3 to 6 times more popular than posts within a week of it going live). Given only one post stood out, I’d say it was more about the topic than the old content link.
  5. also didn’t seem to have attracted particularly more or less discussion either
  6. took advantage of work I did in the past – leveraging is a great concept!

The biggest question to me, however, is what you thought of it.

Was it interesting to revisit old content? Or maybe I was too subtle and you hardly noticed that I was doing it?

Would you like me to continue this into 2013? If so, are there any changes you would like me to make?

My old content driven posts were:

May – planning future communications
June – making procedure manuals accessible
July – knowing the right terms
August – consistency over stats
September – reading efficiently saves money
October – accepting feedback graciously
November – dividing up business tasks
December – honesty in blog comments

Finding value in old content

I’ve written a lot of blog posts and newsletter articles. Hopefully I’m not the only one who thinks there is valuable information amongst my writing and that people have learnt a thing or two from me!

So to reshare some of that past information, I see two options – copy it to make it appear recent or refer to it.

Copying old content

It is an interesting question – should you grab old content and just paste it in as a new blog post or newsletter article?

I prefer to offer new information so someone could theoretically read back through all my posts and not read the same piece twice.

I guess I’m a bit of a purist as pretending old content is new seems like cheating to me, but I accept that most of us need to save time – and it isn’t always easy to think of new things to write about.

However, I see bigger reasons to not copy old content forward. For one, my old content is still available where it is so anyone can search for it if they’re after that topic. It seems a little silly to copy it across so it could show up in twice in a search – and wouldn’t do my credibility much good, either. Then there is the duplicate content punishment it could potentially get from Google and friends.

Writing by quill and candle light

Old content still has value despite technology advances

If we’re talking about a post from at least a couple of years ago, I would think an update is often a good idea anyway. Things change quickly in this technological age – an article on online marketing five years ago would have excluded Twitter and Pinterest so that article would be out of date and less valuable now.

Referring to old content

I much prefer referring back to old content.

In fact, I do it all the time by adding links to my blog posts and newsletters that lead back to older posts so people can get further, related information.

Instead of copying across an old post, I think it’s more valuable to link back to that post and expand on that topic or give an update. Going back to out online marketing example, I could write a new blog post along the lines of “Back in 2007 I wrote about online marketing. With the introduction and growth of new social media channels, it is now time to update my list of marketing options.” I don’t have to rewrite all of the old content because the link does that for me.

Social media itself provides another way to reshare old content – it is just as easy to tweet a link to an old post as a new one, for example.

Resharing my old content

At the start of each month, I send out my newsletter.

Starting now, at the end of each month I will look back at some old content from that same month (for example, in May I will refer back to something I wrote in May in a previous year).

Some of that content may need updating, other bits won’t as grammar and good writing doesn’t change the same way technology and business practises can.

So look out for some reshared ideas on Thursday…

And you?

How do you share your old content?

What do you think about seeing old content?

Is copying content across as if new a time saver or not-quite-right? Would anyone even notice?