Content Recycling: Staying Relevant and Dominating SEO

Content recycling is not just an incredibly valuable SEO strategy, it’s a user-service.

Content recycling—it’s all around us! At some point you’ve probably had dinner, maybe watched the news, and watched an early-evening episode of Big Bang Theory, or Two and a Half Men. Maybe it was on its normal station, maybe a different one, like TBS. Either way, this is just one way of experiencing content recycling, and TV watchers love it. They get to see their favorite TV shows more often, and even if they’ve already seen an episode, they watch anyway. Meanwhile, the TV station gets to produce ad revenue without going bankrupt attempting to produce a new TV show for every hour of the day.

And you’ve probably noticed while listening to the radio in our car, or at work, that most pop stations play the same 10-15 songs every hour, with other songs laced in between. So when you’re on a 4-hour road trip and you feel like you’ve heard the same song four times, you’re probably right. They’re recycling content.

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But even though you might comment on it, or joke about the repetition, be honest—you were probably humming along, too. Radio stations play the same songs for periods of time because that’s what listeners expect. They know that if they tune into a pop station, that on their hour-long commute home from work, they can count on hearing the new hit song they love.

This might sound old-fashioned in the time of instant-music like Spotify and Apple Music, but radio is a still a huge industry and it’s where the majority of automotive commuters get their music. And they can reliably expect to hear all of their hit favorite songs.

The same can be said for blockbuster posts. A blockbuster post is one that sends a significant amount of traffic to your site every month, no matter how old it is. All of our clients recycle these posts.

People often ask us, don’t people get bored of seeing the same posts over and over again? And to that, I say no because:

  • The most an article will every be recycled is every 90 days, and often 180 days.
  • Nobody reads an entire email newsletter every time, which means they’re not likely to see it each time it’s posted.
  • Typically in an email stack, we include the blockbuster at the bottom below fresh content.

Blockbuster posts are called as such because they are the most read, most engaged articles on the site. So much like a hit song that you’ve heard a few times already on your long road trip, you’re still humming along. And a blockbuster post, you’re still reading along. Because the content is forever relevant. We make sure it is by:

  • Updating it, as mentioned, every 90 days to 180 days so it’s always current.
  • Making sure the content becomes evergreen, so that it’s relevant all the time.
  • Double-checking it reflects the current state of the world, best-practices, or industry.

Many publishers might choose to re-write the same topic over and over again when they find a topic that increases engagement on their site. We certainly do that too, but we also spend as much time keeping blockbuster posts relevant.

How to use content recycling to maintain your highest sources of traffic

If you have a few posts sending the majority of your traffic, you might feel a little anxious. What if I lose my rank in Google? What will my sponsors think? How will I recoup all that lost traffic? Some of our clients have ten to twenty thousand visits per month to a blockbuster post, so losing rank is a nice-sized paddle to the rear.

One you’ve discovered your most trafficked posts in your analytics software, and you’ve scheduled an appointment for them to get a makeover in your editorial calendar, here’s how you can give them a facelift:

Title: Try not to tinker much here, it’s a blockbuster post and getting clicked in search for a reason.

  • It’s already click-worthy, since Google considers click-through rate as a major ranking factor.
  • It’s making readers happy already, because if it wasn’t, your bounce rate would knock it off page one in Google, too.

Removing any major keywords could lose you rank, so try to stick with the original. If it’s been a blockbuster for a while, the title is working. The exception is updating any numbers if it’s a list. Making it a bigger list is always helpful!

Subhead: If your subhead isn’t optimized for search yet, do it now. Include the same keyword from your title in the subhead.

Body: This is where the majority of your work will happen in content recycling. Read the article thoroughly to check for any miscellaneous dates, broken links, or outdated research. Try to make this post as evergreen as possible so it will be easier to update from now on. If it’s a list, try to make it bigger.

URL: Hopefully you future-proof your posts and don’t use any numbers or years in your URLs, but if you do, now is the time to update your URL and use a permanent redirect plugin on the old one.

Footer: We always add “This article was originally published in XXXX (year) and is frequently updated” to the bottom of our recycled blockbuster posts. Note: don’t use the full date, just the year, because Google tends to pick it up as the publish date by accident, which basically defeats the purpose of everything we’re trying to do here.

SEO: Be aware of your keywords within the article and try not to mess with them. They are, after all, part of the reason you’re ranking in the first place. Apply any new SEO rules, too. For example, Google is all about proximity phrases these days. So if you haven’t already, add in some related keywords, and different variations of your existing keywords. We’re not robots, so there’s a good chance you’ve done this already. Check out our SEO scorecard for how to SEO a blockbuster post (and new posts, too!).

Links: Make sure you’re linking to at least three other related articles on your site. So if I’m writing a post in the realm of multiplatform publishing, I’d probably link “multiplatform publishing” to our post that defines it. If we’re talking about subscription websites, I might link “subscription pricing” to our post about how to price subscription websites.

If you have any question about content recycling and how to find your blockbuster posts, or when and how to recycle them, please leave a comment below.

And if you’re looking for a bigger content recycling strategy for building and distributing content, please reach out for a chat with our CEO, Don Nicholas. We build Mequoda Systems for publishers who are looking to attract new visitors, convert them into email subscribers, engage them with incredible content, and increase revenues through multiple monetization methods.


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