Getting twice as many shares, twice as much traffic, and doubling your conversion rates could do wonders for your content marketing program.
It might well quadruple your return on investment, for starters. And let you hire more staff. It might even nab you a handsome pay raise, and possibly a new title.
There’s one content marketing technique that can actually produce all those promises (and that’s why we’ve been talking about it so much lately!). The benefits of republishing your content might sound almost as incredible as a late-night TV ad, but the results are real. The one roadblock that a lot of marketers run into, is that it requires them to stretch out of their comfort zone a bit to do it.
Why some content marketers might worry about republishing their content
Sometimes marketers squirm when we mention this tactic. Republishing content seems a little sketchy to them. Maybe it seems a little sketchy to you, too.
I mean, you’d be angry if a newspaper published the same article again a year later, right? You’d be miffed if a magazine republished a feature piece from the prior year.
That’s cheating, isn’t it? Everything we publish is supposed to be new!
But maybe not. Because, when you look more closely at the publishing operations of newspapers and magazines, you’ll find they actually do republish their content. And they republish it a lot.
Take newspapers for example. Especially small local ones. Every year, they publish a slew of articles that are very similar to articles they’ve published in prior years. Every year, there’s a “spring is coming” article. There’s the small business week article. The article about how the favorite local sport’s team training has started.
They don’t skip covering these events just because they covered them last year. And if you read each year’s articles side by side, they have marked similarities.
But no one really cares. Because no one is going to back to last year’s spring training article. It was a year ago, and everybody’s forgotten it. That “old” article that’s been republished with some new information is actually new to all the readers. The Editor might be a little bored with it, but the vast majority of her readers don’t care, and won’t even notice. They’re happy to get the news of this year’s team.
Magazines republish articles even more blatantly. Almost every magazine has a few annual features that gets updated and republished every year. And they often make for their most popular content. Like the “2017 Gear Issue” for a hobbyist magazine. Or the “2018 Holiday Gift Guide”. Or “10 Best New Restaurants in Chicago.”
Not only do readers not mind these almost identical articles – they like them. These pieces are pillar cvontent for a magazine, and they republish them every year because they’re proven winners that sell magazines. People always want this information, and they’re happy to get a newly updated ersion of it every year.
So if classic publishing businesses republish their content without any guilt, why have content marketers – who publish content for their businesses – been so shy about republishing?
Maybe it’s because we’re so familiar with our content, we think our readers will be too. Last year’s post about “How to Optimize Production for Silver Widgets” is all but carved into our foreheads. To us, it might seem like plagiarism to publish it again a year later.
But our readers don’t see it that way.
Your readers won’t mind republished content
I hate to break it to you, but our readers aren’t reading every word we publish. In fact, they’re barely reading 20% of what we publish, if that. They aren’t seeing even 10% of our social media shares, and they’re probably not opening any more than 20% of our email newsletters.
Even our regular readers are missing most of the content we publish. And most of the people we’d consider to be in “our audience”? They’re consuming maybe 20% of our content.
And even if they are avid readers who open every email we send, if we republish a good piece of content a year after they last saw it, they probably won’t remember the piece from a year ago. And for the handful of people who will remember it, if we’ve updated the content and maybe added a little bit of extra information, they’re not likely to mind reading it again. If the content is about a topic that’s important to them, and the information is newly updated and presented well, why wouldn’t they want to read it?
In other words, it’s perfectly safe to republish.
This idea that republishing won’t bore our readers is actually only the first reason to republish. The second reason – that it lets us publish better content overall – is especially good for our readers. And us, too.
Republishing lets you create higher quality content
The benefits of republishing aren’t hard to see. If you’ve been doing any content marketing, you know about the struggle between publishing more content versus publishing better content.
We all want to publish the very best content possible, but for most of us, there simply isn’t enough time. So we have to cut quality a bit in order to publish enough to keep our audiences engaged.
But what if we changed strategy a bit, and took, say, our 20-30% best-performing content and updated it and republished it every year? That would free up quite a bit of time. And that, in turn, would allow us to make even better content. We’d also be delivering our “greatest hits” to our audiences.
It’s a win for both our audience and our business.
But that’s only republishing 101. You can expand this even further if you get brave and republish your content on other platforms besides your site.
Republishing on other sites
If you’re only publishing content on your own site, you’re missing out on one of the biggest benefits of content marketing – the ability to use your content to attract new prospects.
Sure, publishing on social media is one way to attract new people. But republishing your content on third-party sites is often even more effective. It leverages content you already have, but puts it in front of people who may never have heard of your brand before.
In other words, it expands your audience. Often by quite a lot.
The most common place for B2B companies to republish their content is on LinkedIn. If you’re in B2C (and B2B), Medium can be a good republishing site, too. Many solopreneurs – and larger companies, too – have built large followings by publishing on Medium.
B2Bers may also get more readers by republishing their content on Business2Community, and many other sites like it.
So republishing works – but you have to do it in the right way.
Namely, you have to avoid the problem of duplicate content.
Duplicate content is a search engine optimization issue that’s been largely overblown, but can still cause problems. You’ll avoid many of the problems if you simply publish (or republish) content on your own site first. Then wait a week or so, and go and publish/republish your content on those satellite sites.
This will allow the search engine bots to find and index the original content on your site, so when they find that same post on a satellite site later, they’ll give your site the credit for the original content.
Another way to make sure your site gets credit for the republished content is to add a link back to the original article on your site. You’ve probably seen these sorts of attribution credits at the close of articles. They typically say something like “This article was originally published on the XYZ blog.”
This is a good way to legitimately build links to your site, but perhaps even more importantly, it’s a way to lure in readers (and potential customers) who liked the article they just found. Hopefully, they liked your article enough to click through and keep reading more.
This is one of the major benefits to republishing your content on these types of sites: You’ll reach an entirely new audience.
I have talked to several small business owners who say their articles on Medium or LinkedIn get more exposure than articles they publish on their own site. Medium and LinkedIn are big content hubs, after all – they get a ton of traffic. Probably much more than a small business site gets.
These owners still publish on their site first, then publish on LinkedIn and Medium a week or so later, and include a link back to their original article. They want their site to get the bulk of credit for their work, all while they expand the reach of their content to a new audience of readers.
There is yet one more way to “safely” republish on these sites. It’s to rewrite your article.
Rewriting articles for republication
There are several approaches to this. Some people leave the body of the article the same, but just change the title. Personally, I find this a little off-putting, because I always think that if I see a new title that it’s a new article. So I’ll start reading only to be disappointed.
Another approach is to rewrite the first paragraph or so of the article. Again, this is kind of disappointing for some of us. We had thought we’d found a new article, but after wasting a few seconds of our time, we discover it’s the same article as before.
The third and final approach to rewriting is probably the most effective, but it’s definitely more work. Here, you do actually rewrite the whole article. Some experts recommend changing the approach of the article – so instead of “5 Best Practices for Woodworking” you rewrite the piece to become “5 Biggest Mistakes of Woodworking.”
I guess this works for some people, and that’s good. But for me, by the time you’ve done that much rewriting, you might as well have written another completely new article. So I just choose the technique of publishing first on our site, waiting a week, and then republishing on the satellite site. Then I add a link back to the original article.
Syndicating your content – even if it’s one syndication at a time
You’ll know you’re publishing really excellent content when Editors of other publications start reaching out and asking to republish your articles.
This doesn’t happen a lot, but now and again you’ll get an email from an Editor (often from a trade magazine or website) who will ask to republish an article from your site. They’ll give you a byline, a link back to your site, and a few sentences to describe who you are and what your company does. It’s somewhat similar to a guest blog post, but with no need to write a new article.
Here’s one example of a republished article. This one is being announced in an email message:
If this appeals to you, consider building relationships with Editors at trade magazines and other publications. These publishers are always in need of good content, so if they know and trust your work, you might well be able to place an article (or a video, or something else) with them up to once every quarter or so.
Some businesses go a step further, and actively offer reprint opportunities next to everything they publish, like this site has done.
We all know how expensive it is to create quality content. And so every “legal” trick we’ve got to maximize our content’s impact needs to be employed.
Republishing is an excellent way to do this.
It helps our readers because we’re republishing our best content, and gives them content that’s current. It also saves us time and resources, so we can create other higher quality content, which helps both our readers and us over time.
Republishing to other sites can take this one step further. Done correctly, it won’t hurt your search rankings, and it will gain valuable and needed exposure for your content.
That exposure is, after all, one of the core reasons we do content marketing at all: To attract new potential customers, and to engage them enough to hold their attention while we gain their trust.
So try it! If republishing gets you even 30% more traffic and conversions (much less double), it’ll be easily worth the time it takes to do.