Last updated on September 28th, 2016
Creating new content marketing materials from scratch is hard work. Having worked in the content marketing department here at SEO Advantage for several years now, I know this fact all too well.
Putting in the necessary work to develop a high quality piece of content requires a great deal of time and effort, from topic generation to research to writing to editing and promotion. Throughout the process, numerous team members may be involved – copywriters, social media marketers, designers, SEO strategists, etc. When all is said and done, strong content can turn out to be quite the investment.
Thankfully, the concept of recycling old or existing content – a technique commonly called “content repurposing” – can help businesses grow their site’s copy more efficiently and get more bang for their investment buck.
Repurposing vs Duplicating
Before we delve into how content repurposing can be valuable and why content duplication isn’t, let’s talk about those two terms and make sure we understand the difference between them.
Content repurposing is a method of reusing an existing piece of content by changing the perspective, voice or format to make the idea fresh. According to Content Marketing Institute: “Integrating repurposing into your content marketing strategy can lower costs, advance production, expand audience reach, and provide myriad additional benefits.”
Content duplication, on the other hand, is content that is located on the Internet in more than one place. As Moz writes: “When duplicate content is present, site owners suffer rankings and traffic losses, and search engines provide less relevant results.”
The perfect example of this greater idea of “content recycling” is Melania Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention 2016. In case you didn’t hear about it, shortly after Melania’s appearance at the GOP convention, a Twitter user observed that a portion of her speech was nearly identical to a speech given by Michelle Obama eight years earlier.
While the speeches are not verbatim, there are clearly similarities between the two statements – with some wording and sentence structure changed slightly. Now regardless of whether or not the speechwriters’ act ought to be considered intentional plagiarism or merely a mistake caused by trying to find other speeches that reflected Melania’s own way of thinking, the point is that it was bad PR for the Trump campaign.
Getting Away with Content Duplication
Of course, unlike a presidential nominee, your business probably doesn’t have such a critical audience analyzing your every word. This begs the question – Who will actually catch me if I duplicate content?
Yes, it’s true that CNN and Fox won’t interrupt their regular broadcasting with breaking news that your company lifted a competitor’s blog and posted it on your website. However, there are other detriments that may befall you if you choose to duplicate content word-for-word.
For starters, your competitors may use duplication as a tool to discredit your authenticity and authority. If they are really determined to undermine you, they may even file a complaint for stealing copyrighted material from their site.
Content duplication also harms your readership and customer loyalty. Visitors to your blog and website are looking to find an industry authority they can trust, so if they read content on your site that they’ve already seen elsewhere then the customer-business relationship is damaged. There are online services (often mislabeled as content repurposing software) you can pay for that automatically swap out words and change sentence structure in seconds. These services claim to turn copied text into content that looks “original.” However, beware of these tools; most of these programs make content read in an unnatural or awkward way that will deter loyal readers.
But most important of all, content duplication is a waste of your time for improving your search engine rankings. Search engine algorithms that run Google and Yahoo are not as prone to missing duplicated content as humans are. When search engines see the same content in more than one place, they exclude it from their indices altogether since they don’t know which version to rank.
The whole point of content marketing is to build your search engine visibility and ranking through informative, keyword-rich content. So if you are copying/pasting content from other websites and Google responds by not increasing your SERP value whatsoever, wouldn’t that be a complete waste of time from an SEO perspective? You’re in the exact same spot as you were before the copied page was posted…with a little less time.
And repeating this process over and over again expecting different results is crazy. Literally:
Why Repurposing Content Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be
Don’t get me wrong – when done right, content repurposing can be a fantastic method of boosting copy production efficiency, finding additional link-building opportunities, and getting the most traction out of a popular topic.
However, all too often content repurposing is viewed as the key to easy, profitable copy production. Content production, while beneficial in many ways, still requires work, time and effort.
For instance, let’s say you want to write a blog post but aren’t sure what to write about. You visit a few competitors and industry websites, taking note of the most popular topics being written about. You decide to jump into the conversation by offering your own unique take on the issue in question and writing a blog. After being published, the post gains popularity as it is shared on social media and people leave comments.
Congratulations, you’ve already been successful in one part of content repurposing: topic generation! But we’re just getting started…
Since the topic is picking up steam, you decide to expand the blog post into a longer, more in-depth informational article or e-book. Simultaneously, you get your creative team to design a neat little infographic to share on social media. As the topic continues to generate traffic, you also decide to do an expert interview discussing the issue as well as create a slideshow of the main points.
When done correctly (and with the right topic), content repurposing can create a “snowball effect” – gradually picking up more traffic and attention as various elements are added.
An Example of Content Repurposing Done Right
With content repurposing feeling more like a buzzword these days than a viable content marketing technique, let’s take a look at how this strategy can play out in a real-life scenario.
For example, let’s take a look at RaisedGardenBedsHowTo.com. This informational site is dedicated to helping people learn how to build their own raised garden bed and boxes – a project you may have been meaning to get to this summer but never got around to it (or maybe that’s just me…).
The article “Building Tips: How To Build Your Raised Garden Bed Right!” on the home page accomplishes the site’s main mission.
Then, if you click around you’ll also find a more comprehensive, longer piece entitled “How To Build A Raised Garden Bed: A DIY Step-By-Step Guide.” You can see that it is essentially the same topic, just rehashed into a different format and with more valuable information and images added.
The icing on the cake is an infographic they published called “How to Build and Install Raised Garden Beds.” The infographic was also shared across social media, including Pinterest – a popular platform for instructional graphics like this.
And there you have it. This site created three high quality pieces from the same topic. Repurposing at its best!
The repurposing technique could be taken even further if they so wished. For instance, the owners of the site could interview an expert on tips for building a raised garden bed, or film a video tutorial showing the steps. Then a podcast, webinar, slideshow, videographic, email list, newsletter…the opportunities for repurposing are virtually endless!
Quality > Quantity
Businesses typically turn to content duplication when they want loads of copy in a short amount of time with little effort/time. But while there is SEO benefit to keeping your site regularly updated with fresh copy, the benefit is lost entirely if you are sacrificing quality for quantity.
The name of the game in an effective content marketing strategy is “thought leadership.” Filling your company’s blog and website with high quality, original content positions your businesses as a leader in the industry. Only then will consumers think of you when they require your service, product or expertise.
Sure, high quality content creation is an investment of time, effort and money. But it’s one that certainly pays of in the long run. Keeping time-saving strategies like content repurposing in mind can help maximize production efficiency while maintaining a high level of quality.