recycled content

When Should Local Publishers Use Recycled Content?

Nobody wants to read yesterday’s news, but properly utilizing recycled content can still be an effective strategy for driving traffic to a growing online publication.

Of course, not all content is created equal. An article about an upcoming holiday event or a recap of a high school sports game isn’t going to have the same longevity as a feature story about a local celebrity or a popular mom-and-pop business, or a review of a restaurant that’s become a date night hot spot.

Before we dig into what types of content a publisher should recycle, and how to determine whether a specific article is worth republishing, let’s talk a little more about what recycled content really is.

Recycling content means to take an article that’s done well over time and republish it. Although some viral publishers, like Business Insider and Upworthy, will re-publish articles multiple time on the same platform, it’s more common for local news publishers to recycle content across different platforms. For example, an article that’s done well on a publisher’s website can be repurposed in an email newsletter or expanded on to create an eBook.

Social media is another popular place for local publishers to post recycled content. Sprinkled among the links to recent stories can be links to older feature stories. In addition to generating more traffic, this strategy can also grow a publisher’s audience on Facebook and Twitter.

Syndication is another way to recycle content. Rather than republishing content on their own platforms, publishers who go the syndication route are giving other publishers permission to post their content on third-party websites. Syndicated posts link back to the original publisher, making this a popular way to generate traffic and gain exposure to new audiences.

The Best Types of Recycled Content

Hyperlocal news websites can publish anywhere from three to 20 fresh articles a day, but just a small fraction of those articles generate more than 50% of traffic. If a local publisher is lucky, 5% to 15% of its articles will go viral, leading to social shares and driving an influx of first-time readers.

Evergreen content is content that’s always relevant. Evergreen content doesn’t become dated. It’s always considered up-to-date, and it’s always seen as “fresh” in the eyes of readers. Evergreen content is search-optimized, helping local publishers take full advantage of traffic from search engines like Google and Bing.

The best type of content to recycle is content that’s both popular and evergreen. Feature stories and local business reviews tend to fit this mold most frequently.

A few examples of the types of stories that could be recycled:

  • Feature stories about prominent community members
  • An investigative article about the origins of a local landmark
  • Reviews of local restaurants
  • Lists of the best businesses or date night spots in town
  • How-to articles

Not every feature article or restaurant review is worth republishing. Monitoring site traffic is one way that publishers can determine which articles are worth recycling. In addition to comparing page views for stories that could be considered evergreen content, publishers should also take a close look at how much new traffic those stories have driven and how many new subscriber sign-ups those stories generate.

How Much Content Should Be Recycled

No two publishers are exactly alike, however a good rule of thumb is that 80% of the content on a website can be new and 20% can be republished without loyal readers batting an eye.

Publishers with new websites have less leeway in posting recycled content, whereas established publications can get away with more. However, even established sites should expect to do some basic maintenance or upkeep on the articles they republish to keep them up-to-date. Adding new imagery or updating the introduction to these stories is one way to give old content new life.

Recycling too little content is throwing money down the drain. Creating quality content takes money and time, and savvy publishers can get more juice out of the content they post with a well-planned content recycling strategy.

Questions to Ask Before Publishing Recycled Content
• Is this article worth re-publishing?
• Where are the best places to republish this article?
• Are the facts in this article still true today?
• Do we need to write a different introduction to keep this article relevant?