The Generally Understood Rules Governing the Recycling of Blog Content

As more and more businesses come to recognize the immediate benefits accompanying a new and frequently updated blog featuring articles that pique the interest of readers and inspire them to return again and again, those same businesses are also beginning to understand the inherent difficulties associated with maintaining a blog over an extended period.

While the long-term challenges associated with blogging vary depending on a number of factors, developing new and unique content is perhaps the most common—and most confounding—issue bloggers encounter. Coming up with new ideas that correspond to the interests of a specific company or industry is difficult enough on its own, but it becomes all the more challenging due to the sheer vastness of the internet.

A search engine instantly produces thousands of results—or millions, depending on the topic—even when the search terms represent the most seemingly obscure subject matter. For a blogger, this means that what was believed to be a wholly original idea for an article topic may very well have been published several times over.

With so much information already available, how can a business create blog content that does not violate the unofficial but generally accepted rules governing the recycling of blog content?

It’s a difficult question with no easy answers. However, following a few general guidelines will help both new and experienced bloggers avoid some of the most common pitfalls associated with recycling blog content. In the sections that follow, we’ll outline some of the most effective strategies you can use for recycling content while abiding by the generally agreed upon norms of blogging.

Give Credit Where Credit’s Due: Always Acknowledge the Source

It’s important to begin by explaining that while recycling content is an acceptable practice, plagiarizing content is not. It is always best to err on the side of caution if you ever have any doubt about the difference between the two or believe you have encountered what seems like a gray area. In these circumstances, simply acknowledge the source of information and give credit to the original author or publisher—even in cases in which you are the original author or publisher.

With that being said, we can now move on to discussing the strategies that fall within the acceptable guidelines concerning recycled blog content.

Update an Outdated Post With New Information and Insights

Even with the focus on creating evergreen blog content, articles often become outdated and are thus irrelevant to current readers. Comb through your blog’s archives for articles or posts that fit this description, looking for an interesting subject matter that is in need of new information or insights based on present circumstances. You might wish to quote some of the statements made in the original article, but just make sure to be explicit in stating your reason for doing so (for the sake of comparison or contrast, for example).

Highlight Recycled Content in a Different Format

An article featuring information of obvious interest to your audience might go unread by certain members of your readership if the information is published in a format that doesn’t necessarily appeal to the reader. It is for this reason that blogs often recycle previously published content by presenting it in a new format that will appeal to the subset of readers who ignored the initial article because of its format rather than its content.

While some readers enjoy an in-depth and thoroughly researched piece of long-form journalism, others might not have the patience or the willingness to invest the time and energy required to read several thousand words. Rather than uniting several different stories through a single, albeit lengthy, common thread, you can break up each story and publish the individual storylines as parts of an ongoing series of articles.

Readers also encounter difficulties parsing the technical language found in articles on scientific or academic research, many of which often go to great lengths to discuss even the most minor details of the research process. Even when the conclusions drawn by a research article would be of clear interest to your readership, the format of the article might still limit their interest. As long as you properly cite the original, you can recycle this content by providing your audience with a summary of the research along with a discussion of some of the broader points or conclusions. You might even be able to create an interactive article or infographic that allows readers to explore the specific areas they find most interesting.

Review the Accuracy of Past Projections While Presenting New Projections for the Future

Blogging is one of the best ways to position yourself or your company as a subject area expert [read more about it here: Building Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn], and there are many ways to accomplish this with new and recycled content. As time passes and your industry adapts to those changes, you can refer back to your archives to check the validity of any predictions or projections you made about the future. This content can be used to showcase the accuracy of your predictions or to discuss the unpredictable impact of an unforeseen situation or circumstance.

When recycling this type of content, you might also wish to present new or updated predictions based on the current conditions. Readers tend to be especially interested in this sort of recycled content, as revisiting an older article featuring your predictions essentially functions as a snapshot in time. In revisiting these articles, readers see that you (and your company) understand the importance of seeing the big picture and are willing to evaluate your previous projections in a public setting. Readers will appreciate the transparency and will value the perspective gained from two distinct moments in time.

Adopting the Opposite Perspective for the Sake of Argument

A blog is a place in which opinions are freely shared and defended, and sometimes it is beneficial to both the author and the audience to engage in a thought experiment in which a contrarian perspective is adopted for the sake of argument. You can recycle a previously published article and argue the opposing position in the form of a point-by-point response to the originally published text.

In certain circumstances, you can also invite someone else to argue an opposing position while using this point-by-point approach, as long as there is an agreement to do so in a civil manner featuring respectful, thoughtful discourse. Readers of your blog will appreciate your willingness to consider different perspectives, and recycling content in this way will also help you evaluate your position while recognizing potential weaknesses in your arguments, all of which is clearly beneficial for everyone involved.