Why is YouTube more profitable than blogging
5 easy steps to determine how often to blog
The world's largest blog, Huffington Post, publishes one post every 58 seconds.
That's roughly 1,600 to 2,000 articles a day.
And that statistic is from 2013. Nowadays you can expect at least a few hundred more.
Let's look at some more publication numbers from renowned blogs and media houses (these statistics were published by Digiday in July 2013).
Let's take a look at more recent information from websites in another market niche.
These are the releases of technical blogs like Techcrunch, The Next Web, and a few others for January 2015.
These are amazing numbers.
So the message is clear:
You need to increase your posting frequency to hundreds a day to be a success as a blogger.
Or is it not?
Brian Dean bragged about managing to get 1 million unique visits over the past year.
According to Brian, its low posting frequency is the reason for its success.
He's actually only published 32 posts so far.
Mark Manson, Wait But Why, James Clear, Boost Blog Traffic and their likes also only get about 1 post a week or even a month.
All of these blogs are mostly run by a single person, so they have a low posting frequency.
Even so, they have hundreds of thousands or even millions of visitors every month.
What does that mean to you? How do you set the frequency of publication as a business strategy for your blog?
Of course, you can't afford to post tons of low quality posts every day. Then you just get lost in the sea of 1.2 million articles published daily.
In this post, I'll show you 5 steps to help you determine your ideal posting frequency, as well as some practical frequencies you can use for your blog.
But first, let's take a look at Google’s stance on regular publications.
How does Google view newly published pages?
Google has a special QDF (Query deserves freshness) ranking factor that gives news more meaning in search results.
SEJ reported that 35% of searches were affected by its improvement in 2011. It has even been part of Google’s algorithm since 2007.
So what searches are affected by this factor?
Here is Google's explanation.
But is the influence of this factor real?
CopyBlogger reported that Mashable overtook them in the ranking for the term “content marketing”. Your page had 21,000 backlinks and thousands of shares on social media.
Well, just take a look at their SEO metrics.
On December 22, 2012, Google decided to display Mashable’s page higher up in the rankings.
Maybe it's because Mashable has an influential domain authority (higher than that of CopyBlogger).
Brian Dean also lists the importance of your edits, the frequency of page updates and how often your website is updated in his enormous list of Google’s ranking factors.
So the freshness of the content is important and can have a significant impact on your rankings, especially if you have a news-centric website with high domain authority.
Don't get discouraged if you are a newbie.
According to Brian Dean, an older page may outperform a newer page.
And guess how many days the mashable page has surpassed CopyBlogger’s target page in content marketing in the ranking?
The mashable listing disappeared from the first page within 30 days.
CopyBlogger has an apt conclusion for QDF - "Short-term ranking spikes due to factors like QDF are being replaced by authoritative content".
Now that you have an idea of how freshness affects Google's ranking, let's start with step # 1 to determine your posting frequency.
Step # 1 - What are your content marketing goals?
Writing blogs. Content distribution. Social media marketing. Email Marketing. List building.
There is so much to do.
You will have a tough time if you don't have a system in place to attract and convert the right audience.
Don't publish 7 articles a day without defining your business goals and creating a plan to attract customers.
And where do you start Inbound Now shows you the steps.
After you've set your goals, you need an audience that is interested in you.
A great way to create a venue that gets your reader's attention to you is ...
I've already written a detailed guide on guest blogging strategy.
When you've got around 1000 visitors, you should focus on writing high quality blog posts for your audience. You can incorporate SEO and social media marketing into your content creation strategy.
However, creating engaging content should be your top priority as most businesses struggle with it.
When you create engaging content, you're attracting high-quality leads. But don't make the mistake of not converting these.
An email distribution list is one of a company's most valuable assets.
So pay for a subscription to the email marketing software of your choice. Offer lead magnets such as eBooks or an upgrade of your content in exchange for email addresses.
Of course, you need to focus on creating compelling lead magnets in order to convert more visitors into subscribers.
Within 3-4 months you will have enough data to see how blogging affects your business goals.
Let me explain it to you using an example.
I wanted to get 100,000 hits on NeilPatel.com as soon as possible.
So I experimented and published 2 posts a week instead of 1.
My monthly traffic has increased from 46,134. Herself:
Satisfied with this success, I have maintained this increased posting frequency to reach the 100,000 mark in less than a year.
Much like me, GrooveHQ use their blog to document their way to $ 500,000 per month (their previous goal was $ 100,000, which they achieved).
Finally, HubSpot devotes a significant amount of time to updating their old blog posts every month.
Because they generate 70% of their traffic from posts that have not been published in the current month.
You must blogging not just more often, but also more strategicallyto achieve such results.
I hope these examples have inspired you to write down your content marketing goals and start experimenting with your posting frequency.
Step # 2 - How many posts have you already published on your blog?
The traffic on your blog depends heavily on the number of posts you have already published.
Alex from CalorieSecrets.com increased his blog traffic to 450,000 visitors per month by posting high quality posts.
Here's a breakdown of how the traffic on CalorieSecrets.com has continued to grow with the number of posts published.
- The website reached 100,000 visitors when it was one year old and had a total of 184 posts.
- Four months later, organic traffic had doubled to 237 posts published.
- After 2 years, the blog had 333 published posts and hit the threshold of 300,000 visitors.
- In 2015, the blog had 500,000 visitors per month and that with almost 500 published posts.
So the higher the number of published posts on your blog, the higher your traffic.
However, we cannot believe these findings after just one case study.
So let's take a look at the guidelines for the volume of publications based on HubSpot’s analysis of its 13,500 customers.
Overall, companies that published 400 or more posts get twice as much traffic as companies that publish 301-400 posts.
However, traffic is not a critical metric. What really matters is the total number of inbound leads companies get in relation to the number of posts published.
In the case of B2B companies, those who publish 401 or more posts generate almost three times as many leads as B2B companies with 0-200 published posts.
B2C companies with at least 401 published posts generate 4.5 times as many leads as B2C companies with 0-100 posts.
The pattern is clearly recognizable:
If you have a sufficient amount of content to lay the foundation for your blog, a lower frequency of posting is likely enough.
So take a look at the management system for your content and determine the number of existing posts. Then write down dates when you reached milestones like 100, 200, 300 and 400 posts.
In WordPress you can use a plugin like Simple Blog Stats for detailed statistics.
And you can use Jetpack to keep track of your monthly traffic.
If you don't work with WordPress, you can always rely on the data from Google Analytics.
The aim of this task is to identify the connection between the posts you have already published and the increase in traffic.
Once you've exceeded a certain number of posts on your blog, write down any clearly identifiable patterns that are causing traffic to skyrocket (like Alex did with CalorieSecrets.com).
Step # 3 - Track Your Traffic Channels
Not all traffic channels are created equal.
Let's look at the two main sources of traffic - search engines and social media.
Over-graph found that the average lifespan of a post on social media (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) is less than a day. This information is based on the activity of 10,000 communicating members of the network.
Given the short-lived nature of social media:
You cannot expect to continuously generate traffic by posting a one-time long-running blog post on your social media account.
Search engine rankings, on the other hand, are much more consistent. So if you manage to get a spot on the front page with a long-running hit, you will likely be there for a while.
Let's look at a practical case study.
From May to June 2015, Moz conducted a release volume experiment.
- They published their usual frequency - 5 posts a week.
- Then they halved their posting frequency for a couple of weeks.
- They then doubled their usual frequency for the next two weeks.
They wanted to test the impact of their frequency of posting on their overall traffic, engagement on the page, subscriptions, and a few other parameters.
Let's take a look at their results.
Halving their usual posting frequency resulted in a 5.6% drop in visits to their site. This small decrease can be attributed to the fact that Moz typically only gets 10-15% of their traffic from recent posts.
In the period with twice the posting frequency, an increase in unique page visits of 3% was observed. Also a small impact that you would expect from current posts.
You can also attribute this relatively small impact to the fact that Moz relies on Google as the primary source of traffic. Older posts are still featured in search engine rankings and continue to generate traffic.
The engagement level has decreased during the period of the duplicate posts. One reason for this is the limited availability for the user.
The changes in the posting frequency did not significantly affect new registrations for the e-mail list. They stayed relatively stable at 34 per day.
Even HubSpot found that their “deep tactical posts” (long, comprehensive articles) were still getting a lot of organic traffic after a while.
On the other hand:
If you have a viral website like Buzzfeed or UpWorthy, you and your traffic are heavily dependent on social media.
BuzzFeed says they get 75% of their traffic through social referrals. This is a big part of the reason they publish around 700 posts a day in order to sustain their millions of daily visits.
If search engines are your main source of traffic, you can probably get away with posting less. But if social media brings in a lot of traffic, your level could go down.
Do not rely on my statement. You have to test this hypothesis.
There is one more reliable, profitable, and stable source to fall back on - direct traffic.
On NeilPatel.com, I received a lot of customer retention from my email subscribers.
What if your blog consists of a mix of social, search and direct traffic in roughly equal proportions?
Then you can probably afford to post less.
Wait But Why is a brilliant example. At the end of 2014, the distribution of their traffic was almost evenly balanced between Facebook, email lists, direct traffic and search engines.
Step # 4 - Identify your audience's needs and think about your resources
You can only spend a certain number of hours a week (together with your team) creating content.
You cannot let your quality suffer in favor of quantity, otherwise your audience will distance themselves from you.
This goes for your users too - they can only spend a limited amount of time reading your blog each week.
HubSpot saw a large number of unsubscribes from their email list as they increased the number of posts per week (HVLC phase) during their 6 month experiment.
Furthermore, increasing your posting frequency only increased your traffic for new posts by 5%.
They also found that their “deep tactical posts” are bringing in the most traffic. However, their promo posts and infographics generated the most leads.
Here are a few more things you can learn:
TOFU posts (lighter articles about internet trends and company-specific topics), deep tactical posts (detailed, comprehensive articles), infographics and slideshares receive the majority of the traffic.
But promo posts (like an eBook, templates, webinar, or downloads) generated the most leads.
Based on this experiment, HubSpot has developed a new publishing strategy that meets both the needs of their audience and their business goals.
Check out their old editorial breakdown.
And now compare it to the new one (note the significant increase in deep tactical posts). HubSpot is relying on this new plan to increase their monthly traffic by 18.5%.
Do you know the complex mix of content that appeals to your audience and at the same time harmonizes with your corporate goals?
Your audience may have a preference for tutorial video. Or maybe they like short 300 word posts.
So, if necessary, conduct an experiment, chew through numbers, and reveal your audience's preferences and conversion rates.
If you decide to increase your posting frequency, you also have to consider the resources available to you.
Just ask yourself and analyze your situation:
How fast can you write on average? How many hours can you spare a week for writing and promoting your content?
You should calculate the average number of visitors you can see for every additional hour you spend in writing and marketing.
Then shape your strategy to either incorporate more advertising or more content creation.
Do you have other team members who can help implement your content marketing strategy?
If you're the only member of the team, you have to take care of everything - create content, design, optimize the website, and close the sale.
Of course, if that applies to you, you have a lot less time to write.
You can split the responsibilities if you have a larger team.
With multiple team members, you have the freedom to publish more content. But make sure that the other team members have enough time to market your posts and generate leads.
Take a look at HubSpot’s marketing team hierarchy as an example.
Even if you increase your posting frequency, pay attention to a minimum level of quality. Don't just post anything just to meet your daily or weekly goals.
Check out Quick Sprout. I am the only employee and it has always been like that.
And yet he's now competing head-to-head with the world's largest internet marketing blogs, such as Moz and CopyBlogger.
Wait But Why is a similar example.They managed to get over a million monthly visitors to the blog in less than a year and only published one blog per week.
One of the main reasons for this is their high quality standards.
Not only do they publish good post, they make their posts top quality.
If you do your research well and adhere to high quality standards, you will notice that the quantity is always trumped by the quality.
Step # 5 - Experiment with and refine your posting frequency to find the happy medium
Did you notice a frequently mentioned topic in the previous steps?
I presented the results of experiments with posting frequencies carried out by blogs.
You should also do this to strike a balance between your audience's preferences and your business goals.
You cannot use an increase in traffic that you have to pay for with your luck (read: burnout). This is what happened to Kevin when he tried to increase his frequency from one to five mails a week.
He achieved a 46% increase in his traffic. But he paid for it with his health.
A falling level of customer loyalty in exchange for more traffic is also not desirable.
CoSchedule saw a drop in their average weekly number of social media shares, as well as comments, as they switched from two posts a week to three.
i) So start with the frequency you consider ideal and stick with it for some time by creating an editorial calendar.
Here is some research on ideal days and times to post content.
The best time of day is between 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
However, posting during peak hours also has a downside. You could get lost in the hustle and bustle, experience higher bounce rates and may have to accept a lower level of customer loyalty.
So, you should also consider posting outside of peak hours (during free time) to get a higher number of comments and social shares.
Track Maven found that most social shares and comments occur between 9 p.m. and midnight EST.
A similar procedure applies for the day of publication. Posts posted on a Monday get the most traffic.
But on Saturdays you get most of the comments.
And most of the social shares happen on weekends.
Note: You should only use the research above as a starting point. The day and time of your posts will require adjustments based on your location and your audience's preferences.
ii) After posting with a consistent frequency and time for a while, you may consider experimenting depending on the resources available.
Post to one normal, half or, like Moz, double.
Or, like Buffer, you take more drastic measures and stop posting altogether for a month.
iii) During your experiment you should keep an eye on the most important parameters for your company goals. You can select some of the relevant metrics from the list below.
- One-time visitors
- Pages per visit
- Time on the page and bounce rate
- How your traffic is influenced by different channels
- Visitors in relation to subscribers / lead ratio
- Changes in the number of conversions
iv) Look at your measurement parameters. Find out how the adjustments in frequency affect your business at the bottom line. And make a daring move.
During their experiment, where they didn't publish anything for a month, all of Buffer's traffic dropped 4%, and social media traffic dropped a whopping 11%.
The experiment was not limited to not publishing anything for a month.
They've done a lot more revamping their older posts on email, video content, and slideshares, etc.
Their 25-day email initiative resulted in 18,185 registrations in 6 days. Furthermore, they were able to increase their SlideShare views by 380%.
The experiment not to publish anything led Buffer to completely redesign their blogging strategy.
This is the content that can be expected from them in the future.
That was a very brave step that would not have been taken without Buffer’s month-long experiment.
Incidentally, that was Buffer’s fourth U-turn in just four and a half years.
So don't stick to your current schedule.
To achieve unprecedented growth, you need to get out of your comfort zone.
Sometimes you can even make a drastic change of direction to get to the intersection where you will get the most conversions and meet your audience's expectations.
Warning: To get more insightful and convincing results, you need to run the experiment for a longer period of time (at least a month). HubSpot conducted their experiment over a period of 6 months.
5 Handy Blog Posting Schedules To Follow
The five steps mentioned above can put you in a good position to determine your ideal posting frequency.
But I would like to help you further by providing you with 5 posting schedules as templates. Let's begin.
Several times (3 to 10 posts) a day - This was a good strategy to start blogging as early as 2005-2010.
A good example of a blog that started on this schedule is Mashable.com.
Founder Pete Cashmore started Mashable at the age of 19 and worked tirelessly (20 hour days) writing 1-5 posts per day.
Even Darren Rose from Problogger.net adopted this posting strategy for a while.
He published 5-10 posts a day to turn blogging into a full-time occupation within six months.
Worried about the type of content to create?
- You can cover updates in your industry by revising articles from reliable sources.
- The posts are usually short or a mix of longer discussions and shorter posts.
- Hiring a team of qualified writers is essential to keep this schedule on a long-term basis.
Once a day - This is a good schedule for bloggers who are just starting out. He can help you gain momentum and quickly build a readership.
That was a pretty common strategy that was used by popular blogs like CopyBlogger until 2012.
But the explosion of new blog content exhausted readers.
Meanwhile, even Daily Blog Tips and their ilk have shifted the strategy to a release schedule with a lower frequency but high quality content.
Get Rich Slowly is a great example of a blog that has grown to over a million readers a month by publishing 7-10 posts a week.
- This schedule is suitable for blogs that publish short, inspirational posts or daily calls to write.
- Make sure not to publish any posts below your quality standard.
2 to 4 posts per week - This was my personal strategy with Quick Sprout and I use the same strategy here at NeilPatel.com to build an audience.
It's a smart and effective strategy because:
You can manage to attract significant traffic without stressing yourself out. And you don't overwhelm your readers with the number of posts.
Michael Hyatt conducted a survey in 2012.
He found that 81% of his readers wanted him to post less than 3 times a week. He immediately changed his blogging strategy.
- You can try different types of posts on different days of the week - infographics, videos, long posts, and short posts.
- In your free time you can look for guest blogging opportunities or develop courses and eBooks.
Once a week - This is a great technique for building tension. And since you have plenty of time to research, you can produce top-notch magazine-style content.
Wait But Why is probably the best example of this strategy. They exceeded the million mark in visitors by posting high quality content every Tuesday for their first year.
As of 2013, they have reached 31 million unique visitors with fewer than 100 articles published.
- This strategy is most effective for you if you are good at writing lengthy content.
- Good design and illustration skills to add original images to your articles are very useful for implementing this strategy.
Occasional blog updates - You only post when you have something important to say. This schedule builds trust and loyalty with your target audience.
Backlinks is a great example of this strategy. Brian Dean only posts high quality and useful content that presents new techniques or perspectives.
He has only published 32 posts on his blog so far. But it saw a staggering 500% traffic growth in its first year.
Although you can post less, you will need to update your older posts regularly to keep them relevant and fresh.
In addition to sharing your new posts, you can connect with the audience of your email list and share exclusive snippets of your content to create anticipation for your new posts. In this way you maintain customer loyalty and stay at the top in the interests of your audience.
The organic traffic and leads on your site are significantly influenced by your posting frequency.
I found that posting an additional post per week increased traffic on KISSmetrics by 18.6%.
But you shouldn't blindly post a lot of subpar posts every week or day. Darren Rowse sees the high posting frequency as the most common reason for unsubscribing.
We've also seen case studies from Moz, HubSpot, and CoSchedule that signal reader fatigue (and lower customer loyalty) with higher posting frequency.
You should commit to posting less amount of high quality content unless you have the resources and skills to maintain a higher frequency.
How often do you post on your blog? I would love to hear your results from the blogging frequency experiments.
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