So, you’ve got a shiny new website with a slick new domain.
You’ve laid out all the important information about your business – and you’ve crafted the perfect landing pages to get people hooked into who you are and what you do.
But you’re far from finished. In fact, the real hard work is just about to begin.
If you want to climb the search engines and get noticed, you’ll need to keep creating useful content. And that means you’ll need to decide exactly how much time you’re willing to invest into your blog.
We’d love to give you a one-size-fits-all answer to help you plan your blog posts. But it just doesn’t exist.
What we can give you is a few useful stats and explanations to help you understand why businesses blog so much and so often – and how you can find the right balance to get the most out of your own website.
Here are a few tips to get you thinking:
More posts means more traffic
Sounds simple, right?
If you’re posting quality content a few times a month, that’s a great start; over a long enough period of time, your site should start to pull in some decent traffic.
But, in reality, you’re only doing the bare minimum – there’s a lot more to gain if you push yourself further.
According to Hubspot’s analysis of over 13,000 customers, companies that post 16 or more blog posts per month were getting almost 3.5 times as much traffic as companies that were posting 4 times per month or fewer.
On top of that, those companies posting 16 times a month or more were also getting around 4.5 times as many leads – which means their boost in traffic was turning into promising opportunities for their business and their growth.
Now here’s where it gets interesting:
According to the same Hubspot analysis, companies with a higher number of total blog posts saw more traffic than those with a lower number. And after a certain point (around 400 total posts) the growth in traffic started to accelerate.
So, what’s the reason for all of this? There are probably several:
1. More posts means more opportunities
The more frequently you’re posting (and the more total posts you have) the more chances you have for promotion and interaction.
Any single person probably won’t be interested in every single topic you cover. And they won’t be searching for every keyword, either.
Each post you create is a fishing line cast out into the internet – so when you cast out different fishing lines more often (or you end up with a higher number of total lines out there), you’re dramatically improving the chances that someone will bite.
2. Serious bloggers are probably serious marketers
If a company is putting out blog posts more than 4 times a week, there’s a good chance that they’re active in lots of other areas, too: social media marketing, email marketing, industry groups and networking events.
So, while blogging has certainly given lots of businesses a boost, some of that boost might also be related to their overall marketing efforts beyond blogging alone.
3. Companies that blog a lot get much better at it
Creating good content isn’t something that comes naturally to most of us – anyone who’s been doing it for a while will probably cringe when they look back at their first few posts.
With enough posts behind them (or after a short time creating high-frequency posts) a company that’s blogging will naturally have a better understanding of:
- Their industry and the topics they cover
- Their audience and how they respond to content
- The kind of structure, presentation, readability, and flow that keeps people interested
On top of this, companies that have hundreds of blog posts behind them will be forced to start creating content around niche topics, advanced tips or cutting-edge developments.
They’ve already blown through the generic, broad, predictable topics that blog-owners often start out with – and that means they’ll naturally have to start moving to topics that are less common (and often more valuable to readers).
So, what does this all mean for your company?
It means you should blog as often as you can reasonably manage – without killing your budget, your brain or the quality of what you post.
Longer posts perform better
According to SEO experts Yoast, a blog post should be at least 300 words long in order to rank well in the search engines.
But, that’s a bare minimum. And if you’ve ever seen a 300-word blog post on the screen, you’ll know that it can look meagre and insubstantial.
It’s barely more than a one-minute read, and that means it’s probably deeply unsatisfying if it’s supposed to be anything more than a quick news update or a brief answer to a specific, simple question.
(As a point of reference, you’re currently 800 words into this blog post, and we’ve only just started to dig in.)
So why do longer posts generally perform better? There are a couple of reasons:
1. Longer posts have more room for valuable information
Searchers are usually looking for answers. But not just any answers: they want satisfying, complete and authoritative answers.
If someone wants to know ‘How to keep a car engine in good condition’ or they want to know about ‘The 5 best smartphones in 2019’, a 300-word blog post won’t cut it. These topics are too broad and require too many details and explanations to be covered in such a short space.
So, if you don’t want your visitors to back out to Google to ask further questions, you need to give them everything they want in your blog post – and that usually means creating a piece of content that’s long enough to satisfy them.
2. Longer posts provide more evidence for Google
This one is simple. The more you write about a topic, the more likely you are to use content or keywords that are relevant to someone’s search.
You’ll also have more room to use those keywords in a natural and well-paced way – there’s no need to artificially stuff them in like you would with a shorter post.
And the deeper you go into a particular topic, the more likely you are to naturally use long-tail keywords (these are keywords with multiple parts, like ‘automatic hybrid cars in the UK’, as opposed to just ‘automatic cars’).
So, what does that mean for you?
It means you definitely ought to make every post longer than 300 words.
It also means you shouldn’t try to restrict the length of your posts (unless you find yourself waffling aimlessly). If you’ve got a lot of useful or interesting things to say on a topic, then go for it.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking that every single post has to be a 2,000-word monster – always make sure the length of your post matches up to the breadth, depth, and importance of the topic you’re covering.
And that brings us nicely to our next area of discussion:
Quantity is easy – but quality takes skill and care
Frequency and length are important things to think about.
But when you’re trying to stay focused on long posts delivered several times a week, it’s easy to forget about the quality of what you’re writing.
And quality is subjective:
Whether or not a post is seen as high-quality depends on the industry and the topic, the reader’s current levels of knowledge and expectations for the post, and your writer’s own individual style.
It’s hard to measure quality. But we do have a few universal standards that we can apply to any topic. And luckily, none of them requires a PhD in your chosen field: you just need to put a little time and care into how you create your content.
A high-quality blog post will always be (at the very least):
- Relevant to a specific audience, problem, or need
- Full and complete enough to cover the topic to a level that satisfies the reader’s curiosity
- Packed with concrete, useful, up-to-date information (no filler, no fluff, and no aimless tangents)
- Easy (and fun!) to read, despite giving out large amounts of information
Following these criteria will naturally lead to longer blog posts. If you try to write something that’s easy to read and short, it’s not going to be full and complete and packed with useful information.
And if you try to write a short post that’s densely packed with useful information, it probably won’t be easy to read.
But there’s a challenge here:
Creating long-form content (and keeping it high-quality, interesting, and easy to read throughout) isn’t easy.
You might be too busy. You might hate writing. You might find you lose focus when you’re creating massive blog posts, or you might not have the budget to pay a dedicated writer to produce long, detailed pieces of content every week.
So, if you’re not feeling confident or experienced enough (or cash is tight) then don’t be afraid to err on the shorter side of long to begin with (around 1,000 words or so).
If you do have the time, passion and budget to create high-quality, easily digested content, then give longer pieces a go. But if you’re going to go long, you’ll need to work hard to keep your readers’ interest from start to finish. So always make sure your blog posts are:
- Well-structured: broken up into manageable sections and simple paragraphs, and separated by informative, eye-catching sub-headers
- Flawlessly composed, with impeccable spelling and grammar (you could try a free app like Grammarly to help you with this)
- Lively and varied: a personal and upbeat tone of voice, diverse vocabulary and varied sentence structures, and a healthy mix of industry terms and colloquial expressions.
So, what’s the answer – how long and how often?
As you might expect, there really isn’t a single answer.
Lots of places in the past have suggested specific numbers for the ideal length of a blog post (and the ideal frequency).
But what you should really be interested in is this:
How can I make sure my blog gives people the most value?
In many cases, that does mean long, in-depth posts that are published regularly and often. But that doesn’t mean there’s a particular length or frequency that works perfectly for everyone.
You’ll need to balance your time and budget against your skills and the demands of your particular industry and audience.
And for some people, a mixed approach can give you the best of both worlds:
You could try posting one 3,000-word behemoth per month, giving people satisfying, in-depth answers to the big questions they’re searching for.
These longer posts (often referred to as ‘cornerstone content’) will be the ones that do most of the hard work for you: attracting large amounts of searchers and demonstrating your expertise and value on topics that remain relevant for years to come. You’ll be able to update them and add to them as new information becomes available – or as your readers come up with new questions on the topic.
And you could then fill the weeks in between with short and light blog posts to answer smaller questions or report industry news or company developments.
This way, you’ll have both sides covered. You’ll have lots of weekly posts to promote across your social media channels and show that your website and your company is active and busy – but you’ll still have some hefty posts once in a while to help you climb higher in the search engines.
And perhaps most importantly, you won’t bleed your budget or drain your motivation as the years go by.