How much should you publish on your blog? Short answer: every business day. Slightly longer answer: as frequently as possible, given costs and while maintaining the level of rigor that your audience expects.
It is almost always a good idea for brands to publish at scale. That is, aiming to publish hundreds of articles per year rather than dozens. For the most part, companies publish at a cadence of one article per month, or publish sporadically whenever they can find the resources.
We advocate publishing at scale for a number of reasons – chief among them is the fact that this approach allows you to speak to and rank for far greater relevant search queries.
Much of this might be counter-intuitive, but here’s why it makes sense for your company to publish more than any one reader would (or even could) keep up with.
Why You Should Publish at Scale
We advocate that brands publish an article around every business day (around 20 articles per month). This is for three reasons: First, because it allows brands to meet a large portion of the demand as it presents in the marketplace of relevant search queries in their space. Second, so that the stories they share are more likely to actually reach their audience. And third, because this level of publishing is manageable for most companies.
For any brand, there is an associated field of relevant search queries. For a business coaching company, say, this is the list of all the queries relating to the business coaching and services it offers. If you rank those queries by the volume of searches per month, they form a power law distribution, like this:
One or very few queries take the bulk of searches on the left of the graph, with searches dropping off rapidly as the keywords get more specific and you move to the right. As the specificity of the keyword increases, so does the user’s level of intention. However, as the keywords become more niche, brands have less competition.
As such, brands can generate long-term, organic traffic by writing about and ranking for many of those lower-traffic, high-intent keywords, rather than trying to rank (or buying ad placements in the search results) for generic, high-traffic keywords.
If you publish monthly, in a year, say, you have the chance to rank for around 12 keywords. This is simplifying pretty heavily, of course – an article can rank for multiple keywords or fail to rank at all. But if you publish every business day (20 articles per month) you have the opportunity to rank for 240 keywords per year, and thus to occupy an order of magnitude more of those high-intention long-tail keywords.
When you play in the long-tail, scale really does matter, because the portfolio of queries is normally very large and often more than any brand can write about – and grows consistently. There are many, many more reasons, but we’ll go into them in future articles.
Avoiding Overloading Your Readers
Marketers and executives – especially in B2B – often resist publishing frequently because they fear overloading their audience and readers with information. This is an important concern, as users definitely will disengage if one voice drowns out others in the media they read. However, this issue is much more of a problem of social media than anything else.
This is to say that most readers are overloaded when one brand or other pushes out other voices because they, say, tweet so frequently. However, brands can moderate this effect by tweeting less often or varying the times of day during which they tweet.
When it comes to publishing, though, people engage with articles very differently and in a way that requires a great deal of redundancy. Put it this way – say you determined that you wanted each of your audience members to engage with three to four articles per month. To achieve this, you should probably publish daily.
Firstly, by publishing daily you achieve more keyword rankings across your site, which then promotes all your sites ability to rank as a whole. For example, if you publish 10 articles on 10 topics, your 11th is much more likely to rank than if it were your first.
As such, publishing daily will make it much more likely that the three articles you want your readers to see will rank and be discovered by your prospective customers when they’re seeking information.
Meanwhile, much of the stream of content that a given user encounters – social feeds, email (say blog subscription updates), etc. – is simply missed or ignored. There’s just too much out there for people to notice everything. It’s not enough to publish three articles that you need your readers to read – only by publishing much more than any of your readers could read alone can you hope that they encounter a reasonable number of your stories.
The Art of the Possible, Depth and Rigor
The only limiting factors here are time and cost – it clearly takes time to run a strategy like this and costs money to access the necessary writing talent. This surfaces a few considerations, given the nature of your industry and your clients.
For example, it makes sense in legal services to focus efforts on creating highly rigorous articles at the expense of some of the volume, given limited resources. Ultimately, the marketer must publish with the reader in mind – attracting hundreds of prospective clients is useful to the extent that those clients engage with the writing, which they won’t if it feels shallow.
Aside: one of my sales prospects (a marketing leader at a professional service firm) just introduced me to her phrase, “Princess World” – describing a place where everything is how she wants it to be. Publishing is the art of the possible: she’d love to be in Princess World and have a New York Times in her back pocket, publishing hundreds of well-researched articles every day.
The best we can do is publish as much as we can while maintaining (and if possible exceeding) the level of rigor our audience expects from us.
Taking all of these factors into consideration, we usually recommend that our clients publish around 12 to 20 times per month – three times per week and every business day, respectively. This is the sweet spot for most businesses because it allows us to share ideas and engage with people’s demand for information at scale, while maintaining quality.