When it comes to blogging strategy, the general wisdom is that you need to write lots of blog posts to appeal to Google and help your blog—and your web related properties—appear higher in search results.
The question is, how many blog posts is enough to satisfy Google? How frequently should you publish your content? Is there a magic number, and/or a perfect schedule, that Google loves?
The short answer, according to John Mueller, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, is no. Your goal should be quality of content, not quantity, and the number of posts you publish each week or month shouldn’t appeal to Google differently.
But it’s a bit more complicated than that. A sheer number of articles may not make a difference to Google, but questions of consistency, content freshness, and usefulness do matter to web users—and by extension, Google.
With that in mind, here are four steps to creating a publishing schedule that will help improve your Google search results standing:
Post On Schedule, If Not Often
Depending on the size of your marketing team, you may not have the bandwidth to produce multiple blog posts each day, or even a week. Maybe you’re a one-person marketing squad (along with all your other responsibilities as a sole proprietor), or you have stretched your resources across many channels, such as social media and/or email newsletters.
That’s okay. There is no minimum number of articles you’ll need to write each week in order to maintain Google’s favour. What’s more important is that you decide on a posting cadence and stick with it—whether it’s once a day, twice a week, or bi-weekly.
Generally, more blog posts mean more traffic. But a consistent schedule alerts readers that they should check back on certain days for updates from you. It also tells Google to “crawl” and index your website more often, which means the most recent version of your site will appear in Google’s index.
Google will only crawl your page once a month or so if you post infrequently or inconsistently, since it won’t want to spend extraneous time crawling a page that hasn’t updated. The more you post, the more people will come to your site, the more popular your site becomes, and the more time Google will spend crawling your pages, resulting in the freshest content always being available to readers, who will in turn want to visit your site—and round and round it goes.
To help you stay on schedule, consider building out an editorial calendar each month, with topics, keywords, and concepts ready to go, so when the day to write and publish comes, you’ll be ready.
Match Your Publishing Frequency To Your Marketing Goals
There are plenty of charts online that show that blogs that publish more get more unique website visits. But as we learned when we were kids, correlation does not prove, or even imply, causation.
Rand Fishkin of Moz points out a few important reasons why saying “post more articles, get more traffic” doesn’t make sense. When comparing the traffic of a blog that posted once this week compared to 11 times, consider the following:
- Did the blog with 11 posts get most of their traffic from just one of their posts?
- Is the traffic that visited the site with 11 posts much more valuable to the bottom line?
- Do the two sites have the same audience, goals, and strategy?
Garnering raw traffic to your blog is rarely the goal for marketing teams. If that was the case, every blog post you write would have an SEO title featuring “Game of Thrones.”
Consider your marketing strategy. Is it to convert blog readers to customers? To add users to your email subscriber list? To build your brand awareness? Once you know what your goals are and understand what type of content you need to meet those goals (i.e., short posts with catchy CTAs to build your email subscriber list; long posts with tons of research to build your brand), you’ll know whether you should post often or only a few times a month in order to maintain quality. Let your goals be your guide.
Balance Quantity With Quality
The question of quantity versus quality is important enough that it deserves its own section.
Marketing teams can become so obsessed with meeting a certain content output minimum that they let the quality of their posts slide in favor of quantity. And when that happens, no number of posts will save your site from sliding in the search rankings.
That’s because the quality of a post can have a direct effect on the metrics that Google uses to measure the usefulness of a piece of content, and whether they should rank that content highly, including:
- Bounce rate: This refers to the number of single-page sessions that your readers have, meaning they left your site without clicking on another link or otherwise interacting with your site. If a reader clicks your blog post and immediately leaves, that’s not a great sign that they found your content useful.
- Pages per session: If a reader likes your content, then clicks through several more articles during their time on your site, that’s a great sign that they find your content relevant and helpful.
- Referring domains: Is your content good enough that other websites link to it? Do you provide useful data, or engaging stories, that warrant shoutouts from others in your industry? Links from other sites back to your content is a huge indication to Google that your stuff is worth reading—but that won’t happen if your content is scant or incomplete.
These are just a few of the metrics Google uses to determine how good your content is, and thus how high you should rank in search results. (Others include time on site and organic clickthrough rate.)
Your publishing rate should not jeopardize your performance on these metrics, or else it will be one step forward and two steps backward for your efforts.
Sprinkle In Post Revisions and Updated Datelines
It’s good policy to update your blog posts every once in a while, especially if they deal with topics that aren’t evergreen and require new data to remain relevant.
Google also appreciates fresh content, especially on certain newsy topics. The longer your content exists, the less effective it will be at answering a query.
Real updates and revisions to those pages are required for Google to crawl them again and update its findings. Adding an extra sentence or rewording another won’t be as effective as wholesale changes that give new life to a page. Examples of how to refresh content include adding new subsections, creating an executive summary, and adding relevant multimedia.
Once you make your changes, update the publish date of your article to reflect its freshness. While simply changing the dateline won’t be enough to convince Google that your content is fresh, it may encourage readers to click on your content above other pages that are older. This, in turn, will improve your search ranking as more traffic flows to your site.
The occasional post revision and update should become a regular part of your editorial calendar, alongside creating 100% new content.
To create a publishing schedule Google loves, build an editorial calendar that values consistency above all other factors.
If you have the capacity to publish frequently, do so, but only if it’s in the service of your marketing goals. Don’t sacrifice the quality of your content for quantity, as this can have an adverse effect on your search ranking. Finally, include content revisions and updates on your calendar, so your high-performing posts remain fresh and useful.
Follow these steps, and tweak them to match your experience and results. You might find, for example, more ROI in taking the time to write new articles than to rewrite old ones.
Everyone’s goals and outcomes vary, from business to business and post to post. As long as you are thoughtful about what you publish and when, you should be in good shape.