Blogging is a great way to boost your website’s rankings in search engine results. Keeping your site regularly updated with fresh and relevant content is a fundamental SEO principal. How often you post, and how long you continue posting, are both key elements in maximizing a blog’s SEO potential.
Search Engine Optimization
Before we begin, let’s make an analogy for how search engines work.
Think of your blog or website as an apple tree. The directory of your site is the trunk, the individual pages the branches and leaves, and the content the fruit. Search engines use little text robots referred to as “crawlers” or “spiders” to crawl up the trunk and all over the branches to inspect the fruit. There are a few basic rules they follow.
- Is it fresh?
No-one wants to eat an old mouldy apple. And let’s be honest – we all check the use-by date of every milk carton in the cold section and pick the freshest one. Search engines will always prefer the newest content. They do this to ensure the content they serve up is more likely to be up-to-date and useful to searchers.
- Is it relevant?
If you ordered an apple, you wouldn’t appreciate being given a pear. Even if you asked for a Golden Delicious and were given a Granny Smith, you’d still be less than impressed. Search engines will serve up content containing the terms that most closely match what people are searching for. They do this so that searchers won’t have to wade through reams of online text to find the exact information they need.
- Is it trustworthy?
You probably don’t buy your apples from the boot of some guy’s car in the shopping centre car park. You may even prefer to get them from the specialty produce store instead of the big chain brand-name supermarket. Search engines will prefer content that is trustworthy and reliable. They can do this in many ways, but one important way is by checking how many other sites link to yours, to see if you are a trusted knowledge repository or a lone crank keyboard warrior.
If you are a business seeking to improve your page rank through blogging, paying attention to SEO principles will ensure you get the most out of your efforts. The first two questions that starter business bloggers tend to ask are:
How often should I post?
You will find a lot of conflicting information on the web, so let’s demystify it a bit.
How often you should blog depends on your content.
If you intend to use a blog primarily for web marketing, you should post an update every time you release a new product or service. If you plan on building your brand identity, you should post updates on your business activity as often as it occurs. And if you are looking to become a knowledge base in your industry, you should post new content at regular intervals, as frequently as you are able to maintain over time.
There is no silver bullet or magic schedule that will guarantee results. Your post frequency will be determined by what you want to get out of blogging and how active you are in the industry.
Knowing your audience and knowing their information needs will be a big factor in determining how often to blog. You should post as often as possible, but within the framework of your readership’s needs.
Quantity doesn’t need to mean volume.
Some bloggers will recommend that in order to maximise search engine indexation, your posts should be between 2000-3000 words long. This is true, but that’s a LOT of content to maintain over the long-term! Yes, you need some substantial entries so your blog is not all fluff, but you don’t have to come up with an essay every day.
It is better to post shorter posts more often instead of longer posts less often. There is nothing wrong with a “micro update” – maybe you’ve only got 300 words-worth today. If the 300 words are relevant and answer a potential reader’s questions on something, it is a perfectly fine companion to your 3000 word theses.
Posting regularly is better than posting frequently.
You know your audience, you know your topic, you know their information needs. If you hit your blog and smash out three posts a week for three weeks, then don’t post anything for six months, your readers will become disengaged and are more likely to unsubscribe. You are better off picking a schedule that suits your content reservoir and sticking to it. Go ahead and punch out the posts if you can, but don’t publish them all at once. Save them as draft and schedule the publish date for later, in line with your schedule. People are more likely to stick with you and – more importantly – share you with your friends, when your updates come on time every time.
For business blogging, you should post at least once a week as a minimum in order to get the most out of the SEO benefits.
How long should I blog before I see a traffic increase?
A private individual may start a blog out of personal interest, or something to do, or a way to practice their writing and web development skills. SEO is not high on their agenda; they aren’t in it for the money. But if you are a business looking to use blogging as a way to increase sales, SEO is key.
So you start your blog on your business website, and post once a week for a month. You have a look at the traffic stats, and – maybe a marginal increase, but certainly nothing to write home about. Great! you say. I’ve invested all this time, effort and money into the blog and it didn’t work. Let’s fire the writer and give it up as a dead-end.
In reality, however, those little robot spiders have still been crawling along the tree trunks and sampling the fruit. The results have not been instantaneous simply because of another very important way that search engines rank sites for trustworthiness – longevity and consistency.
By way of analogy, let’s say you need financial advice. You are considering making a major investment, and you need the opinion of a professional on whether or not it’s a good idea. You have two options – one is a fresh young buck straight out of university, the other is a well-weathered pillar of the financial community who’s been in the game for twenty years. Which one do you choose? The fresh young buck may have memorised the textbooks, work from state-of-the-art office facilities and sit there beaming in his brand new Italian suit, but does that mean he has the experience to be trustworthy with your money? The well-weathered pillar may have his tie slightly askew, coffee-stained teeth and a bald spot, but he’s been successful over a long period, seen the market rise and fall and rise again, and grown the wealth of his clients consistently over this time.
SEO works very similarly. It will look at your website which has relevant content spanning back a month, and look at another website which has relevant content spanning back two years, and make a decision on which one is more trustworthy. A modern, fast website and top-notch SEO plugins are important, but they in and of themselves will not instantly produce results. You need consistent content production over a decent period of time before the search engines put you at the head of the queue.