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One of the questions I’m asked most often by SME owners and marketing managers is: “How often should we publish on our blog?”
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that question. If you’re just starting out, my advice will normally be: publish one or two articles a month until you’re able to see that your strategy is working, and your articles are reaching and resonating with your audience.
On the other hand, if you’ve been publishing articles for some time, but aren’t getting the desired results, I’d recommend reviewing your content strategy before you worry about the number of articles you’re publishing.
Some people are surprised when I recommend publishing so few articles. Once the decision is made to start publishing, they want to maximise the result, and are often considering a blog publishing schedule of 8+ articles a month. The problem with this, is that if you’re publishing quality in-depth articles and paying a blog writer or a content marketing agency to create them, that’s a substantial outlay. And it will be wasted if your articles aren’t finding an audience or aren’t resonating well with the desired audience. You can’t maximise the result until you know you’re getting one.
The good news is that once you are confident your content is working and contributing to your bottom line, you’ll be able to review your content budget and turn up the dial to increase those results.
The key to getting results with a business blog
There are two key factors I find are often overlooked by businesses just starting out with their blog. When one or both are missed, the chance of being rewarded for your publishing efforts is slim to none. Here are those two factors:
- Developing a content strategy must come first. You need a thorough understanding of who you’re trying to reach, the type/format of content they prefer to consume, and topics they’re likely to find most useful. If you skip this step, you are likely to waste money and effort.
- The distribution and promotion of content. Just publishing content isn’t enough – unless you already have strong blog traffic and/or a huge following on social channels, you’ll need to distribute and promote the content so that people see it. This also helps you build your audience. Be prepared to set aside budget for doing this, in addition to your content creation costs.
Where does SEO fit in?
Is SEO still important? Yes, if you want organic traffic from search engines. Here’s how it relates to your blog:
For each article you create
If Google understands what your article is about, they can index it for that specific topic so that people looking for the information can find it. Even better, if search engines think your article is highly relevant and useful, it will be indexed above pieces that are judged less relevant and useful. How do search engines like Google understand the relevance? By the words on the page, the heading and the sub-headings. Being well indexed for a topic means that people searching for that information are more likely to find it – delivering you FREE organic traffic. The higher up your piece falls in the search results for a topic, the more organic traffic the post is likely to receive.
Articles can be ‘optimised’ around a search term relevant to the topic. That said, you don’t have to optimise every article you create.
For your website
A blog is a fantastic opportunity to boost the SEO of your website. This will be important if you need prospective clients to find your website via online search. Creating internal page links with relevant anchor text should be part of your SEO strategy. It can help your website pages rank for important search terms. Articles on your blog are the perfect opportunity to create internal page links.
How to tell if your blog content strategy is working
If you’re an e-Commerce business making online sales, it can be relatively easy to track buyers from landing page to purchase. For the B2B and service-based business, it’s trickier. That’s because the path to purchase is typically longer – weeks to months. Prospective purchases might also encounter your brand in several different ways during that time – for example, through your content marketing campaigns, advertising signage, attending conferences you sponsor, networking events, personal recommendation etc. You won’t always know which of those channels came first – and that can make it almost impossible to attribute leads and sales to those channels with 100% accuracy.
Here’s the thing: your content doesn’t have to be the first ‘touch point’ in order to be considered successful.
Content should support your other efforts. When a prospect sees your signage, decides to view your website, and finds a wealth of useful information on your blog, your content is working. When a new prospect sees an interesting article or video promoted on their social media feed, clicks through and subsequently visits several pages on your website, your content is working. When a prospect reads articles on your blog and forms the impression that you’re an authority in your field, your content is working. When someone finds your article useful and shares it with their audience, your content is working.
Publishing regularly on your blog can also assist you to:
- Increase organic website traffic, via helping you to improve the ranking of your pages in search indexes.
- Increase your social media audiences, so that more people see your content outside of your paid content promotions.
Success can come in multiple ways. What will it look like for you? Setting some goals will help you picture it.
Set realistic goals
When you set goals, keep in mind that some may be achieved almost immediately, while others will take weeks, and for some, it might be months before you can ‘see’ the results clearly.
Quick benefits you might see:
- An increase in visits to your website that come from your paid promotional efforts.
- Increasing audience numbers on social channels.
- Improvement in engagement levels on social channels.
Things that might take a bit longer to show up:
- Increase in leads and sales (especially if your buyers typically take weeks or month to make a buying decision)
Things that will be longer term goals:
- Improved search engine rankings and resulting increases in organic traffic.
- Significant increases in social media audiences.
How do you measure these outcomes?
You can gain insights through marketing automation software, and/or Google analytics and social media analytics. Here are some of the metrics you might want to measure:
- Number of unique article views – how many readers did each piece attract.
- Channels – i.e. how did readers arrive at your article, through organic Google search, a social media channel, or a link in an email.
- Time on page – how long did readers spend on your article.
- Bounce rate – how many people left the article as soon as they opened it.
- Number of pages viewed – did readers visit other posts or pages on your website.
- Clicks, likes, shares and comments.
There are some broader metrics you can use as well. For example, is there a correlation between your publishing efforts and:
- The number of enquiries/leads/sales.
- Your organic traffic.
- Keyword rankings.
- Frequency of new newsletter subscribers.
- Increase in visitors downloading content.
- Audience size/followers on social media.
You might not be able to definitively and directly tie revenue to content publishing, but you should be able to find correlations that indicate whether your publishing is making a difference.
Turning up the dial
Once you’ve established that your content is having a beneficial impact, you can increase your efforts with some confidence. This doesn’t necessarily mean creating more articles – it might simply mean increasing the content promotion budget to reach more people and continue to build audiences.
Useful, high-quality blog content is crucial
There’s one more factor that’s vital to success – the quality of content you create. This will be good news if you have a tiny budget. You’re more likely to get results with a single piece of high-quality content each month that your prospective clients find useful, than with half a dozen pieces of mediocre content that are of little interest or use.
By way of summary, here’s a short checklist for success:
- Devise or review your strategy.
- Create high-quality useful content.
- Optimise your articles for the primary keywords.
- Promote that content.
- Measure your results so you can review or fine-tune your approach.
- Only turn up the dial when you know it’s working.
Happy blogging! If you do need assistance with content strategy development, content creation or other content marketing services, contact us to find out how we can help. And if you’d like to learn more about content marketing and digital strategy, here’s a list of 8 free digital marketing courses you can do online to build your knowledge!