We all know getting targeted traffic to our small business website and converting those visitors into leads and sales is the Holy Grail of online marketing. And hands down the easiest way of doing this is with SEO and content marketing - in particular blogging.
Blogging is a great way to publish high-quality content on your website that not only builds your brand and authority - but if you also incorporate some simple SEO considerations into your articles - such blog posts can become valuable content assets over time, ranking for multiple keywords and providing you with evergreen organic traffic.
However, the problem for a lot of small business owners is knowing how often to publish content on their website, and what frequency is best for them to get results. Should it be once a day, or once a week - or is it once a month? What exactly is the best thing to do when it comes to the frequency of publishing blog content on your site?
In this article we'll answer that question with the help of some examples, then circle back and consider the best course of action based on your specific circumstances.
Firstly though, let's look at some 'blogging prerequisites' to discover what we should be doing when creating blog content - irrespective of posting frequency. And this comes down to four main considerations: quality, consistency, persistence and resources.
* Editor's note. This article focuses on small business blogging, where owners and their teams are primarily engaged in running their business and have constraints with budgets and resources. Publishing frequency for niche and authority site builders where blogging IS the business and you can follow a high frequency/long-tail keyword/low promotion strategy - will be the subject for another post.
1. What Is Quality Content?
People define 'quality content' in different ways. My definition focuses on relevance to search - meaning how well the content addresses the search query with authoritative, original and actionable content that solves the visitor's problem or answers their question.
That's it in a nutshell...
So if you can provide that definition of quality in 1,000 words, 3,000 words or 10,000 words, it doesn't matter (just so long as your content is not so short as to be deemed 'thin' by the search engines).
While long-form content is known to do well in search - it's not necessarily the length of the content that denotes its quality, it's whether you have sufficiently addressed the search intent of the specific keyword that you're targeting with your content.
Have you really tried to address the problem posed by that specific keyword, or answer the question asked by that specific search term? How well you've done this is key - and often it's true that to do this effectively your content will be longer rather than shorter.
And if you can achieve all this by creating authoritative, well-researched content that's entertaining and engaging to read, and then have some action steps so readers can take something concrete away from that information - and also include a call to action at the end showing them how further you can help them (whether that's another resource or one of your products or services), then that really is as good as it gets.
But we can go further...
Your title for that particular piece of content should be engaging and include your chosen search query - and your meta data and on-page SEO should all be in order as well. You can use a tool like Ahrefs to research some related keywords that could be worked into the article in a very natural way, perhaps as headings for different subsections.
And it doesn't end there...
When we're then conducting the more in-depth research for the main thrust of our article, this is when the final piece of the jigsaw falls into place. The last piece of the 'quality content' puzzle is to bring your own character to that particular piece of content - whether it's through case studies, clients stories, original proprietary research or statistics, video, audio, a unique infographic - or perhaps it's a unique angle on that particular search query that readers may not have considered before.
So if you're answering a specific question or addressing a particular problem related to your chosen search term, try to bring some of your own character to it, whether that's you personally as the content writer or content manager - or you as a brand. Try to bring some of your brand's voice to the table as that will really set you apart from all the vanilla content already available online.
And from this we can see where quality, targeted content sits as part of your overarching content strategy. Your business will have its own brand signature, it will have its own business goals - and those will filter down through your content strategy into the signature, character and personality of the content you're writing, which must include every element we just talked about here in order to provide that all important relevance to search.
2. Content Consistency
Secondly, let's consider consistency of content creation and publication. Whether you choose to post 10 times a day, once a day, once a week or once a month - whatever frequency you choose it's important that you are consistent with it and stick to a schedule.
This is not only for the search engines (that do like to see consistent fresh content on your site), but also primarily for your audience who will take consistent content publication as an indicator of trust and authority - and which may encourage habitual reading.
There's nothing worse than having a dormant company blog with no information on it - that hasn't been updated for months and months. It makes your brand look apathetic and disorganised, and erodes the aforementioned trust and authority that people innately feel when they come to a regularly updated blog.
So, yes, we need to be consistent for the search engines, but we also need to be consistent for new visitors and repeat visitors who come to our site. It's actually very important in the case of new visitors becoming repeat readers, because research shows that there are seven touchpoints with a brand before people buy one of your products and services.
Therefore it's very important that content not only gets published regularly, but that it has all those quality metrics we're talking about. That it leads the reader on to either another piece of content further down the funnel that answers more questions - or leads them on to buy, suggesting your products and services as their solution, (your end goal for that particular search query).
3. Being Persistent
Persistence is very overlooked in content marketing - and this point gives me the chance to use one of my favourite quotes from historic US President Calvin Coolidge:
Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
Within this context we shouldn't really look at content marketing and blogging as a campaign; we should look at it as something you do for the lifetime of your business.
So, yes, you should be consistent, going back to the last point, with the frequency that you publish, for all the reasons outlined - but you should also be persistent in sticking at it year in, year out. And again, research shows that content marketing is a slow burner. It's not a quick-win marketing strategy by any means.
In terms of results when starting from scratch, you can't really expect anything for 3 months. You should then be looking at 6 to 9 months to start seeing some gains. After this, it will be another 12 to 18 months for those seeds you planted with your high-quality seo-optimised content assets and all the promotion and link-building you've done to be bearing fruit, to be growing into saplings and then trees. But you'll have to be patient as they're not going to do that overnight.
But then, before long, if you are persistent and determined, you will soon enough have a forest of evergreen content that drives huge levels of ever-increasing traffic over time.
As the subject for another post we'll look at how content marketing and SEO work together - so that you don't just get that initial bump of traffic from when you first launch an article and promote it, but you carry on getting traffic over time because you've done your keyword research and SEO properly for that particular piece of content.
Okay, so that's persistence. In my experience persistence always pays off - in life, in business and in marketing.
4. Your Resources
The fourth thing that is often overlooked in the conversation about how often should you blog, are your available resources.
We're going to look at a few examples to highlight this in a moment. But for now it's simply worth pointing out that it's all very well saying, "Well, look, X large company blogs several times a day, and they're making millions through their content marketing - generating loads of traffic, leads and sales," - if you're a small business and you don't have the resources to do that.
So let's be realistic about this and tie these examples into your personal business situation - because you've got a business to run and in the real world we don't all have huge monthly budgets for content marketing, despite the fact that it works.
We all need to find a personal level we can achieve for content planning, publication and promotion - that is at once lead by quality but can be achieved on a consistent basis with persistent action - based on a realistic appraisal of our budget and resources.
So let's look at those examples to try and help you decide how often you should blog...
Example A: HubSpot
Last year HubSpot's annual revenue was about $270 million. Of course, they have their own content marketing automation platform, and are heavily invested in content marketing — it's what they do — so we would expect big results.
They've got a huge team, literally hundreds of staff and partners involved in promoting their brand and software platform - and in executing their content marketing strategy. I think they've got two people solely engaged full-time in repurposing old content, so it's not just that they produce a tonne of fresh, new content every month - they also work hard to keep all their old content updated.
There's a great podcast from Neil Patel (more on him later), in which he discusses the content strategy at HubSpot, and how they basically go in and hoover up all the keywords of their competitors, and publish about 200 articles a month to their blog based on the keywords they find.
Now, obviously, not everyone has the resources to do that, but it does mean that HubSpot gets a huge amount of traffic - even though it has to be said that their content is often not of stellar quality.
In terms of the numbers (from Ahrefs), HubSpot's organic traffic is 4.4 million visitors a month, with nearly two and a half million organic visitors in the United States alone.
So you can see that for HubSpot, with their huge content marketing team, their ability to pump out fresh content and go and repurpose old content, combined with their ability to just hoover up all the keywords in the marketplace by going out there and reverse-engineering what their competitors are doing - plus their ability to post 200 articles a month and promote those articles - that's just a killer combination for content marketing success.
Add in the existing massive authority of their domain, the fact that they can go into the marketplace and acquire tools and other companies - and just consume them into their huge business to drive more traffic to their site - and this all equals a monster-sized content marketing machine that generates a massive amount of traffic, leads and sales. Their traffic and revenue stats are just astonishing, so this is testament to what a great content team they have.
Yet as a small business needing to generate leads, you don't have to worry about this. It's just unrealistic resource-wise for most firms to achieve - but as we'll see later on there's more than one way to skin a cat - and more than one way to drive targeted traffic and leads through blogging.
Example B: Neil Patel
Let's go a bit further down the ladder in terms of revenue and publishing frequency (but up it in terms of content quality) and look at NeilPatel.com.
Neil Patel is very famous marketer and successful entrepreneur, and as such has a large marketing team across the multiple businesses that he runs - but let's focus purely on his personal blog that he uses to drive leads for his agency business.
While Neil is extremely prolific and organises, researches and writes a huge amount of his content himself, he has said on multiple occasions that he does have a team to help in the 'research and preparation' of his daily blog posts. So for the purposes of this example, let's describe his team at NeilPatel.com as small.
According to Ahrefs, with just a small content team publishing one article a day, Neil Patel gets about 800,000 organic visits a month globally, and just under a quarter of a million a month in the United States alone.
I hope you can see where I'm going with this...
So, he publishes one quality blog post every day - and these posts are long-form quality content of 2,000 to 3,000 words. In the main all these articles meet the the content quality metrics that I talked about earlier on, and provide multiple examples/sources to back up what they're saying - conveying brand trust and authority.
And unlike HubSpot's content, which is reasonably good quality but not fantastic, Neil Patel's content takes it up another level. So we can describe his content as extremely good - meaning he's known for the quality of his work.
His strategy is similar to HubSpot's in that he will go out and hoover up lots of different search terms in the industry sector based on what his competitors are doing, and also look at any new keywords that come in into play - and will then write an amazing piece of content to comprehensively address the search intent of that term, following up by promoting it and building backlinks to it.
To reiterate, this approach results in 800,000 organic visitors a month, and based on this blog post where he says he's making about $400,000 revenue a month from this business - this means he makes about $4 to 5 million a year just through this site.
As he owns multiple businesses and does content marketing for all of them, this guy is at the top of the tree when it comes to content marketing - with a sizable team and a heavy investment in content.
Okay, so that's a good comparison to HubSpot in terms of frequency: HubSpot = 200 posts a month with a large team, Neil Patel = 1 post a day with a smaller team. But just look comparatively at what Neil Patel is achieving with his one post a day. I'd certainly take $400k of revenue a month from a quality content marketing strategy executed with consistency and persistence.
However, resource-wise Neil Patel is spending thousands and thousands of dollars a month on content marketing - so in terms of resources, his approach is still out of reach for most small business owners.
* Editor's note. Neil Patel also said recently on his site that he used to blog a lot less than once a day, something like 2-3 times a week. Despite his high revenue figures he also mentioned that his sales only increased 12% at this higher blogging frequency - compared to blogging less. So he announced he will change tack with his blog posts in future and go back to publishing 1-2 posts a week that bring more of his character and brand personality to the table. He also plans to continue releasing free SEO tools to drive traffic after his acquisition of Ubersuggest.
With that said let's consider another example...
Example C: Ahrefs
Next, we're moving on to one of my favourite blogs, the Ahrefs blog. I interviewed their head of marketing, Tim Soulo, on the Content Champion Podcast a while back, and this guy really knows his stuff.
They have a great post on their site about how their content strategy changed from writing 2-3 posts a week to just one - and their traffic went up tenfold as a result.
What happened when they were publishing at a higher frequency, was that they became concerned with the quality of their content - and that it wasn't driving the targeted leads and signups for the Ahrefs tool that they wanted. So they peeled it back to one high-quality long-form blog post a week - that absolutely excels in content quality according to our metrics.
I believe their whole marketing team is seven people, with just two of them involved in actual content creation and content marketing. So in the context of HubSpot and Neil Patel, their content team could be described as very small.
However, since adopting their new content strategy, their organic traffic has gone up to over 200,000 visitors a month (according to their own tool). In all honesty, there is a bit of leeway in how accurate these figures are, but in his excellent online course, Tim Soulo said they managed to get over 150,000 visits a month to their site using this strategy - all from publishing one very high-quality blog post a week.
This is starting to sound like something any small business blog could do 🙂
Speaking on the always excellent Authority Hacker podcast , Tim said they spend a lot of money every month on the server resources for Ahrefs, because it's such a massive amount of data they've collected and continue to collect for their customer base. I won't publish the exact amount mentioned as Tim did not want to be quoted - but it's fair to say the context of this for our example means Ahrefs is a company making multiple millions of dollars a year at a guess.
So in terms of publishing frequency, if we're juxtaposing Ahrefs with Neil Patel and HubSpot, we're looking at some extremely high-quality, targeted content to generate that level of traffic, leads and sales from one post a week.
This all ties in with the perceived brand authority and trust that epic content can create as well. It is common knowledge in the SEO community that the Ahrefs and Backlinko blogs, (more on Brian Dean in a minute), are simply the best when it comes to quality content.
Ahrefs are writing long-form 3-5000 word resources providing screenshots, charts and authoritative sources of original research they've conducted with their own tool to back up the points they're making in the articles. And believe me, as an avid reader this proprietary research and their case studies are simply gold dust in terms of content quality.
Ahrefs also use their brand voice very clearly to give their content a signature, and their posts always answer or address the given search query perfectly. Their articles give you action steps that you can take away and use (backed by stats) - all laid out in a very simple and easy-to-read format.
So as a reader you gain instant satisfaction from reading their content and don't need to go anywhere else, so I bet their dwell time must be great as well (which further improves rankings). In short, if you want a shining example of how to create blog content to match search intent - read Ahrefs.
Example D: Backlinko
So let's juxtapose Ahrefs and our other examples with our final site, Brian Dean's Backlinko. Brian is known in the SEO industry for virtually inventing the style of writing for exactly the sort of long-form power posts I'm talking about.
These Skyscraper Technique posts (a form of which Ahrefs uses) are like a content ecosystem in themselves. So Brian produces just one of these extremely high-quality mega-articles every month - and sometimes less than that. He also goes through his old content and keeps his existing articles completely up to date and evergreen - just like HubSpot but on a much smaller scale.
In addition, Backlinko also publishes proprietary research and case studies - so everything is backed up by examples. Brian uses screenshots, charts, graphs, action steps, really clear and authoritative content that completely answers the question or addresses the intent of the particular search term that readers found him through in Google. Again - this approach is as good as it gets so when you come to promote these power posts - people love to link back to them because they offer their own readers so much value.
And the key thing about Brian Dean's strategy is because his resources are the 'ultimate guide' on that particular search query - for example he might have written 10,000, 20,000 words for any given power post - it means his dwell time is immense. It also means he gets loads of backlinks through his promotion, and he ends up ranking each page for hundreds, if not thousands of keywords.
What's interesting about Brian Dean's approach of publishing one astronomically high-quality piece of content every month, and keeping his old content up to date - is that he then spends the rest of that month promoting his content and building links to it - and he still generates loads of traffic, leads and sales.
So let's look at the stats...
According to Ahrefs, this approach generates Backlinko nearly 120,000 visitors a month globally, with 40,000 alone in the United States. That's 120,000 extremely targeted visitors who come to read the blog content of a business run primarily by a content team of one - Brian. And in terms of sales, Brian himself has stated that Backlinko earns him a seven figure yearly revenue - that's with one power post every month, written and promoted by a one-man content marketing team.
This is sounding more and more like something your own small business could do 🙂
So How Often Should I Blog Then?
Okay, so if we line all those examples up and compare them, we get the answer to our question (can you see what I'm doing addressing search intent here):
200 posts per month
1 post per day
4 posts per month
1 post per month
Traffic: 4.4m PM
Traffic: 800k PM
Traffic: 150k PM
Traffic: 120k PM
Revenue: $270m PA
Revenue: $5m PA
Revenue: High 7 Figures PA
Revenue: 7 Figures PA
Content team size: large
Content team size: small
Content team size: 2-3
Content team size: 1
Content quality: good
Content quality: excellent
Content quality: market leading
Content quality: market defining
The key here of course is resources. This table highlights something very important in the "How often should I blog?" debate, and that is your individual business resource level will ultimately determine your blogging frequency.
All of this works in generating your business more traffic, leads and sales - but you have to be realistic about the resource capacity of your internal team if you're to meet those other central blogging tenets of quality, consistency and persistence.
These examples prove you can be successful at any level if you get the prerequisites right. However, there is also an argument looking at all these sites - that ultimately when you over extend yourself on publishing frequency, content quality starts to suffer, then brand connection starts to suffer - and finally revenue plateaus at the higher level (if not actually dropping).
Aim For Consistent & Definitive Content
So if you're in the growth stage with your blog and online business - it's best to be honest about your available resources and operate within them to ensure content quality and business growth are not compromised.
It's also clear that within your own resource level, it's far better to consistently produce high-quality long-form content than not do it at all - because in your absence your competitors will be generating more traffic, leads and sales than you if your blog remains dormant (or you don't start one at all).
Sure, if you're HubSpot and you've got the resources to create 200 posts a month, you will get an astronomical amount of traffic and make a tonne of money from this approach, but it's questionable whether their content is actually very valuable and of really good quality. It's certainly of good enough quality, but it's not in the same league as Ahrefs or Brian Dean's output.
Then we look at Neil Patel's content. It is very high quality, but he produces so much, as a reader and fan of his work it can seem like he's sometimes going over old ground simply because of the frequency that you see from him, especially if you're on his list. However, I'm now personally consuming more of his podcast and video material - which I'm loving - and which proves to me anecdotally that his strategy pivot is working.
Then if you consider Ahrefs and Backlinko, they publish less often, but their content is what I'd call definitive. And that's very important, because if you only have the resources to produce just one definitive, high-quality, relevant to search, actionable piece of content based on proprietary case studies or research - that expresses your brand voice and gives your specific take on that particular search query - you can very much emulate both Ahrefs and Backlinko. And hey, if you shoot for the stars you may get to the moon 🙂
And if you do all your keyword research and on-page SEO properly in the ways we've discussed, and at least try to make your article the definitive answer to your focus search query - you'll find that after the initial boost of traffic from launching that piece of content, any subsequent link building you do will help it rank highly in the search engines for a sustained period of time. This means you'll get increased levels of organic traffic from each article you create and can grow your blog over the long term.
So we can't all be HubSpot, we can't all be Neil Patel, but we can get in there and mix it up with our online competition by emulating Ahrefs or Backlinko. Every small business has the resources to produce just one piece of quality content a week, or perhaps one every fortnight - or even just one every month. So if you want to know how often you should be blogging, simply follow this guide based on the size of your business...
Blogging Frequency Guide
Solopreneur Running Own Business
1 definitive blog post per month (with promotion & backlinks)
Small Business With Content or Marketing Team of Under 5
2-4 definitive blog posts per month (with promotion & backlinks)
Small Business With Content or Marketing Team of Under 10
4 definitive blog posts per month (with promotion & backlinks)