Obsessing on the perfect blog post length and publishing frequency can be blinding. But here is the deal; perfection does not exist! But why, you would ask. Well, it is because ‘perfect’ is not universal – the content’s success is mostly dependent on countless personalized details as opposed to some rules set in stone. We will explore why the idea of perfection in blog post length and publishing frequency is baloney, and some of the things you can do to make a successful publishing strategy.
Despite being a myth, there is so much information out there. For example, a simple search on Google of “the ideal blog post length”, or even “the ideal blog post publishing frequency” will give you loads of data. These sources show you things like “here is the average length of posts on the top 10 SERPs”. In these results, you will see that the average word count is about 2450, so you should think of aiming for that.
Well, the above baloney is not only dead wrong, but grossly misleading as well. In fact, it is so frustrating to see all these posts and charts used to justify this information because it is not right.
You will encounter countless data and charts showing the ideal blog post length. When you see such information, pause and ask yourself a few questions. Be sure to carefully answer them.
1. The Keywords - What Keyword Set Does This Length Apply To?
Is this a broad set of navigational, informational, transactional and maybe ecommerce keywords? Are a few of these broad set of 5,000 keywords travel related or are a few of them in other sectors too? Frankly, the standard deviation is ridiculously high.
Think of blog posts that have ranked top 10; you will find anywhere between 500 and 15,000 words. So, what exactly does the average say? How accurate is that average in determining the ideal length? Well, apart from being useless, it is misleading to make the information prescriptive.
2. Target Keywords – Do My Target Keywords Give Similar Results?
If you take a sample of around 50 of your target keywords and search for the average of the top 10 posts for those keywords, would the result be the same? Is the standard deviation the same? Is there a delta as some keywords require more content to satisfactorily answer a query and some require very little content and Google prioritizes that accordingly? Would it be prudent to aim for a long article while a short one would do much better, or aim for the average given while a longer one would be more appreciated? What exactly is your reason for aiming for the given average in this case?
3. Correlation versus Causation – Are They the Same?
This is a big fat no! Never has it been and never will it be. Correlation doesn’t even imply causation. In fact, any time you are aiming for an average, especially on such sensitive matters, causation and correlation are entirely separate. The fact that the top result is 2550 words does not mean that it is the reason why it is number one. Google has never worked like that and never will.
Now, what should you do now that you can’t trust these set averages with unknown keywords?
Well, there are a few things you can do.
a) Look at Your Target Keywords
Search your target keyword and note what works and what doesn’t. Be sure to check out the content associated with your target keywords.
b) Be Innovative
Be willing to challenge the length of the top results. While the top 3 results maybe in a certain range of average, if you can give as comprehensive an answer as they can in fewer words and many searchers appreciate it, the better. The truth is that there are many who rank well, but are over-creating content; you need not follow suit.
c) Your Content Goals Should Match Those of Searchers
What length of content are your searchers looking for? Are your searchers looking for a quick answer to a specific query that can be so easily given in a featured snippet? You probably may not need thousands of words in content. Are you trying to solve a complex query that may need loads of information and resources that no one else may have access to? You may need a unique post that is longer than the “average” posts.
Let’s switch gears; you are probably thinking that the information is similar to what is given above. There is lots of information out there trying to set specifics on how frequently you should publish. You will probably look at people who publish 10 or more times in a month and think, “they get loads of traffic compared to those who post twice a month so I should probably post as much!”
But why is the ideal frequency 10? Do all companies value the traffic the same? Does 1 or 2 of the 10 posts account for most of the traffic and the rest of the posts just happened to be there trying to be as good? Was the successful post the one that shot out in this scenario?
Well, there are endless questions to ponder on. After all, you want something that works for you. And truth be told, what works for someone may not necessarily work for you. So, the next time you see a chart analyzing the ideal posting frequency, have this in mind.
1. Which sites were studied to come up with the data?
Are the sites in the study similar to mine? Are the sites in my actual sector targeting a similar audience? What is the quality of their content and how savvy are the efforts targeted at getting traffic? Are all the 10 posts as good as the successful one? If not, then it is like comparing oranges and apples.
2. What is the value and quality of the traffic?
Maybe one post is getting all the traffic and the others not as much. Maybe the posts of a specific writer are doing way better than those of other writers. You can tell very little about such variables from charts and analytical data, especially if it is averaged.
3. What other values matter more than raw frequency?
Matching your content schedule to your goals should be a priority. If you are aiming at building up a list of subscribers to a brand they know of and want to associate with, you should probably stick with a set frequency, say weekly. However, if your goals demand only one post every quarter, month, week or day, it is okay too. The only rule here is to tie your frequency to your goals.
Consistency is just as important, if not more, than raw frequency, especially if you are aiming at building a steady readership and subscriber base. Consistency, especially when trying to make people get used to your schedule and look forward to you posts, is more important than frequency. The consistency helps build a cadence for your organization as well as yourself.
Creating posts that actually get attention, earn amplification and improve your conversion goals may be more important than the frequency of the raw traffic. After all, wouldn’t it be better to have 40 new visits that turn into 5 paying clients than 10 posts that get only 2 paying clients? Well, look at your ROI.
If you are trying to build a career in publishing or blogging, it is important to publish loads of quality content. Great writers are so because they write a lot; they start out with not so great work and perfect over time. The same is true for web publishers.
If your goal is to be a web publisher, keep writing. With time, all your practice will make you perfect.
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