For many healthcare marketers, a blog is a critical pillar within a content marketing strategy. It gives structure and a solid leg to support other parts of the strategy — email marketing, social media, paid search campaigns.
But for all the strategic strength a blog provides, it can feel a little shaky as you’re building up an editorial calendar and content plan. There are many questions to work out with resources, style, timing, sources and word count. One of the most common questions we hear is: How often should I blog?
It’s a reasonable question and one that has a trickle-down effect on your content marketing strategy. But like many things in marketing, the answer isn’t always black-and-white. The answer to the blog frequency question is that dreaded “it depends.”
What the research says about ideal blog post frequency
A lot of factors are at play when it comes to blogging frequency. But let’s first clear the slate and start with the basic numbers and facts.
Orbit Media conducts a blogging survey every year, asking content marketers about their writing process and results. In 2020, the web design and development company surveyed more than 1,200 bloggers and here’s what they learned about posting frequency:
- Most bloggers publish weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.
- Bloggers used to publish more often (two to six posts per week back in 2014), but they now seem to be posting less often with longer content.
- Bloggers who publish more often see better results. Daily bloggers are most likely to report “strong results” (57% of respondents), followed by bloggers who post two to six times per week (37%) and weekly (28%). Note: The study points out that “strong results” are “subjective and self-reported.” Because the bloggers surveyed had diverse goals and objectives, they didn’t ask for specific success stats.
Need a few more stats to chew on? Here are some numbers from HubSpot you can consider:
- To maximize organic traffic, HubSpot recommends that small blogs post three to four new posts per week, and large blogs try for four to five posts per week (including updated posts). A small blog is considered one with a limited team and writing staff. I know, that’s a lot. It doesn’t mean you have to write that many — it’s just a suggestion.
- For improving brand awareness, HubSpot suggests small blogs post one to two new posts per week, and large blogs post three to four times per week (including updated posts).
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Considerations when deciding how often to post to your blog
Numbers are great, yes. They’re convincing and clear-cut and can provide an easy template on which you can base your editorial calendar.
But, as I alluded to earlier, there’s some gray area. And honestly, it’ll take more than just a few charts and graphs to dictate your ideal blog post frequency.
While you’re doing some soul searching on strategy, here are some factors to consider when figuring out how often to post to your blog.
Remember your blog content goals
Survey results aside, your blog’s posting frequency should be dictated by your overall content strategy and business goals. In the end, what is it you want your blog posts to do? Build reputation? Increase patient referrals? Boost email subscriptions? Improve organic traffic?
The team at Moz uses the example of their Whiteboard Friday series. To build subscribers and brand association, it may make sense for you to post weekly or more than once a week. But, as Moz points out, you may reach your goals with posts that go out daily, monthly, or a few times a month.
HubSpot suggests that blogs looking to build up organic search volume should post more often. The more posts you have, the more chances your site will rank in search. Brand awareness goals, on the other hand, may not require daily or weekly posts. Instead, focus on fewer, meatier posts that build on your company’s brand voice and values.
Keep your audience in mind
Before you launch a blog, you should have a good idea of who your blog’s audience will be. If you don’t know your audience, stop what you’re doing and figure that out ASAP.
So, your audience — how often are they reading your content? If your readers are mainly doctors and clinicians, they may not be able to keep up with your daily posts. Weekly or bi-weekly posts might be enough.
On the other hand, if you have a highly engaged audience — readers who are active on blogs, email and social media — a daily or semi-weekly blog could feed their content appetite.
What kind of resources are you working with?
When it comes down to it, your writing and editorial staff will be one of the biggest influences on how often you post to your blog. If you’re a team of one, posting every day is going to get overwhelming — fast.
Even if you’re a team of five or six, asking everyone to keep up with a non-stop blog schedule could lead to burnout.
Before finalizing a posting schedule, look at who you have on your blog team and determine how much each person can contribute. According to Orbit Media’s study, most bloggers spend two to three hours on an article. Still, the most successful bloggers spend more than six hours writing a blog post. You’ll also want to make sure you factor in your content review process and the timelines or resources you’ll need to get content approved before publishing.
If you’re starting to sweat over the resources available to you, remember there are plenty of ways to create fresh content using existing resources. Consider:
- Updating old blog posts
- Breaking down complex topics into multiple posts
- Leaning on user-generated content
- Working with outside contractors or contributors
- Reaching out to guest bloggers
Weigh quality vs. quantity
Although the numbers seem to show that blog post quantity outweighs quality, it’s not necessarily one or the other that’s going to make your blog successful. It’s more of a balancing act between the two.
Keep in mind that informative, valuable content is more likely to be shared by your readers. More shares can lead to more views of the post. More views + more social shares = better search rankings.
Orbit Media’s survey revealed that blogs are getting longer, with the average post coming in at 1,269 words. And bloggers who share longer posts tend to see better results, with 3,000+ word articles showing the strongest results. But those longer posts take time and are not something posted daily or multiple times per week.
And what about Google? While posting more may give you a higher chance at getting a piece of content to rank in search, Google is paying more attention to things like content authority and relevance. If most users land on your blog post and click away because it doesn’t answer their question, prepare to watch that blog post fall in search results.
Also, are high-frequency, low-quality posts more likely to bring in patient referrals or email subscribers? Probably not. When it comes to your marketing goals, spending more time on fewer posts may pay off in the end.
Another key takeaway from Orbit’s study is that most of the bloggers surveyed (roughly 85%) are posting on a regular schedule. Survey respondents that said they post “at irregular intervals” (rather than weekly, daily, monthly, etc.) had the least amount of success with their blog. Again, “success” was objective and varied from blogger to blogger.
If you want to build readership or a subscriber base, consistency matters. And when it comes to building your authority with search engines, posting consistently will help with that, too.
A regular posting schedule can also help you measure and track success. If you’re trying to find the right posting frequency, consistency is the name of the game.
Watch your metrics
The best thing you can do to find your blog frequency sweet spot is to keep on trackin’. Your metrics, that is.
Study your Google Analytics regularly for changes in audience engagement and conversions (appointment form fills, leads, sales). Look at Google Search Console for organic search performance. If you increase your blogging frequency from once a month to twice monthly, do you notice a difference? And what happens if you cut back on posting?
In most cases where you increase posting frequency, you’ll likely see a jump in traffic and engagement. But that may not be true for every blog and every audience, so mind your metrics and adjust accordingly. Don’t forget about your return on investment (ROI), too. Based on the time commitment for each blog post, is it worthwhile in terms of how a post contributes to your organization’s larger objectives like leads, appointment form fills, sales, etc.?
So, how often should I blog?
I know, the “it depends” answer isn’t what you were hoping for. But trust me, you’ll figure out the ideal blog post frequency soon enough. Consider the facts and research and balance that with your resources, audience and content marketing goals. Those ingredients are indeed a recipe for blogging success.
You don’t have to tackle that blog alone. WriterGirl’s blog writing services can support your editorial calendar whether you post daily, weekly or monthly. Reach out anytime to learn how we can help your content marketing goals.