Blogging – how long, how often, and other important questions

There are many benefits of blogging for business. Well written blog posts can add real value for your audience while showing off the expertise in your business and driving traffic to your website – to name just a few.

But if you’re just starting out with creating a blogging strategy, it can be hard to know, well, where to start. There are just so many things to think about. Here are a few questions people ask us all the time and the answers we usually give them.

How long should my blog posts be?

Yes, it’s frustrating when people respond with, “How long’s a piece of string?” But the truth is that the length of your blog post will depend on a number of factors. For example, what is the subject of your post? Are you tackling a complex issue or showing off images of your latest products? Likewise, who is your audience – a busy parent trying to find a way to entertain the kids on a rainy weekend, or a CHRO looking at employee retention trends?

There are some general rules though. For example, a blog post should be a minimum of 300 words to satisfy search engines that you’ve actually got enough valuable content in there to make it worth directing people to the page. That said, many social posts these days are heading towards that number of words, so consider where the best place is to share those shorter pieces of content.

Google’s priority is serving people the most valuable content for any given search enquiry. That’s why they released the Helpful Content algorithm update. So yes, we can talk about keywords but let’s not be blinkered by them.

On the other end of the scale, there’s evidence that long form content – up to several thousand words – can be really effective for generating backlinks and social shares, for example. The trouble with these longer posts is that they’re harder to write. Keeping someone engaged for that length of time takes skill and practice.

So what’s the answer? We usually recommend aiming for 800-1,200 words as a good average. But really, write as much as the blog needs, no more, no less.

Top tip: Use your site’s analytic tools and experiment with different post lengths to see which ones get the best engagement. Remember, you need to set goals for your blog so you know exactly what to track!

How often should I blog?

Again, the answer isn’t as straightforward as a single number. In part, it depends on your reason for blogging. If you’re doing a big SEO push then you’ll want to create as much well written and well optimised content as you can – Hubspot suggests as many as 3-4 smaller posts and 4-5 larger ones each week!

Of course, not every business has the time or budget to put that many posts out. And that’s ok. Your strategy might be centred around establishing your brand authority with high quality thought leadership, in which case 2-4 posts per month may well be enough.

What we do say is that posting a blog less than twice a month is pretty much pointless. The impact of such infrequent content creation will be so minimal that you’re likely to give up well before you see positive results. Fortnightly is good, weekly is great and if you have the resources to do more, then brilliant, you’ll most likely see results that much more quickly.

Top tip: If you know you won’t be able to blog consistently, why not create a ‘resources’ page of evergreen* content with no date attached to each article. That way you can add to it when you’re able to but it never feels out of date. (*This just means it’s always relevant rather than linked to a particular current event).

How often should I mention my keyword phrase?

Before we get into this, let’s be clear about one thing: Google’s priority is serving people the most valuable content for any given search enquiry. That’s why they released the Helpful Content algorithm update. So yes, we can talk about keywords but let’s not be blinkered by them.

If you’re writing your blog in order to drive organic search traffic, you’ll need to be sure that you’ve got a solid SEO strategy in place. Even the most brilliantly optimised content is going to struggle if your page load times aren’t fast enough or you haven’t got the right security tags.

It’s important to understand which keywords you’ve got a chance of ranking for too. You want to find that sweet spot between high search volume and low competition. You also need to have an idea of search intent so you know you’re capturing the right audience with your content.

But let’s assume you have a particular keyword or phrase you feel confident you could rank for. While there’s no magic number you need to hit in order to rank, it does help to prioritise using your keyword or phrase in titles (H1 and H2) as well as the first paragraph or two of the blog post.

As for the rest of the post, remember that you need to write for your audience first. Stuffing a post full of keywords will make it sound false and Google doesn’t like it either. It’s worth noting that search engines consider synonyms and synonym phrases when looking at how genuine and helpful a post is. So if you’re writing about nutrition, you can – and should – also be writing about healthy eating, diet, nourishment and so on.

Top tip: Internal links will give your search a boost by increasing your reader’s time on your site and number of pages visited, signalling to Google that your content is valuable and answers their questions.

Do I need to use lots of images in my blog?

You don’t have to but they help. Images break up a page in the same way as formatting tools such as subheads, bullet points and pull quotes. They make the text more accessible and easy to read, which will reduce the amount of people who give up after a paragraph or two.

For some businesses this is easy. If you’re selling jewellery or luxury holidays or interior design services, there are plenty of options to choose from. But what about those businesses whose offering is less tangible or less visually appealing?

Well, take a look through this blog post. We’ve created ‘further reading’ panels using our brand colours and fonts to make the page more interesting while also adding value for you, our reader. In other posts we’ve used screen shots to illustrate points we’re making about website copy, for example. Or you might find graphs and charts helpful.

Remember that images should always be high quality, and you’ll need to ensure you’re not breaking any copyright laws by stealing them from elsewhere on the internet. If you don’t have your own, you can buy stock images from sites like Shutterstock and iStock, or get them free from the likes of Unsplash and Pexels.

Top tip: Make sure your images are contributing to your SEO efforts by adding keywords to the image file name, title, alt and description text. The latter is also essential for those using screen readers, improving your post’s accessibility and giving you another point on Google’s score sheet.

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