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

Whatever business you’re in, a blog can be an incredibly useful tool for engaging with your target audience. It’s a chance to add real value for your customers and clients while showing off your expertise and driving traffic to your website.

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

How long should my blog posts be?

We always hate it when people respond with, “How long’s a piece of string?” That’s no help at all. But the truth is that the length of your blog post will depend on several things, such as what type of content you’re sharing (e.g. are you tackling a complex issue or showing off images of your latest products) and who you’re targeting.

There are some general rules. For example, a 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. On the other end of the scale, there’s a lot of evidence that long form content – up to several thousand words – is really effective for lead generation.

The trouble with long form content is that it’s harder to write. Keeping someone engaged for that length of time takes skill and practice. As a result, we usually recommend aiming for 800-1,000 words unless you’re getting a professional involved.

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?

As often as you can! Numerous studies have found that the more a business blogs, the better the effect on their inbound traffic. Which makes sense. Except not everyone has the time or budget to put posts out on a daily basis. And that’s ok.

Posting less than once a month is pretty much pointless. The impact of such infrequent blogging will be so minimal that you’re likely to give up well before you see positive results. Fortnightly is better, weekly is great and if you can get a good, relevant post out twice a week, you’re onto a winner.

The key is to be realistic and make sure you have a plan in place. Spending a day or two writing lots of blog posts in advance is a really efficient way of doing things. You can also get people to write guest posts for you, to save time.

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?

First, a question: are you writing for Google or for your target audience? Here’s a hint: Google isn’t buying your products or services. Yes, of course you want your posts to rank well if you want to drive search engine traffic. But if you’re doing your content marketing right, that’s not the only way people will find your blog.

Hopefully you’ll be pushing links out on social media, and through an email newsletter. Plus you’ll have regular readers who enjoy your blog so much they come back again and again to see if there’s anything new out.

Stuffing a post full of keyword phrases will make it sound false, and if you lose your readers’ trust it’s very hard to get it back. This is one reason why longer posts are more successful – it’s easier to fit your keyword phrase in often without ruining the style and flow of the piece.

Google will also penalise you for “keyword stuffing” so make sure you’re striking the right balance and always keep your audience front of mind.

It’s worth noting that Google considers 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: Google has produced a really handy download explaining the basics of SEO, including how to optimise your content and lots of other useful tips.

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 service based businesses, or those whose products are less visually appealing?

Well, take a look through this blog post. We’ve created ‘further reading’ panels using our brand colours, fonts and photography 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 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 – check that Google download for more information.

What other questions do you have about blogging? Email them to us and we’ll do our best to answer them in a future post.

PS In case you’re interested, this post runs to just over 1,000 words. How did it feel to you? About right? Too long? Too short? Let us know!

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