Why Posting Less Can Improve Your Blog

Is more content always better? Is more traffic, more followers, more page views automatically better? Is it more signal or more noise? Is it more of something that doesn’t help you achieve your goals? Isn’t it true that sometimes less is more? Can posting less actually improve your blog?

writing in a notebook

Last week Chris Brogan posted one big traffic secret, in which he said,

I’ll tell you one thing I know: the more you post, the more traffic you get

Chris is righ,t of course. It’s pretty easy to realize if you publish one more post that attracts only one more visitor over the course of a year, it’s still more traffic than had you not published that post. And more realistically each post is going to bring in more than one visitor per year. More posting is generally going to lead to more traffic.

  • It’s one more link for subscribers to click on in their feed reader
  • It’s one more page for search engines to index rank
  • It’s one more page that can generate incoming links and referral traffic

However does that mean you should post more often than you currently post now? Chris himself isn’t saying you should automatically post more. His article is mainly an observation, and a true one at that. More posts will lead to more traffic. As Chris points out many top blogs post more than 5 times daily. This more posts leading to more traffic really isn’t in question. The question is, is more traffic necessarily better?

My answer is the ever so definitive “it depends.”

Computer keyboard

Sometimes Posting Less Will Bring You More

It depends on your business model and goals for your site. It also depends on whether or not you can maintain the same level of quality with additional posting. If there’s nothing remarkable about the additional posts how much of a difference to they realistically make?

Quality trumps quantity.

If your business model is to sell advertising then yes more is better. The more people you can get to your site and the more pages you can get them to visit once there, the more advertising you can sell and the more money you can charge for each ad spot.

Advertising on the guitar scoreboard for the Nashville Sounds

For everyone else traffic in and of itself is mostly meaningless. It’s only when that traffic takes some action that it becomes meaningful.

If you sell a product do you care that 1,000,000 visited your sales page or do you care that 10 people actually bought your product? If you could get those same 10 sales with 10 visitors would you complain about the 999,990 people that didn’t visit and leave? Was all that extra traffic worth anything?

Sure, many top blogs do post a lot. Many also sell advertising as their primary source of income. Is that how your business works? It might and if so you probably are better increasing your publishing rate, even if publishing more reduces the overall quality of your content. Not everyone makes a living selling advertising, though.

One way a blog can help a site is to convince potential clients to get in touch or convince potential customers to buy. If posting more means lowering the quality of your posting, will your blog convince more people to buy from you? Probably not. Will it convince more people to call or email you? Again probably not. Not if posting more means a general drop in quality

Ever read through the comments on some top blogs? Some do get good comments. Many get useless “first to comment” and other “me too” types of comments. How many of those people do you think will buy?

Isn’t this whole idea of more for the sake of more what led Leo Laporte to question his use of social media a couple weeks back?

Search Engines and More Content

One of the reasons I suggested above for more content leading to more traffic was that each new page could potentially rank and bring search traffic. Seems plausible, but is it true?

In general yes. It’s really hard to argue that having a larger site with more content is going to lead to less traffic, but consider the following

V7N logo

Removing Posts Helped V7N

A few years ago John Scott, the owner of the v7n forum removed a large number of old and inactive posts from his forum. He didn’t delete them, but moved them to a private section of the forum inaccessible to search engines

John removed posts that were a certain number of days old, had less than a certain amount of page views, and were for the most part inactive in the number of responses. Within a few weeks he noticed an increase in search traffic, a 7,000 visits a day increase in search traffic, to the V7N forums.

John pruned the lower quality posts and the result was an increase in traffic. Less content did equal more for V7N.

SEOmoz logo

Keyword Cannibalization and Duplicate Content

Over the years Rand Fishkin has talked about the concept of keyword cannibalization. The idea is that by targeting the same keywords on multiple pages of your site those pages compete with each other. Links into the pages are divided and search engines have to determine which page to rank. Overall the multiple pages might receive less search traffic than if there were only one page targeted for the keywords in question.

When you post more you naturally write about the same subjects and naturally use the same or similar words in post on the same topic. It’s possible those additional posts might be hurting your overall search traffic as opposed to helping it.

A few years ago many of my own posts had found their way into what then was Google’s supplemental index. Google was indexing both the xml feed and the html posts and as a result most of my search traffic disappeared. After fixing the issue by removing the feeds from being indexed (less content) traffic not only returned, but increased.

Having less content indexed seemed to work very well for me.

Intensity stabilization diagram

Signal to Noise in Links

I’ve always suspected that the search engines use all the data they collect to look at a signal-to-noise ratio of links flowing into your site. Something like a comparison of how many pages your site has that are being linked to divided by the total number of pages on the site.

Speculation on my part, but my thinking is a site with 10 pages, each with 10 links pointing to each page is better than a site with a 100 pages and 100 links all pointing to one page on the site. The latter would get search traffic to the one page, but not the others. The former would get search traffic to all pages totaling more than the latter site got to it’s one page.

That second site is telling search engines that there’s some value to every page on the site. The first site is telling search engines that the one page is valuable, but the rest, not so much. It would seem to go toward the overall authority the site has in the eyes of search engines. Again speculation on my part, but it seems logical enough.

Whether my theory is right of wrong, the idea of this section is to point out some cases where more content may not always lead to more traffic from search engines. Of course more pages are more content for search engines to index and rank so consider everything in this section with a grain of salt. In general more posts will likely lead to more traffic.

However do realize that more isn’t automatically better. There may be times where more posts results in less traffic or not enough new traffic to make creating the additional content worth the effort.

Quality trumps quantity.

Fountain pen and glasses resting on notebook.jpg

My story

When I first started blogging I tried to post as frequently as I could. I regularly published 3 times a week and tried pushing myself to post 4 and 5 times a week.

The problem was I didn’t have enough to say to fill a post a day or the time to say it well. Many of those old posts aren’t very good. Some were, but most were rather ordinary and not especially worth reading.

In time I didn’t even like writing them and eventually stopped blogging for a few months. Part of the reason was I simply couldn’t find the time to write as often as I thought I should. The quality of the posts suffered and my interest in writing them suffered.

About a year and a half ago I resolved to revive this blog. One of the crucial decisions I made was to only post once a week. I felt I could write one good post a week and that it would better than writing three mediocre posts a week.

A funny thing happened. This blog has been consistently growing since that decision to post less. Traffic is up and subscribers are up. Both have increased at a much greater rate then they had been when I was trying to write more often.

Less posting is certainly not the only reason, but less posting has meant more quality to each post, which has been a big part of the growth I’ve seen over the last 18 months. As I’ve set up a process to increase blogging productivity I’m now also able to post twice a week, while still maintaining a quality I’m happy with.

Others have had similar experiences. Just this week Larry Brooks, who has an excellent blog for writers (mainly fiction writers) at storyfix.com, posted a similar story to mine above called Just Maybe…He Who Blogs Less Blogs Best.

Less blogging led to increased quality and ultimately more traffic for Larry as it did for me.

The next time I redesign this site, I’ll likely go through old posts and remove many. I’ll remove those posts that aren’t really worth reading and don’t pull any traffic to them. I’ll prune the posts that aren’t contributing, much as you would prune dead or dying leaves from a plant to help it grow.

It’ll be interesting to see what effect that has on traffic to the site.

Royal KMM

Summary

You’ve likely heard the advice to fire the bottom 5% of our clients/customers each year. Those 5% probably aren’t contributing much to your business so you get rid of them and either replace them with new clients/customers or better serve existing clients/customers. The end result being a net gain for your business.

The idea is to fix the weakest link in your chain and then move on to fix the next weakest link. Posting more usually comes with a loss of quality. Instead of fixing the weakest link, we’re creating more of them.

If your business model is advertising. If your money comes simply from having more eyeballs on your posts, then posting more absolutely makes sense. And realistically even if your business model isn’t advertising, more posts likely means more traffic and by consequence more clicks and more leads and more sales.

The question for most the rest of us is, is it really worth it?

If you can maintain the same quality while posting more, then by all means posting more will help your blog. If quality is going to drop you need to carefully consider whether that drop in quality is worth the extra traffic.

More traffic is not automatically better. You can probably generate just as many leads and sales by putting more into improving the quality of the few posts you write now. The added benefit is there are less weak link posts to turn people away.

You aren’t just improving each post by putting more effort into writing less of them. You’re improving your blog as a whole. You’re no longer the person who sometimes has interesting things to say. You’re the person who always has something interesting to say.

Quality does trump quantity and quite often less is more.

Pen in hand

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