What is the ideal frequency for publishing content? There is no ideal frequency as it depends upon your site, audience and objectives. However, you can adopt different content strategies from high frequency publishing through to Jay Baer‘s advice that you should only publish when you have something worthwhile to say. In this post, we will focus on the “less is more” content strategy.
You can drive higher shares, gain more links and attract significantly more traffic using a ‘less is more’ approach. Yes, you really can drive more traffic by publishing less content.
Brian Dean of Backlinko has executed this content strategy to great effect. Brian has published just 53 posts over the last five years, less than one a month. These posts have driven nearly 4m visitors to his site. The average shares and links per post are what most of us can only dream of: an average of 2,490 shares, and 275 links from unique domains, for each post.
Overview of the ‘Less is More’ Content Strategy
A successful ‘less is more’ strategy involves producing original, in-depth and referenceable content. This enables you to build an audience through demonstrating your authority and expertise; and by developing your reputation. The strategy involves:
- Original content from research to case studies
- Referenceable content
- Comprehensive content including curation
- Long form content
- Doubling down on successful content with updating and re-promotion
- A strong focus on amplification and promotion
‘Less is more’ refers to the number of articles published not the amount of effort involved. Researching and creating high quality content once a month can take a lot more time than writing say three short blog posts a week.
The ‘less is more’ approach is not suitable for everyone and before we outline the ‘less is more’ content strategy, a few words about equally valid approaches which involve higher frequency publishing. If you want to skip this, you can jump straight to the ‘less is more’ strategy.
The Future is More Content
Mark Schaefer got it right when he talked of ‘content shock’. The amount of content published every day is huge and it is only going to increase. The number of people with internet access is still growing and publishing tools are easier to use, particularly video. Getting attention in a world of content shock is difficult. A core task for all content marketers is to reach, build and retain an audience.
To compete in a world of content shock many publishers have adopted a high frequency publishing strategy, often over 1,000 articles a day. Many blogs have also had success by increasing their content production. This has been particularly marked where blogs have increased their output from say one post every week or two, and increased it to say three posts a week. This may be due to the regularity of content helping to build an audience and a brand.
Research from Hubspot to Neil Patel has also found that increasing content can increase both traffic and leads. Back in 2012 Hubspot kicked off the debate with data showing that as the number of monthly blog posts increased so did traffic and inbound leads. Neil Patel also found that increasing Kissmetrics blog posts from 5 to 6 a week increased monthly traffic by 18%.
However, there are logically limits to the efficacy of increasing content production which we suspect is related to your audience, type of site and your ability to continuously create quality content. The Content Marketing Institute experimented with publishing content twice a day but hit a point of diminishing returns. They now publish once a day which currently appears optimal. It was Robert Rose who wisely said “More content is better, until it isn’t”.
For many sites increasing content production is a valid strategy, though you need need to monitor the return on investment and assess when you are reaching the effectiveness threshold. However, there is an alternative approach …
The ‘Less is More’ Content Strategy
At its core the ‘less is more’ strategy is based on building an audience through producing original, in-depth, researched and referenceable content which enhances your authority and reputation.
The best ‘less is more’ example we have came across is Brian Dean at Backlinko. Brian produces high quality, well researched and referenceable content every 4 weeks or so. Despite this infrequent publishing, Brian has driven 4 million visitors to his site with just 53 posts.
Let’s have a detailed look at Brian’s content and how well it performs.
Backlinko Content and Performance
The average and median shares for these 53 posts are both incredibly high. The average number of shares is 2,490 and the median is 1,280. To put this into context, when we reviewed 127,000 articles published by Hubspot B2B customers we found median shares of just 22 and when we reviewed the top 95 B2B blogs including sites such as Hubspot, we found median shares of 106. To have median shares of over 1,000 is very high.
What is even more staggering is the number of unique linking domains. The average per post is 275 and the median is 137. When we looked at a million posts at random we found over 50% did not receive a single link.
So how does Brian achieve such success? I think it is fundamentally down to a ‘less is more’ strategy.
Summary of the ‘Less is More’ Content Strategy
The ‘less is more’ strategy is primarily about building an audience through building your authority and reputation. This requires content that is:
- Original, such as research and case studies
- Long form and detailed
- Comprehensive including curated content
- Referenceable such as guides, statistics and reports
The strategy has a strong focus on amplification and promotion. This means doubling down on successful content with updating and repromotion. As Brian says before you write a new article check that your current content is all updated and ranking where you think it should be. Often you can get greater success updating and repromoting an older post than by writing a new post.
By using this ‘less is more’ content strategy you really can drive higher shares, gain more links and attract significantly more traffic by publishing less content.