Is it five posts per month? 10? 20? If you’re trying to answer this question by coming to a final number, you’re going about it the wrong way.

The last thing you want is to launch a content program and then see this:

Stagnant growth…

Erratic traffic…

Or worse, slow declines…

You’re probably asking yourself, “How much content do I really need?”

The answer: It depends. It depends on your industry, your current standing in that industry and the team available to produce the content.

The screenshots above are from actual brands averaging 5–10+ blog posts a month. That’s a lot of work on content that’s giving them little ROI. In this post, we’ll detail our data-driven process on how to answer that question.

The Publishing Frequency Formula

For this process, we’re talking about content specific to SEO, not social, email or other methods. We use either link value or post value to determine contract size for our clients. In this post, we’ll focus on post value to calculate the value of each piece of content and, in turn, how much of it you should produce.

In short, the formula is:

(Monthly Organic Traffic Goal) / (Monthly Organic Traffic / # of Pages) = Total Pages

After getting your total pages, you’ll then subtract your current amount to get the final number of new pages (or posts) you need to produce:

Total Pages – Current Pages = New Pages

Reverse Engineering Your Goals to Determine Post Frequency

Obviously, publishing one post a week is very different from 20 posts a month—and as we saw above, more isn’t always better.

Instead of throwing out a generic number, we have a few follow-up questions in order to get a more realistic answer. The following are questions you should ask yourself:

  • What are your traffic goals? Do you want to double your organic traffic? Triple?
  • Do you have a competitor that you want to catch up to or beat?
  • What is your time frame to hit your goals? Next six months? Year? ASAP?
  • What resources do you have to execute content now? Will you also need to hire people?

Scenario 1: Increase Your Organic Traffic

The below scenario is using the goal of increasing organic traffic by ~20%, but the same math can be used for more aggressive outcomes.

What you’ll need:

  • Your current organic traffic
  • Current number of pages with organic traffic
  • Your organic traffic goal

For the below steps, we’re going to use cryptocurrency exchange platform Gemini:

Monthly Organic Traffic Monthly Organic Traffic Goal Current Pages
187,000 224,000+ 358

Using the Post Frequency Formula

Again, here is our formula:

(Monthly Organic Traffic Goal) / (Monthly Organic Traffic / # of Pages) = Total Pages

(Total Pages – Current Pages) = New Pages

Here is the formula using Gemini’s data above:

224,000 / (187,000 / 358) = 428

428 – 358 = 70

Based on the above, we now know that if Gemini wants to increase their monthly traffic to 22,400 per month, they’ll need to produce 70 posts. Based on their available team and ideal timeline, they can then break that out into a content plan (e.g. ~5 new posts per month).

Scenario 2: Catching Up To The Competition

Let’s say that instead of a traffic goal, you have a close competitor that you want to beat. You can use this exact same formula, but substitute your own website’s values for theirs.

As an example we’ll use HR software Zenefits who is in close competition with Gusto. Below is the information for Gusto:

Monthly Organic Traffic (Zenefits) Monthly Organic Traffic (Gusto) Top Pages (Gusto)
467,000 700,000 3,187

Based on the above, Zenefits needs to try to close that gap by 233,000 in monthly organic traffic.

Using the Post Frequency Formula

Using Gusto’s data, Zenefits can calculate the following:

700,000 / (467,000 / 3,187) = 4,777

4,777 – 3,187 = 1,590

In short, Zenefits would have to try to produce 1,500+ pieces of content to catch up to Gusto. Obviously, this is a huge lift.

If Zenefits really wants to outpace Gusto, they’re likely evaluating their content strategy beyond just publishing volume and looking at bigger strategic swings they could be making. Additionally, Zenefits isn’t creating 1,500 posts and calling it a day—they also must consider that Gusto will continue publishing.

What This Equation Leaves Out

Your content marketing strategy can’t be solved with a simple formula. There are obviously a lot of outside factors this equation leaves out. In addition to figuring out how much content you should publish, consider the following.

Brand Notoriety

If your competition is a big brand name, their traffic numbers are going to be skewed from that. Generally, a household name is going to have a lot of value tied to their brand, which in turn results in a lot of homepage visits.

For example, if you’re a new “bed in a box” startup and you’re up against Casper, you’ll see 37% of all their organic traffic comes from branded search:

If you see that 25%+ of their traffic is branded, you have two options:

  • Adjust the equation to only look at blog content vs. sitewide
  • Select a “mid tier” competitor that has less brand notoriety

If neither of those options are possible, you can still run this analysis but you’ll also need to consider investing in advertising or other branding initiatives over time to match Casper.

Domain Authority

Brand and domain authority can go hand in hand, but you should also consider the gap between you and your competitors, which will influence your ability to rank.

For example, let’s look at this breakdown for Cornix vs. eToro:

Brand Monthly Organic Traffic Domain Rating
Cornix 1,000 27
eToro 1,300,000 83

Even if Cornix had the budget and team to create content to close the gap on eToro, their domain authority is far lower (not just in comparison to eToro but for their industry as a whole)—realistically that content isn’t going to outrank eToro’s.

Total Links

Related to the above, organic content can’t perform well if your backlink profile is behind the competition. You can try a variety of strategies to earn links, but content production should support link building as well.

Quality of Content

It seems obvious, but if the content you’re creating isn’t quality, then no matter how many posts you produce, it won’t make a dent. If you haven’t seen positive outcomes from content marketing so far, it likely isn’t your publishing cadence.

Current Team

Many brands are limited in the amount of content they can produce because they simply don’t have the team to produce it. Calculating content ROI can be a challenge and a big component of that is overhead like salaries, agency costs, freelancers and more.

If you’re already short staffed, maybe you need to find the highest potential opportunities and focus your efforts there. One way to find the highest value is by using our post value ratio. Similar to the equation above, this instead looks at monthly traffic value to determine what your potential ROI would be for an individual post based on a competitor:

(Monthly Post Traffic Value * 24 Months) / Cost for Post = Post Value Ratio

If you can prove a value of 10x or better, those are the topics worth creating content for. If you’re seeing a lower ratio, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create it, you’ll just need to understand that your margins will be tighter.

Before You Hit Publish

Posting frequency shouldn’t be the deciding factor for content marketing, but it can be a component. Once you get a content calendar established, explore other ways of making content production more scalable like blog post templates or content creation tools. In the end, if the quantity causes a sacrifice in quality, step back and review your plan.

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