In a nutshell, web content marketing is the strategic creation of content for your users to enjoy, learn from, and/or share. This type of content can help you demonstrate your knowledge of your field, attract new visitors, and rank better in search engines for your targeted keywords. It may take the form of blog posts, white papers, even a podcast or video series.

But whether you've been creating this type of content for a while or you're thinking about starting, you may be wondering just how often you have to publish this stuff. And how good does it need to be, really? People often ask me questions like this, trying to determine how often they should publish, or how much time they should dedicate to it per week. There's no set rule for this, but here are some factors to consider.

A Culture of Scanners

By and large, the Web population is a culture of scanners. Countless studies have demonstrated that users often don't read Web content word-for-word, but rather scan the page quickly with their eyes. This isn't to say that no one is going to read a word you write, but you should be aware of how people tend to read on the web. The images below are generated by eye-tracking software that "sees" how people read on the screen.

Use Heat maps to see how visitors are reading your content

(Image from Useit.com)

This can be dangerous knowledge, however. The thought that no one will be scrutinizing what you write may lead you to think you can "get away" with putting less effort and quality into what you produce. Not surprisingly, this is the wrong way to look at things. But you should be aware of the difference between "good quality" in print, and "good quality" on the Web.

What is Good Quality, Anyway?

Since there are differences in the way people consume print and online content, there are naturally differences between "good" print content and "good" Web content. When creating content for the Web, your rule of thumb shoudl always be to keep it scannable. In other words, would someone get the main points of what I was talking about if they had 30 seconds to scan this article? More specifically, keep these rules in mind

  • Keep it brief (short posts, short paragraphs)
  • Include an image or two (a natural eye-catcher)
  • Use headings (these serve as visual bookmarks for the reader)

Keeping on a Schedule

Now that we've discussed quality with regards to online content, we should address the second element of this post - frequency. The right publishing frequency for your website can be hard to pin down. Certainly, there is no rule that applies equally well to all sites. But in most cases, you'll find that you will have to strike a balance between quality and frequency. If you post very high quality content once every six month, this simply isn't frequent enough to gain a following. If you publish content every day, but it has little value, this won't do you much good either. The balance in between will depend on your audience and your goals.

If you produce entertainment content, or discuss current events, a more frequent schedule would be right for you. If you produce detailed, technical content, then a less frequent schedule may be necessary to maintain a high standard of quality. Experiment to find the right balance, and encourage feedback from your users along the way to find out what they're looking for.

So in the end, the answer is, there is no answer. But hopefully these thoughts have given you a bit more insight to help you craft a schedule for creating your online content.

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