Blogging Strategies: Post in Haste, Promote at Leisure

My lizard brain, always scanning the horizon for reasons not to publish, got very excited yesterday.

Thanks to a Twitter lead from @TomPick, I came across an article by Devin Sugameli offering “5 Tips for More ReTweets.” Sugameli’s final tip for how to get more views of your blog posts was “Don’t publish before noon on Mondays!”

She continued:

Image of Green Anole lizard

Photo by MotleyPixel

A 2008 study looked at the best times and days to publish content. Software developer Jake Luciani found that writers who posted on Thursdays had the greatest success in terms of comments, votes, and inbound links. Outside of weekends, Mondays were the worst days. The best times to post were between 1 pm–3 pm (after lunch) or 5 pm–7 pm PST (after work).

To my lizard brain, the conclusion was obvious: only post on Thursdays during those two 2-hour periods. And of course, if I should happen to be doing something else at the time, I should probably wait until the next Thursday. . . .

Even the the higher-level parts of my brain would have to conclude from what Sugameli wrote that there are days and times of the week when you shouldn’t publish. Looking quickly at Marshall Kirkpatrick’s source article on ReadWriteWeb seemed to confirm that idea, given its headline: “Want That Post to Go Popular? Here’s The Best and Worst Times to Post It.”

However, a closer look at the article changed the picture. What Luciani examined was not when posts were published, but when they were submitted to social-media sites, Digg, Reddit and Mixx: “He determined the best days and times for a blog post to be submitted to those sites if its author wants it to receive the maximum number of votes, comments and inbound links.” As Kirkpatrick notes a bit later in his article, Luciani’s analysis is “tracking the time that the post is submitted to the news site—not when it was necessarily posted on the blog.”

On realizing this, my lizard brain, I’m happy to report, slunk glumly back into its lair.

The lesson, for me at least, is clear: Never delay publishing to your blog. If it’s ready, hit the publish button. (You may not want to publish in haste, exactly, as my headline suggests—but I couldn’t resist the allusion.)

By all means, time your promotional efforts carefully. Though Luciani didn’t apparently include Twitter (2008 was premature, no doubt), I imagine his findings apply there as well. And lest this post be construed as a criticism of Sugameli’s helpful tips, it isn’t—provided you apply her advice about timing to your tweets, not your blog posts.

Your lizard brain already has enough excuses to keep you from publishing. Don’t let the timing of your posts be another.

Which Do You Prefer, Users or Readers?

A tweet from Jarvis this morning led to a short column in the Guardian that should be a useful corrective to a B2B audience worried about search-engine optimization (SEO).

For many in B2B media, the most important Web site metric is the total number of users. As quoted in the column, Matt Kelly of the Daily Mirror riffs on the pointlessness of this metric for special-interest newspaper sites. The quest for ever-increasing numbers of unique users, he said, “values one visit from one random Google News user as highly as daily visits, for an hour a time, from someone who treasures the content we produce.”

Instead of fretting about building up the number of random users, Kelly argued, special-interest newspaper sites should focus on building an engaged audience of appropriate readers. The SEO mantra for B2B sites should be the same: readers, not users; better, not bigger. The key metrics should be things like time spent on the site, number of pages read, and percentage of returning users.

The biggest impediment to changing the numbers-driven mindset is probably B2B advertisers. Until they can be educated to look for quality rather than quantity—something they do regularly for their print efforts—it will be difficult for publishers to avoid the numbers trap.