How Many Blog Posts Do You Need to Rank in Google?
The question of how many blog posts or articles a blog needs to have posted before they begin to see any real traffic or first page rankings in Google is a really common question, especially among new bloggers or people who are considering starting a blog.
This is pretty reasonable because a person who is new to blogging has not tried all that many blogging related activities to find success, so they haven’t seen any success or results, and they are wondering if things will improve or if they have been wasting their time.
For the person who is considering starting a blog, they might have read other articles and blogs about “How To Make Money Online Through Blogging”, but wonder if it is all false hype or if it is truly possible, and what it might take in order to achieve any real success. And even if it is possible on the whole, what sorts of blogging activities are most effective in producing measurable, useful results?
For as reasonable as this query is, and as many people as there are who wonder it, and as many people as there must be who have found blogging success (whether that be because they have earned a full-time income from their blogging, or they have attracted thousands of backlinks and social shares, or they have hundreds of thousands or even millions of pageviews per month) who could share their own experience with what it took to get to the tipping point and what really helped get them there, there seems to be very few search results answering the question, and of those that do exist, most are total speculation by people who have never actually blogged.
I would like to share my own speculation on this topic. I haven’t yet found any blogging success (I haven’t made any money from it, I get fewer than 200 page views per month, and I haven’t generated many backlinks to my content at all), but I have done a lot of reading from those who claim to have done it and I’ve conducted a lot of research to find the common traits of blogs that have articles showing in the top spots of Google search results.
So, this is my attempt to answer.
Common Advice to Bloggers
Whenever you read the success tips offered by bloggers who have made it work, they seem to always be:
- Create great and epic content that is better than anyone else’s content on that topic
- Be consistent in your creation of new content (whether that be daily, weekly, or even monthly posting)
- Get active on social media to share with and engage your audience and to find your potential audience where they already hang out
- Work on building backlinks to your content.
So, what is the most important part? What really “moves the needle”?
I think social media is the least important part of this advice. There are so many people dedicated to the idea of sharing your content on Pinterest, or getting in conversations on Twitter, or joining Facebook groups, or doing anything else you can on social media to engage with an audience and share your content.
This is kind of like running on a treadmill. You can do tons of work, expend lots of effort, and really get nowhere.
There is an endless sea of content, and a nonstop rainfall of new content being produced and shared on social media every day. The likelihood of your social media posts into the void ever finding people who will engage with it and follow the links back to your blog content is extremely low.
Social media can be really powerful if you already have a large following because you can alert your fans that there is something new for them to consume, and you will actually reach them with the news, but without a following, it seems like a waste of precious time. Most social media followings are actually built from people finding and loving content on a blog or YouTube channel and then jumping over to social media to follow the creator.
Trying to collect a following primarily from sharing to social media is not, in most cases, the most effective way of growing a following or readership.
How about building backlinks?
Anyone who has read even a single introductory article on the process of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and ranking content in Google knows that backlinks are an important part of getting ranked.
What set Google apart from the search engines that came before it was the concept of measuring backlinks. The idea is that a person who writes a page of content for the internet will link to things they think are useful, interesting, and helpful to their readers. Because of this, a link from one website to another is like a vote in favor of that linked-to resource. Websites and web pages which accumulate a large number of backlinks have essentially a lot of votes for their content, and so Google would rank them highly for whatever keywords their content was about.
On the other hand, a website who had very few or no backlinks must not be a very good resource, and so they weren’t ranked as highly. But over time people learned that they could manipulate search results to increase the ranking of their own content by building backlinks themselves, which then meant that backlinks weren’t actually acting as votes.
Many different link building tactics have been invented, shared with others, done on a large scale, and then Google has found a way to discount those fraudulent links to ensure the quality of the search results. Google now has over 200 factors that it considers when choosing how to rank a piece of content. Backlinks are just a part of that algorithm.
People make a lot of money from getting ranked in search engines, and so many very smart people have worked to devise any link scheme they could, and most of them have already been figured out and countered by Google. I think that any effort spend on building backlinks is a waste of time. Google will be able to tell you built the backlink and that it shouldn’t count as a vote for your content, so your effort will bring no results.
There are lots of tools (such as Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest) which allow you to look at the backlink profile of websites, and I have researched lots of blogs that I’ve found in the search engine rankings, and many rank with very few backlinks. That means that they are ranking for reasons other than having backlinks, and the lack of backlinks didn’t hold them back.
I’ve tried building a few blogs before, and I spent as little time on producing content as possible, completing maybe 10 articles, and then spending all of my time on backlink building. My thinking was that I wanted to squeeze as many site visits as possible out of any content I produced, so instead of creating lots of content, I created lots of backlinks.
This effort never brought me any results or increased traffic. It was time totally wasted and demotivated me for blogging. I felt like I was trying my hardest and getting nowhere. The blogging dream was impossible.
It isn’t impossible, but I was never going to get there because I was focusing on the wrong things.
The only backlink building strategies I believe are at all useful (and even still are probably not the most important thing you can be doing with your time when working on your blog) are outreach to other bloggers who might give you a legitimate backlink within their content (an editorial backlink), and to be generous with your linking out to other bloggers’ content and then letting them know that you’ve linked to them.
The second method works because of the psychological tendency of people called reciprocity. If you do something for others, they will feel obligated to help you back. They will feel like they owe you one. So, if you link to them, they might look for a way to link back to you. If nothing else, they might mention somewhere that you linked to them to provide their own readers with social proof of their own quality.
In total, I think you should avoid spending any time on backlink building.
Creating EPIC Content
People say you should produce only super-duper excellent, best-in-the-world, epic, skyscraper content. This would be ideal, of course, but is totally unrealistic.
Half of the planet’s population is connected to the internet, somewhere between 3 and 4 billion people, and some portion of them create content for the web. No matter how small a portion that is, it is still a huge number of people writing content.
While there are an infinite number of topics to write about, it is difficult to find those uncommon topics which have little written about them. Most people will write a lot of their content about things which have already been written about very many times before.
Only one article on the topic can be the best. That is the definition of the concept of best.
But you shouldn’t worry about being the best. You should certainly strive to write content which is the best YOU can do. It should be useful to the people who will read it. But you just need to write content. You should write whatever makes sense to write about for you and your audience. Even if the topic has been covered many times before by other people, and you know you cannot write a better version of the content, you should write your version of it.
Don’t get hung up on being the best, just focus on completing the articles on the subjects you want to write about. Encouraging people to write the BEST article on the subject prevents people from even getting started blogging because they are filled with fear of failure. And based on the criteria of needing to write the best article ever in the world, they would absolutely be failures.
But perfection is not the goal.
Good and finished is the goal.
So, write to the best of your ability the things you want to write about, and then move on to the next blog post.
In addition to this being bad advice because it is nearly impossible for someone to write the BEST article on a topic, it is very difficult to determine what even is the best. Best for most pieces of content is totally subjective. There may be ways to determine what is an objectively bad piece of content, but what makes something more good than something else isn’t the same for each person.
One person may more highly prize entertainment or humor, while another may want abundance of information and facts. Both contribute to good writing, but which in which amounts makes for the BEST article is unknown.
So now on two counts you won’t be able to write the BEST article.
Be Consistent in Your Content Creation Schedule
The final piece of common advice is to be consistent in your production of content.
This is also good advice, but often seen as useful for the wrong reasons.
Some people say that Google loves fresh content, and therefore if you are always producing new content Google will rank your site more highly. I think this is a pretty small ranking factor and not really the reason that consistency is valuable.
One way to show that this isn’t super important is to look at successful blogs that rank well and see when the last time they posted content was. Lots of those highly ranked blogs haven’t posted in a long time, sometimes even years (You can find this information using the Sitemap strategy that I elaborate on later in this article. You just open the "post" sitemap and scan the dates until you see the most recent date).
Good content that answers people’s questions and satisfies their searches doesn’t becomes less useful just because the blogger hasn’t posted other articles lately.
Consistency of content production isn’t useful because of freshness. It is useful because it helps you accumulate a large amount of content and a large number of blog posts.
Success in achieving a goal doesn’t come because you worked really hard on it for a day or a week. It comes because you have put into place systems and habits which allow you to consistently move you closer to your end goals. A large body of work in a blog is only built when you write for a long time. This is the usefulness in consistency of posting.
How Many Blog Posts Do You Need?
I have read in some forums that ask this post’s primary question that some believe Google doesn’t really begin to rank your blog highly until you pass some unknown content threshold. I’ve read that the barrier might be 60 articles, it might be 100 articles, or 365 articles.
I’ve even read that it’s not the number of posts, but actually a word count, maybe of 50,000 words.
I think this general thinking is correct, while the specific numbers are not incredibly important as they might change or be different for different blogs for different reasons. The core idea is that you need to have lots of content available on your site before Google takes you seriously and starts ranking your stuff. I’ve seen this myself in researching the websites of others.
How I Research a Blog's Traffic, Backlinks, and Blog Post Count
My process for researching what works for successful blogs goes like this.
I search Google for some keyword phrase and keep trying new long tail keywords until I find one that shows a blog in the results.
I then go to that blog, copy the URL of the root domain or TLD (Top Level Domain) (http://www.thesite.com/) and paste it into the Ubersuggest tool. The Ubersuggest tool is a free SEO tool which was purchased and upgraded by Neil Patel. In the new Ubersuggest, you can either enter search terms and learn about the results shown in Google, or you can enter a website and see information about their keywords, rankings, traffic, and backlinks.
When I enter the URL of the blog I found in the search results, Ubersuggest will bring up the information its web crawlers have found on the site. I look at the estimated amount of traffic the site brings in each month to give me an idea of how successful the site it. I look at how many keywords the site is ranking for for similar reasons.
Then I click into the tab which shows the backlinks pointing at the site. This section shows how many links the website has earned from other websites and also how many total domains link to the site. You can even find out how many of the links are dofollow or nofollow.
In looking at the backlinks of different blogs I’ve found in searching Google, some have tens of thousands, but there are others which have fewer than 200 backlinks and are ranking quite well for lots of keywords and have significant traffic. This seems like evidence for the case that Google will rank good content even if it doesn’t have lots of backlinks.
Something else I do when I am researching other blogs is to try and find out how many pages or blog posts the site has. Most blogs make use of some sort of sitemap builder which helps search engines crawl the site and make sure they don’t miss any pages. The most popular sitemap builder is a program called Yoast SEO. Yoast SEO does much more than just build sitemaps, but that’s all that’s important in this situation.
On the blog, I navigate to the homepage URL (http://www.thesite.com), and then I add to the end “sitemap.xml” so that I get “http://www.thesite.com/sitemap.xml”. That usually works, but if not, you may also try “sitemap.html” or simply “sitemap”. Some sites won’t have a sitemap, and some will have a sitemap that is unstructured and so only lists each page’s URL in a huge list.
The sort of sitemap that is most common, and most useful to me, is the structured sitemap created by the Yoast SEO plugin. That sitemap will have all the pages on the website organized by type. There will be a group for categories, tags, static pages, images, documents, authors, and sometimes others, but the one I’m most interested in is the one that contains the word “posts”.
By clicking on that link, you will be taken to a long list of all the posts available on the site, and at the very top will be a number which is the number of posts to the site.
Each grouping has a limit of approximately 1000 posts (some will be 998, some will be 1001). If the site has posted more than the 1000 posts, another link will appear that shows any posts between 1001 and 2000. Some sites have literally thousands of posts, and so have multiple pages of posts in their sitemap.
What I’ve found from analyzing lots of blogs for this sitemap information is that sites that rank in Google almost always have at least 100 blog posts. I have seen some that had as few as 80, but never any fewer. This tells me that the most important ranking factor for Google when they are considering a site in their algorithm is number of posts or amount of content.
It seems like backlinks are much less important than growing a significant bulk of content, a large body of work.
This is all in line with the recommendations Google makes to webmasters and site owners. Google, and Matt Cutts, who formerly headed the Webspam team there, said that they work actively and very hard to counteract any sort of attempts to game or manipulate the search results. They release major algorithm updates, such as Hummingbird, Panda, and Penguin to eliminate poor quality results from the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
They discount and even punish spammy backlinks, and work to remove thin content from SERPs. All webmasters and bloggers should be worrying about is making excellent content which satisfies human users.
If a blogger works to write content that answers questions and entertains and keeps real humans coming back, then their site will do well. Otherwise, they don’t recommend any other method of improving search rankings.
A blogger, following Google’s own advice, will publish content that readers are searching for, make it the best quality they can, and then move on to the next piece of content. They won’t be distracted and busy building backlinks or using any other spammy or black-hat SEO techniques, so they’ll have the time to write more content. By keeping this up, they will simply end up with a lot of blog posts and a large word count.
Keyword Variety and Long Tail Keywords
It is also really important to use a large variety of keywords.
Some pages might rank well for some keywords, but most posts will each only receive a bit of traffic each day. To increase your blog’s traffic as much as possible, you want to cast a wide net, to rank for lots of keyword terms.
Whenever you are writing a blog post, you should be sure to use any relevant term which might be useful to your reader and which a reader might use to find your content. It’s unlikely that you’ll be found in search engines for words you don’t even use on your site, so you’ll want to use a lot of keywords and have variety in your vocabulary.
And to take this even further, I think you shouldn’t focus too much on staying within the strict bounds of your site’s niche or topic. You should write about whatever you wish to write about and which you think your audience will enjoy. By following any whim in your writing, you will naturally accumulate a huge number or keywords being used in your content.
If you are new to blogging or are even just considering blogging, and really want to know what is most important for you to be doing in order to gain success, increase readership, and rank well in Google, then my advice is to write. A lot.
Write about whatever interests you. If each article happens to have a similar topic, then cool. But if it is a wide array of topics which are only connected because you are interested in them all, then that is cool too. That is a lifestyle blog, and they are very popular and can be really successful.
Don’t worry about backlinks.
To a pretty major degree, disregard social media.
Just keep writing content and you will find success. If you set for yourself a goal to reach 100 blog posts as quickly as possible (while maintaining a level of usefulness and quality in each post), you will see accomplishment.
Don’t hold back. Don’t be paralyzed with the fear that your content won’t be the BEST. Don’t worry about the stuff the readers won’t see. Just write great content and you will be rewarded.