Recently, an underground rethinking of blogging practice began to hit the headlines; that of Slow Blogging. In a nutshell, this is where blog-posts are generated over a length of time with the aim to display a deep knowledge of the subject matter, rather than churning out quick content at a regular pace.
Displaying a thorough understanding of their services, products and industry can be highly beneficial to the promotional and marketing activities of many businesses, but at what speed should we really be blogging?
The original Slow Blog Manifesto was created back in 2006 by Todd Sieling, a technology consultant from Vancouver, who wrote that:
Slow Blogging is a rejection of immediacy… An affirmation that not all things worth reading are written quickly.
Over time, this notion has been picked up across the internet and more recently, brought to mainstream attention, online and offline, by the likes of the Guardian and the New York Times.
Firstly, I have a slight issue with the idea that there are only two speeds of blogging. It’s not necessarily a hare and tortoise race, although blogs can be loosely separated into two different areas, in terms of content generation. Some posts require commitment to sourcing comments, researching and editing, whereas others are short insights, breaking news or quick opinions that need to catch a user’s attention. Unsurprisingly, there’s no official industry rule as to how long any of this can take in terms of posting online.
What is becoming clearer, however, is that the likes of Twitter, Jaiku and, to a lesser extent, sites like FriendFeed and Tumblr, are all aiding the speed at which content is pushed out into the web. With content spreading so rapidly through these so-called ‘microblogs’, it can result in huge volumes of traffic being driven to a website or static blog.
I wouldn’t exactly claim that these tools are destroying blogging. Instead I am very much of the opinion that they are evolving the blog landscape. Econsultancy’s fourth biggest referrer of traffic is Twitter, which is impressive, especially when you consider the figures involved, and much of this lands directly on our main blog content.
For me, the second issue lies with how it can be construed that blogging slowly (albeit thoroughly), can possibly have a positive effect on SEO ranking. As anyone with the slightest understanding of how search engines work will tell you, blogs can often be extremely beneficial for helping to boost SEO rankings. Interestingly, what is often unnoticed by those interested in blogging at a snail’s pace for commercial purposes is that Section 5 of the original manifesto recognises this:
Slow Blogging is a response to and a rejection of Pagerank. Pagerank, the ugly-beautiful monster that sits behind the many folded curtains of Google, deciding the question of authority and relevance to your searches. Blog early, blog often, and Google will reward you. Condition your creative self to the secret frequency, and find yourself adored by Google; you will appear where everybody looks – in the first few pages of results. Follow your own pace and find your works never found; refuse Pagerank its favours and your work is pulled as if by riptide into the deep waters of undifferentiated results.
So, Slow Blogging, as a concept, really is “a rejection of immediacy”, which is bad news for direct marketers who are seriously considering this as an approach to boosting their SEO activity. If you’re dedicated to posting on a frequent basis, then you will be ranked quickly and more highly, depending on a few other factors, such as content quality, it doesn’t overly depend on how much thought and time you’ve given a blog, as the likes of Google won’t ever understand your personal pains in achieving a Man Booker-winning, word-perfect textual work of art.
That’s not to say content isn’t important. I raised the important issue of good copywriting a while ago, and the facts still haven’t changed: Research repeatedly shows that web pages following best practice for online copywriting out-perform those that aren’t by over 100%; a great proportion of which is attributed to natural search ranking.
Ideally, it’s the freshness (and relevance) of content the search engines are looking for, and as most people know, this is a lot easier to manage through blogging, rather than constantly updating and changing the text on a website.
Surprisingly, one of the most overlooked tactics of using a blog is that once a search engine recognises regular content updates, links to other sites or sub-domains can be tactically added which are then crawled. Whilst measurements are in place by the likes of Google to prevent the sneaky tactic of multiple link-posting, formatting a blog to have a few permanent links in the side-bar or header can have a noticeably positive impact. Falling back on copywriting, I’m always surprised by the number of people who fail to realise that a blog can be optimised, which can have enormous benefits on SEO.
But this steers us away from ideas of speed. I’m very much of the belief that blogging slowly and spending time creating single posts over days or even weeks has no real SEO value. The odds of being caught long or short-tail on a blog that’s being updated once a week is extremely thin. Anything more than that, then the odds are likely to become almost non-existent.
There is nothing wrong with being a slow writer who thoroughly does their research and puts together some great content, but posting this content at a slow pace is far from being best practice. The main objective of a blog is to convey a message or opinion and I think it’s very fair to say that by ensuring you are consistently producing good quality, relevant blog content, then you should begin to experience an improvement in search engine results and an increased understanding amongst users about your business.