Producing high-quality content is difficult.
And, as consumers become more discerning and algorithms grow more sophisticated, it’s only becoming harder.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the time taken to produce a single blog post increased by 67% from 2014 – 2021.
With all that effort, you naturally want to see results.
So the last thing you want is to consign your latest post to the digital scrap heap because you hit “publish” at the wrong time.
That’s why we decided to look at the best time to post a blog.
Because this is a nuanced issue, we’ve based our answer(s) on the following factors:
- Third-party data
- Your own website data
- SEO best practices
- External factors (such as competitor activity and upcoming events)
Then let’s get started…
What Can We Learn from Third-Party Data?
There are studies on pretty much everything marketing-related, which gives us an opportunity to leverage third-party data to figure out the best time to post a blog.
However, most of the data that’s out there is either:
- Really old
- Highly specific (i.e. only relevant to one specific website)
- Both of the above
The most useful data we’ve found, from Sprout Social, isn’t actually about blog posts at all.
Instead, it’s about the best times of day to post on various social media platforms.
As such, it doesn’t tell us anything about the best time to publish a blog post, but it can be helpful for identifying the best time to share posts we’ve already published.
For instance, Sprout Social discovered that Facebook posts see the highest levels of engagement when published from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays:
Sprout Social’s data covers four of the biggest social media sites — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Unsurprisingly, there are some slight variances in ideal post timings across those four platforms.
For instance, LinkedIn — with its predominantly B2B-centric audience — sees the highest engagement levels between 9:00 am and 12:00 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 09:00 am – 2:00 pm on Wednesdays:
However, generally speaking, it seems that weekday lunch times are your best bet for generating social traction.
Which obviously means your blog posts need to be published before then.
When Does Your Audience Consume Content?
Website analytics platforms can lift the lid on the times (and days) when people are most likely to visit your website.
That information could be a useful guide on the best time to post a blog.
Now, we’re going to show you how to do this by creating two custom reports using the most popular analytics platform, Google Analytics (N.B. we’re using an unnamed Analytics account here and blurring all the figures to protect any sensitive information).
For starters, navigate to Custom Reports in the left-hand menu:
Now, for your hourly data, you’ll want to build a custom report using these parameters:
Next, setting up your days-of-the-week report looks like this:
Now, let’s take a look at the results…
The hourly data shows us that the busiest time of day for this unnamed website is between 4:00 am and 6:00 am local time, with further spikes around 10:00 am and 7:00 pm:
While the busiest days, in descending order, are:
So, taking that data at face value, this suggests the best time to post a blog on this website would be around 6:00 am on a Monday.
But before you start building your own reports, there are a couple things you need to know.
Firstly, please make sure your Google Analytics account is set to the correct timezone. And if you’re going to schedule a social post to go out at 6:00 am on a Monday morning to promote your blog, check the timezone of your scheduling software matches the timezone of your GA account.
(Trust us, we learned this the hard way.)
Secondly, don’t base your decisions on too small a sample size.
We’d recommend reviewing at least a year’s worth of traffic to guard against any rogue or outlying data skewing the results.
And finally, if you think the data looks a little screwy, it might be worth some further research.
Like, why are so many people visiting this mystery website between 3:00 am and 6:00 am? Is this some kind of collective sleep disorder?
Google Analytics’ location data can shed some light.
As we can see, the bulk of this website’s traffic comes from the East Coast:
But the Google Analytics account is set to the Pacific Time Zone.
In other words, this website’s 3:00 am is their audience’s 6:00 am. Which makes a lot more sense!
What’s the Best Time to Post a Blog for SEO?
If you’re predominantly creating blog content to drive organic traffic, it stands to reason that you’d want to consider SEO best practices when deciding on the best time to post a blog.
So do you want the good news or the bad news?
The bad news is that there’s no real data out there on how publication time impacts SEO.
But the good news is that Google search relations representative John Mueller has (kind of) answered the question in one of his #AskGooglebot videos.
According to him, it can take Google “several hours to several weeks” to actually index a new piece of content or an update to older content.
However, sometimes it can take longer — either because GoogleBot is busy elsewhere, or because your website has some kind of technical issue.
That’s not the end of the story, though.
Research from Ahrefs has revealed that 94.3% of pages don’t rank in the top 10 search results for any given keyword within a year of publication.
To figure out what this all means, let’s do a quick recap:
Firstly, it might take Google several weeks — or even longer — to even notice your latest piece of content exists.
And secondly, even after it’s found you, chances are you still won’t be anywhere near the front page of SERPs for several more months (if ever).
As such, for the vast majority of websites, there is no “best” time to post a blog from an SEO perspective, because the timelines involved are so protracted.
It doesn’t matter much if you publish at 9:00 am, 9:30 am, or 4:00 pm when you likely won’t start bringing in search traffic until months later.
However, there are some possible exceptions to this rule.
Remember, Mueller admitted Google might be busy doing other things when it could be indexing your content.
Those “other things” could include indexing higher-priority content.
For instance, Search Engine Land notes that content from news and current affairs websites “can be indexed in minutes by Google.”
Of course, indexing isn’t the same thing as ranking.
But if your site typically publishes content that’s highly time-sensitive, then the best time to post a blog is probably as soon as possible.
What External Factors Should You Consider When Posting a Blog?
Remember, your blog post doesn’t exist in isolation — it’s part of your wider marketing strategy.
There could be any number of external factors that determine the best time to post a blog.
Some of those factors might be highly specific to your organization, in which case we can’t offer much help with timings.
But common considerations include:
1. An Upcoming In-Person Event
You might be publishing a blog to drum up awareness for an event you’re running or a conference you’re attending.
In which case those timings need to factor into your blog post publication schedule.
2. An Upcoming Virtual Event
Similarly, your blog post might be intended to drive attendance for an impending virtual event, like a live webinar or panel discussion.
Virtual events require less lead time because they’re easier to attend, so you don’t need to start promoting them six months in advance.
GoToWebinar recommends launching a webinar promotion four weeks before the event, ramping up your promotional frequency as the date nears to capitalize on people’s tendency to register at the last minute.
3. What Your Competitors are Doing
In some instances, competitor activity plays a huge part in choosing the best time to post a blog.
For example, every January, we see a bunch of headlines about how many people are planning to quit their jobs or change careers in the coming year.
Headlines like this one from the New York Post:
And this one from The Washington Times:
Similar as they are, those articles are based on two different surveys — one from a small business review website, the other from a financial services company.
This sort of thing is (often) easy to predict.
In this case, we know news websites are always going to publish this sort of content in early January, because pursuing a career ambition is one of the most common new year’s resolutions.
Clearly, if you know (or can guess) that a bunch of other people are going to be releasing similar data or unveiling a similar trend at the same time as you, it’s in your best interest to get there first.
That sort of consideration would therefore override your “business as usual” publishing schedule.
So… When Should I Post a Blog?
As you’ve probably gathered, there’s no universal response to the question: “What’s the best time to post a blog?”
Even your own website (or social) data won’t give you a definitive answer, because there are so many other factors at play.
However, we’d generally recommend the following:
- If you’re publishing evergreen content, publish in time for your website’s highest traffic levels
- For time-specific content like breaking news, your best bet is simply to publish as soon as possible
Make sure your blog post has everything it needs to succeed – and is published at the right time – when you work with Content Conquered. Find out more today!