Analysis - by on Tuesday, August 12, 2008 9:28 - 4 Comments

Timing can impact traffic to a blog

Content isn’t everything.

Timing is important too. Jon Ortiz and The Sacramento Bee recently launched a new beat blog ahead of schedule, The State Worker, because Governor Schwarzenegger announced he would fire some state works and reduce the pay of the rest unless he was handed a new state budget.

The Bee realized they had to launch The State Worker immediately, instead of on their original timetable. This was one of the biggest issues for California state workers in years, and the Bee wanted to get ahead of it:

Our well-crafted plan was to debut this blog and an accompanying print column next week. Events dictate otherwise, and we’re opening up the blog today.

In its first week, The State Work became one of the most popular blogs for the Bee, attracting tens of thousands of page views a day. Ortiz attributes the timing of the blog’s launch as one of the major reasons why his new beat blog is so popular less than a month into its existence.

Launching a blog for the presidential election, for instance, would make a lot more sense to do so in the run up to the primaries, instead of right after the presidential election is over. Capitalizing on events in the world is a way to generate traffic to a blog and establish relevance. The Bee picked a great time to launch a blog for state workers.

Ortiz wants his new beat blog to be a place for California state workers to come to and learn about issues impacting their jobs. He also wants his blog to be the place to have conversations about those issues.

There are also best and worst times to launch content during the day:

Luciani’s conclusion: between 1pm and 3pm PST (after lunch) or between
5pm and 7pm PST (after work) are the best times and Thursday is the
best day. The worst time to post? Between 3 and 5 PM PST on the
weekends – nobody cares.

These recommendations are for national sites, but they also are applicable per time zone as well. If the majority of your users are in the Eastern Time Zone, launch content between 1 pm and 3 pm Eastern and between 5 pm and 7 pm Eastern. Monday-Thursday are the best days to launch content, and Friday evening is a very poor time to launch content.

There are always exceptions. however. A college football blog should update on Saturdays. A blog for a major league baseball team could update any day during the season. But a blog like The State Worker should follow these guidelines to insure maximum traffic and visibility for posts.

The issue is simple. Late at night, early in the morning, etc are not a prime surfing times for many people. If content is launched then, it will sit for hours before traffic begins to pick up again. By then a lot of new content will get launched, pushing that content down in RSS readers and off of homepages.

Obviously, anytime there is breaking news, that content should go up ASAP. But for general content, timing can often be just as important as content. Good site analytics (Google Analytics is a good, free solution) can help content producers understand the best times to launch content.

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About the Author of this post
Patrick Thornton is the editor and lead writer of BeatBlogging.Org. He is @pwthornton on Twitter.