Timing vs SEO when to Publish Content?

As a contributor to Forbes I’ve had the opportunity to learn some things about publishing content on a well-trafficked site and as a result I’ve divided my content into two types of posts; 1) those that require social interaction to get traction, and 2) those that get traction by dint of SEO, or showing up in keyword searches. In both cases there is some overlap, but we’ll deal with that later in this post.

What I mean with the above is that there are some articles which, if I want them to be successful (defined here as getting a lot of visitors and theoretically reads within the first 24 hours of publishing) I need to post them at the right time. Case in point, this article entitled Want To Start A Successful Business? Go Back In Time. This is a general interest sort of article. Because it’s so general, it’s unlikely to show up in keyword searches. How many pages are also competing for searches on “how to start a successful business?” About 145,000,000. In order to make this article draw traffic, I generally time the publishing for sometime between 8 am to 2 pm EST. That way my followers on Forbes (most of whom are US based at the moment) and the general readership of Forbes (also mostly US based) is more likely to see the article, read it, share it, etc.

On the other hand, I can publish an article like 4 Tips For Hiring The Right SEO Firm anytime day or night. It’s a niche topic, and I know that it will rank well and that it’s success depends more on ranking well, which then leads to social sharing, than on the time of publication.

My evidence is anecdotal at this point. I haven’t thoroughly analyzed the data and my own articles are a small sample set anyway. But it seems to me that non-SEO articles do better in both the short and long run if I post them during the time period specified, and it seems that SEO-related articles do fine no matter when I post them.

That said, it’s not a zero sum game, by any stretch. I can both write niche content and publish it at the right time. This has only become an issue because sometimes it’s not convenient for me to publish at the time I’d like to publish, and I’m still a bit leery of using the scheduling feature on the Forbes site to publish articles. I like to manually publish and then check everything and do some social posting on my own. But sometimes that means publishing at 3 am EST. I worry less about it when it’s niche content as opposed to general interest.

Do you publish both general interest and niche content? Have you seen any similar trends when it comes to traction based on timing?


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