I update this post from year to year with new research and tips. See below for more current updates, and also read When is the Best Time and Day to Publish a Blog Post published in 2008 with more information you need to know on how to decide when is the best time to publish.
As of 2006: For the past year, I’ve been keeping an informal score card of the traffic schedule on my blogs. I have also been searching for a report, investigation, study, and research on when is the best time and day of the week to post on your blog. I’ve come up empty, so if you know of one, please post a link in the comments below.
Researching the best time and day for posting to your blog comes with a lot of things to consider. Here are some points to think about before I get to my informal study.
- It isn’t about when you post, it’s about when the most people visit your blog. You want new content released before they arrive.
- There are two levels of “traffic” to consider when examining best times and days: 1) blog reading traffic and 2) comments. They could be the same or they could be different.
- Understanding when is the best time of day to post, you can better time the release of new material.
- Understanding which day of the week your traffic levels will be the highest helps you target the release of your most “powerful or poignant” content.
- Societal and cultural calendars impact traffic levels associated with the work days and time habits of your specific audience. In the US, Monday is the first work day of the week, but in some countries, it’s Sunday. Some countries take long breaks in the middle of their day, like a siesta, which may mean more or less traffic depending upon the society’s Internet habits during that break. Other regions start work very early in the morning and close early. Others get moving and active around 9 or 10 in the morning but stay open until 9 or 10 at night. If you write for a specific society, culture, or community, learn the ebbs and flows of their schedules and preferences their online time and habits.
- Traffic spikes due to listing on Digg, Slashdot, Wired, or other popular traffic-driving sites or social bookmarking services don’t count. They skew everything.
With these things in mind, I can only talk about generalizations and the information I’ve gathered from my informal monitoring of my various blog stats.
I have several blogs on various and diverse topics, so you would expect their traffic patterns to be different. They were not. They were fairly consistent across all of the blogs. This is what I learned.
- The highest traffic in a month comes in the first and third weeks of a month, with more hits during the end half of a month.
- The highest traffic days of the week are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday.
- The highest traffic in an average day comes during 0800 – 1400 PST (1600 – 2200 GMT).
- Most comments are posted between 0900 – 1400 PST (1600 – 2200 GMT).
- People are more likely to comment on a post on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
I’ve included here some screenshots of one of my blog’s traffic report charts. They reflect the average of what I found to hold true on my blogs’ traffic patterns.
Understanding that the majority of my readers on all my blogs are English speakers, and based in the United States, Europe, India, and Australia, this is what this information tells me. If I want to get the most attention for a specific post in line with my blogs traffic patterns and hit the most readers at one time, increasing the probability that someone will add/submit my article to Digg, del.icio.us, or other social bookmarking services, I post it in the third or first week of the month early in the week on a Monday or Tuesday before 8AM (1300 GMT).
This has played out over and over again on this blog in particular. If I make a fabulous post within that time frame, traffic levels rise and I notice a lot more incoming links and trackbacks, links from people who are writing about or linking to what I’ve written. If I post a similar article, just as fabulous, during the off-times, the traffic levels stay the same and there are no traffic surprises in incoming links or trackback levels.
That is until the next spike time in traffic, and then those “older” posts begin to pick up more traffic right alongside the new posts posted during the heavier traffic times, but they rarely get “spike traffic” attention like the other posts.
The micro-ecosystem of my blogs traffic levels tell me that the best times to post are in the very early morning hours, about 3-5AM EST (7-9 GMT), and make my best posts on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday to get coverage for those visiting my blogs on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Since over 90% of all the posts I publish are future posts (I like to work ahead a lot because I travel so much), I will set the Post Timestamp to the date I want it released, and quickly change whatever the time is to a time pre-dawn that day.
It also tells me that I can get away with posting more than one post during the first part of the week and assume they will be read, and then drop down to one or so (less work) during the end of the week. The end-of-the-week posts are more likely to be read by the most readers on Saturday or the first three days of the following week. I think of this as my way of not overloading my poor readers.
Since Saturday is a spike day in traffic, this is when I assume that the people who aren’t on the Internet much during the week get their day on the Net for the whole week, so I don’t target them much, since they are playing catch up.
I’ve posted a number of posts on a single day randomly during the past two years and found that the number of posts per day does not influence traffic levels. They also stay consistent on average no matter if I’m posting one post on Monday and six posts on Thursday.
I don’t let this information completely rule my blog’s production. If there is news out there you need to know about WordPress and blogging, then I’ll post as many posts as it takes to help you understand what is happening. Still, working with this information, I can fit it into my normal schedule and plan my posts accordingly to take advantage of my traffic levels.
Comments are a little different to figure out. If I get most of my comments during the first three days of the week, I don’t need to focus on those days. If I want to encourage more comments on my blog, I need to hit harder to encourage comments on the off-days since the on-days are the times when people are more likely to comment.
So the question is when do you read blogs? When do you comment? Does your blog reading time match my research? If it differs, how? Have you seen blog reading and traffic survey studies? What do they say? Do they match mine?
It has been a year since I wrote this and my personal research has remained constant. For my international audience blogs, the highest traffic remains on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, dropping as it moves through the week. Saturday offers a little bit of a boost as people play catch up I think.
In general, most blogs are read in the morning, and the most comments in a day arrive in the mornings on my blogs.
Blog comments are highest on Mondays and Tuesdays, too. While there is a spike in visits on Saturdays, there are very few comments.
Posts that become popular, caught by Digg and other social site submission services and sites, begin the uphill climb on Mondays and Tuesdays, so posting your “best posts” on Mondays and Tuesdays is a good idea. If a good point is picked up by one of these services, the traffic runs highest on Monday and Tuesday, no matter when you published it.
The key continues to be have your content waiting when your readers arrive.
There are always exceptions to the rule, but this still makes me wonder if people arrive at work and the first thing they do for the week is catch up on their blogs.
You would think things would change as the blogosphere develops and more and more people get online, figuring out how this all works, but the stats still prove my original premise. This premise holds up across the many blogs I monitor now.
The majority of traffic remains on Monday and Tuesday, and it rises or starts falling on Wednesday, with Thursday and Friday slow, and the weekend hit and miss. The trend stays the same across large periods of time, with and without the irregular traffic spikes out of the mix.
Posts published Wednesday through Sunday see an increase in traffic Sunday through Tuesday, if the topic is of interest to the majority of my readers.
I’ve noticed that topics I post that are of the most value to my readers, especially on this blog with WordPress news and tips, get a lot of traffic individually within the first two to three days of publishing no matter when I publish them. They get the most traffic if released on Sunday night, Monday, or Tuesday, but will also spike if published on any other day, then the traffic will fall off back to normal within two to three days.
As to the best time to publish, since WordPress.com doesn’t track that information, my other blogs tells me that my original information continues to be correct. I need to publish my blog posts two to three hours before the majority of the East Coast of the United States awakes for coverage within the United States. Outside the country, about the same time period seems to work, though that’s difficult to track. Lunch hours across North America are often the highest traffic times for most of my blogs on various topics.
Blog comments are also the highest on Monday and Tuesday, though some topics attract comments more on weekends than others. Many of my blogs get no legitimate comments on Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays on a regular basis.
Comment spam numbers are also interesting. It’s difficult to track them since so many are now caught by Akismet, but Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday are when the most slip through the Akismet net. I don’t have any proof to back it up yet, but that could be when they change the code to encourage slipping through the comment spam filters, which are quickly beat back as everyone marks the comment spam as spam and Akismet learns to recognize them by the end of the week.
It appears fairly consistent that the best day to publish continues to be Sunday night through Tuesday night, if you want to catch the most traffic to your blog on those days. However, newsworthy subjects are always of interest to your readers, no matter which day you publish.
This continues to be one of my most popular posts, so it deserves some updating to fill you in with my research since it was first published in 2006.
When is the best time and day to publish a post on your blog? Nothing has changed in the four years since I published this post. The answer is: Before your readers show up. Let’s apply this to current day blogging and social networking.
The old theory that you need to publish every day doesn’t work any more. Nor does a lot of the other myths about publishing dates. With all the various methods out there to drive traffic to your site through social networks, alerting people through their telephones where their lives are rarely disconnected from the web, the idea of when is getting diluted. Do the conclusions reached over my search since 1999 on traffic patterns still hold? They did for the first eight years, but things are changing.
The tools you need for testing your publishing times and days for yourself include any web analytics software or program. I recommend Woopra, Google Analytics, and/or the WordPress.com Stats Plugin, or something similar. Use a combination of analytics programs to get a complete picture of your blog’s statistics as each tracks differently.
Look across the stats day by day studying each day’s hours of traffic looking for peaks throughout each day. If the analytics program can do it, look for a calendar feature that compares day to day, week to week, month to month, as well as hour to hour traffic to look for patterns. Look for consistently appearing patterns across the day, week, and month, such as higher levels of traffic on Monday and Tuesday with lower levels towards the end of the week, or high traffic consistently near the 15th of the month across years of data. If your analytics offers filters or segmentation to automatically analyze high peak time periods, use them. Apply them across the various time periods to find the patterns.
Woopra offers a calendar feature that showcases your daily traffic patterns. At the top is a summary of the days within the month, showing you clearly what your traffic patterns are for every day of the week. Along the left side is a summary of each week with the week number, giving you another perspective on your traffic.
In this chart shown, for this site the afternoons have the highest traffic with less traffic in the mornings. Slow days are Sunday, Thursday, and Saturday with Wednesday as the highest traffic day of the week. This chart just shows one month, but quickly scrolling through the months, I see the patterns remain the same. Planning an editorial calendar for this site, I’d recommend publishing no later than 10:00 AM and scheduling my “best” content for Tuesday afternoon to take advantage of the rise in traffic Tuesday night through Thursday. As I researched this site, I also found that the last week of each month was a generally slow traffic time, so I suggested that they either do something to spice things up or just acknowledge the slow week in the month.
The more you study your own stats, the more you learn about your visitors and when to worry and not worry about traffic showing up, as well as when to publish posts on your blog.
Here are some things to take into consideration as you look for patterns and traffic triggers.
- Consider Feed Subscribers: If you have a high number of feed subscribers, when do they “stop by” on your site? Research referrer traffic for your site to find traffic patterns related to feed subscribers and learn to publishing before the most of them arrive.
- Multimedia Subscribers/Referrers: If you have a video channel onsite or off, are you keeping to a specific pattern or releasing when you feel like it? If you are keeping to a specific schedule for releases, then ensure related or matching content is on your blog to greet visitors coming from those sites back to “meet you.” If you are releasing randomly, compare your referral traffic from those sites to your releases and regular referral traffic to find a pattern in that data. Again, release content before they show up if you wish to greet them with new content.
- Tweets, Facebooking, and Social Webbing: Examine your stats to match times of announcements and link posts on social media platforms to find patterns in your social networking traffic. Are they responding within a few moments of your announcement on Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, or other sites, or are they showing up later? When? What drives them from those sites to your blog? Can you find any pattern in traffic from those social network referrers? By learning their “social” habits, you can adjust your publishing accordingly.
- Newsletters and Emails: A strong traffic driver for many bloggers are newsletters and email announcements. Part of timing the release of these should include studying your site’s traffic patterns and taking advantage of the natural tendency for people to visit your site at specific times. Those are often the times they are checking emails, so it’s a natural conclusion that this is a good time to catch their attention. Check your referrer traffic for emails or your newsletter publishing system’s statistics to evaluate the traffic patterns. Check those against the natural visitor patterns and see how closely they match. Use your best judgement and test your conclusions to find a key time to release the newsletter and new content on your site to maximize the traffic’s flow.
- If you promise, they will show up: Time and time again my research has proven that if you announce you will have a post on a specific day, people will show up. WordPress Wednesday means you publish on Wednesday, not Monday or Friday. People notice if you miss Wednesday, though they tend to forgive you if it’s Thursday, but not if it’s Saturday. If you have a regularly scheduled podcast or videocast on Tuesdays, they will show up waiting for it. Keep your promises.
There are now many ways to drive traffic to your site. By studying each referrer, you can learn more about the users and their traffic patterns. Think of these services as funnels, directing visitors to your site. Each social networking and publishing platform has their own ebbs and flows in traffic patterns, and there are micro patterns within the various groups. Study all the information you can find to evaluate when the best time to publish and direct traffic to your site accordingly.
My results may not meet your results. My research may not match your research – and do the research. Don’t take my word for it. It’s your audience, your traffic, and your blog. Don’t assume that my numbers and claims on when is the best time and day to publish posts on your blog will match yours. I have published for many years across many types of blogs and my findings remain fairly consistent, but test the theories yourself to find your own site’s unique patterns.
However, my research continues to hold. Unless it is a timely and much publicized post, the natural traffic patterns across the multiple of blogs I work on and maintain continues to show that publishing prior to 6:00 AM EST on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays attracts the most traffic. Posts published on other times and days of the week get less traffic on those days, though traffic for those published posts rise the beginning of the following week as the readers check in with the blog on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
Do I think about this before I hit the publish button? If I really want a lot of energy and noise around something I’m publishing or producing, I time the announcement accordingly to meet the maximum traffic with the highest exposure and word-of-mouth broadcasting as the first of the week tends to also be high traffic on social networking sites. Otherwise, honestly, I don’t give this a thought. It’s more important to get the content out than it is to mess around with all the research and numbers. Monitoring this stuff is hard work and can be time consuming. I save it for once or twice a year to see if the stats hold true, then get on with the blogging. I hope you do, too.
UPDATE December 2010: When’s the Best Time to Publish Blog Posts? on ProBlogger by HubSpot’s social media scientist, Dan Zarrella, looks at more reliable statistics to help answer the question. The new research looks at modern social media communication and marketing distribution to drive traffic and other data. For the most part, blog reading stats match my own ongoing research. While traffic can arrive at any time, especially when inspired by social media marketing strategies, but when you boil it down to return readers, publish your content before your readers show up, ready to read, whenever that is.
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