I've tested this theory out on my own site, and what I found to work best was 2 to 3 pages a day. This is something that is going to depend heavily on your audience though, so what works for me may or may not work for you.
Keep in mind different site topics have different audience expectations, so be sure to research what sites similar to yours in topic are doing. Are they posting 1 a day? 2 a day? 5 a day? Are they all by one author or is a different person from their team writing each article? Some sites may do fine with only one new page a week. Others may struggle with anything fewer then 3 new pages a day. It really depends a lot on your individual niche and what readers with-in that niche are used to expecting from other sites in the niche.
It's always best to try to determine who your top competitors are, and look at what they are doing, then ask yourself, why are they doing it this way and not that way. Look at their history, see if you can determine if they used to post 5 a day and stopped. Perhaps you can discover why they stopped. Maybe they even wrote a page explaining why they stopped. This will be very useful info to you as it'll show you what trends readers expect in your niche, along with what others have already tested out and failed or succeeded at. It's always wise to study your competitors' history and learn from their mistakes so you don't have to make those mistakes yourself.
Better than knowing your competition though, is knowing your target audience. Do they read heavily? Do they want long content on one page? Are they light readers? Do they lose interest fast and need short content on lots of pages? Some readers will get annoyed if you take a 10,000 word article and divide it into ten pages of 1,000 words each and make them keep clicking to the next page. They WANT all 10,000 words on one single page and they don't mind sitting there for 5 hours to read it. Other readers will baulk at a single page of 10,000 words ad will close it unread just because they feel overwhelmed at the site of such a big long article. This type of reader would rather have an index of links and the article chopped into 10 quickly digestible parts.
The question you face is: which type of reader, do I want to attract to my site? Which type of reader is most common in my niche?
If your niche attracts the heavy readers, then 1 longer article a day may be better for your site. If your niche attracts the light readers then 5 shorter articles a day may be better for your site.
Remember, write for your readers, not for the robots. Google's ranking system is HEAVILY influenced by your readers interaction, far more than it is anything you do to the page. Google pays attention to how long people stay on your page and how often they click to other pages, far more then they pay attention to how many pages a day, word counts and keywords. Yes, stuff like pages per day, word counts, and keywords matter, but when compared to visitor interaction with your site, those things barely have any effect at all.
That's why you want to figure out what your readers want from you. If you put up 5 pages a day, but your readers only visit 2 of those pages, then this will reflect poorly in Google's eyes. Google pays attention to how many pages views you get those first 24 hours. If your readers are too overwhelmed after the first 2 pages, they won't read the next 3 pages, and Google will notice, hey, 3 out of 5 pages on this site are being ignored by the readers, readers are not liking this site, therefore this site is not as good.
On the other hand, if you put out just 2 pages a day and they get all the same visites as the first 2 from the set of 5, Google sees it as 2 out of 2 pages getting all this traffic, people like ALL the pages, better boost rank on this one.
In both cases, it's the same articles, just in the first case it's too many articles going up at once, so more then half get overlooked by readers, and with more then half the pages of the site not getting organic traffic, Google is going to notice this.
The question then becomes: Will my readers read ALL 5 of my pages today, if I publish all 5 of them today?
In some niches, yes they will, in other niches, no they won't. So there is no one right answer for every site here because of so many variables from one niche to the next.
Like I said, in my case, I found the optimal prime to be 2 to 3 pages per day, but that is because of the type of readers I have and their reading habits. Now, in my own niche (my nche is "novel writing tips" and "how to write dark fantasy novels" along with "short stories free to read online"; each of those heavily focused almost exclusively on writing Elves, Wizards, and Yaoi within the Fantasy genre) my readers are heavy readers. People coming to my site are people who are used to grabbing a 500 page door stopper Epic Fantasy novel and reading it in one sitting. They are avid readers of heavy works with lots of text. They scoff at a meer 1,000 words, they seek out the hefty walls of text. and they WANT a lot to read. They are NOT the norm for the bulk of the internet. they are not looking for quick reads, they can read in 15 minutes while on their lunch break. They want to sit down and read for 2 hours uninterrupted.
So, my own niche targets a very small group of a specific type of people, who are looking for very specific information (people find my site via Google by searching for such terms as: "How to write Elf sex?" or "Why do Elves have pointed ears?" or "Does a wizard burn his hands when casting fireballs?" or perhaps my strangest topic to rank #1 on Google one: "How to write a wizard who can shoot fireballs from his nipples?"... yes, I rank #1 on Google for some weird search terms and that's one of them! LOL! A reader asked me that question in an AskMeAnything so I wrote an article about it.)
But you see, my topic is a small niche, inside of a small niche. So, not a lot of readers looking for it to begin with. It being such a very small niche, in turn allows me to have more personal interaction with my readers, as I'm not targeting the whole world in general. This allows me to ask direct questions and get specific feedback. This results in I can tailor my site to their needs, including how often I publish new pages.
This is the advantage of working with a super small niche as opposed to a more popular oversaturated niche.
Because my niche is so small, and so narrow focused, I'm able to pinpoint EXACTLY what my readers want, simply by asking them.
This then effects not only the type of pages I post on my site, but their frequency as well. MOST of the pages on my site are over 7,000 words long. (Ken Evoy would be proud... my pages are as long as his forum posts.) Now, my pages are MUCH longer than average and white long form is recommended by Google these days (1k to 2k words over the previously recommended 400 to 800 words), the super long pages like mine are going to be largely ignored by the bulk of internet users regardless of Google search ranks. My pages are long because my readers are looking for very specific answers to very specific questions, in regards to writing a very specific topic in the Fantasy novel writing genre. So rather then having 10 small pages on the types of jewelry worn by Moon Elves, I have one large page covering that topic in detail. The page then becomes a reference point for any author looking to write descriptions of jewelry worn by High Elves. This is preferable to having lots of 400 pages stubs on various types of jewelry, which are easily lost in the mix of pages.
But then, how often do you need to post pages on the types of jewelry worn by fictional races of Elves? The page becomes evergreen as one does not need to write daily pages about the types of jewelry worn by Elves, right? However, someone looking to write Elves, may indeed want daily posts about the social life of Elves. This Monday a post about Elven Marriage Rituals appears, Tuesday a post answers a reader question: "What would happen if an Elf adopted a Human baby?", and Wednesday sees a post: "Death in Elf Culture." Because each of these posts is very long and very in depth, it becomes too much work to post 5 new pages on any day that sees one of these big mega posts.
Now, in the case of these types of posts, it takes me several days, sometimes weeks to write up the details of Elf society as I write it in my novels, and then write up details on how I write the novels to teach young writers how to write Elves in their own novels. Many of the How To Write Elf Society pages are longer then 20,000 words per page with a few topping 50,000 words (that's a 100 page book, if you don't know how long 50,000 words is wen printed.) These pages are massive and more mini-writing courses then actual articles. To write more then 1 or 2 a week is a feat in itself.
Like I said, I'm not targeting the general public. I'm targeting very specifically, the person who wants to write a Fantasy novel, specifically the person who wants to write highly detailed Elves in their novels. And in this case, to even attempt 5 of these mega pages a week, is beyond reasonable, so 5 of these type pages a day, is impossible.
On the other hand, you also see smaller 1,000 word Question and Answer pages, where a reader asks me a question... like the one I got asking: "If a wizard casts fireball, well the flames burn his hands? Does he had to wear fireproof gloves? What happens if his robes catch on fire? Are his robes flame resistant? If so, is it just normal flame retardant or is it some magic spell he has to cast before casting fireball? And what if he doesn't have hands, can a wizard cast fireballs from his nipples?" This question resulted, not only in my writing an article to answer it, but it resulted in me writing an entire week long series of daily articles looking at how to write various spell casting side effects for your wizards, and THEN writing the novel "Flamboyant Nipples" about an Elf wizard with magic nipple rings that shoot fireballs. I get novel ideas everywhere. In this instance the articles were short, only around 3,000 words and so they were published 2 per day, and because this series was answering reader questions directly, it got a high rate of views minutes after publication, because the question came from readers on my FaceBook fan group and was posted there, resulting in them sharing it with their own friends. In short the series of articles got more views because it was being posted multiple times a day and shared on FaceBook. No thought to search engine optimization went into this series at all.
In other words, the content itself, is more important then the frequency. The long mini-writing course style posts are simply too much work to try to post more then one a week, while the shorter AskMeAnything Q&A posts can go up at a rate of 2 or more a day, simply because of their more spur of the moment, less researched format.
Thus how many pages to post a day, is also dependant on the amount of work it takes to create each page, and for some topics, you simply can not do the proper research and be able to post with great frequency, while other pages you can hash out quickly and post several in one day.
Quantity is good, sure, but quality is always better than quantity. So, ask yourself: what type of page can I put up at a rate of 5 pages a day and IS it the type of page I want my site to be known for? Is it quality work? If you can put up 5 quality pages a day and your readers are able to read all 5 of them that day, then have at it.
Just remember... the more you post each day, the fewer pages each of your readers will read. Readers have busy lives and most people read a page within 24 hours after it is published. Each extra pages past the first one, has greater risk of not being read.
I strive for 1 page daily, 2 pages ideally, and 3 pages if the 3rd page is short.
Usually you'll see me do this:
- 1 or 2 Q&A pages a day (2,000 to 4,000 words each usually)
- 2 to 3 short stories a week )1,000 to 10,000 words)
- 1 mega page a week (10,000 to 20,000 words)
- 1 vlog embed page daily (because I'm a daily vlogger on YouTube - this page has no article and is just the daily vlog itself embedded on the page)
- random spur of the moment "hey, I just thought of this!" blog post type pages whenever I think of them, usually 1 every day or 2
In the end my site average 3 new pages a day.
I put very little, to none at all, effort into SEO, keyword research, or planning for what Google might think. I frankly, find worrying about what Google thinks or wants to be a complete and total waste of my time. Basically my method is: I know what my readers want, to hell with what Google thinks.
Remember, ranking #1 on page 1 of Google is easy to do. Convincing people to first click on your page and then stay and read it, is another thing entirely! I have a page that ranked #1 on page 1 of Google in 6,000+ search results this month, yet was only clicked on 1 time. I have another page that ranks very low, sits on page 30 of Google search results, and yet gets 400+ clicks a day from Pinterest. My top visited page with 10million+ views, rarely appears in Google search results at all, and gets nearly all of it's clicks from a link that was posted in someone else's website. Lust for Google rank is meaningless when you really start looking at where your page views come from and realize that the pages with the most views are rarely high ranked on Google at all and are getting views not from Google search results but rather from social networks and links recommending it in other people's sites.
Far too many webmasters focus on slaving for Google rank, when Google rank really has very little bearing on how many page clicks your site will get. Page rank means nothing without the clicks to go with it. And THAT is why is is best to write for readers not for robots. People click on links recommended by real people (social networks and in blog posts) and don't trust links recommended by robots (Google search).
Right now my site is getting 40,000 to 70,000 visits a month (depending on season) and only 7% (2,000 to 4,000) of those visits are coming from Google. If I relied on Google search rankings for my traffic I'd have hardly any traffic at all! This is why I say focusing heavily on ranking high in search engines is not the way to go. Yes, optimize for search engines, of course, because they do help, but never forget that in the end it's word of mouth and real live people recommending you on social networks, not robot search engine, that is going to bring in most of your traffic. Thus my mantra of write for people not robots.
So, back to your question of 5 posts a day.
Will your readers be willing to read 5 posts a day? Or are they going to read 1 and bookmark the rest for later?
You noticed I mentioned Ken Evoy's forum posts, right? I mentioned it for a reason. Go look for the controversy a few months back about if his posts were too long or not. You found readers like myself who read every word of his mega posts and want more, then you find raders who say they skip his posts and look for someone to write a TL;DR of it in the comments. Some say they would read all of his post if they had enough free time in the day to do so, so skim for the bolded points and hope to rad the rest later. This thread commenting on Ken Evoy's mega long forum posts is an invaluable look at the varying differences of how people read. And while the topic is word count, you could easily translate it into page count as well.
Think about it... if a person is willing to sit through a 7,000 word forum post, that person will also read all 5 of your daily pages, and that person becomes the type of reader you desire to target. By targeting this one type of reader, you attract more readers like them, but you will likely lose everyone else.
On the other hand, the person who skims and saves to read later, they will want both shorter and fewer pages per day. They want to read your pages, but they are busy and lack time. They can read the first 2 short pages, but those last 3 pages are too much, so they bookmark for later and likely later never comes because you put out 5 new pages tomorrow and again they read 2 and bookmark 3.
Then you have the person who reads the TL;DRs... if your pages are short enough, they'll read all 5 pages every day, but if the pages are too long they'll read none of them at all.
There are dozens of types of readers out there, and the trick is to pick one and ONLY one as your target reader, then design your site around what that type of reader wants.
Yes, I realize when a site is new, you do have to rely heavily on Google for traffic, more so then you will in later years. Keep in mind that once you have established a steady fan base, though, you'll find the bulk of your traffic comes from returning visitors - people who check back daily to see what's new. Once you've got the fanbase, you'll start to see a trend in how many pages get read each day.
It was this sort of method I used to determine that in my own case, 2 to 3 posts a day was ideal.
I have tried posting 5 posts a day. A few times I tested out 10 posts a day. Yep. 10.
Crazy, I know. Anyways, I did this for a few months, changed how many posts I did daily. Each week posting differently. You know what I noticed? In every case, no matter how many posts I made that day, it was always the first 2 posts that got the bulk of the views, and the rest wouldn't get hardly any.
My own site often has 3 new pages a day, 4,000 to 7,000 or more words each but, my average reader is also retired and over 65 years old, so has time to sit and read 3 long pages.
Remember that different age groups have different reading tastes. The younger your target reader, the short word count and fewer pages you want to be posting per day. 20sometings and moms with small children will only want 1 page a day of 1,000 words. Retired seniors who gobble of 500 page novels want 3 or more 7,000+ word page.
There is so much more than just knowing what Google wants, involved in reaching your target audience. You must know who is looking for your niche as well. How old are they? Where do they live? What income are they at? What race/culture do they come from? Who do they live with? Where do they work? What are their hobbies? The list goes on and on. Each type of person has different expectations about each type of website. What does your ideal reader expect from the type of site you want to build?
This weighs more on how many pages you should post a day, then search engines. Search engines changes their rules daily, but people are deep rooted in their ideals. People are creatures of habit, set in their ways.
Now, me, I rely a lot on my notification squad. The subscribers. The readers who come back daily. I have subscribers on Twitter, FaceBook, Tumblr, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. Every time I post a new page, I ping each of those social networks. Within the first 4 hours, the page will have gotten MOST of its monthly views. After that the page relies on Google and will get 1 or 2 views a day. Without my 10k followers on Twitter and 5k followers on FaceBook arriving in droves those first few hours after publication, most of y pages would get almost no views at all, despite of the fact that I have 500+ pages that rank #1 of page 1 on Google for their keywords.
I becomes not only a thing of how many pages, but also of timing...
I post certain topics at 10AM, because I know my subs who follow that topic are more likely to be online then. I posts my pages on other topics at 4PM and 11PM, because I know the subs who follow for those topics are more likely to read those pages then. These are variables that I learned over the years by daily/hourly tracking which traffic was coming from what networks to which page, then analyzing the results.
If you pay attention to my posting patterns, you also see that I only post 1 to 2 new pages on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, 2 new pages on Tuesday and Thursday, 3 or more pages on Friday, and a whopping 5 to 10 pages on Wednesday. Why? Because, again, I spent years analyzing the hourly and daily page visit patterns from Twitter and FaceBook to my site. I discovered that my subscribers are not online as much on weekends, thus fewer page views.
I've gone even further though, by posting polls on Twitter and FaceBook, doing AskMeAnythings on Tumblr, and actively listened to my reader suggestions and comments. Coming right out and asking: "What time of the day are you most likely to read this topic Where do you look to be notified of new pages? What time? What day? Are you are work? School? Home? When do you read longer articles? When do you read shorter articles?"
Keep in mind too, that I've meet more then 30,000 of my 300,000 email subscribers in person, at book signings, conventions, lectures, etc, and I'm a hugly hands on type of person, who likes offline interaction with my readers. When I got invited by a book club of elderly readers to join then on one of their fall foliage bus tours across New England, I went with them. Interacting with my fans offline has always been a big part of my author career, and my website is no different. Finding out what my readers want and catering to their needs is very much a big part of what I do in planing every aspect of my website. I'm NEVER thinking about Google or asking "will this help my search rankings", and instead I'm thinking: "Now Judy likes these types of articles and she gets off work at 3PM and Anne she also likes these type of articles and she has to go pick her kids up at 2:30PM. 4PM is the best time to post the articles they like..." I think about the reader (most of whom I know by name) not the robot.
If you were someone who never saw my site before, and your first visit you noticed the RSS feed in the side bar and looked at the dates, you'd think "This is madness! 3 post this day, 2 posts that day, 5 the next day. Long posts here. Short posts there. This topic this day. That topic the next day. Yie!" You'd think there was no rhyme nor reason to it... however, there is a method to my madness, and my seemingly scatterbrained mish mash of posting is far more structured and methodical then it at first appears.
But this is how I succeed in getting views. I go out of my way to find out what my readers want.
If I tried to cater to everyone (ie focused on what search engines wanted) I'd be spreading myself too thin and attract no one. But by focusing on what one narrow demographic wants, I keep them coming back for more and get new readers via them recommending me to their friends. And word of mouth trumps search engines every time.
Remember, the bulk of your traffic is going to read your page in the first 24 hours after publication. So you have to ask yourself can your returning readers read 5 pages each and every day?
Sure you want evergreen pages that get traffic for years, but you still have to remember that no matter how evergreen a page is, most every page on the internet gets 90% of it's traffic in the first 24 hours BEFORE Google has had time to even index it. And if you are putting out more pages a day then your readers can read, then you are losing out on the bulk of your work being read.
You need to build up that rabid fanbase, so you have thousands of notification squad visits minutes after publishing, because it takes Google days to index your pages and then months to start trickling in page clicks, and years to turn a page into an evergreen repeat clicker (which rarely happens, most sites will only have 2 or 3 pages ever reach this point.)
Those first 24 hours of page visits from your repeat, return readers are the all important page views you want to strive for. Search engine page views are not going to cut it, not even with the best SEO practices.
So in the end, yes, 5 posts a day is fine, if your readers are willing and able to read that many a day. Pay attention to your readers and do what is best for them. If you notice a high rate of only 2 new articles a day being read, then switch to 2 articles a day instead. You want your readers to actually read your work, not save it for later and never get back to it.
Remember, having a backlog of lots of pages is good, but having a backlog of lots of readers who return daily is better. In the early days of your site, 5 pages a day will be good for building a backlog of pages, while you are still building a reader base, but once you have the reader base returning daily, you'll want to focus more on just posting what your return readers can handle, and 5 posts a day may be too many. In my own experience, I've found that most readers will read 2 pages a day if you are posting 2 daily, but more then that has fewer readers. Most people have busy lives and can not read 5 pages a day of one site, not when they also post on their social networks too.
So, personally, I think, in the early days, putting up a lot of pages each day helps, because it builds your backlog, but I also think, in the long run, catering to your readers is better and ideally you'd publish as many pages a day as your readers expect of you and no more then that. Publishing too many posts a day will overwhelm your readers and result in them not reading all of your pages, even though they may want to. So don't publish more pages a day then your ideal reader can read. Keeping your readers happy is key.
I wonder too, can you keep up 5 pages a day? That's a lot of work and if you are not a full time career writer outside of your website, it'll wear you down fast. Things like carpal tunnel and pulled wrist muscles are serious health issues that'll put your arm in a cast for 12 weeks to a time, leaving you 12 weeks of no pages at all. That's something to think about. We authors do hand, finger, wrist, and forearm warm ups and exercises before going into a full day of non-stop writing. We don't sit and write none stop for 8 hours either. That'll cause back pain and leg cramps and varicose veins. We take a break every 45 minutes, get up walk around, and too much typing wears done your joints so you need to be drinking 24oz of water every hour to prevent your finger joints from getting arthritis from overuse. Full time writing is not something to jump into unprepared. It has health effects that often get overlooked.
I think, you should spend a month of posting 5 pages a day, and see what happens. Test it out. Find out how it affects your health, in addition to how it affects your site traffic. It's certainly doable, but it's definitely a strain.
But spending a month testing it out will give you site traffic stats too, to help you compare notes with before and after posting 5 pages a day. This should help you see first hand how that posting schedule affects your rankings. Nothing proves a theory right or wrong better then testing it out and looking at the results you get.
And as always, keep in mind every site and every niche is different, so your results will vary and the only real way to know for sure is to simply track your daily site stats for several months, even for a few years, then compare your personal results with what you did to get those results. Comparing what other people did with their sites only shows you what worked for them and those things may or may not work for you. It's all a course in trial and error. I've just always found it better to focus on tracking my site stats over the years and asking my readers for advice on what they want more of, and then taking their answers and combining it with my site's stats and figuring out what worked that way. I don't feel that focusing on Google and what other sites are doing, tells me as much useful info as actually studying my site stats does. Which is why I think spending a week or a month posting 5 pages a day, then watching your stats will tell you more than anything else will.
I'm being long winded as usual.
Hope that helps.