I’ve finally hit the milestone: 100 blog posts for the Ahrefs blog.
So, I decided to reflect on my journey. I did two Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions to see what people wanted to know: one on Twitter X and another on LinkedIn. I was pleasantly surprised that so many people were interested, so thank you to everyone for the kind questions.
Here are the lessons I’ve learned from crossing this milestone.
When a student approaches a mentor with problems, the mentor doesn’t lay out 200+ suggestions. It’s not helpful and causes decision paralysis. Instead, the mentor points out the exact problem and offers one or two specific pieces of advice to help the student get over the hurdle.
I think our content should do the same thing: identify our reader’s exact problem and offer the best advice—not the entirety of all advice.
For example, I could have listed every potential link-building strategy in my post on white hat link-building. While that might have been useful for some, it would have been overwhelming for most. Not to mention, there would have been no indication of what works in real life.
So, I kept it simple and focused only on the tactics that SEOs vouched for.
My worst-performing article is… I have too many to count. I put a lot of work into some of them. My post on Quora marketing had me spending time on the platform, but it never got any strong traction. I had to sign up and prompt 39 AI writing tools for my post on AI writing tools, but the joke never landed. My favorite post—marketing skills—was written from my six years of experience as a digital marketer but got nowhere either.
I think that’s the nature of content creation. Most things just don’t work, and for those that do, you can never predict prior.
I’m not saying to stop putting effort into your content. I’m just saying there’s no correlation between how long you work on something versus its “success.”
But at the end of the day, if you want to create unique content or offer a unique viewpoint, you still need to put in the work. You need to be an operator (see next point) or do hard things.
Great writing should feel hard. If you can crank out an article by opening a few browser tabs, so can everyone else. But interview someone, read a book, find an esoteric research paper, or collect some data… and your willingness to do something difficult gives you an edge.
Rankings don’t last forever. That’s why refreshing content is an integral part of our SEO content strategy.
You can see how often we update our content via Content Explorer
For example, I’ve updated the post on affiliate marketing twice. I’ve also updated alternative search engines twice, SEO statistics twice (and counting), evergreen content twice, and top Google searches countless times.
Each time we update our posts, traffic spikes.
But it isn’t all about SEO and gaining more organic traffic. If you’ve learned something new about the topic, you’re doing your audience a disservice by not telling them about it. So, make sure you’re consistently renewing and refreshing your existing content.
Your readers are not dumb. They can tell when an article is a mishmash of scraped “theoretical” advice or written from experience.
Someone writing from experience can pinpoint challenges and obstacles. They will identify nuances and spot specifics. They will have strong opinions. They will be able to provide evidence.
In short: They are believable.
If you want to be believable, you need to have skin in the game and test things against reality.
For example, I’ve done several guest posts myself. That’s how I could offer plenty of unique tips when I wrote my post on guest blogging. I even presented plenty of evidence of my guest posts, my interactions with publishers, and more.
In fact, one of the blogs I wrote for even broke down my pitch email to them—evidence that I knew what I was talking about:
I once heard bestselling author Ramit Sethi say that he spent 80% of his book-writing time on the table of contents.
I believe him. Because I struggle the most trying to organize each article I write. Case in point: I took way too long trying to come up with the best “architecture” for this post. Eventually, I settled on this.
But once I’m satisfied with the structure, the writing just flows.
Searchers are sick of every blog post being the length of a Tolstoy book. They don’t want to see content with the typical “SEO” stuff: what is X and why is X important. They can get those answers from AI now.
If you want your content to stand out and be unique in this new world of generative AI, you need to break out of the mindset of being an SEO.
Don’t simply copy what the top-ranking pages are writing about or fill content gaps. Think about how you can add, improve, or reframe the conversation around the topic you’re writing about.
For example, our post on long-tail keywords tried to correct the misconception that long-tail keywords are long (i.e., 3+ words) keywords. In reality, they are long-tail due to their position on the search demand curve.
It’s a similar story for my post on creating an SEO campaign. Most guides on that topic were simply a masquerade for another “beginner’s guide to SEO.” I tried to focus specifically on what a “campaign” was and the three major steps to setting one up.
But the truth is, I was wasteful—I used too many words to say something. Nobody wants to slog through 5,000 words to learn something. As author Morgan Housel says, “Writing is an efficiency game. Whoever says the most stuff in the fewest words wins.”
These days, I try to keep my posts as short as possible. I’ve even seen 20-30% decreases in length after rewrites. As a writer, you have to be ruthless and cut out sections that don’t work.
I got so many questions during the AMA about how long I take to write each blog post and the average length. Some even wanted to know the breakdown of each section (researching, writing, editing).
I don’t think I gave great answers because I’ve never tracked that. And I’m not sure my answers would even be helpful anyway.
So what if I took two hours to write a blog post? Does that mean you’re better or worse than me if you took more or less time? I don’t think so—and frankly, I don’t see how that improves my work as a content writer or marketer.
Details do matter. But not all details are made equal. Accuracy, uniqueness, word choice, and phrasing are important. Not article length or how much time someone took.
I don’t think I could have created my best content without peer feedback. It’s one of the best things we introduced into our content marketing workflow. Knowing that someone will point out and challenge you on the inaccuracies, logical loopholes, phrasing, and more really makes your work better.
Case in point: my first draft of this very post. I wrote about one more lesson, but Joshua’s feedback was that it was convoluted and confusing.
It was hard to hear, but I agreed. So, I removed the point.
Some people asked me how they can be good at writing. I’m not sure I have the best advice here, because I’m far from being good. But I believe one thing: If you want to be good, you must aim to be prolific.
100 seems a lot, but I’m just getting started. There’s more to explore, more to learn, and more to improve. I’ll aim to write 200, then 300, maybe even a thousand.
If you want to improve your writing and content marketing, why not join me on the same journey to write 100 and more?
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