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  1. #1
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    Ideal Article Length

    I assume that in general people rarely read long articles, unless the topic really piques their interest. On the other hand, an article of just a few sentences is probably not going to create a big buzz. Are there any good rules of thumb for deciding a good length for your article?

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    Very generally your looking for around 700-1000 words. But in reality your article should ba as long as nessecary to descripe your point. However an article less than 500 words in my opinion does not give enough information.

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    SitePoint Addict Wildhoney's Avatar
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    I recently read an exceedingly informative article on AdWords. It was some 25 pages in length with each page holding at least 350 words. I wouldn't for a second have read it all if the content was not witty. Thus, for me, engaging content is a requirement, whilst the length should be proportionate in relation to the information that you are relaying or divulging. Readers themselves will not read the second paragraph of a badly started article.
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    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Whatever length it takes to cover your topic. I shoot for 200 to 500 words per page.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

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    Readers themselves will not read the second paragraph of a badly started article.
    Good point. You can't make uninteresting writing short enough.

    People who write boring articles are absolutely convinced users won't read long articles. They have evidence to back up their belief.

    Those who can write a compelling article are absolutely convinced long copy works. They have evidence to back it up.

    Both sides can point to evidence. Both sides are right. It's more informative to understand the reason why.

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    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Yes long copy works, especially in those inane sales letters that beat the reader over the head with repetition. However, if your goal is conversion, you want to give your reader a chance to click. So you break a longer article into more pages than one. Sure... they can click away, but that may be your goal... to get them to click to a an affiliate link.

    When you write for the web, you must keep the goal in mind. A long article on one page for the sake of strutting your stuff, struts your stuff but can bore a reader to tears.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

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    Everyone is in a hurry so try to make article to the point with good info. I agree with breaking article up with link to what ever your writting about. I would use 250 to 600 words each page and have link on each one for product or service.

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    Usually the article submission accepted 500 words for article. It is important to have a unique and quality content that is not copied from others.

    Quote Originally Posted by dvduval View Post
    I assume that in general people rarely read long articles, unless the topic really piques their interest. On the other hand, an article of just a few sentences is probably not going to create a big buzz. Are there any good rules of thumb for deciding a good length for your article?

  9. #9
    Non-Member Phoebe_'s Avatar
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    For simple article, usually 200 words. For submission article about 500 + words.

  10. #10
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Kailash Badu's Avatar
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    What about 3000 words guys? That's what I did for a recent article on a technical issue. Is this terrible? Would I have to split it into multiple articles in a series?
    Last edited by Kailash Badu; Aug 24, 2007 at 07:13.

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    SitePoint Addict Wildhoney's Avatar
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    For a 3,000+ word article I think the key is to break it down into small paragraphs and individual pages. Use a pagination to allow your readers to click next and previous. First impressions are crucial and thus initial impressions for a 3,000+ word article crammed onto one page would be that the article is verbose, superfluous and banal.
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    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildhoney View Post
    ....and thus initial impressions for a 3,000+ word article crammed onto one page would be that the article is verbose, superfluous and banal.
    I do agree that the article would be better on several pages, however I have come across some very long one-page articles that were well worth the read. Still, long articles are less likely to be read than shorter ones.

    Go find something long in the Web and begin reading it, paying attention to what your eyes and hands are doing as you read. Here's what the experts say...

    Before you being reading, your eye is going to canvas the screen for something of interest. Now, this canvas is 'above the fold', so if the reader must scroll to access the meat of your content, you may well lose the reader before he/she ever finds that point that would draw his focus and pique his interest in what you have to say.

    You'll find that white space is critical in keeping your attention as you read. Yet, the more white space the writer uses, the less area he has available for content 'above the fold'.

    As you read down the page, notice what your hand is doing. Its probably scrolling the page as you read. A lot of 'gurus' will tell you that website visitors have poor attention spans. That's bullpuckey!

    What happens is that when reading on the screen, your eye finds its point of interest and fixes on that point of interest, reading while you use your mouse or keyboard to scroll the page, helping you maintain your interest and at the same time searching for the next point of interest to draw your attention.

    That's what the experts mean when they tell you that Internet readers scan a page. There's more to it than that, but reading while scrolling is a part of it.

    Finally, if you are using a mouse as you read, notice your urge to click while reading long content. How many times have you right-clicked unintentionally or clicked a link that you really didn't mean to click? Of course, clicking takes your focus away and then you must begin the process of finding a point of interest again.

    There's so much more to say on this subject that I could well turn this into a 3000 word article, but then how many of you would read to the bottom? So I'll just leave you with these reasons why longer articles can be wonderful but they are best split into several pages.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  13. #13
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    Excuse me for inserting actual test results into the thread, but this seems a good point for:

    EyeTrack07: The Myth of Short Attention Spans

    The point is to get into the habit of testing. It really doesn't matter when you can't hold the attention of people past 500 words -- the limit is five hundred words or you hire someone else. The only way to know is to test.

    Also, why not do both short and long? Many catalogs have a traditional short blurb, the order button(s) and the text then continues below this, with another set of buttons at page bottom. Scanners stop, readers read, everybody is happy.

    With articles, if you're afraid of the page length then provide a 200-300 word summary. Other sites have an index, with long articles broken into sub topics. In page anchor links take you right to the section you want.

    I think we're looking at this too much like print. Design somewhat muddies the results. You can design a page that looks like a formidable challenge to a reader. Or you can design a page layout that makes the scanning reader feel even a somewhat longer article won't be a chore.

    There are variables that make "long" and "short" less than useful for fruitful discussion.

  14. #14
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DCrux View Post
    Excuse me for inserting any test results into the thread, but this seems a good point for:

    EyeTrack07: The Myth of Short Attention Spans

    Actually, that's a very good article --- 445 words long, split by a video and with several links that give the reader the opportunity to click in the direction the writer wants to lead him/her.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  15. #15
    SitePoint Zealot jungerpants's Avatar
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    400-600 words. If it's any longer, consider paginating it.

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    Yet another technique: write blurbs introducing pages. Especially useful when you're talking about stuff like PowerPoint, video, white papers in PDF form or just regular html.

    Similar to users clicking thumbnails, you scan the summary blurbs, then read or view the extended version. The key: Give the user control. Not much different from font sizing controls on the layout.

  17. #17
    SitePoint Member Firefly Wings's Avatar
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    350-500 words per article. But if you can't help but write a longer article, make sure that you arrange it in such a way that it's easy to read. Organize them into subtopics and write subtitles in bold letters.
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  18. #18
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    I've just read an 11,000 words long article about traveler's diarrhea. No images, links, nothing. ALL necesary info on one place, usefull, explanatory, reliable. It was all on one page, I've read it at once, was written by a doctor from a Nepal clinic, was informative for both - patients and doctors.

    Article:
    ciwec-clinic.com/diar/index.html

    Paginating only disturbs me.

  19. #19
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by boron View Post
    I've just read an 11,000 words long article about traveler's diarrhea. No images, links, nothing. ALL necesary info on one place, usefull, explanatory, reliable. It was all on one page, I've read it at once, was written by a doctor from a Nepal clinic, was informative for both - patients and doctors.

    Article:
    ciwec-clinic.com/diar/index.html

    Paginating only disturbs me.
    And what did you buy from that site? What did you click on?
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  20. #20
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    In my twelve years as an online publicist, it has been my experience that good ezine editors want quality indepth articles of around 500 to 1,000 words. Additionally, you want to create original content.

    Publishing in an ezine will net much better results in terms of traffic and thus sales, than just mass posting your articles in article directories. Although ezine directories can be a means for ezine editors to find your articles. I prefer to send directly to the ezine editors.

    If you are writing for hard copy magazines such at Home Business Magazine which publishes articles in exchange for a resource box in their glossy magazine, the size is generally 1,000 to 2,000 words.

    Hope that helps!

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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower View Post
    And what did you buy from that site? What did you click on?
    I've needed information, not products.

  22. #22
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by boron View Post
    I've needed information, not products.
    That's just what I thought. However, I think you'll find that most of the webmasters here at Site Point are building businesses on the web, not free informational sites. So the advice given here is to help them build successful businesses.

    The way to build a successful web business is to take the disadvantage of readers clicking away from a web site and turn their urge to click into an advantage. The way to do that is to give readers the opportunity to click to other areas of your site and eventually through your sales process to conversion, using text links within content and breaking longer articles into shorter sections.

    I took a look at the article you read and noticed that the top of the page contained links ( a table of contents) that led to the different subtopics of the article below, certainly a type of navigation meant to 'shorten' the article for those who didn't need all of the information contained in the 11,000 words.

    Unfortunately, it was poorly done since there was no 'up' or 'top' link to give the reader easier access to the index. Moreover, I believe that most folks would rather move forward through a site than back and forth and it's certainly more beneficial for the website owner to lead their visitors through the site and through their sales process than to keep them jumping around a single page.

    Breadcrumb navigation helps readers advance through a site while providing them with the ability to go back if they choose to do so. It also allows readers to bookmark a page of specific information, something which they can't do on a one page article.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  23. #23
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    If you can keep the article "fresh" then go for as many words as possible, otherwise you need an absolute minimum 300 words.

  24. #24
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    What is the purpose of the article? If it's just informational then I would say keeping it in managable pieces with pagination is ideal, but if it is a direct sales pitch, many people feel that longer is better. We've all seen this in action plenty of times around the web. It goes something like this

    tempt the reader

    offer the reader a "buy now" link

    reader clicked? great

    reader did not click...

    tempt the reader

    offer the reader a "buy now" link

    reader clicked? great

    reader did not click...

    tempt the reader

    etc.....

  25. #25
    Non-Member SEO Dynamics's Avatar
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    An ideal article should have 500 - 800 depending on the topic one is covering. But a sales article should be longer like cringer said.


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