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Writing contense - what is a good length for pages?
henjon




msg:1348075
 9:33 pm on Dec 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

Junst wondering.. What is a good lengt for an article? 200 words? 400 words? or more? Should you write it long and thereby satisfy SEs or short and satisfy readers? and what would the limit for what you can classify as an article be?

 

europeforvisitors




msg:1348076
 9:36 pm on Dec 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

There's no "best" length, and you shouldn't assume that search engines prefer long articles or that users prefer short articles.

Write what's appropriate for the topic and your intended audience.

Never_again




msg:1348077
 5:05 am on Dec 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

You should not be adding content to satisfy the SEs, but the users of your website. If you are providing valuable content that users want and like, your traffic will increase. Certainly you should think about tuning the content for good SE ranking, but focus mainly on your users.

We attempt to keep our article length between 750 and 1000 words, but I'm sure this will vary by subject.

jhood




msg:1348078
 5:20 am on Dec 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Why do you think a short article would "satisfy readers" whereas a long one would quench the thirst of the search engines?

A reader wants to read until he has read enough. If you have only 200 words, he may not be satisfied and will go somewhere else. If you have a well-written 1,000 words on the topic, the reader may find his curiosity satisfied at the 600-word mark. So, just to be sure the point is not missed, it is better to write too long than too short. You are not, after all, paying for paper and ink.

The very first forum heading I saw when I started visiting this site a few years ago was "Where do you get your content from?" "Writing contense." is a close second to that.

jetteroheller




msg:1348079
 7:07 am on Dec 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

A picture tells more than 1000 words.

It has only to be big enough to see something.

So I have many pages with about 30 words and one
picture 600x450 or 450x600.

If this is not big enough, the user can click on it and view the picture in original size. This means most times 2048x1536.

At many sites, I have a feeling that internet is for many a text only medium. Many pictures on other web sites are so small, that it's impossible to base a purchase decision on such tiny pictures.

BadSense




msg:1348080
 7:27 am on Dec 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Write your article with one thing in mind: getting your message across.

If it requires 1000 words to prove or describe or instruct, so be it. You can always break it up into 5 sections, but don't change the length to accomodate a false presumption you have regarding viewers vs. search engines.

topsites




msg:1348081
 8:06 am on Dec 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Satisfy your readers first and foremost.

It takes time to build traffic and the way you build it is take care of your visitors. This is because by so doing, the satisfied visitor will save your site to their favorites. By the way, it has been my experience that the percent of visitors who save to faves can be higher when the result is further down, hope that makes sense.

Do this, and in time you may see what I mean, as over 97 percent of my site's traffic comes via bookmarks (this includes internal links). The message is clear: Take care of the visitors, always build your site for your visitors and never alter your content far beyond what you had intended for your visitors. Maybe one or two little tweaks tend to help, but anymore can be detrimental.

Then, if something comes of it as far as the engines go, hey, that's just bonus.

Far as how long the article should be? Shoot, write the dang thing and see what happens, don't worry about the length, 10 words can be as effective as 100 thousand, or anything in between. I would focus more on what you are trying to accomplish than on the details, if that helps.

Lipik




msg:1348082
 1:42 pm on Dec 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

The lenght of an article doesn't matter, but the lenght of a page does.
If your article is 1000 words, maybe it is better to cut it into several pages. That way your reader doesn't have to wait to load such a 'big' page.
It's also a good way to see if people are interested in your article : if they only load the first page and nobody clicks on the next one....

europeforvisitors




msg:1348083
 4:09 pm on Dec 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

The lenght of an article doesn't matter, but the lenght of a page does. If your article is 1000 words, maybe it is better to cut it into several pages. That way your reader doesn't have to wait to load such a 'big' page.

Back in the 1990s, WIRED reported on a study where users were asked to read a single-page article that required scrolling and a longer version of the article that was broken into multiple pages.

Readers preferred the multi-page article. Not only that, but they also thought the multi-page article was shorter than the single-page article that required scrolling (even though the multi-page article was, in fact, longer).

jetteroheller




msg:1348084
 7:38 pm on Dec 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Readers preferred the multi-page article. Not only that, but they also thought the multi-page article was shorter than the single-page article that required scrolling (even though the multi-page article was, in fact, longer).

As mentioned above, I make much photo reportages with large pictures 600x450 and around 30 words comment about the pictures.

When I would make on one page 30 pictures with 60 KB average, this would be 1.8 MB and the page would need way to long to load.

But so, there is usual only 1 photo per page.
Like in a book, there is a logical order of pages.
You read page 1, 2, 3, 4....
The next page is always connected with the right arrow button.
The photo from the next page is preloaded by javascript.

So while the reader reads the page and looks on the photo, the photo of the next page is loades into the cache.

When the reader clicks on the next page button, the page displays immedeately, because the picture is already downloaded.

digicamhelp




msg:1348085
 11:35 pm on Dec 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

A few years ago I went to the local library to pick up a few books on swimming. One was written in the '50s and one in the '90's. The one in the '50's was full of long, small point text and a few photos; the one from the '90's was just the opposite. It really struck me how the reading habits of individuals seeking information had changed during those 40 years. Then I think of how (in the US) the newspaper USA Today ultimately changed the way many newspapers and magazines are written and laid out. Brief, to the point, use of photos, graphics and illustrations.

What continually amazes me is how much some website owners write. Way too much rambling and extraneous information that most could care less about; not to mention long, tedious-length pages. Even if I'm interested in a subject, I'll click away and try to find something else that gives me the info I want in a concise, well-written and interesting manner. If I'm doing research, then it's a different story.

While it certainly depends on the subject of your site, I believe brevity is important. I try to boil down key information into only 3-5 paragraphs. With rare exception, I always have at least one graphic on a page and am cognizant of color and the use of "white space." If an article is long, as someone mentioned, I spread it across several pages. Each page has a link to other pages as well as a "back" link.

The web has in so many ways changed the way we see and do things. So many of us live in an "instant" world. IMHO, how you write and present information should fit in with that fast-paced style.

europeforvisitors




msg:1348086
 2:00 am on Dec 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

The web has in so many ways changed the way we see and do things. So many of us live in an "instant" world. IMHO, how you write and present information should fit in with that fast-paced style.

Maybe, maybe not. As with so many things, it depends.

Example: Digital-camera review sites like DPReview, Steves-Digicams, and Imaging-Resource attract huge amounts of traffic because they provide in-depth camera reviews and comparisons (in contrast to most so-called "review sites," dealer sites, and affiliate sites). I've bought three digital cameras in the past three years, and in each case, I've spent hours reading reviews before making a purchase decision. Not every buyer does that, but many do--at least if we're to judge from the Alexa traffic rankings of those sites.

Here's another example: I've got several European cruise reviews that get significant traffic month after month, all year 'round because they're packed with information. You might be surprised by how thoroughly many travelers research cruises before they plunk down 10,000 or 20,000 dollars or euros for a pair of tickets.

"Writing long" (a.k.a. providing in-depth information on a topic) can give a site a competitive edge. The key to success is organizing the information to make it accessible.

For example, an article on "Doughnuts of the World" might consist of 5,000 words, but it can be broken down into bite- or snack-sized chunks that make it more digestible. The article could be divided into 10 pages on subtopics such as yeast-raised doughnuts, cake doughnuts, filled doughnuts, doughnut holes, doughnut variations such as Krapfen and beignets, etc., with a photo or two on each page to whet the reader's appetite. Subheadings and, where appropriate, bullet points can also make the text more palatable.

In addition to making the article more reader-friendly, this multiple-page approach enhances the site's presence in the search engines, improves search rankings for subtopics such as "yeast-raised doughnuts" and "Krapfen," and helps with AdSense ad targeting. And if the reader is interested only in one subtopic (such as doughnut holes or beignets), no problem: He or she can read just page on that subtopic, and the fact that your article also has pages on filled doughnuts, crullers, etc. won't inconvenience the reader in the slightest.

digicamhelp




msg:1348087
 5:01 am on Dec 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

europeforvisitors, I agree with everything you said because it is almost exactly what I said, though you took more words to say what I said.

Sunflux




msg:1348088
 5:28 am on Dec 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

Obviously SOMEONE prefers longer artices. :-)

I do too.

Sites that create paragraph or page-sized articles/reviews on something are a dime a dozen. But sites that cover something TRULY IN-DEPTH are extremely rare. So, if you're specializing in CONTENT, then try to create the BEST content you can. The internet will be a better place for it.

If you want content merely to wrap around ads, then I guess do whatever suits you.

atypeofmagic




msg:1348089
 6:50 am on Dec 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

Digicamhelp: Didn't it sound better when EFV used more words to say what you did?

A lesson in that somewhere ;)

digicamhelp




msg:1348090
 11:03 am on Dec 30, 2005 (gmt 0)


Digicamhelp: Didn't it sound better when EFV used more words to say what you did?

Respectfully atypeofmagic. No, not really (though there was certainly nothing wrong with what was written). I did say that length "depends on the subject of your site." I also indicated that if I were doing research, I'd expect information to be in longer articles. The digital photography sites menioned, such as dpreview, are used by people doing research for digital cameras. I expect reviews to be long, in-depth and comprehensive. I do read them before buying a new digicam. But they are not for everyone; in fact, I'd venture to say that the vast majority of digital camera users would find those articles an overkill. They would simply read a few pages such as the intro, specs and conclusion.

Writing long articles is fine when appropriate, but writing long for the sake of writing long is not a good thing. How well you write is key, imho. I've seen just too much long-winded, rampling prattle on websites where decent information got lost in a swamp of words.

When I wrote for magazines and newspapers, particularly when I was just starting, it always amazed me how and what editors would edit away from my articles for the purpose of conciseness and clarity. Quality is better than quantity.

digicamhelp




msg:1348091
 11:35 am on Dec 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

Sites that create paragraph or page-sized articles/reviews on something are a dime a dozen. But sites that cover something TRULY IN-DEPTH are extremely rare.

I agree. But something in-depth doesn't always mean a long article per se. A well written, a page sized article, used in conjunction with effective hyperlinking, can be quite effective and informative.

If we're talking about articles with thousands of words broken down into bite-sized chunks, we are basically talking about a series of page sized articles.

Sunflux




msg:1348092
 12:41 pm on Dec 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

Wouldn't most people break down very long articles into multiple pages? If not for ease-of-reading, then at least for more ad impressions!

At any rate, I tend to write stuff that's way more in-depth than most people are looking for, but so far it's been working great (and has led into some interesting sidelines). At any rate, I tend to use 500 words per page as a guideline, and include a table-of-contents theming each page so people can skip the stuff they aren't interested in.

ownerrim




msg:1348093
 2:10 pm on Dec 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

"Writing long" (a.k.a. providing in-depth information on a topic) can give a site a competitive edge.

Also, a longer article that's NOT broken up into multiple pages may be more competitive in some cases than an article from a competitor's site on the same topic that is substantially shorter. Certainly there are other mediating factors, like page rank and IBL with good anchor text, but sometimes significant wordage has the advantage of impressing specific web users AND appealing to the search engine's ranking system.

digicamhelp




msg:1348094
 2:17 pm on Dec 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

Wouldn't most people break down very long articles into multiple pages?

I think most do. But some unfortunately don't.

I tend to write stuff that's way more in-depth than most people are looking for, but so far it's been working great.

And short one's are working very well for me! My pages average about 250-300 words, with hyperlinks to related and supplemental information.

It's important to point out that the types of articles we write should be geared to our target audience. My articles are specifically geared to novice and intermediate users who are looking for the basics, who want semi-technical stuff presented in the least technical way possible.

I tend to use 500 words per page as a guideline, and include a table-of-contents theming each page so people can skip the stuff they aren't interested in.

Perfect!

Symphony7




msg:1348095
 2:27 pm on Dec 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

Agree with all of the above. But, from what has been mentioned in plenty of other threads, I'm sure, is that GAS needs a certain number of words on a page to serve up appropriate ads - approximately 250 with the right keyword placement.

As a content writer/site owner, that's my starting point, still always geared toward the reader seeking accurate information first, but with GAS in mind.

As a surfer, I get very annoyed when articles are placed on multiple pages. If they are to be broken up, then each page should stand alone in its own right (and with a different set of keywords). When I want in-depth information, I personally prefer scrolling (as long as there are subheads for guidance), but everyone is different.

ken_b




msg:1348096
 3:40 pm on Dec 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

600 pixels long seems to be about right.

europeforvisitors




msg:1348097
 4:41 pm on Dec 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

I expect reviews to be long, in-depth and comprehensive. I do read them before buying a new digicam. But they are not for everyone; in fact, I'd venture to say that the vast majority of digital camera users would find those articles an overkill. They would simply read a few pages such as the intro, specs and conclusion.

Right, and that's one reason why it makes sense to break articles into logical chunks: You can serve readers who want everything, those who want a minimum of information, and those who want something in between.

When I wrote for magazines and newspapers, particularly when I was just starting, it always amazed me how and what editors would edit away from my articles for the purpose of conciseness and clarity. Quality is better than quantity.

I come from a publishing background too (both writing and editing), and in my experience, length is determined not only by the topic, but also on context and intent. "Front-of-the-book" blurbs might be teasers or news items designed for easy scanning, while major articles serve a different purpose altogether. In a travel magazine, for example, the front of the book might have a short, catchy item on a new cruise ship, while a 2,500-word article might describe a cruise and its ports of call in detail.

It's also important to remember that magazines are governed by production and budget constraints, not only by editorial objectives and audience needs. The same is true of books. For example, Fodor's or Frommer's can't afford to devote more than a couple of guideback pages, or even a sentence in some cases, to any city--even an attractive city of several hundred thousand residents-- that isn't a major tourist destination for its target audience of middle- to upper-middle-class American tourists. This leaves a lot of niches open for sites like mine. And even in niches that are covered by the big corporate guidebook publishers, I can afford to provide detailed information on specialized topics that aren't covered by the major guidebook publishers (but which are of great interest to travelers, who often obsess about things like how to get into town from the airport).

In my sector--travel--the Web is awash in shallow 250- or 500-word "destination guides," but sites that provide depth of coverage for their chosen topics and subtopics are rare. Providing such coverage is one way to stand out from the crowd, and as a bonus, it attracts readers (including repeat visitors) at every stage of the planning and buying cycle.

It's important to point out that the types of articles we write should be geared to our target audience.

I certainly wouldn't argue with that. In fact, I think the problem with a lot of Web content is that it isn't written for a target audience at all--it's written as "page filler" for MFA or affiliate sites.

As a surfer, I get very annoyed when articles are placed on multiple pages. If they are to be broken up, then each page should stand alone in its own right (and with a different set of keywords).

I don't think in terms of keywords; I think in terms of topics and subtopics. The reader doesn't care what keywords are on a page--he or she cares what the page is about, and whether it supplies the desired information.

jetteroheller




msg:1348098
 7:05 pm on Dec 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

600 pixels long seems to be about right
That's exactly my size for the content area. Any mix of text and pictures in 600x600 pixel
bts111




msg:1348099
 4:30 am on Dec 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

I prefer to read articles on one page but I publish 2000 word articles on one page and will also split up a 2000 word article into ten pages -- it all depends on the subject.

Here is a link that may be useful to some:

[useit.com...]

jonathanleger




msg:1348100
 5:24 am on Dec 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

An interesting idea from the first few posts: write a short article that leaves the reading wanting more, and at the end of the article provide AdSense ads that offer more. Click! :)

annej




msg:1348101
 5:48 am on Dec 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

The informaton on writing in an inverted pyramid is interesting too.

[useit.com...]

I'd say it makes sense to have come compelling information and your adsense ads in the first screen.

Those that really want to read more will continue reading but others will get the information they want and move on. (Hopefully through an ad that interests them)

europeforvisitors




msg:1348102
 7:10 am on Dec 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

An interesting idea from the first few posts: write a short article that leaves the reading wanting more, and at the end of the article provide AdSense ads that offer more. Click! :)

Sure, if you're willing to settle for one-time, one-click visitors.

digicamhelp




msg:1348103
 12:02 pm on Dec 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

The informaton on writing in an inverted pyramid is interesting too.

This is an interesting article.

Here's a bit of related trivia:

There is another reason why newspaper publishers write in the inverted pyramid style. I was an editor for a small, local newspaper and when a good paying ad came in close to deadline, the necessary amount of bottom text of articles was deleted to make room for the display ad. The key info (who, what, where, when, why, how) were still in tact on the top.

europeforvisitors




msg:1348104
 4:51 pm on Dec 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

For the record, I agree with digicamhelp's earlier suggestion that content length should be appropriate for the target audience. I'd add that the length should also be appropriate for the content's function. A "First Look" report in PC MAGAZINE will be shorter than a full-scale review, and a "What's Playing at the Movies This Weekend" column in your local newspaper won't devote as much space to each film as a Roger Ebert review does.

As for the inverted-pyramid story structure, that's appropriate for certain types of newspaper stories, but it's a poor choice for, say, a review of a new PC or a tourist guide to Paris.

[edited by: tedster at 7:30 pm (utc) on Dec. 31, 2005]
[edit reason] thread clean-up [/edit]

This 31 message thread spans 2 pages: 31 ( [1] 2 > >
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