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Compact articles are best for adsense

     
2:49 pm on Jul 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I think most surfers are quite impatient and like to find information very quickly. They often skim through the page. My guess is that articles that are too long does not interest people. I think the best length would be around 300-500 words. Of course, it always depends on the subject matter as well, but in most cases short articles, especially with excellent use of subtitles are the best.
2:56 pm on July 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Correct crick,
If more than 500 words then paginate.
3:37 pm on July 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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You are liable to be tagged as 'low quality' by the Google bot so you will not be able to use adwords.. If you have organic traffic, well then, this is the right approach.
4:28 pm on July 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I think most surfers are quite impatient and like to find information very quickly. They often skim through the page. My guess is that articles that are too long does not interest people. I think the best length would be around 300-500 words.

The Web is awash in sites that offer short, shallow articles with very little information.

On my own site, I find that long articles (broken up into logical chunks or pages) perform well with Google Search, with AdSense, and--most important--with users (especially users who are seriously interested in the topic at hand).

4:49 pm on July 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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It all depends on what your users are looking for.

Sometimes I am looking for a quick blurb that answers my question without having to read or search through a whole long page.

Other times I might be doing research for a class I'm taking, and the quick answers are useless without covering the methods and limitations of their subject matter.

Those long, scholarly articles are also the sort of thing that will get you those really good links and helps you with your authority-like score.

And sometimes there are longer pages that are just plain fun to read. Sort of like reading an article in a magazine.

As for pagination, don't over-do it. The people that want a short blurb aren't going to follow it anyway, and if you page at 300-500 words it will just annoy those looking for real information.

I won't read something on findarticles if I can find it anwhere else because they just make it a pain in the butt by breaking it up into 50 small pieces and breaking up the text in 3 places on each page with ads.

You might be right for the majority of pages out there, but it is far from correct for ALL the pages.

5:02 pm on July 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Those long, scholarly articles are also the sort of thing that will get you those really good links and helps you with your authority-like score.

Sure, but long articles don't have to be "scholarly" to be authoritative. For example, if I'm doing a cruise review, I might break it into logical pages such as:

- Introduction
- The ship
- Staterooms
- Dining
...and so on.

Or, if I'm writing a destination guide to Widget City, I might use the structure:

- Introduction
- History/background
- Sightseeing
- Museums
- Hotels
- Restaurants and food
- Transportation
- Tourist information/tourist-office links
- etc.

Each page would have a photo at the top, anywhere from a few hundred words to a couple of thousand words of copy, and possibly some small inset photos to enrich the user experience.

As for pagination, don't over-do it. The people that want a short blurb aren't going to follow it anyway, and if you page at 300-500 words it will just annoy those looking for real information.

I see this a lot on database-driven sites, especially those from guidebook publishers. A hotel or museum description that would be a short paragraph on a page of text in a guidebook serves as a filler for an advertising page on the Web. I wonder how many readers stick around for more?

5:04 pm on July 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Yeah, I think articles should be formatted to best display the information they contain, possibly on 2+ pages if need be.

What I really HATE is searching for something and finding stupid 300-word articles that look like they were written by a third grader for a report about the topic borrowed from the encyclopedia.

5:25 pm on July 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Orginally posted by Hobbs.
"Correct crick,
If more than 500 words then paginate".

That's exactly what I mean. I hate pages that are like a thousand words. It just seems to go on forever. I would rather see the page broken up and a link embedded on the first page to the second page.

5:29 pm on July 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Fair point, but it needs to be seen as a usability issue, not as an AdSense optimization issue. There's a particular circle of Hell reserved for webmasters who edit articles in order to maximize pageviews or clicks.

(That's the 437th circle, not specifically mentioned by Dante.)

5:44 pm on July 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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>edit articles in order to maximize pageviews or clicks

Who? Not me, Never!

6:33 pm on July 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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That's exactly what I mean. I hate pages that are like a thousand words. It just seems to go on forever. I would rather see the page broken up and a link embedded on the first page to the second page.

How would you like to read an article that goes something like this:

150 words

ad block

100 words

ad block

150 words

links to the other 52 pages in the article, with just page numbers, no index.

That is a real life example that I had to deal with last week, and I had to read the whole damn thing!

Just because you are a scanner, does not mean that everyne is, and that all articles should be written for scanners.

Breaking things up into logical chunks can be a good thing. Breaking things up at a set number of words is going to annoy as many people as it attracts.

Would you like to read an article where text on page 2 is still referring to Figure 1 on page one? I certainly would not.

7:05 pm on July 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I'm with you, BigDave. But I don't know how much of the problem that you cite is caused by greed and how much is the result of dumping everything into a CMS that stamps pages out like cookies.
7:21 pm on July 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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On my own site, I find that long articles (broken up into logical chunks or pages) perform well with Google Search, with AdSense, and--most important--with users (especially users who are seriously interested in the topic at hand).

This is true for my magazine as well. People come to read articles and expect to become engaged in them like they're stories.

10:37 pm on July 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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9 times out of 10 I will NOT bother with an article that is broken into more than two pages. Hardware review sites are particularly bad about this. Drives me nuts.
10:55 pm on July 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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9 times out of 10 I will NOT bother with an article that is broken into more than two pages.

You're the exception, to judge from my own server logs.

A number of years ago, WIRED News reported on an academic study of Web article-reading preferences. The researchers presented users with two articles:

- An article that required extensive scrolling

- A longer version of the same article that was broken into pages and required very little scrolling.

Users overwhelmingly preferred the article that was broken into pages, and get this: They thought it was shorter than the article that required scrolling (even though, in fact, it was longer).

Addendum to the above: There used to be a rule that said a Web page shouldn't be more than 2-1/2 screens long. I don't know if that's still a common rule of thumb (obviously, what constitutes 2-1/2 screen depends on the viewer's screen resolution), but it's worth noting that major media sites like NYTimes.com and Washingtonpost.com break stories into chunks of digestible length. (I prefer dividing text logically by subtopic myself, but then, I do my own page layout instead of relying on a CMS to do it for me.)

11:38 pm on July 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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"There used to be a rule that said a Web page shouldn't be more than 2-1/2 screens long."

Hmm the most popular page on my site (if we're not including the homepage and category pages) is eight pages long and it's been the most popular page for a very long time. I can see the logic however to splitting it into four pages (each page would be classed as new content) although I'm sure it wouldn't rank anywhere in the SERPs for either of them.

Regarding the change of Google visitors on the 27th June I think I've figured out some of it. Firstly they used to (from what I remember geo-target the results) so for instance if you were in the UK you'd get UK targetted results from google.co.uk . Now this seems to be optional rather than the default. Secondly they've altered their algorithm so you can't just name your page keyword1_keyword2_keyword3.htm, whack the three word phrase in the title and an H2 font on the page and expect to be in the top ten of the SERPs for that page. I think now that offpage factors, the duplicate content penalty (so that scraper sites don't rank higher than the original) and other factors mainly outside of the webmaster's have been given more weight.

1:52 am on July 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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A number of years ago, WIRED News reported on an academic study of Web article-reading preferences.

Like everything else, I suspect that it depends on your intended audience.

The problem with studies like that, is that they tend to lump everyone into one group. Most studies do a poor job listing their limitations, and even when they do, the press tends to ignore what was written anyway.

I would really like to know how many of those participants would ever read a whole long article by choice? What would be more interesting to me would be to find out what format had the most people that would read all the way to the end. I would also want more options, comparing one page, a few pages, and many pages.

I would be willing to bet that scrolling would rank higher for "readers" than it would for "scanners". More sophisticated users are also more likely to want more information on one page. My guess is that there is a sweet spot with the number of pages, and you are likely to lose people if you go beyond that number, just they way you do if you make your pages too long.

There are all sorts of people in this world, and I would set up my site very differently for managers than I would for engineers. Managers want powerpoint, engineers want databooks. Know your audience.

6:11 pm on July 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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>>>9 times out of 10 I will NOT bother with an article that is broken into more than two pages. Hardware review sites are particularly bad about this. Drives me nuts. <<<

i'd agree with that... a lot of those review sites put a narrow band of brief text content down the center of a fixed-width page, then make you click on new pages to read more, so that you are presented with fresh ad opportunities to click on... it sucks.

back in the late '90's, jakob nielsen wrote an article on applying writing guidelines to web pages... his idea was to cut the overall word count down, then use ~346 words per page.

he had people test the changes, but without seeing all the pages involved, it's kind of meaningless.

6:17 pm on July 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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The only problem with excessively long articles is that many have important information at the top and bottom and the middle is often just waffle to make the article really long. This is to give the impression of being an authority I guess. I think articles should only be long if they can maintain interest and is relevant throughout. I hate articles that are long for the sake of it.
7:37 pm on July 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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The only problem with excessively long articles...

Sure, but I don't think anybody here has advocated "excessively" long articles. An article should be the length that works best for the topic, the audience, and (where applicable) the Web site's editorial policy.

Also, length is only one factor that determines readability. A 500-word article published as two solid paragraphs of text will be less inviting and harder to read than a 1,000 article broken into shorter paragraphs with subheads for subtopics.

To some extent, you can see what works best for your site by reviewing your server logs. But even then, you need to use good judgment:

- Someone who's unfamiliar with search and browsing habits might assume that, if half of a three-page article's readers bail out on page 1, there's something wrong with the article or the article should have been placed on one page.

- A more experienced Webmaster or editor would realize that most of the "bailouts" probably occurred in the first paragraph, just because a lot of people flip around to see what grabs them in the same way that a bookstore visitor might glance at a dozen books and magazines before deciding what to read.

You also need to consider what segment of your audience is most important. If you're writing a review of an Arctic expedition cruise, you might want to target readers who are seriously interested in that topic and who crave information about it. Why? Because the readers who get beyond page 1 or 2 of the article are far more likely to click on ads for cruise travel agents, cruise lines that do Arctic expedition cruises, etc. than are the casual readers who leave after the first page.

(Never mind the fact that every page is a point of entry from the search engines, that in-depth coverage will distinguish you from competitors, etc. From an AdSense perspective alone, in-depth articles can be more productive than short-and-shallow articles.)

Finally, you need to consider your own skills as a writer and editor. Many people simply don't know how to plan, write, and structure a long article. Others don't have the attention span to go beyond 300 or 500 words. And if you're one of those people who break into a sweat at the sight of a blank page, you're better off keeping it short or (better yet) finding a business model that doesn't depend on writing articles.

 

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