In their teachings on writing stellar hubs, the HubPages staff has sometimes said that an ideal hub is 1,500 words long and has sometimes said that an ideal hub is 1,150 words long. Numerous hubs by hubbers on hubbing have recommended that a hub should be at least circa 400 to 500 words long, at most 1,500 words long, and ideally in the circa 900 to 1,200 word range.
So I have tried to keep my hubs in the not much under 1,000 to the not much over 1,500 words range.
Before learning these guidelines, I had written some extra long hubs. So, long ago I broke those up into parts, which I published as separate hubs, deleting the long originals.
I replaced my long hub on the history of the enneagram with 5 hubs on the history of the enneagram parts 1 to 5. They are respectively 1,772 + 938 + 1,469 + 1,601 + 1,634 words long, for a total of 7,414 words.
I replaced my long hub on 7 Creative Writing Rules with four hubs, one on rules 1, 2, and 3 that has 1,526 words, one on rule 4 that has 943 words, one on rules 5 and 6 that has 1,332 words, and one on rule 7 that has 1,317 words, for a total of 5,118 words.
Then I recently read the hub WEBSITE CONTENT WRITING SEO CONTENT WRITER by the hubber going by the name Writer Fox. In the segments of that hub headed "Top 10 Website Content Writing Myths" and "Debunking the Myths", Writer Fox argues that it is okay to write hubs several thousands of words long, saying that a long hub will please Google, attract traffic, and be read by readers to the end IF it is well written, well designed, SEO aware, and on topic. He gives as evidence his own more longish hubs, which have done well.
Writer Fox's argument seems convincing to me, and since reading that hub, I have seen a few other opinions that hubs more than 5,000 words long are not necessarily far too long for the HubPages format. But I thought that, before I replace my history of the enneagram in five parts hubs with one hub and replace my 7 rules of creative writing in 4 parts hubs with one hub, I should ask for some more opinions on minimum, maximum, and ideal word lengths for hubs.
Should I reunite my broken up hubs?
In general in the future, should I avoid topics on HubPages that require more than 1,500 words to write about adequately? Or should I not go out of my way to avoid such topics? Or?
I am aware that when I revise my hubs mentioned above, length is only one factor that needs reconsidering and that I also need to take another look at my links, titles, headings, keyword phrases, rhetoric, readability, pertinence, and more. I welcome any suggestion that might make one of my hubs even better, but mainly I am asking now whether I should be guided by Writer Fox's advice on word length (begin at the begining, continue to the end, and then stop, as he quotes Lewis Carroll, and if the end is 25,000 words later, that's okay) or if there are more convincing counter arguments.
Hi B. Leekley. Just a few points:
1. I don't think HubPages says that 1,500 words is a maximum length. I think they imply that it is the minimum, suggested length for a Hub.
2. My most highly-trafficked Hubs are over 1,500 words; some are well over that.
3. Length isn't everything. An article must be interesting.
4. I think a 25,000-words length is way too long for a single webpage. HubPages doesn't really have a good mechanism for linking together Part 1, 2, 3, etc. I think with that much content on a single subject that you have the makings to start a small website on that topic.
Thanks for replying, Writer Fox.
Re #1: I took a look and found this in the HubPages FAQs #3 What Makes a Hub Good and Successful: "At least 1150 words." The official Hub Elements of a Stellar Hub says, "...A minimum of 1150 words of truly informative, well-written, useful content." So your general point is correct. In my memory, they used to say 1500 words.
Re #2: My memory is that I saw a remark by you in a forum that one of your hubs that does reasonably well has up around 6000 words. That makes me hopeful that maybe over time my long hubs will do well, too, if I opt for long hubs as opposed to hub series.
Re #3: There's the rub.
Re #4: My mention of the 25,000 words figure is from your mention in your Website Content ... hub of a Wikipedia article about President Obama, which you say has 25,588 words. I think you intended it as an extreme example of your point, that an article should be "long enough to cover the important things and short enough to be interesting." The long hubs of mine that I asked about would be 7414 and 5118 words long respectively.
From my personal experience on HubPages, that's a good length for a Hub so long as it doesn't get boring and so long as you really have that much quality content to answer a search query. (If your Hub is answering the query 'Which train do I take?', a much shorter Hub would work better.)
Writer Fox is right in that Google likes long articles. Since the advent of Hummingbird, content rules more than keyword density. However, the average reader will click out of an overly long article unless natural stopping points have been implemented such as, sub-headers, bullets, videos, photos, etc.
A hub containing at least 1,250 words satisfies one of the items on HP's checklist. If you can get through all the checks, your article should be featured.
Again, Google now prefers quality content (long is good according to Madame Hummingbird) over keyword density. Just make sure you don't lose your readers with content that drags on and on.
Check your page views for each of your hubs, then look at the word count. That should give you an idea of what works for Google. Remember, many of our hubs rank highly with Google which results in readership outside the HP community. I have a hub that has over 11,000 page views and increases every day. The word count is only 960, but I've added photos, a couple of polls and a video. The hub is a product review and is doing very well in Google while earning me HP pennies daily.
The bottom line is, give the readers what they want but don't bore them.
It's a matter of opinion. In fact, everything about writing online is a matter of opinion, because Google is so opaque about how its algorithm works.
Personally, even if an online article is good, I find it irritating to have to scroll down endlessly on the same page, particularly if I'm looking for specific information on a single aspect of the topic. If it's too long, I may well give up and find another site which breaks the same information up into separate chapters, because I'm going to find what I want far more quickly.
I think I'm less impatient than younger people, so if I find overlong pages annoying, I'm assuming they would too!
The point about slow loading is also relevant - it would be a shame to avoid images and videos, which are so vital to engage reader interest these days, because your Hub is long. Beter to keep it shorter so you can afford to illustrate it properly.
However, I think the ideal length comes down to the subject. A Hub needs to stand on its own, even if it's part of a series: so breaking up the existing Hub at arbitrary points won't work. You need to unravel the different strands of the topic so that each Hub covers a different sub-topic.
I find there are very few topics which can't be broken down into sub-topics, but if you can't do that with yours, then you'd be better off sticking with the long Hubs.
It depends a great deal on what your article is about. If it's too wordy and uninteresting your reader won't stick around no matter the subject.
I try to keep mine brief but do have one that is a compilation of books about Asian Men and White Women. It would be detrimental for me to break that article up since I have many back links to that story and thousands of views.
Use your judgment and look at your views. If you are getting a good amount of traffic I'd say leave it alone. If hardly anyone is reading you might want to do some editing.
I would not read a 5,000 word hub.
But I might skim to the section that interested me.
Sub-headings could show me where I wanted to go.
You don't need a table of contents, though it might get you more hits, you just need to lay your hub out in a search-friendly manner, so that the search engines would show me the part of the hub I wanted to read.
On the other hand, the whole idea of a table of contents would be to send the reader to the exact part of the hub that interested them.
Sub-headings are of vital importance, always.
Those are the capsule headings in HP.
We are not in print, we are on the internet and the rules are changed slightly. The 'catchy' heading is out, and the 'descriptive heading' is in.
Make use of them.
Greetings, B. Leekley. You have brought up a very good topic to discuss. Most of my hubs are over 1200 words, some way over that. I believe a few over 3000. The point is, as Writer Fox stated, the hub must be interesting, and that is the most important thing to strive for.
IMO, the length is not the issue as much as the hub being interesting enough to pull in the readers from the first word and keep their interest to the end. It is really important to make sure the summary (which is the first thing a reader sees when spotting a hub in the feed or on the web) is well written and makes the reader want to jump in and read more. The summary is a 'lead-in' or 'eye-catcher', so it must be good, like a net.
When I start a new hub, I aim for 1250 words. You will notice when you are starting a new hub the "Tips" box in the upper right hand corner of the page. In that box is the word counter. You get a check mark for every capsule to show how many words you have so far. The final word count that HP has set in that box is 1250+ -- so, if I reach that goal, I am quite pleased. If I have more of interest to add, I do so. I do not just ramble to find words for fillers, I make sure I write what I feel a reader would like to know.
Breaking down the hub into capsules is very important, especially for longer hubs, because you can add sub-titles that appear in bold letters. The sub-titles are very helpful for a reader to spot quickly and it keeps their interest going. It also gives the readers eyes a break so they can keep better focused. As IzzyM noted, "Sub-headings are of vital importance, always." , and I so agree.
That little "Tips" box is my guide as I create new hubs or edit old ones. I love it and am very happy HP put that in for us.
I recently published a 4773 word long hub, and it is noticeably slower to load than my other hubs. Slow page loads can affect search engine rankings, and is also annoying for visitors. There are other factors, of course, so I'm still not sure overall, but that is at least something worth taking into consideration.
Page load speed is definitely a factor (one of many) in the Google algorithm. I find that Hubs with eBay capsules are the slowest to load and, secondly, Hubs with many graphics. That said, I have Hubs which have over 200 large images and some of them get over 500 visits a day sent by Google. On those Hubs, all of the graphics don't immediately load, but the ones at the beginning do so visitors are not affected and can begin viewing the page. As they scroll down, everything is loaded. So, I don't think slow page load hurts us too much on HubPages.
Good point, electronician. I will take that into consideration.
Agreed on slow to load. I published several hubs under the category of ebooks nearng 5,000 and more words in 2012. They all loaded very slowly and was a hassle to edit and etc. They did well at first and then lingered. Most likely lack of SEO to boost them, which is my fault and, too, lack of knowledge. I have since unpublished and ponder Amazon or some other for free ebooks, yet not moved in that direction.
Thanks for sharing your experience, tsmog.
I'm interested in this topic, as well. I've recently decided to try an experiment where I break up a long Hub into a series, and leave another long Hub (over 8,000 words so far) intact.
Obviously, there are other factors to consider. For instance, I am making a few egocentric assumptions about the quality of my work, lol.
But, I guess I'll just have to wait and see what happens. Experimentation, trial-and-error, reading about SEO ... The journey continues!
Thanks for telling about your experiment, Earl. I hope you report on your findings -- Perhaps as an ongoing update in your profile? Or in a hub on your hubbing experiments? I imagine it is difficult to keep other factors besides word length equal. Like, the age of a hub is a big factor. And what makes one hub popular and another not may be hard to pinpoint, with length not necessarily the deciding factor. Having just one hub that is and one hub that isn't whatever may not be a large enough sampling to reach a valid conclusion. My tentative sense is that people are even less likely to read a whole series of related hubs than to read one big, long hub. Maybe if others are experimenting, too, and a trend shows consistently -- e.g. whether a series or a long hub gets more traffic -- conclusions can be drawn. Let's see what others say.
HP advises against doing hubs that are part i, ii, etc. because that can decrease the viewership of the hub. If someone stumbles upon say part ii they won't read it because they haven't read part i.
Thanks for replying, lovebuglena, and for the helpful information re HP advice.
You can make more money publishing a novel or novella on Amazon than you can having several articles that are part of the same story.
That's an interesting observation, Pamela N Red. Personally, I would like to explore self-publishing sometime in the future, after I have built up more of a "respectable" portfolio here and in other places. Have you explored vanity press publishing in your own work? If so, what has been your overall opinion of the experience?
Never ever ever ever use a 'vanity press' to publish your work. Any publisher that charges you to publish your book, is a rip-off.
You can publish a POD (print on demand) book on CreateSpace, which is part of Amazon. You'll have to pay for one copy of your book so you can check it, but otherwise it's free unless you choose to hire people to do the preparation for you (which isn't necessary).
The easiest option is to publish an ebook on Smashwords - which will get your book listed on a wide range of sites (including iTunes and Barnes & Noble) in all the ebook formats including Kindle.
I'm not sure this is precisely true.
HubPages advises against using Part I, Part II because Google dislikes duplicate titles. So if you're going to write a series, you mustn't call them "How to Make a Blue Widget Part I", "How to Make a Blue Widget part II", etc. You need to give each one a title describing the contents of that particular Hub. You can explain that it's part of a series in your first paragraph (or better, in a highlighted text box), e.g. "This is part II of a series on how to make blue widgets. Read Part I here (hyperlink)."
Also, you're right - people aren't likely to read a series because HubPages' navigation makes it likely that a reader will be distracted away to other Hubs instead. You can reduce that likelihood by (a) using the Groups feature and (b) using the technique above and/or using a Table of Contents:
Thanks for this Link. I read the article once a ways back and never could find it again, since bookmarking was eliminated. Now I have a copy of it in a PC file. Kinda' like a Christmas gift in a sense and am thankful.
Thanks, Marisa, for that clarification and for the link.
I think there is no ideal hub length (word count). You write as many words as necessary to get your point across.
One thing I find helpful for users is to use a Table of Contents on longer Hubs. That way, visitors can look at the outline of the contents of your Hub and can jump to the section they need or read the entire article. The only problem with the Table of Contents is that HP gives you one of those naughty-Hubber Style Tip Warnings saying you have a group of too many links. (I guess the HP algorithm isn't programmed to understand 'Table of Contents', which is a shame because that lowers the Hub's score for something which Google and users love to see on a Hub.)
How do you do a table on contents on a hub?
Here's where I explained how to make a Table of Contents for your Hubs:
Hey WF, only one person ever knew how to do it, at least give him the credit - http://darkside.hubpages.com/hub/tableofcontents
I expect I'll add a Table of Content when I change my history of the enneagram series into one hub. I wonder of Table of Contents should be a capsule type.
There is a text capsule, a photo capsule, a video capsule, a quiz capsule, a links capsule, a poll capsule, and so on and so forth. Would it be handy, helpful, and feasible to have a Table of Contents capsule that has tools that help create a Table of Contents? I have not thought through the particular features it might have. Or is the process simple enough anyway that there is no need for such a capsule? Should hubbers be requesting a Table of Contents capsule or only acceptance by the HubPages system of Tables of Contents?
It has been requested many times for HubPages to provide the tools for creating a Table of Contents, but the staff hasn't done this yet.
I create mine using just a normal text capsule and inserting links. Here is a Forum post where I describe how to do that:
Sometimes I float the text capsule to the right and sometimes I just include it in the regular text at the top of the page. Be sure to notice where the first ad will appear on your Hub so the spacing will look right.
You are quite right about being very wary of Vanity presses. We as publishers of 20+ years always counsel writers that this is the worst you can do, but then again Self-Publishing is actually equivalent to Vanity except that the writer is spending the money or time on their own book. The up side is that they have more control over their content (and keep all the royalties); the downside is that they may well make some mistakes which lead to an unprofessional result. Also nothing wrong with Smashwords but the rules to get it right are quite complex and unless careful attention is given you may well get a crappy result.
I'm wary of self-publishing myself, for one big reason - the lack of editing. Even big-name novelists like J K Rowling and Stephen King spend weeks working with an editor to polish their work before publication - so who am I, to think I'm such a great writer, my novel is perfect just as it is?
I've done some critiques and been appalled at how bad novels can be, which writers think are ready to publish! We're usually far too close to our own work to judge. If you're going to self-publish, the best advice I've heard is that you should put your finished novel away in a drawer for a year - then read it again, and see whether you still think it's finished. It's almost guaranteed you won't!
Thanks, Marisa — I had not known about the dangers of vanity publishing, nor of CreateSpace and Smashwords. I'm still pretty new to freelance writing!
Also, you make some good points about the benefits of having an editor to look over your work before sending it out to the public.
Most of my hubs are 1500 words or more and these certainly appear to do better than the shorter ones. They get visits for more obscure searches also as you have more chance of having used that phrase within your hub....
That being said I also have some shorter hubs that do well also..
Take a look at your competition before you start to worry too much - if the competition is highly in depth and goes on forever then the likelihood is that you would have to do the same to stand any chance of ranking. If however the competition has a few lines of facts and a little "filler" then maybe you can rank with a more concise answer.
The real question however is what is making the page rank according to Google?? Is it the length of the article or is it the interaction with the reader??
Cause and Effect are two very different things - a lengthy article can be boring, disorganized and full of mistakes etc. The reader may therefore click away quickly, never visit again, find another page to answer their question etc.
A short and concise hub on the other hand may find itself shared, read from end to end, links followed, etc. (good reader behavior??)
Which is more important to Google in their algorithm? What the reader does when they find your page or how long the page is?
Write for the reader - what does the reader need? What is the question they are asking? If someone is doing research and asking "general questions" then maybe "war and peace" length answers are worth it. If they are asking a very specific question maybe a single line is all they are looking for!
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