Word count and article length: Why finding the appropriate word count is important to your online writing
It is improbable, although not entirely impossible, that a Hubber can write a decent, robust and worthwhile article on any topic in 400 words or less.
However, it isn’t a good idea for your hub to resemble a thesis or postgraduate dissertation either.
Think about it as a hub being just one click away from not being read. In addition, online readers have many options and alternatives, so finding the right length for your article – based on its nature and scope – is critical.
In school, we learned that a good article comprises an introduction, body and conclusion. Although writing on the web is much more fluid and informal, this basic principle still applies. A proper structure in your hub increases its readability.
Even in the layout of your hub, the online reader must be able to pinpoint the introduction, the body and conclusion – even if they are not labelled as such.
Hubs that are too short in length are invariably short on content as well. Unless it’s a creative writing endeavour or a thought for the day that you must share, 500 words is a good minimum benchmark.
Meeting or surpassing the minimum word count is a good motivator that keeps writers honest with their overall effort. It ensures that Hubbers put more consideration and thought into the hub. Online readers (particularly those searching for knowledge articles) want substance in a hub. However, keep in mind that content-padding and verbosity is not a panacea for meeting minimum word count requirements.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and web traffic
Generally, the ideal length for a good SEO article resides between 500 and 700 words. Hubs that are optimized for search engines stand a better chance of being found through search engines.
This is significant because search engines form a healthy portion of traffic to HubPages. While content and keyword-usage are the more important factors with SEO, the hub’s length is of sufficient consequence to make a difference in your Hub Earnings.
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The concept of “too long” is subjective – based on what is interesting to the reader. It follows that long articles are not necessarily boring or “too long.” However, many long articles are usually veer off-topic or are rambling discourses.
Online readers want to read articles and hubs that are pertinent to their information needs. Thinking of a maximum length can help you to edit unnecessary details and avoid straying. After all, readers are disinclined to indulge the written equivalent of diarrhoea.
In the online writing community, we see the term ‘evergreen articles’ popping up every now and again. Short hubs may be deemed substandard and may not even last very long on HubPages. Articles that are within the desirable range tend to last longer or keep getting traffic years after they are posted on account of their robust nature.
The appropriate article length is dependent on the scope and complexity of your title. Short articles often do not appear well-researched, balanced or well-considered. Articles that exceed the necessary length often lack clarity of perspective.
The writer’s message is lost somewhere in the rubble of words. HubPages is for expert and novice alike. However, even the writing enthusiast who does it as a hobby should allow their personality and message to shine through a hub.
Many Hubbers use HubPages to assess the response to their writing and take their first steps into publishing – online or otherwise. One of the tasks of freelance writers is to know their audience and to know what article lengths suits the needs and purpose of a publication.
HubPages offers suggestions about hub lengths and these should be noted. After all, if you were submitting your work to editors, it would have to fall within stricter requirements and standards.
Ratings and feedback
First impressions count and one of the first impressions that a reader will get of your hub is its length and layout. A hub is likely to get a thumbs-up if it holds the interest of the reader and delivers on its promise. Under-delivering is usually perceived as worse than over-delivering, but both should be avoided at all costs. Proper consideration of length may result in more thumbs-up and better hub feedback.
Writing and public speaking rely on similar principles for proper execution. In both cases, there’s an audience – an audience who want to be engaged, entertained and informed by what you writer or say.
The quality and length of a speech influences whether it is perceived as boring or brilliant. The same applies to online writing. Hubbers must try to satisfy their audience as opposed to leaving them unfulfilled by a too-short article or bored with unnecessary detail.