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Word count and article length: Why finding the appropriate word count is important to your online writing

Updated on August 1, 2012

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.

Content

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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Relevance

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.

Article longevity

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.

Perspective

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.

Publisher requirements

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.

Conclusion

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.

Comments

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  • lyns profile image

    lyns 3 years ago from USA

    Another great hub thanks for sharing I learned much from this hub. voted up plus. 75144a. Have a great day lyns

  • torrilynn profile image

    torrilynn 5 years ago

    Spiffy D, really nice article you have here about the length of what our stories or poems should be. it is very informational and can really help any new hubber with a successful start here on hubpages. thanks, voting up and sharing.

  • DeborahNeyens profile image

    Deborah Neyens 5 years ago from Iowa

    This is a useful and well written hub.

  • SpiffyD profile image
    Author

    SpiffyD 5 years ago from The Caribbean

    Thanks for your comment Gamerelated. Usually, articles of that length can be broken down into shorter articles easily. That may be a great idea. Ultimately, the desired length depends on your target audience. Thanks again.

  • Gamerelated profile image

    Gamerelated 5 years ago from California

    I have an article that was over 2100 words until I started editing and trying to make the writing more economical. I was able to cut it down to about 1950 words. Which still seems like it is too much. I am trying to decide whether to break this Hub up into three shorter Hubs. This is a great article with some really helpful information. Keep up the great work.

  • purnimamoh1982 profile image

    purnimamoh1982 5 years ago

    A very useful hub. I agree that the length of an article or hub is a subjective and highly contextual. There is no need to jumble your write up just for the sake of making it long. A good writer is accountable to many views. (a) He/ she should herself be satisfied that she has done justice to the issue she is focusing on (b) The norms set by the publishers should be respected even if such norms are not binding and are only desirable. Viz., at hubpages, the site designers desired to have most of the hubs with a minimum 500 words. A writer should respect this (c) The writer should also respect the perspective of the reader. A format that allows the reader to take a decision on whether she should complete reading or not is important. (d) then comes the issue of productivity, SEO friendly and so on.

  • internpete profile image

    Peter V 5 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

    A very good look at this subject which is beneficial for almost every hubber. I usually write about 1000 words depending on the topic, and how much information I have about it. I have found that shorter hubs (under 500) usually struggle in the SERP's.

  • Norman Stein profile image

    Norman Stein 5 years ago from Queens, NY

    Awesome hub, so many people just don't realize that one 1000+ word hub is better than 3 400 word hubs. Google loves long content, it always has. Also, when you write a long hub there's more of a chance of hitting those odd keywords that people type in rather than the exact one you titled your hub. Thumbs up!

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