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    Articles - A Long Piece, or Multiple Shorts?


    What's better in article writing, the mega long "Ultimate Guide to Underwater Basketweaving", or a series of shorts on the same subject?
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    EGOL
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    This is a hard question to answer.

    A number of short "chapters", each optimized for a specific keyword, can pull in some traffic on long tail queries but they will probably not rank will for difficult keywords.

    A single long megaguide can become very popular, shared frequently, liked, linked and rise up the rankings for difficult terms because of its popularity. If that happens this megaguide can pull in the traffic for difficult keywords and also pull in the traffic for an enormous number of long tail.

    So, my vote, most of the time, is for the single long megaguide. HOWEVER, I would only do that if my megaguide is going to be one of the best pages on the web for that topic. If you can't do that then find a different subject where you can produce content of that quality.
    * "It's not the size of the dog in the fight that matters, it's the size of the fight in the dog." Mark Twain
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    I want to step on EGOL's toes for the first time ever.

    I fully believe shorter, more specific articles (for the object of ranking) tends to rank better than longer more broader articles.

    In fact, I believe there is a Cutts video (about guest blogging) in which he suggests being shorter and more on top would be better both for SEO and UX.

    *looks for video/article*

    Comments on this post

    • Lb1878 agrees : I think user experience is important here
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    EGOL
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    Actually... I am doing both.

    Imagine this....

    A big long page that describes ten different types or widgets, each widget getting about 200+ words. This page looks like the homepage of a blog and each subheading for "wooden widgets", "brass widgets" etc... is a text link, that clicks to a separate page about that narrower topic with the same text but several more images.

    This big page ranks for "widgets" and thousands of long tail keywords. The subpages rank for their topic such as "wooden widgets" and "brass widgets"... but big "widgets" page ranks immediately above or immediately below them - giving rankings that look like this....

    "widgets" -- #2
    "widget" -- #3
    "brass widgets" --- #2 and #3
    "wooden widgets" --- #3 and #4

    Try it sometime. All of these pages will get a lot of traffic... but from my experience the big page gets a lot more. I have lots of these big pages bringing in over 1000 visitors per day .
    Last edited by EGOL; Dec 11th, 2012 at 10:35 AM.
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    I've been very successful over the last 7 months with a mix of both. I have 1,000 word articles with one focus (usually framed as solutions to technical workflows) that perform very well with both head and longtail keywords -- most of these pages are evergreen. I also mix it up with shorter snippets or curated content with editorial opinion around 150-300 words. The latter may not perform as well from a strict SEO standpoint but it keeps visitors coming back which means more opportunities for them to become familiar with my brand and my services/products.

    I do agree with EGOL in that the longer pages to also get far more page views overall.

    Comments on this post

    • EGOL agrees : Thanks for the report!
    Last edited by ALorenzo; Dec 11th, 2012 at 01:18 PM.
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  11. Dancin with the devil
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    I have had success with both short and long articles. I am on par with the others in saying that the longer article definitely showed up for a wider variety of terms and grabbed a few links also. The shorter articles received a better reception from visitors as they were coming to the site for a specific reason. To make a better informed decision, you probably need to understand and figure out what you are looking for these articles to achieve.

    This question has been asked several times before and I do agree with joshz that it also comes down to UX. It is definitely worth testing to see how receptive your visitors are to the shorter articles vs the longer articles. My personal view is that I don't feel there is a one size fits all for this. I think results will vary by industry and site. Check to see if people are liking or voting positively or negatively for each type of article. I would think that by nature, longer articles will improve the time on page compared to the shorter ones. Encourage your visitors for feedback. My .02 cents....

    Comments on this post

    • EGOL agrees : Thanks!
    "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." Chinese Proverb
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    Thanks for the interesting thoughts everyone. I started writing an article, and it's running longer than I expected. It will be 6+ pages typed before I'm done, and I've already removed some material and created a shorter, related article out of that. Plus I may throw in an infographic or two before I'm done. Most of my other content is short blog entries (200 words) or full articles (700-800 words). I could break this one up, but somehow I think it would be less useful that way.

    I think I will experiment with the mega article and see what happens. I'll add a menu of jumplinks at the top that hop to the main content points to make it more user friendly. I suppose if it doesn't work out I can always spin it a bit and break it up later.

    Thanks!

    Comments on this post

    • EGOL agrees : Nice Work!
    • Lb1878 agrees : I'm also a fan of page anchors
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    It may be worth it to have a "super guide" format but give the users the ability to use a table of contents on the first page with some anchors deeper into the article. What's nice about really long content is that in 6 months you could repackage as an e-book with a bit of new material, offer it for free, and get another spike in traffic.
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    I would think it depends on what the article is being used for. To help rank your site for content, keywords or to help other sites rank better for their keywords or topic. I also think setting them with a good category structure is also a plus.
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    I tend to agree with EGOL although I've noticed that websites that review things (usually electrical items) are taking to breaking down their review over several pages. So a website reviewing the iphone4 might break it down into:
    - first impressions
    - applications
    - useability
    - build quality
    - etc.

    Each page leads onto the next like flicking over the page of a magasine. I can think of several reasons they are doing this:
    - long pages of text turn readers off
    - they can drill the database from different directions - e.g. list all phone reviews by build quality
    - SEO - they have six pages with 500 words on each about the iphone4 rather than one
    - Tweets, Facebook shares, backlinks, etc. can be more focused

    I find all of the above valid reasons to layout content this way so a number of shorter articles rather than one long one doesn't have to be simply about SEO - too many webmasters build for the bots and forget the humans!
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    Another reason ... all the more pages to place your adwords ... or at least that's how some blogs seem to me. I hate having to jump around a page trying to find the text in the sea of ads, or when an article is stretched over multiple ad bombed pages when it could neatly fit on one and be much more readable.
    I have one single adwords banner at the bottom of the page. I don't care to ever have more than that.
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  23. Dancin with the devil
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    I think page anchors address those visitors who are looking for short, quick info. It definitely helps break up a large article into smaller chunks. I've also used this method on a large informational article and it made it easy for visitors to find what they were looking for instead of having to read a novel.

    I don't remember what helped the page rank, the anchor text links at the top of the page or the H2 tags for the various sub-sections of the larger article. Let us know what you finally decide on and how it works for you.

    Comments on this post

    • EGOL agrees : Page anchors have close to the same optimization power as a title tag.

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