Re: The humbling reality of writing multi-page articles

Subject: Re: The humbling reality of writing multi-page articles
From: Sean Hower <hokumhome -at- freehomepage -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 10 Sep 2002 08:55:00 -0700 (PDT)

Darren Barefoot wrote:
Through page views, the Web stats coldly illustrate how well I've retained readers from page to page.

I've written a couple of articles for techwr-l and I maintain my own web site. I can only give you stats from my site (

I've found that the last topic in a discussion on my site has about half the number of hits as the first topic. The intervening topics never really seem to have a pattern. I attribute this to several reasons:

* search engines - The first page of every discussion contains the meta info most search engines use, so if someone does a search for a certain topic, they are more than likely to find the first page of one of my discussion rather than any other page (depending on the search engine). So, it's more than likely that someone jumps to my site, checks it, and decides it's not the info they want. I know this happens at least part of the time because I can check what search criteria they used to arrive at my site.

* selective reading - Each discussion has several topics on different pages. I put a link for each topic on the first page. I'm sure that many people click the topic they want to read, then click the back button to find another topic in that discussion. I do have browse buttons, but I have a feeling that people don't use them.

* boredom - Yes, some people just won't like what I've written.....darn.

* last page content - The last topic of every discussion on my web site is a Wrap Up topic. It basically just reiterates what I've said. If I have return visitors (and I'd like to think that I do), people would already know the format, and may just skip the wrap up all together.

The topics on my site are kind of small, I try to keep them short so that people don't have to use the vertical scroller much. The article you sent a link for was quite long. I'm sure you're loosing readers because of length. Let's face it, reading a long piece of writing online is really a pain. So, you're probably loosing some readers to that.

It's not really a humbling experience, I think it's the nature of the medium. A humbling experience would be a highly critical email. Or worse yet, your editor suddenly deciding they don't want you to write for them any more. :-)

Sean Hower - tech writer

"Whatever you do, do NOT let your editorial decisions be made by the squiggly spell-checking lines in Word!" ~Keith Cronin, Techwr-l irritant ;-)

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