Elements of a Stellar Article
Authors often ask if there is a surefire way of writing a successful article. While there is no perfect equation for creating a hit, we have found that, by including certain elements, you can vastly improve an article's chances of attracting significant traffic. This guide will discuss each of those elements in detail.
The 6 Elements of a Stellar Article
To give your article the best-possible shot at success, we recommend including:
- 1,500 words of informative, well-written, useful content.
- Multiple high-resolution, properly-attributed photos (ideally your own) that are relevant to the topic. Some articles, like ones that contain step-by-step instructions, will require more photos than others to be truly excellent.
- A succinct and compelling customized summary that explains what the article will cover.
- Attractive and logical formatting.
- Supplementary capsules (like the Poll, Map, Video, or Table Capsules) where appropriate.
- Clearly demonstrated knowledge of, personal experience with, or genuine enthusiasm for the topic. Are you a real estate agent writing about your home buying tips? Tell readers you're an expert. Are you an avid reader writing a review of your favorite mystery book? Tell readers about your passion for the genre. A good way to include this element is simply explain why you are writing the article.
We also recommend only including products and links that will be incredibly valuable to your reader. When in doubt, leave it out.
Let's have a look at the elements listed above in greater detail:
At Least 1,500 Words
Successful online articles are visited by a high number of readers for a reason: they're filled with good, useful, interesting information— and lots of it.
Writing an article with at least 1,500 words will help to ensure that you completely cover the topic. It's better to err on the side of giving too much info and answering too many questions than to leave your readers unsatisfied. Being thorough may also give you a leg up on your competition.
While it's great to dive deeply into the subject of your article, never resort to filler text, fluff, personal conjecture, or off-topic rambling. It's better to write an informative and concise 800 word article that completely covers its topic than a rambling 2,000 word article on the same subject that digresses frequently. You're shooting for a refined and informative body of text supported by great media. Whenever possible include specific, concrete information such as names, times, dates, prices, numbers, statistics, and references to studies.
High Quality Original Photos
Photos play a huge role in an article, and choosing the right photos, as well as including a sufficient number of photos, can have a big impact on your article's success.
Whenever possible, use original photos that you have taken yourself.
You don't have to be a professional photographer to use your own photographs. You don't even have to have a good camera! If photos you took on your phone help to get your message across or do a good job of illustrating a project or process, use them! Your readers will appreciate the additional visual information and will be able to trust you more as an author. Using your own photos helps to demonstrate that you are enough of an expert to have your own images (you have done the project, visited the place, read the book, or owned the product you are writing about).
If you must use others' photos, properly attribute them!
Stolen, watermarked, or improperly cited photos are a sign of an author's inexperience and can drastically reduce the quality of an article. It should also go without saying that stealing or improperly attributing a Creative Commons photo violates copyright law. For advice on where to find Creative Commons and Public Domain photos, as well as tips on proper attribution, visit our Learning Center guide on legal image use.
Use high quality photos.
Your photos don't need to be of professional quality, but we recommend using only photos that are crisp and clear. Pixellated and very blurry images are against our rules. We also don't recommend using stock photos, which can come across as spammy.
Use relevant photos.
The photos you include in your article should be on topic. Don't just stuff a couple random photos in. Make sure they add to your article's message.
Some articles need more photos than others.
An article that gives step-by-step directions is likely to need a lot of photos. Your readers will want to see each step to make sure they are following the directions correctly and getting the appropriate result. An article on how to do a math problem, on the other hand, may not easily lend itself to photography. Include at least one relevant photo in every article, but keep in mind that some articles can still be great with just one photo while others will require more.
A Custom Summary
Every single article you write should have a custom summary. You can enter one in the Summary box below the title while in edit mode.
The summary should offer a succinct, polished, and compelling summary of what your article covers. Whatever you write should give potential readers a good reason to stop by and read, so choose your words carefully, and don't let grammar mistakes slide by unnoticed!
Add a Summary under your Title while in Edit Mode
Including at least one video in your article where appropriate (either in the form of a HubPages-hosted video or a Video Capsule) adds value to your work by giving readers the ability to learn additional information about the article's topic, see some interesting examples of subjects discussed, and view more complicated demonstrations of instructions or processes outlined.
Whenever possible, we encourage you to upload your own videos to go alongside articles. This builds your credibility as an author and enables you to include video that is highly relevant to the subject of your article.
Video Capsule Tips
- When using a video someone else created, be sure to watch the whole thing before including it in your article. You don't want to unknowingly include anything inappropriate for your article.
- Refer to videos you include in your articles in the actual text of the text to encourage your visitors to watch them (and stay on the page for longer).
At Least One Map or Table Capsule Where Appropriate
Concrete, useful, and relevant information adds a great deal of utility to an article and will keep readers with you for longer.
Table Capsules are great for contrasting different bodies of information, compiling prices, sharing timetables, and summarizing data. Map Capsules are excellent for restaurant reviews, historical explanations, and travel guides.
We encourage you to include these capsules whenever they may be relevant.
Summarizing price comparisons
Travel location descriptions
Comparing different things
Describing local businesses
Summarizing movie/place/store info
Illustrating historical sights/events
At Least One Poll or Quiz Capsule
In addition to offering your readers an abundance of information, you should give them the opportunity to engage with your articles. The best way to do this (beyond including a Comments Capsule, which is included in all articles by default) is by adding a Poll Capsule or a Quiz Capsule.
Poll Capsules are great for gauging readers' opinions on a subject, and can be used in nearly any article. Quiz Capsules enable you to test your readers or give them customized advice. Creating a Quiz is much more involved than creating a Poll, but Quizzes can be shared on external sites by your readers, and each time your Quiz is embedded on another site, your article earns another valuable (and entirely natural!) backlink.
What about you?
Do you usually include polls or quizzes in your articles?
In addition to being alluringly introduced and filled with relevant photos, useful video, concrete information, and interactive elements, your article must be attractive.
More than 1500 words of text crammed into one unbroken text capsule is NOT going to make for a pleasant-looking article.
By breaking your text into multiple Text Capsules, you will be able to insert additional capsules throughout your article, which will result in a more even and attractive presentation.
Breaking the text of your article into multiple Text Capsules will also make your article easier to read, as you can organize your information thematically under multiple subheadings.
Like it or not, the vast majority of visitors to your articles have a very short attention span, and will be happiest if you make it easy for them to skip around.
Break It Up!
Doing All You Can for Your Content
Including these elements in your article will give it a huge leg up when it comes to getting significant long-term traffic.
That said, doing a bit of research before you even start writing, as well as going back and updating your article several months after publishing it, can also significantly influence its shot at success.
Ultimately, creating a stellar article is an ongoing process that is never over, but given that you are most likely to excel on HubPages by writing about things you know and love, we hope you find it to be an enjoyable one!