Authors of online content seem to just love multi-part articles. Usually they’re guides or reviews, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a big site or a no-name blog: authors just love to leave you hanging. It’s not good “visitor retainment practice” — it’s just annoying and pretentious. It leaves readers with half a thought (which can be far more dangerous than none), and it leaves the author looking like a stupid kind of guy.
It’s one thing when you say “Part 1 of the Mega Vista Review” – you can succinctly sum up an entire section or sections of the topic, completely contained within its own article. But it’s quite another thing when you say “How to play solitaire: Part one, shuffling the deck.” But that’s what most sites seem to love to do, and it’s just plain wrong, on many levels. Most importantly of all, not only does the reader no benefit, but the authors also do themselves no good: that reader isn’t going to come back a month from now to read part 2!
Depending on just how intriguing the topic is, a random reader of your site won’t wait for the next installment, they’ll either search Google for more info (and you can bet they’ll find it!), or just drop the topic and pretend it never happened. Worse than them not coming back next week is that they’ll Google for – and find – a site that doesn’t engage such a belittling practice, and it’s not too difficult to guess where they’ll go the next time they want some info.
Such articles generally have enough real content for a paragraph or two. They split it across two to six pages of pure ads and fill the space with fluff and ifs and buts. They’ll rephrase the question in a million different ways, and they’ll tell you to come back next week for the answer. They pretend the user will fall for this, and eager sit day and night by the computer refreshing Internet Explorer (or using Opera 9’s nifty auto-refresh feature!) waiting for that next article to appear. It’s demeaning.
At the end of the day, these sites have lost respect, users, and bandwidth. They might end up with two or three people coming by the following week, but for every one that shows up, two more will have permanently moved on – congratulations.