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Full blog posts versus excerpt/summaries - which is better?
I stumbled into an interesting conversation today. My colleagues were discussing a hot topic blog post. Not that unusual, but then one of them quipped that they “very much dislike blogs that display full posts on their blog home page.” The comment echoed my personal opinion but also piqued my interest. I became curious. Do full posts or excerpts offer any tangible benefits?
So I started to research online - was there a preference, or a suggested “best practice,” for choosing excerpts vs full blog posts? Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a consensus one way or the other.
Displaying Full Blog Posts; the good
Some bloggers are fervent supporters of displaying your full blog posts on your home pages and/or blog listing pages. They argue it’s more important to deliver the content quickly, so it can be absorbed by visitors, rather than making readers click to “read more.” Others considered it a matter of preference but did recommend that photo-heavy or shorter-content type blogs are better served by displaying entire posts. Moreover, it was suggested that if you post infrequently or irregularly, displaying the entire post improved the perception of your blog’s content - it makes even blogs with fewer overall posts seem more robust.
Opting to show excerpts and/or summaries
The counter arguments in favor of displaying excerpts seemed to have a bit more merit. At least they seemed less spurious in nature. The use of excerpts in your blog list helps to avoid duplicate content issues related to SEO – since the summary can be different than the full blog post, and isn’t generally duplicated in its entirety. Excerpts likely help readers skim your topics, providing more opportunity to hook them with headlines or your lead-in excerpts. Further, using short blurbs likely helps to improve page loading speeds - maintaining visitor engagement and improving SEO scores.
Perhaps I’m suffering confirmation bias, since I’ve always preferred excerpts vs full blog posts, but I think using excerpts holds a slight edge. At least the rationales supporting the use of summaries are testable in nature rather than more speculative. So I’m fairly confident I’ll continue to promote the use of summary excerpts on blogs to our clients.
It’s a matter of a blogger’s preference and reader preference
But I will admit, the answer really comes down to a matter of personal preference from the blogger’s perspective combined with the preferences of the blog’s readers. And the readers are usually the deciding factor - if they’re not visiting or sticking around or commenting, then something isn’t resonating. It might be the full post vs excerpts, or it might be something more serious.
I’m sure this debate will rage on for as long as there are blogs and new bloggers. I just wish I could have uncovered more definitive guidance one way or the other. If you have insight into which option is best, leave a comment.
Apr 15, 2014
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