Why You Should Change Your Blog to Show Excerpts on the Home Page

January 23, 2008 - Written by Gyutae Park  

If you take a look at the Winning the Web homepage, you’ll notice that it has changed from displaying full posts to now short excerpts – 100 word summaries of each post followed by a “Continue Reading…” link. Why have I done this? I think this change will benefit the blog by increasing pageviews and making it easier for readers to find what they’re looking for. In fact, a poll conducted by Daily Blog Tips shows that 48% of participants believe that post excerpts on the homepage will become the blogging standard in the near future. Below is the breakdown of results.

blog-excerpts.jpg

Are you using excerpts on the homepage of your blog? If not, it might be a good time to make the transition. Below are some of the main benefits.

Top reasons why you should change your blog to show excerpts on the homepage

  • Easier for readers to navigate
    Since different types of posts on your blog will cater to different audiences, it’s important to give readers the option of whether or not to view an entire article. With excerpts, readers are able to skim through the list of posts and click through to the ones that they are most interested in.
  • Increased pageviews = more revenue
    Excerpts on the homepage will increase pageviews because readers must click through to the article instead of reading it in its entirety on the homepage. If you are running a blog that displays advertising, more pageviews usually means more opportunities for monetization. Using excerpts on the home page can therefore increase blog income.
  • Reduced page size
    By using excerpts, you will significantly decrease the amount of scrolling a reader must do to navigate your blog. Furthermore, page size is drastically reduced which means the homepage will load much faster.
  • More exposure for previous posts
    One of the problems with displaying full posts on the homepage is that old posts get pushed down to oblivion once a new one is published. By displaying excerpts, old content is still featured on the homepage and is more likely to be viewed by readers. Also, since excerpts are much shorter than full posts, more posts can be listed per page.

I’ve discovered a great WordPress plugin called Post Teaser (Thanks to Maki of DoshDosh) that will automatically create excerpts on the homepage. Be sure to check it out if this article has spurred you to change. How have excerpts worked out for you compared to full posts?

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Comments

30 Responses to “Why You Should Change Your Blog to Show Excerpts on the Home Page”

Vikingblogger on January 23rd, 2008

Hmm – interesting changes. Really. When started my blog I had the same questions in my head, but i went for full posts on front page, since this looked like business standard. But I do see your points of why you should do it the way you do now.

I might have to reconsider.

Staale aka Vikingblogger

Gyutae Park on January 24th, 2008

I think it’s important to test what works for you rather than always following the industry standard. I’ll let you know how the new format works out for me.

 
 
45n5 on January 23rd, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

the poll was also very biased since it was given on a site with teaser posts on it. that’s what most the readers are used to seeing.

i think teaser posts are annoying, they force me to click “click for more” way too many times just to see the information.

certainly not all of your posts pertain to me, that’s why leaving the full post makes it easy to scan. forcing me to click “read more” is annoying just to find out I didn’t need to read the whole post

just my 2 cents.

Gyutae Park on January 24th, 2008

You may be right that teaser posts force readers to make another click. However, I think it becomes even more important to write effective titles that draw attention and describe the content at the same time. Hopefully, this will be a good change for the blog.

 
 
Andy Beard on January 23rd, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I use a plugin called Excerpt Editor for mine, though I am going to do a little more custom soon.

Long term what I will do is provide a magazine like front page, plus a “blog” page that contains full content so there is a browsing option.

Gyutae Park on January 24th, 2008

A magazine-style homepage is definitely something worthy looking at. You have a great blog Andy and I think anything you do to make it easier for readers to access your content will help you out.

 
 
gamermk on January 23rd, 2008

Very nice post, if Netvibes weren’t broke right now I’d be picking up your feed. I should note though that of your 4 reasons #2 seems like a poor reason to implement such a strategy since making changes based on Monetization (especially short term gain) is generally a poor decision in my experience. That being said your other 3 I feel are very strong reasons and I’ll definitely be downloading Post Teaser to try this strategy out.

Gyutae Park on January 24th, 2008

Thanks. I agree that monetization isn’t really a main reason for making this change. It’s just an added bonus in theory. Let me know how it works out for you as well.

 
 
Rodel on January 23rd, 2008

ive tried this one too.. but clicks were lesser.. is it just my content or readers are just fun of gett’n tid bits form my article..

anyway, at least they could run this research to various sites.. it could be more authentic..

Gyutae Park on January 24th, 2008

I’d be interested in how this change affects click throughs to the actual articles. Especially in different industries…

 
 
Cynthia on January 23rd, 2008

This is a recommendation I make to many people if only because it gets more titles above the fold. This is particularly helpful if you blog about a variety of things. For example, I could have a Stargate Atlantis post taking up my front page, a Supernatural fan visits and says, oh, Atlantis, I don’t watch that and they leave before they see that I have two articles on the show two posts down.

The more you offer the reader on a first glance, the more likely they’ll stay and read.

Gyutae Park on January 24th, 2008

I tend to agree with your theory. Excerpts allow readers to more easily find something that they are interested in – usually resulting in converting them into frequent readers. Full posts rely too much on the most recent post.

 
 
Kyle on January 23rd, 2008

Guytae,

I think that you should make a followup post in a month comparing the two months data… Very curious here…

Gyutae Park on January 24th, 2008

Thanks for the suggestion. I definitely plan on keeping an eye on the numbers and seeing what happens. I’ll keep you posted.

 
 
Epiphany on January 23rd, 2008

Great discussion! As I understand it, using the blog excerpts feature on your blog’s home page also benefits you for SEO purposes by reducing the problem of duplicate content. That’s the main reason I started doing it.

Gyutae Park on January 24th, 2008

You’re right. In terms of SEO, having excerpts on the home page may help with duplicate content. It’s not a huge issue as search engines are getting smarter about it but every little bit helps.

 
 
Christopher Kata on January 23rd, 2008

Thanks for this great tip! I just added the plugin to our blog, and it makes the home page much better!

Gyutae Park on January 24th, 2008

Great, it looks good on your blog. I’m glad it works out for you as well.

 
 
AndrewPavelski on January 24th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I’m going to give this a test run and see how it works out. Thanks for the plugin!

Gyutae Park on January 26th, 2008

Awesome. Let me know how it works out for you.

 
 
Frank C on January 26th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I switched to using a magazine style theme back in November. It’s worked out quite well for me.

I particularly like having a feature article continuing to get top front page billing while other, newer, articles of lesser importance are displayed underneath. It also allows me to have 12 articles plus the feature article up front which wouldn’t be practical with a standard blog layout.

Gyutae Park on January 26th, 2008

Hey Frank,
Thanks for stopping by. I checked out optempo.com and it looks good. I especially like how your magazine-style theme features the latest article. Excerpts are working great as well.

 
 
James Mann on January 30th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I have gone back and forth on this issue and finally decided to give it a try. I personally find it a pain in the behind to click through to the full post. For that reason I switched back to showing the entire post on my main page.

I will admit that I didn’t look to see if anything changed in my stats I just found it annoying when I had to click through so I figured it most likely annoyed others as well.

Gyutae Park on February 2nd, 2008

Hey James,
One thing to note is that your visitors think differently than you do. It might be a pain for you to click through to the posts, but you know what each and every post contains since you’ve written them yourself. Your readers on the other hand may be new to your blog and not know what your posts contain. Giving them brief summaries and allowing them to scan your content will help to give your blog more exposure.

I also advise you to check your stats as that will be the definitive measure of whether or not to use excerpts.

 
 
Thomas Sinfield on February 1st, 2008

I almost started doing it when I launched my new design, but then didn’t. However I really like the idea because it makes people click deeper into your blog.

 
Louis Liem on March 24th, 2008

I think I’ve got a different opinion on this one:
* Easier for readers to navigate
You don’t have to cut down posts to make readers easily skim the list. All you need to do is displaying the list of the most recent post or the most popular post’s title. Additionally, the post title itself should be made clear and describes the content to give the readers a picture of what behind the title.
* Increased pageviews = more revenue
I think this one depends on your blogging priority and how’s your readers’ opinion on blog monetizing.
* Reduced page size
You can achieve both faster page load and a better user experience using tag in WordPress. This way, readers won’t encounter a 150 words article behind the excerpted 100 words one and feel like wasting time clicking.
* More exposure for previous posts
You can also display previous posts by worpress hacking and there are even more options available than just displaying previous posts. You can display posts from 5 years ago if you want to. Just put their titles on the sidebar or under the header.

So, usually, I add tag for long posts and leave shorter posts in their full form.

 
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