Before we get into to why using blog excerpts on your home/archive pages is a good idea, let’s talk about what exactly blog excerpts are.
What are blog excerpts?
When you’ve written a blog post it’s displayed on your blogs homepage (or archive page) and you can either show the full blog post meaning people don’t have to click through to the article itself they can read the full thing right there on the homepage, or you can choose to show a snippet of the article meaning your readers get a little preview of the post, and if they fancy reading the whole article they need to click through to that posts page.
So, why are excerpts better than showing the whole post?
A lot of blogging is about working out what your readers like, which posts are the most people reading and engaging with. If you have the entire blog post on your homepage then you have no way of knowing how many people read that post because they didn’t need to click anywhere. If you use an excerpt the reader is going to need to click through to the full post to read it meaning that your analytics will tell you exactly how many people decided to read that post.
In general, the comment section, share buttons etc are not displayed along with the post if it’s being shown in full on the homepage, that means that while readers can read the entire post, if they want to engage in some way then they need to click through to the post and scroll to the bottom. That means you’re probably losing out on potential engagement because people aren’t clicking through, and aren’t presented with the option to engage at the bottom of the post.
Offering related content
A great feature of blogs nowadays is the related posts that you often see at the bottom of blog posts. When you’ve finished reading and hit the bottom the blog offers you a few other posts that might be interesting to read if you’ve made it to the bottom of the article.
If readers don’t need to click onto the post to read it in it’s entirety, then they never get to see what related posts your blog has to offer meaning that you could be losing out on potential readers. You’re missing out on the opportunity to keep them on your blog longer reading more of your content
Giving an Overview
With a lot of blog posts being so picture heavy nowadays they can take up a lot of space. If you’re displaying the entire posts on your homepage then readers aren’t able to get that at a glance view of the kind of content that’s on offer, there’s just too much scrolling to do.
With excerpts you’re able to offer an at a glance look of the type of content you’re creating because you’re just displaying a taster of each post meaning a lot more fit on the screen, and users don’t need to give themselves RSI from scrolling so much.
Loading time is pretty important especially with the emergence of mobile browsing. If you’re displaying entire posts on the homepage – especially image heavy ones, then it’s going to seriously slow down the load time of your site and you could lose potential readers who don’t want to wait for your blog to load.
Excerpts mean you can limit the amount of images that load seeing as in general you’ll just be displaying one image per post, speeding up your sites load time.
This means your posts themselves can have as many images as you want, but they’re not going to affect the overall speed of your homepage.
Usually blogs will have a slightly different side bar when you’re on a post page compared to the homepage. When you’re on the post page you have more idea what content the reader is interested in so you can use the sidebar to offer them more content they might like – similar to the related posts box at the bottom of blog pages. Readers will probably have more incentive to subscribe to your blog when they’re reading a post that is well written. If you display the full blog post on your home page, chances are all of those options in the sidebar like subscribing or sharing posts is going to be too short to show up once they’ve scrolled down to the second post.