Several days ago I started using post excerpts on the main page of this blog.
There are several reason for using post excerpts on the front page of your blog. Once before, I started to use post excerpts before and stopped. I am convinced that it is probably best to use them for SEO. There are other reasons for using them and at least one for not using them.
The main SEO (Search Engine Optimization) reason for using post excerpts is to avoid duplicate content on your blog.
When you make a post without using excerpts, the exact text is duplicated not only on the page for the post itself, but also on the main page and its archive. The search engines can see this as duplicate content. This can cause problems for your post to rank well for its keywords. The ranking can sort of get split between the different pages. This can be made worse if your blog also shows full posts on category and tag pages also. In most cases, your main page will outrank the post in WordPress because PR is focused toward your home page.
Ever do a search and find nothing about the subject on the main page of the blog you were sent to?
Very likely, the home page of the blog had the post on it when the search engine bots went through it. After the post moved off the home page, it was still not ranking for the keyword as well as the home page.
The duplicate penalty can cause a page on a site to be placed in the supplemental index.
Even on a single site. One thing that I have seen trigger this is duplicate meta tags for description and keywords. While I am not sure this is still something that will still show as much, but I had this happen on a web site where I had copied a page as a template and changed the content. I forgot to change the meta tags and title. Even though the content was completely different, the page showed supplemental.
A second reason for using post excerpts is to keep the main page of the blog from getting too long.
if you have the occasional long post, your home page can get very long with just 3-4 posts. When I go to a blog, I not only read the content, I look at the sidebars and other parts of the page. Are there other posts that look interesting. Who’s commenting. Who is visiting. I admit, I like eye candy. Also, many blogs are now putting more information in the footer. Fine, but if you have long posts most likely your sidbars end long before the bottom and readers there may not know there is anything more to look for at the bottom. If your sidebars are that long, then you have the opposite problem. The content ends the reader may stop scrolling down and again never see the footer.
You will notice I have a Blog Catalog widget in my footer. I want people to see it, I just did not want to increase the length of the sidebar by placing it there. I think it works well horizontally and I have placed MyBlogLog in this position on my photography site. My goal is to keep the sidbars about the same length as my average post. Keeping the home page close to this help make that easier.
A third reason is it helps the home page of the blog load faster.
Graphics are great, but they can slow a page. I find video seems to be especially likely to slow page loads. The more you have, the more likely you are to see an item that takes long or fails to load. Keeping those to a minimum on the main page does wonders.
My fourth reason is to show more posts on the home page.
Using excerpts and limiting other things, it is possible to show 10 or more posts on the home page with few problems. A visitor can see quickly what topics are being covered on the blog with out have to scroll and scroll and scroll to find a post that might interest them. While I don’t usually have this problem, if you post very often, having more posts on the home page gives readers a better chance to see your all your posts before they disappear off the main page.
Why not use post excerpts?
Well, there is the concern that some readers might not not like it.
This is an important concern. Does it matter to a reader if the post is on its own page instead of with a bunch of others?
I actually don’t see the main page of most of the blogs I usually read. I subscribe to the feed of any blog I regularly visit and then click through the feed to read the post nearly always (it’s something about the look of a blog that makes me do this, occasionally I skip it but I usually click through and read on the blog even with full feeds). I find using a reader simply the best way to keep track of what I want to read and when. I may be in the minority, but I suspect more and more people will be using readers. This also meant I had to go see what the main page of many of the blogs I read looked like as I made my decision.
I found use of post excepts to be a bit random on the blogs I read.
Some SEO blogs use excerpts, some do not. Some non-SEO blog use excepts while many do not, even with make money online blogs. I would think that most of us should really know better by now and use of excepts would be more common in the niche. I was a bit interesting to see that Gary Conn just switched back to using post excerpts and posted about it today. I wonder if it is a good sign that I am thinking the same way he is.
A second reason for not using excerpts is that it can cause excerpts in your feed.
This depends on how you use excerpts on your blog. There are two different ways of doing it.