Have you ever wondered whether you should set your blog homepage to show full blog posts or post extracts/excerpts only with a link to read more? Or maybe a combination?
What do most blog readers prefer? I asked myself this question recently and some quick online research didn’t give me a definitive answer.
I asked around on Twitter, but got mixed responses. So I set up a survey (in the form of a quick poll question, with an optional field for comments) to try to get a better idea of what blog readers prefer.
The outcome may surprise some. And the comments help remind us that everyone has different habits and preferences and that includes the way people like to read blogs.
Recommendations are at the end of this post.
Blog Survey Question 1:
How do you want blog posts to be displayed on a blog homepage?
Recap of survey result:
- 67.3% of blog readers prefer to see only extracts of posts on a blog homepage
- 17.3% of blog readers prefer to see the latest few posts in full, then extracts of older posts
- 15.4% of blog readers prefer to see full posts on a blog homepage (e.g. the last 10 posts)
Right from the start of the poll, the percentage of blog readers preferring just excerpts of posts on a blog homepage settled on 65-70%, with the other two groups staying neck and neck at between 15% and 20% of the votes each.
Even though just over 50 people answered the survey (81% from Australia), I hope the steadiness of that distribution indicates these numbers are quite representative of all blog readers out there.
But now for the interesting bit – the comments!
Blog Survey Question 2 [optional]:
Reasons for preferring extracts or full posts on the homepage
Not surprisingly, the main reasons quoted by those preferring post extracts on blog homepages were:
- Quick & Easy
Different variations of comments along the lines of: “Lets me quickly scan the posts to find something worth reading”, “I like to see the big picture first”, “Easier to capture the ‘essence’ of a blog”, “I’m lazy and don’t want to have to scroll too much”, “I might miss interesting content if I first have to scroll past an uninteresting post, which I simply won’t do” and “Less overwhelming”.
And here are some reasons several people preferred full posts on blog homepages:
A few people posted comments like this one: “I don’t like having to click to read more”. There was also an “I find it time saving” and an “Extracts are for archives not homepages”.
No particular reasons were given by those preferring the last few posts in full and then extracts, except for one person saying they then preferred links only to other posts after that, not extracts. That sounds like a very particular preference and it’s not representative of the majority of blog readers.
The RSS Reader issue
Although the survey question asked how people preferred posts to be presented on blog homepages, some answers revealed readers actually read posts in RSS readers and they did not like only seeing a short extract of a post there, because they were not going to bother visiting the website to read the full post.
This may have skewed the results a bit, with a few votes for “full posts” actually referring to the way a post is presented via RSS and not on the blog’s own homepage.
Biggest takeaways from this survey
Although the majority may not be as overwhelming as some had expected, it’s safe to say most people prefer to see post extracts on a blog homepage rather than full posts.
Benefits of using post excerpts/extracts:
- Better scannability means lower bounce rate. You’ll lose fewer visitors because there’s a better chance they’ll find a post of their interest when they can easily see a number of extracts.
- Less confusion about pages. Your blog homepage won’t look the same at first glance as the page with your last blog post so you’ll get fewer people linking to the wrong page.
- Better tracking & SEO. There’s no duplicate content issue to consider and it’s easier to see which posts are the most popular. If full posts are available on your homepage, you won’t know which posts on that page have been seen or read.
However… Yes, there’s a big however. If there’s one thing that has become very clear from this survey and the comments received, it’s this:
Blog extracts need to be very well written, capture the essence of the post and be enticing enough to get people to click on the link to read the full post.
Just using the first paragraph of the post as your standard extract may not always be effective. Providing a complete synopsis of the main points and conclusions in your extracts won’t help either in getting people to read your full posts. So think about your post extract and spend a few minutes more to craft individual extracts that will help draw people in.
3 Recommendations: How to present your posts on your blog
- Show extracts of your latest blog posts on your blog homepage rather than full posts.
- Make your excerpts as descriptive and enticing as possible to ensure high click-through rates.
- Set your blog’s RSS settings to full posts as most blog readers via RSS do want to see the full post.
OK – it’s obvious my next blog design (coming in a few months’ time) will show manually written excerpts on the homepage rather than full posts, which it currently does.
NB – I’ve left the survey online so if you haven’t yet taken part, you can still do so. If the numbers change dramatically, I will update them!
Have I left anything out that you think is important in this issue? Please leave a comment below.
Micky Stuivenberg – Content Writer
Triple W Communications