Question: I’ve been going back and forth with this for years. When I first began blogging back in 2006, I believe the only option was to have WordPress display the full content of a post on the homepage as well as all the archive pages, including categories and tags. This worked fine for me and all my readers loved it because they’d need only come to the homepage and scroll down to read all my content. I wasn’t even sure if showing posts by excerpt was an option.
Years later, when I realized that I could switch things up to display the posts by only excerpts on the pages I just mentioned above, I did just that. I flipped the switch and made it so only the featured image as well as a small portion of the text showed. At that point, my users were forced to click through to read my content, which none of them liked very much.
But, as I’ve said, I’ve gone back and forth with these settings through the years. Most recently, I set all of my five blogs to show the full content of each post all of the time on every page. I felt a little weird doing this, but I figured that if it worked well back in the early days of blogging, it should work well today.
What’s your opinion? Which setting do you think is better when it comes to WordPress? Full content or excerpts?
Answer: Okay, here’s the deal. It is of my humble and experienced opinion that it’s better to show only the excerpts of your posts on the homepage as well as the archive pages, such as categories, date archives, tags and search results. If for no other reason to make filtering through the search results more practical.
I’ve had similar types of thoughts as you’ve had, but over the years and through a lot of testing, I think search engine results favor the excerpt setting. Years ago, I thought that older and less verbose posts would get consolidated into the category and tag pages, avoiding the wrath of Google Panda, but perhaps I was wrong. It appears that linking to older page via a healthy network of category and tag pages is the best route. I actually just tested these settings on a few sites of mine and not one of them saw better search engine results yielding better traffic over a two month period. It was actually the opposite. All traffic on these blogs fell. It was like a downward curve.
Now, I may be wrong here. Perhaps I didn’t wait long enough, but to be honest, blog pages can be huge if you show ten posts on them at once. Think of all the photos and graphics that are included in posts these days, not to mention video. All of this media can take a toll on page size and load time and Google hates slow pages. Think about users who are browsing your site on handheld devices, such as phones and tablets too. Do you think they want to scroll through a homepage or category page that’s a mile long? No way.