Full Posts or Excerpts?

If you use an RSS reader you’ll notice two different methods bloggers use for displaying their RSS feeds. Some bloggers choose to show readers the full post directly in the RSS reader, while others choose to only use short excepts that contain a link to the blog post on their site. Each method has its pros and cons.

Excerpts

Pro:
1 – Increases page views as readers will have to visit the site to read the full post.
2 – May increase Alexa ranking and possibly advertising revenue.

Con:
1 – Less people actually read the post because it requires clicking the link and visiting the blog.
2 – Subscribers can become frustrated with not being able to see the full post and they may unsubscribe.

Full Posts

Pro:
1 – Easier for readers (they can get the whole article without clicking any links).
2 – Posts will be read by a higher percentage of subscribers.
3 – The number of subscribers may increase.

Con:
1 – Less page views for the website because readers have less incentive to click through
2 – Decreased page views can mean lower Alexa rankings and advertising revenue

As a reader, I prefer to subscribe to feeds that display the full post in the RSS reader. In my opinion the whole point of the RSS reader is to get everything you want to read in one place, without the need to visit every individual website. I think that using excerpts in feeds takes away from the convenience of RSS.

For this blog I use full posts in the RSS feeds because I think that is what my readers would prefer. Each blogger has to weigh the pros and cons and make the decision that helps them to achieve their goals.

Blog front pages and category pages

Deciding between using full posts and excerpts isn’t limited to just your RSS feed. Excerpts can also be used on the blog homepage and on category, date and search pages. Although I use full posts in the RSS feed, I use excerpts on the blog itself. My reason for doing so is the same – I think it is what my readers would prefer.

Using excerpts on the blog front page and category pages can help increase your pageviews, but I think that is a secondary reason for using them. When I visit a blog I like to be able to see the titles and excerpts of several posts all at once, rather than needing to scroll down through an entire post. I think it gives the reader a chance to quickly see what type of content is available on the blog.

Again, each blog’s goals are different and each blog’s readers are different. There is no right or wrong way.

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