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Manually Drafting A Unique Post Excerpt – Just Do It!

Posted on the 12 October 2012 by Dfennell @BloggerGo

Post Excerpt imageWordPress provides bloggers with many different options as to the appearance and layout of a blog.  One of these options is the capability of displaying full content or short summaries on the home page as well as various archive pages.  These short summaries are known as the post excerpt.  Once a blogger grows to become savvier in their ability to change and modify code within their theme as well as in WordPress, the world of possibilities to change characteristics such as word count and length open up.  But this is a lesson for another day. 

Why you should draft a unique post excerpt…

Today, we are only going to focus on how and why you should manually draft a unique excerpt for every post that you ever write and publish on your blog. 

Long story short, carefully drafted and unique excerpts are more beneficial for SEO and provide a much more positive experience for your visitor.

As many of us already know and have learned the hard way from past experiences, Google is not fond of duplicate content.  Manually drafting your post excerpt will go a long way to minimize the amount of duplicate content that WordPress generates by design.  Like I have mentioned so many times before, WordPress is a fantastic blogging platform, but there is always room for improvement.  One of these is the inherent problem of WordPress generating duplicate content across a blog.

When a blogger writes and publishes content without manually inserting a unique excerpt, WordPress will by default grab the first few lines of your blog post to display in various areas of your blog (depending on your theme and functionalities) including: 

  • Home Page
  • Search results (if you are not using Google Custom Search)
  • Tag archives
  • Category archives
  • Monthly archives
  • Author archives

This excerpt is also displayed in your Feed if you choose “Summary” in your feed settings. 

Note:  For bloggers who are displaying “Full Content” on a home page and archives, post excerpts will not apply to you.  But we must throw out there that we do not recommend displaying full content as this further complicates this duplicate content issue.

From a search engine perspective, being lazy and not drafting a unique excerpt can and will grow to be a SEO nightmare.

How to draft an effective excerpt…

Lets forget about SEO for a moment.  As a blogger, you have to get in the habit of thinking exactly like a reader who is visiting your blog.  What is the impression that you as the blogger are leaving on a new visitor?

Think about it this way; if you are visiting the home page of another blog, would you be more enticed to click on an article that displays the first 2 or 3 lines of the actual article?  The boring part of the article that offers very little information or value!  Or would a carefully drafted and unique summary that quickly grabs your attention be more likely to do the trick?  Lets face it, we as Internet surfers are ADD.  We have a very short attention span.  An effective and enticing post excerpt will go a long way to entice your visitor to click through to your article.  After all, that’s where the money is right?  Right!

When drafting your own post excerpt, find a way to describe the overall mission of your article in a few sentences.  How is this article going to benefit your reader?  Why should your reader click through?  What are they missing if they do not read your article?  Use a few of your keywords for SEO purposes.  But do not go overboard.  Remember, this excerpt is intended for the reader, not for the search engines.

Personally, I like to use a minimum of 50 words when drafting my post excerpts.  However, I aim for 75.  You will find your own methods and best practices as you play around with this more and more.

Remember, successful blogs are not created through laziness or by bloggers who cut corners.  Cutting corners used to be okay in the past.  But those days are behind us.  Work diligently to build a better blog each and every day.  Drafting unique post excerpts should be apart of your daily activities, and a best practice that you should get accustomed to. 

What about you?

Are you drafting your own post excerpts?  What are your thoughts?  What tips can you offer to help others who are starting out?

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