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Full Post vs Summary (Excerpt) in your WordPress Archive Pages?

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Full Post vs Summary (Excerpt) in your WordPress Archive Pages?

Once again one of our users asked the question, why do we use summary instead of full posts in the archive pages of WPBeginner. In this article, we will discuss whether you should use full post or summary in your WordPress archive pages? We will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of full post vs summary (excerpt)? Lastly, we will end with a conclusion on which is the ideal solution for most websites.

Benefits of Using Summary vs Full Post in Archives

We try to optimize WPBeginner for a better user experience. We want users to easily browse the website and find what they are looking for. At the same time we also want search engines to help users find content on our website. Hence our approach towards handling archive pages is geared towards a better user experience as well as good WordPress SEO.

1. Faster Load Time

At WPBeginner, our posts usually contain a good number of images with screenshots. By using excerpts in our archive pages, we significantly improve the page load time for archive pages. Imagine an archive page that shows 10 posts per page (which is pretty standard). Now if each of those 10 pages are 500+ words long with 5 images each, then your user have a lot to scroll through. The page will also load slower than normal. By using excerpts, we significantly improve the user experience. Users can load and browse through our category, tags, date, and other archive pages quickly and easily.

As for search engines, Google particularly loves faster page load times.

2. Prevents Duplicate Content

By showing excerpts on your archive pages, you can prevent being flagged for duplicate content in search engines. For example, WordPress by default has category, tags, date, and author archives. Publishing full posts in archives will make each article appear in full length at several different pages on your site. Even though search engines are quite smart in finding canonical URL for each post, they can still flag the site for duplicate content which will effect your search engine rankings.

Note: If you use full post, then simply use the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin and set all archive pages to noindex, follow.

3. Increases Pageviews and Reduces Bounce rate

People often tend to leave the website that loads slow. We have already mentioned that using excerpts make the page load faster. By using excerpts, you are reducing the bounce rate. You are also increasing pageviews because the user has to click through to the full post page in order to read the full article. Both of these metrics, pageviews and bounce rate, plays an important rate in your advertising revenue.

Read more tips about: How to increase pageviews and reduce bounce rate in WordPress

Disadvantages of Using Summary vs Full Post in Archives

1. Bad Excerpts

If you are using the_excerpt(); in your archive templates, your automated excerpt will have a fix length of 55 words. This is too short and sometimes your sentences will be cut in half and make no sense. You can always change the default excerpt length however that doesn’t fix the problem entirely. You can always write a custom excerpt on your post edit screen, but most folks don’t take the time to do so (including us). Another solution is to write catchy introductions which will most likely make the user interested.

2. Hidden Content

Some users prefer to read everything on one page rather than having to go to a different page to read the entire article. These users will be unhappy with excerpts, but you can’t keep everyone happy.

Conclusion

If your articles are short and do not contain a lot of images, then you can get away with displaying full posts on your archive pages. However in most cases, we always recommend using summary (excerpts) for your archive pages. Most good themes like Genesis comes with a built-in option that allows you to choose between full post vs excerpts from the settings. However, we have an article that will show you how to display post excerpts in WordPress themes. We hope that this article answered the question whether you should use full post or summary in your WordPress archive pages. What do you use on your site? Full posts or archives? Let us know in the comments below.


Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

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Comments

  1. Caroline Barron says:

    Great post, thank you. I find my readers don’t like the more tag if they are reading email subscriber posts on mobile phone; having to click through to the whole story. Is there a way to change it only on emailed out posts? Or, I’m thinking full post, then use WordPress SEO by Yoast to shorted them automatically on archive? Thoughts?

  2. Noah's Dad says:

    I have read from several folks that you should no index the archives pages no matter what option you choose. Do you not agree with this?

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      It depends on different situations. If you are publishing your full posts on archives pages as well then you should probably noindex archives. However if you are using excerpts with canonical urls then there is no harm in letting them get indexed.

  3. Leslie Nicole says:

    What about showing 1 full size feature image with excerpt and continue reading link? I’m in the photography/design field and just about ALL of my competition and peers use either full post or at least one large featured image. It looks nice – although I agree for mobile phone browsing the thumbnails are better. I’m not sure if I’m missing the boat with my customers by not putting more compelling images upfront (visual-oriented audience) or if I’m being smarter in thinking of responsive viewing.

  4. Guestblo says:

    Nice post there! I completely agree with the fact that just as poor quality excerpts in the archive can prove detrimental for your site, a series of huge contents in the form of summaries can prove to be quite a clutter for the archive. Therefore crisp informative excerpts for archives should be the way to go!

  5. LA says:

    How about also showing the excerpt in home page, too?

  6. Connie says:

    Unfortunately, the excerpt cuts all formatting and you have no control over the presentation,,,

  7. Talha Tayyub says:

    Excerpt are much better and professional than Full post. Because it gives users choice to choose the topics of which they are interested instead of forcing them to read full post and then move on the next.

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