How To Use Excerpts To Get More Visitors To Read Your Blog Posts

Not only is adding an excerpt to a WordPress blog post easy to do, but if written correctly, they can bring in lots of extra traffic and comments to posts and pages.  

Want more people to read your blog posts? Include an excerpt.

What is an excerpt?

Put simply, it’s a short extract from a film, broadcast, or piece of music or writing. However, you can also write your own.

There are two potential methods for WordPress users to generate excerpts for their blog posts and pages.

  • Automatically – by default, WordPress generates excerpts by selecting the first 55 words of a blog post.
  • Manually – with a minor tweak, you can manually edit or replace the text used for the excerpt for each post and page you want to publish.

Automatic excerpts can look messy, as WordPress does not split up any of the text into paragraphs that contain the first 55 words of a page or blog post. The last sentence may also be incomplete (depending on how many of the 55 words have been used).

The advantage of the manual method is that you’re not limited to just the text at the beginning of a post. You can, if you prefer, create a full summary or write an introduction that will tempt readers to want to read more. You’re also not limited by how many words you can use.

What are the best tips for writing an excerpt?

  • The best tip I can give is to ask yourself what would make you want to click the ‘read more of this post’ link.
  • Don’t make the excerpt too long, otherwise, it could put people off from reading it. 
  • Use clear and direct language. Part of being pithy is using firm, direct, and clear words to describe your article.
  • Write the excerpt when the final version of your blog post or page is ready for publication.
  • The best excerpts contain questions or cliffhangers because they make many readers want to find out more.

While I believe that the title of a blog post is the most crucial element in getting readers to want to read a blog post, excerpts come a close second. 

Adding a well-written excerpt can tempt lots more readers (who were not persuaded by the title of your blog post), to want to read more.

How to add your own excerpt to a WordPress blog post.

You’ll find the excerpt box towards the bottom of the toolbar of a draft post. 

Where to find the excerpt box.
  • Before publishing your post, click inside the box and write your excerpt.
  • Remember to save the changes.
  • Publish or schedule the post.

Here’s one I wrote for a recent piece of flash fiction. 

Excerpts are optional, but consider writing one of your own.

And here’s what it looked like in the email notification after the post was published. 

Excerpts can help tempt a reader to click the ‘Read more of this post’ link.

Are you displaying all the contents of your blog posts in your emails?

I do not display the full contents of any of my blog posts in the email notification that is sent out to my followers. I do this so that readers have to click ‘read more of this post’ to read the full post. This helps generates more traffic to my blog.

You can also do this by inserting a page break into the draft of a post or page. 

Conclusion

  • Excerpts can be added to both blog posts and pages.
  • If written correctly, excerpts can generate more traffic and comments on blog posts and pages. 
  • Consider adding your own excerpts to all your blog posts and pages instead of allowing WordPress to generate one for you.
  • When writing an excerpt, ask yourself what would make you want to click the ‘read more of this post’ link.
  • If you display the full post in the emails notifications that are sent out to your followers, consider changing the setting to ‘summary.’ My post ‘How To Instantly Get More Traffic To Your Blog‘ explains how to do this. 
  • Excerpts that contain a question or cliffhanger will tempt many readers to want to know more.

What about you?

  • Do you write your own excerpts for your blog posts and pages?
  • Do you have any tips for writing excerpts?

Join the discussion by leaving me a comment that I can respond to with more than just a ‘thank you.’

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Author: Hugh W. Roberts

My name is Hugh. I live in the city of Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom. My blog covers a wide range of subjects, the most popular of which are my blogging tips posts. If you have any questions about blogging or anything else, please contact me by clicking on the 'Contact Hugh' button on the menu bar. Click on the 'Meet Hugh' button on the menu bar to learn more about me and my blog.

76 thoughts

  1. Whenever I can’t find anything I’m looking for I know you will have the answer Hugh. I’ve just searched everywhere for related posts and remembered reading something on one of your posts and Bingo there it is, plus the excerpt post which I will have a go at next time!
    Very well explained and easy to follow diagrams ..keep up the great work 🏆🥇

    1. Thanks so much for the lovely feedback, Alison. There are still lots of subjects I haven’t written about yet, plus some of my older posts still need some updating. I’m working on those in my Flashback Friday feature.
      Thanks again.

      1. Well there is one thing that’s bothering me in the new Gutenberg editor. Uploading images ..once they are uploaded and I want to change from gallery to say squares or mosaic I lose all the captions so have to delete the block and start again. Also my photos have uploaded themselves three times to my media gallery! Any thoughts

        1. Is your blog self-hosted, or a WordPress.Com blog, Alison? How do you upload your images? Do you add them to the media library first and then add them to the post, or do you drag the image into the block on the post? It’s best to add captions on the actual block (rather than add them in the media library). That way, you get a few more options for captions (like being able to add pingbacks to them or make them bold text). When you change an image in the media library, WordPress keeps a copy of the original in the media library too. They do this so you can always revert back to the original image. Unfortunately, this does not help with freeing up space in the media library unless you delete the image completely.

        2. Thanks for the quick reply Hugh. It’s not self hosted. I’ve only had this problem since using Gutenberg, and now there is the option of uploading onto the post first, it seems to be a problem with a few people from what I can see. I do the captions once in the post. It’s if I decide to change the block they disappear. I’ll have to look further into it. Thanks 😎

        3. Changing the image block is not something I have tried, Alison. I’ll have a go at doing it and see what happens. I’ll come back to you. Is it OK to contact you via your email address rather than through the comments? I can see an email address for you in the comments section of my blog’s dashboard. I won’t say what it is, as it’s not a good idea to display email addresses in blog posts or comments.

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