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.
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.
- 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.
And here’s what it looked like in the email notification after the post was published.
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.
- 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.’
- 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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79 thoughts on “How To Use Excerpts To Get More Visitors To Read Your Blog Posts”
Brilliant post, Hugh. I will definitely be reverting to excerpts, just to see if it makes a difference. Thank you!
Thank you. It should make some difference because readers then have to visit your blog to read your posts from the email they get.
Good to know, Hugh…
Yes I write my own excerpts, usually taken from a paragraph further down in the text. I agree they should entice the reader to learn more. But once when reviewing a published post, I realized the info in the excerpt was so different from my title, even I was confused. So now I try to tie them together.
That’s an excellent idea, Aletha. Thank you for your comment.