Benefits of Using Summary vs Full Post in Archives
We try to optimize 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
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.
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.
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.