Posts in Pieces
Mirando Así Arriba by Corazón Girl
One of the most immediately noticeable aspects of a blog is whether or not it publishes complete posts on its homepage, or partial posts. Are you going to have to load another page to read the first article in its entirety? Or is it already laid out in front of you?

Many blogs publish partials, and many publish excerpts. Which method is best?

In Favour of Full Posts

Some of the advantages of displaying the complete posts are:

  • There are no interruptions. If someone has read the first few paragraphs of your post, then they are involved with it. Giving a partial post breaks the reader’s flow. This can be particularly damaging if the post is dealing with a rather complex idea, where breaking the train of thought may end up with the reader being lost.
  • Short posts look good in full. If a post is 5 paragraphs long, and you usually show an excerpt that is 3 paragraphs long, is it really worth loading the second page for the sake of 2 paragraphs?
  • The introduction is less important. Every writer has their strong points and their weak points. Knowing those is crucial to succeeding as a writer. If you know that introductions are your weak point, then partial posts might not be for you, as they place a lot of weight on the introduction. You must sell the post in those few lines. Full posts take away this pressure.
  • It is easier to do. This isn’t technically an “advantage,” but it is one reason that full posts are a popular solution. As a blogger, they are easier to do. You write your post, and you publish. No hassle, no fuss.
  • Readers are used to seeing full posts. This last reason is a rather shaky one I imagine, but worth mentioning nonetheless. Blogs began with complete posts on the home pages, and many readers may still prefer it this way. On the other hand, is there any reason that a blog should look like the stereotypical blog?

In Favour of Partial Posts

  • Posts can be scanned. Your latest post may not always appeal to the reader, and even if it does, they may also be interested in any number of the other posts on your homepage. Short excerpts mean that the user can easily scan the page, opening each appealing headline in a new tab. Publishing complete posts on the page makes this sort of scrolling impossible.
  • More posts can be placed in the same space. By converting from complete posts to excerpts, you could show twice as many articles, in a shorter space. This allows you to put a larger range of your posts on show to the reader.
  • To read the complete post, the user must load the post’s page. This page includes all of the post’s comments, making the user far more likely to read them, and even leave a comment of their own.
  • The chance of a duplicate content penalty in the search engines is removed. Posting a complete post on the homepage means that the entire post exists at two separate locations, the homepage and the post page. The SEs will pick up on this, and may infer the duplication content penalty upon your site. (This point is made often online, but personally I think it is a rather shaky one as well.)

As you can see from this site, I am in favour of showing partial posts. Have you heard it being said that, “your blog is only as good as its last post?” With full posts, this phrase reigns true. However with partial posts, your blog can be as good as your last 3 posts, and one can only hope that there is a gem in there somewhere!

Which approach do you take on your blog? Why so?

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