By that, I mean the use of the More tag that truncates your blog post and in place put a “Read More” link for your readers to click to read the rest.
Is that a good practice? for you? for your readers?
I have been thinking about this ever since I started blogging, then today I found some fellow WordPress.com bloggers were discussing this very topic in WordPress forum. Some of my feelings were echoed there. Some were not. I decided instead of posting in the forum I will write down my thoughts in a post here.
There are two types of readers: those who have been reading your site and those who’s come here for the first time. Among those who’ve been reading, some of them read from an RSS reader and some visit the website every time. New visitors, obviously, are always reading at your website when they come for the first time.
- Regular feed readers
They don’t like the Read More link as it requires them to wait and load the web page to read. If all your readers are feed readers then you don’t want to use More tag at all. Getting the whole post right in front of their eyes makes them more likely to read the whole thing. It increases the readership, even if it means one less hit to your web site.
- Regular web readers
You don’t want to use the More tag on them either. Similar to the feed readers, they are already regularly visiting and they most of the time are just looking for new posts at the top. You want to make things easier for them, so they will read as much as possible. One less click is a couple seconds less wait time. Treat your regular readers well.
- First-time web visitors
This is where the issue becomes interesting. Do you get more readership out of a visitor when he has to hit page down 5 times just to see the next headline (then lose the patience after 10 keystrokes)? or do you get more when he sees 1-2 headlines per page, quickly finishes scanning all of your headlines on the front page before picking the ones he likes to click on?
Ask yourself. When you are a visitor to a website for the first time, do you hit page down to scan the headlines first to see what this site has in store? I do and I think most people do too. I scan the headline quickly then decide which one, if any, to read. I hate having to scroll down and down and down and still can’t see the next headline. Sometimes I just lose the patience and don’t want to scroll any more.
With all those being said, they are not the deciding factors (they are considerations).
The deciding factor should be, in my opinion, based on what your last 10 posts are as of the moment, what portions of each one do you choose to be on the front page?
- If a post has a very compelling first paragraphs, cut at the best place, even if it’s not particularly long. Do it especially if the rest of post might not be as grabbing as the beginning. Don’t deter visitors with the length. People are more likely to read when it looks short.
- If a post don’t happen to have a compelling beginning, but gets to the best part midway or in the end, then leave the whole post on (unless it’s miles and miles long). Maximize the likelyhood of engaging your readers per square feet of your real estate. :)
- If a post is about a niche topic that draws only a certain crowd (like my Dancing with the Stars posts), try not to put the whole post on. People who don’t watch the show have no use for them. You should make it easy for them to skip and move on to things that have a better chance capturing their attention.
Do these make sense to you?