To my blogging friends – have you ever noticed that little Excerpt box at the bottom of your WordPress dashboard when you’re writing a new post? It looks like an empty text box. If you’re anything like me you probably ignore it. Between writing the post, creating the Pinterest image, setting up your SEO, choosing a featured image, defining categories, setting tags, scheduling the social media promotion, etc. it’s not like you need another thing to worry about, right? I feel you, but I’m going to talk about it anyway.
Creating custom excerpts for your blog posts is far more important than you realize. This is especially true if you truncate your blog posts and feature summaries rather than full posts on your home page or blog page. I’ll explain that in a minute…stay with me.
If you check out my Blog page you’ll see that I truncate my blog posts. That means that rather than display the entire blog post as many other bloggers do, I choose to display only the featured image and a short summary. There is no right way to do this and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You can display the content on your blog however you see fit. I choose summaries because I feature a variety of categories and share new content 6 days a week. This format allows my readers to easily skim recent content without scrolling through pages and pages of full-length posts.
If you do not add a custom excerpt to your blog post WordPress automatically displays the content at the beginning of your post. That’s not always a big deal but it sure is ugly if you start your content with a disclaimer related to affiliate links or sponsored posts like this recent post of mine…
I mean, that’s fine but it’s not great. Yes, I want to comply with the law and disclose my affiliate links to my readers. Do I really need it to be front-and-center before they even open the blog post? Nope! So, rather than allow that pesky nonsense to show up there I added a custom excerpt. This allows me to control what my readers see as they are scrolling through my blog content.
I think the custom excerpt is much more enticing, don’t you agree?
The custom excerpt allows me to introduce a little background into my personal connection to the game and showcase a couple of highlights which may make my readers interested. I mean, who wouldn’t want to check out a game that is free to play and tween-friendly?
So, maybe it’s time to not stop ignoring that little Excerpt box down there in your dashboard. This WordPress feature gives you control over the blurb that appears on your blog and is different than the blurb you enter for SEO. To keep it straight…
SEO = What search engines see and display in search results
EXCERPT = What displays on your blog website as the post summary
They can be the same if you want them to be but they don’t have to be. Mine are different because they have different goals. One is keyword-rich and designed for search engine bots while the other is function/benefit focused and designed to attract people. If you haven’t been setting excerpts for your blog posts, it’s time to start. Below your post, on your WordPress dashboard, you’re looking for this box:
Ignore the boxes for UBB and Yoast SEO because if you don’t have those plugins, you won’t see those boxes.
What do you think? Are you ready to start creating excerpts? Go get to it!