I was reviewing a WordPress blog for a client a few days ago and I noticed that they weren’t using the built-in blog snippet capabilities of WordPress – also known as the “more” tag.
Here’s why I recommend using the more tag in WordPress and how it works:
The more tag is a way for you to keep from confusing search engines about which pages to add to their index. For example, let’s say we have two blogs. Blog A uses the more tag in every post, so when we visit Blog A we only see blog post snippets (or intros) on the homepage.
Blog B, on the other hand, does not use the more tag, so the home page shows each blog post in it’s entirety. Here’s why Blog B is making things more difficult for search engines:
1. Search engines generally don’t like long pages with lots of text. There are no hard and fast rules, but most of the work I’ve seen shows that 1100-1200 words is the longest a page should be (with some exceptions of course).
If a page gets much longer than 1200 words, most readers will tune out and stop reading. Since Google is 100% dedicated to providing the best possible user experience (and since Bing and Yahoo have copied them), really long pages of text generally don’t do well in search engine results.
In other words, a blog homepage with 10 full-length blog posts probably isn’t getting as much search engine traffic as it could be.
2. Search engines are easily confused when they see the same text in two places. Blog A only shows snippets of each blog post on the homepage. When Google/Bing/Yahoo shows up, it’s easy for them to figure out where each post “lives” and add each post to the index.
Blog B, on the other hand, has the full text of each blog post on both the homepage and the post page. When Google/Bing/Yahoo finds duplicate content, they usually index the page with more authority…which is the homepage. As a result, each individual post page may be ignored.
The problem here is that, as you add new blog posts, your old posts disappear from the homepage. In the eyes of Google/Bing/Yahoo, that text is then gone forever…so Google/Bing/Yahoo removes that old text from their index and you don’t get free search engine traffic on some or all of your old posts.
NOTE: This isn’t a concrete phenomenon. Blogs with a lot of comment activity can get away with posting the full content to the homepage without indexing problems. Like a lot of SEO tips and advice, this is a best practice – not a rule.
I slapped together a quick screen cast that explains the how and why in a little bit of detail. It’s available in HD, so if you can’t read/see what I’m talking about, be sure to increase the video resolution.
Also, here’s a crude blow-up image of the “more” tag icon in the WordPress visual editor:
Questions? If you’re new to WordPress or business blogging in general, be sure to check out these other posts: