Forget titles, blog excerpts are what gets me to click

Everyone focuses on headlines. Optimize the headline! Make it enticing! Make it SEO friendly! But what often gets me to click is actually the excerpt. A short snappy excerpt will give me an idea of what the article is about.

The excerpt in a blog post is like the subtitle in a book. The title of the book can be clever, but usually short. The subtitle will often give you more of a hint about the contents.

Nat Eliason has the most interesting excerpts. He keeps them really short. I read the excerpt and think, “oh, i’d like to read that.” Here’s a screenshot of his blog homepage:

That’s how excerpts should really work. Instead, we all get lazy and leave the excerpt to be the first 200 characters of the body. Most times a sentence will get chopped off, leaving you wonder what’s in the rest of the sentence. As if that makes someone actually click through. In reality, cutting a sentence in a random spot is probably more annoying than enticing.

I pulled a bunch of his headlines and excerpts. Thankfully his RSS feed has 100 items, a very good sample size.

Here are the five shortest excerpts of the 100:

These excerpts pack a second punch.

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