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An inspiration for this post was recent conversation with one of my friends, who is brilliant internet marketer but blogging, using WordPress as platform of choice, is rather recent for him. It made me realize that what many of us bloggers accept as common knowledge might have the learning curve for him and many others.

In this post I want to describe – Why “MORE” tag is a must have on blog and how to implement it. And as always – this post is based on my personal opinion and something that I use and has proven beneficial to me.

Why You Should Use “More” tag?

Do you enjoy “Duplicate Content” penalties? Not sure?

Well, allow me to explain. By default WordPress is extremely Search Engine Un-Friendly! And by that I simply mean that SAME post you publish can be displayed in several different locations, accessed by search engines and indexed. Let’s take for example a post written with name – Post Name, by default you can find it in several locations:

  • www.domain.com – your home page has it initially
  • www.domain.com/page/2 – as more posts published it will through pages and than last number will continue to change and be indexed by Google, showing duplicate content
  • www.domain.com/category/ – your category page has it in its entirety
  • www.domain.com/tag/tagname/ – each tag you assigned to the post will have its own page and your new post will be indexed from there
  • www.domain.com/2008/11/ – your archives will display the post in full glory
  • www.domain.com/?s=post – your search results pages have your post full content
  • www.domain.com/feed – even your RSS feed, accessible by search engines will show you post
  • www.domain.com/post-name – and finally you actual full post view page will have it

As I have just shown above search engines will see that SAME content published multiple times on your blog and to avoid it been indexed – they will place all but one page into what is known as “supplemental search results” (it used to be true couple month ago, and I hope it didn’t change as I write it). Why is it bad? Read the Google definition:

A supplemental result is just like a regular web result, except that it’s pulled from our supplemental index. We’re able to place fewer restraints on sites that we crawl for this supplemental index than we do on sites that are crawled for our main index. For example, the number of parameters in a URL might exclude a site from being crawled for inclusion in our main index; however, it could still be crawled and added to our supplemental index.

Supplemental results will only be shown to searchers IF regular Google SERP’s have very few pages to answer the search query and in currently competitive market chances of that happening are next to nothing. Problem you have now is that you can’t control WHICH page is INDEXED to be shown for regular searches unless you take some measures.

Let’s Discuss the Cure for The Dupes

What I will provide here is what I personally use and what works for me – your results can’t be quite different. Improper implementation can be also quite destructive to your existing blog – by using guidelines I provide, you take full responsibility for your own actions.

1. Use MORE tag on ALL your posts.

Using more tag allows you to split the main post content into small part of the post that is shown in all the index, archive, search results, tag, etc pages and while it gives access to people to content they need – it is not showing it in its Entirety and will not be seen by search engine as duplicate to what is placed on your main Full Post view page, assuming you didn’t split it in such a way that most of your content goes before the more tag.

Adding the more tag is very simple, just click the MORE icon on your visual editor, shown below or use MORE in html editor

That will effectively split your post in exact location this tag is placed.

2. Change your theme templates to display Excerpt

This is a more drastic measure as you loose control to great extent over what is shown on the pages that aggregate your posts, such as main home page, archives, etc. Excerpt will take predefined number of characters from your post and display it on those pages, after the theme is edited IF you don’t provide other text in EXCERPT field in your post.

But first, edit your index.php, archive.php, archives.php and any other pages responcible for displaying content of multiple posts (don’t do it on single.php – that is the file we need to display full content on) and replace:

<?php the_content('Read more'); ?> with
<?php the_excerpt(); ?>

Doing the above mentioned will effectively replace full post content on all of the aggregation pages with an excerpt of the post instead of full content and will help you prevent the Duplicate Content penalties to some extent. You can still control what is shown on those pages by using this Advanced option while writing post:

Use this ONLY if you don’t want to use MORE tag in each post.

3. Use a Plugin to Avoid Indexing Of Pages You Don’t Want in SERP’s

I personally use the All In One SEO plugin to exclude all categories, tags and other supplemental pages on my site from been indexed by search engines. What that plugin does is places the code into the HTML head section of those pages that tells Google to Not Index the page itself but Do Follow link to the posts shown on it:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow" />

I have also seen people mention WordPress Duplicate Content Cure as good option to use for same effect. Its up to you which plugin you decide to use, as long as you find a way to NOINDEX on categories, tags, etc pages to avoid the duplicate content.

4. Use robots.txt to Exclude Certain Pages From Indexing

After some trial and error I have ended up with a robots.txt file that works quite nicely for me and helps me to exclude all the pages I don’t want to be indexed, such as FEED and TRACKBACK among the few more important.

If you like – you can copy my robots.txt file and adjust for your own blog. Simply place it into your blog root folder and BE SURE to verify it using Google Webmaster Tools. try accessing some of the more important posts and pages on your blog using tool they provide to verify that robots.txt doesn’t stop indexing those pages.

Using option  have shown above, simply provide the url and check it, see image below:

That will verify you file is correct and will not break your blog.

All the options I have outlined above should help you avoid the duplicate content penalties and also help you display MORE of your content on main home page and other aggregation pages while keeping the page load speed down to normal.

MORE tag allows you to display same 10 (or however many you choose) posts on your main blog page while showing slightly less text, less images and help your page to load faster!

MORE tag is in this case allows you to keep MORE of your visitors on your page reading, instead of the leavign the page after waiting for several minutes. More Is Better!