Something that every blogger aims for is to make it as easy as possible for their audience to consume the blog’s content.
The challenge with this, however, is that not everything in WordPress is set to let you do that optimally.
Let’s face it, WordPress is great when it comes to showcasing your very latest blog posts, but it’s far from great when it comes to showing your older posts.
Essentially, every post that’s not in, say, your top five most recent ones gets buried in your WordPress blog archives … forever.
What’s particularly unfortunate about this is that your older blog posts might still be very relevant and very valuable … if only your readers had a chance to view them.
Well, actually, they have!
This is where the topic of this very guide comes into play. A searchable, interactive index page can be your solution. In this post, we show you ten reasons why that’s the case, and also give you a step-by-step tutorial on how to create an index page on your WordPress blog. So keep reading to the end.
“What’s an index page anyway?”
When I say index pages for WordPress, I mean something like this:
Notice how you can see all of this example blog’s posts in one place, and how everything can be searched-through thanks to the search field and the filtering options.
So, why would you want something like that on your WordPress blog? And, more importantly, why your readers will thank you for it?
Here are ten viable reasons:
1. An index page unburies your old content
Like I said earlier, one of WordPress’ main problems regarding content presentation is that older posts get buried in the archives pretty quickly.
With an index page, you get to showcase your old content prominently, and you also get to pick the order in which it appears – essentially putting the focus on your most important blog articles.
2. An index page serves as a better archives page
I don’t want this post to be beating down on WordPress, but it just so happens that archive pages are one more thing that’s not among WordPress’ strongest points.
The way that the archives work by default is that WordPress takes your posts and simply displays them in reverse chronological order, dividing them by months and years.
If a reader is looking for a particular piece of content on your WordPress blog, this is only useful to them if they know the rough publication date of that piece = it’s not useful at all.
An index page solves this problem since it allows you to showcase all your posts at once, and put the reader in control of the search mechanism.
Which brings me to:
3. An index page makes content more searchable
If your reader wants to search through your blog’s content by keyword, they have two options to do so:
- use WordPress’ built-in search engine
- use Google
Unfortunately, WordPress’ default mechanism isn’t actually a search engine, per se, and can’t do true keyword-based search. Google, on the other hand, isn’t always reliable when it comes to indexing your content. In other words, you can never be sure that all of your blog posts can even be found on Google.
The third option, an index page. The search mechanism used there will do a much better job of guiding the reader to the exact piece of content they need. Most importantly, it works instantly as you type.
4. An index page makes every post accessible in seconds
Even if you have a larger WordPress blog with hundreds or even thousands of posts, an index page will still allow your readers to browse through those posts in seconds.
By combining the filtering mechanism and the search module, the reader doesn’t have to even look at the content that’s of no interest to them.
5. An index page lets the reader zero-in on specific content categories
If you use categories to organize your content, you will be happy to know that you can allow your readers to filter the content on your index page by those categories.
On a tech blog, for example, someone interested in “Android” can easily pick that as the only category they want to see, which will possibly narrow down their search significantly.
6. An index page makes sure that none of your content goes missing
One of the main traits of a good index – no matter if we’re talking an index of blog posts or an index of products at Home Depot – is that you want to be sure that nothing is missing from the index. It’s what makes the index reliable.
Essentially, this is about keeping your index up to date. This includes adding new content as you publish it, but also deleting old content, and not forgetting about your custom post types should you have any.
A dynamic index page that we’re talking about here takes care of all of that. This type of an index page is kept updated on autopilot without any supervision required on your part. And, as a bonus, it also works with your custom post types.
7. An index page lets you be in control of the presentation
When using WordPress, there are two main elements that control the way your content is presented – your theme and WordPress itself.
While you get to control your theme somewhat, you don’t get much say in how things like your WordPress blog archives look.
With an index page, on the other hand, you’re in full control. You can pick what you want to put in the columns of your index, what type of filtering you want to allow, how many posts you want to show on a single screen, and much more.
8. You can show multiple posts on a single page without sacrificing readability
The default blog archives in WordPress display from 5-10 posts on a single page, based on the settings of your theme.
The problem here is that five is not that many when you think about it. For example, a reader looking for a particular piece of content will likely have to browse through a large number of archive pages before they get to what they need.
With an index page, however, you can showcase 25, 50, 100, or even all posts on a single screen. At the same time, you’re not sacrificing the readability thanks to the table structure of the index.
9. An index is more mobile friendly
Looking for a particular blog post on mobile is a nightmare.
First off, the screens are small, so scrolling through long pages is far from reader-friendly. Secondly, the connection speeds are also not great, so re-loading new pages is frustrating as well.
With an index page, again, everything is on one page, and because of the filtering and search mechanisms, the reader can look through the content much more efficiently.
One of the main goals for bloggers is to always be on the lookout for ways to better communicate with their audiences. And a proper navigation structure is a key factor in that.
Designing good website navigation is hard-enough even for the pros. But when you only have your WordPress theme at your disposal and the menu tools that it comes with, then it becomes even tougher.
An index page is an attractive alternative solution to the navigation challenge. At the end of the day, what an index page gives you is one page that links to all of your blog posts, while also putting the user in control of how they want to search through that index.
In other words, if your reader knows roughly where they want to go, they will be able to find that location via an index page much quicker.
Ultimately, this makes your WordPress blog more reader-friendly and easier to navigate, thus helping you build a more loyal readership.
How to create an index page that achieves all of the above
Here’s what you need to get started:
- a functioning WordPress website or blog
- a plugin called Posts Table Pro (premium)
The process of installing the plugin is the same as for any other WordPress plugin. Nothing fancy.
(Just go to your WordPress dashboard, then Plugins ? Add New ? Upload.)
With the plugin activated, the only additional step that you need to take to enable it fully is to go to Settings ? Posts Table Pro and enter your license key.
At this stage, you’re literally one shortcode away from building a dynamic index page.
All you need to do at this point is create a new page and place this shortcode inside:
This will include a live, dynamic index.
Now the best part – you can customize the way that index looks via the shortcode’s attributes. Here are some of the most useful ones:
- pick the exact columns you want to display; for example:
- control how the posts are sorted; for example:
- add the filtering mechanism:
- (a search field is enabled by default)
For example, an index table that combines all of the above can be included by using the following shortcode:
[posts_table post_type="post" columns="title,categories,author,date" sort_by="title" filters="true"]
With an index page like that, your readers can do a number of things to get to the exact posts they want:
- they can click on any of the column headers to sort the index by that column,
- they can use the keyword search box,
- they can filter the results via the “filter” drop-down,
- they can pick how many entries to display on a single screen,
- they can reset their filters/search via the “reset” button.
Not to mention, of course, they can click on any post that they want to read next.
This sums up the ten reasons why you might want to get your blog a nice index page. As you can see, the how-to is very straightforward and doesn’t require any coding skills. It’s just, “install the plugin ? copy-and-paste the shortcode.” Literally couldn’t be simpler.
What do you think of a solution like this? Do you think that your WordPress blog can benefit from a quality index page?