Create an archive page on your blog to help visitors discover posts

A problem that some websites and blog have is poor navigation. More specifically, it is hard to find posts other than the handful mentioned on the home page. An Archive page solves that problem and it is easy to create.

An Archive page is a special type of page and it lists every article posted on the site, usually in descending chronological order, but it could be alphabetical.

An Archive page has two purposes and its main one is to aid discovery. It enables visitors to your site to browse a list of posts and see everything that has been published. They may see an older article that they like and read it. If visitors cannot find articles, how are they going to read them?

The other purpose is to allow Google, Bing and other search engines to discover pages. If they can find them, they can index them, and then they might appear in search results when people use a search service.

Some themes include an Archive page and if yours has one then most of your problems are solved. You might need to create the page, so check the theme’s help files or documentation on the developer’s website.

An example of a blog archive page

If you don’t currently have an Archive page, one can easily be added with a clever plugin.

1 Install Shortcodes Ultimate

Click Plugins in the WordPress sidebar and then click Add New

Enter ‘Shortcodes Ultimate’ into the search box in the top right corner

Click Install Now next to the Shortcodes Ultimate plugin

Click Activate to activate the plugin

The Shortcodes Ultimate WordPress plugin

2 Create an Archive page

Go to Pages in the sidebar and click Add New

Enter a suitable title, such as Archive

No text is needed on the page, but you can enter some if you want. What you now need to do is to add a shortcode to display all the posts on your site.

3 What is a shortcode?

A shortcode looks like text and you type it into the WordPress post editor as text, but it is actually a command. Here is a shortcode:

[ su_posts posts_per_page=”5″ tax_term=”4″ order=”desc” ]

When someone goes to a page on your website, before the web page is sent to them, plugins scan the text for shortcodes like the one above. Different plugins use different shortcodes, so each plugin looks for its own shortcodes. It removes the text from the post and carries out the instructions.

The instructions above can be broken down like this:

su_posts = Shortcodes Ultimate posts command
posts_per_page=”5″ = Display 5 posts per page
tax_term=”4″ : Matching category (taxonomy) number 4
order=”desc” = In descending order

Experts may be able to type this in, but most people find the visual editor easier.

4 Insert the shortcode

Back to our Archive page, which is currently empty. Click the Insert Shortcode button in the editor toolbar.

Insert shortcodes into a WordPress post

The item we want is Posts and this opens an editor where it can be configured.

Shortcodes Ultimate features

There are many sections and they are used to configure the output. For example, look for Posts Per Page and enter the number of posts to list per page, such as 10. Enter -1 to list all posts.

Set the number of posts to show in Shortcodes Ultimate

A bit further down is a Taxonomy. This enables posts to be displayed from specific categories or if they contain certain tags. Selecting all categories would show all posts.

Select the categories to show in Shortcodes Ultimate

There are many more options for filtering posts, but this simple one works:

[ su_posts posts_per_page=”-1″ order=”desc” ]

It lists all posts (that’s what -1 means) in all categories (because none are specified). Publish this page containing the shortcode.

5 Add an Archive menu

The final step is to add the Archive page to the menu. Go to Appearance in the sidebar in WordPress and select Menus. Find the Archive page in the list, tick the box and click Add to Menu. Save it.

Add a page to the WordPress menu

That’s it, you now have an Archive page that lists all the posts on your site.

6 Creative uses of archive pages

Here we created a single archive page that lists all posts, but you could just as easily create separate archive pages for each category on your site.

For example, if you have a food site, you could have two categories, one for vegetarian recipes and one for meat recipes, or you could have Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner archive categories. It depends on what categories you have.

Just create separate pages for each category and select the category you want to show in the shortcode editor.

(How did I type [ some code ] without it being interpreted as a shortcode? By adding a space before and after the brackets. If there is a space, it is treated as text, but without a space it is a shortcode.}

You can even display a ‘Related Articles’ list at the bottom of a post by adding a shortcode to display 4 or 5 posts in the same category or with the same tag.