A key goal for every website owner is to retain visitors on their website as long as possible. Higher visitor retention leads to increased page views and conversions, which is why you should help direct visitors to where they want to go.
There are a few ways you can achieve this using your website design such as navigation menus, a search bar, and an archive page. Surprisingly, many website owners do not take advantage of the archive page, despite the fact it helps with SEO and helps visitors find relevant content.
In this article I would like to show you some useful archive page plugins for WordPress that can be used to create an archive page for your website.
The Benefit of Adding an Archive Page
Navigation Menus can be used to list the main areas of your website, however as your website grows and you publish more content, it is simply not possible to list every published page through menus.
This is why WordPress websites display a search bar. The search bar helps visitors find the content they are searching for via keywords and key phrases.
Whilst the search bar requires users to say what they are searching for, the archive page typically displays all published content in a hierarchical structure.
An archive page is a practical way of displaying all published pages, posts, galleries, products, and other custom post types. Many WordPress themes feature an archive.php page template that lets you assign any page as an archive page.
Rather than use an archive page template, many website owners instead use an archive page WordPress plugin instead. This is a more practical and more user-friendly solution as it allows you to create detailed archive pages without touching any code.
Simple Yearly Archive (FREE)
Simple Yearly Archive is an easy to use archive plugin that lets you display yearly archives of your blog posts.
In the options page you can select from several date formats and state whether information such as comments and categories are displayed. You can display excerpts and thumbnails for post listings too.
I like how the plugin displays all blog posts in one long list. Posts can be displayed in chronological order or reverse-chronological order.
At the top of the page is a navigation menu that displays all the years in which posts were published. This allows visitors to jump to the archives of a particular year.
If you are looking for a way to display an archive of your old blog posts, Simple Yearly Archive is a great solution.
The main downside to the plugin is that it does not support pages or other custom post types. It can only display archives for blog posts.
Posts Table Pro ($79+)
Posts Table Pro was not developed specifically for archive pages, but it is arguably the best archive plugin solution on the market.
Marketed as “The Ultimate WordPress Table Plugin”, Posts Table Pro allows you to create tables instantly from your existing content. You can build tables from blog posts, pages, products, and other custom post types. It supports custom fields and taxonomies and multimedia such as images, videos, and audio.
You can use Posts Table Pro to build an archive page that displays key content from your website, whether it be blog posts, pages, products, or whatever. Specific content can be excluded from results too.
Visitors can search within results and filter and sort data. If you desire, tables can be loaded using AJAX to reduce server load.
Tables look fantastic on desktops and on mobile devices. Without doubt, it is one of the most appealing ways to display content.
Most other archive solutions let you display an archive of blog posts and pages by simply inserting a shortcode into a page. In contrast, Posts Table Pro requires you to build tables yourself and specify exactly what is displayed. If you take the time to do this, you will be rewarded with a professional archive page.
Archive Page (FREE)
Archive Page is a simple archive solution that helps you create an archive page using shortcodes.
It provides eight shortcodes for displaying content. These let you display daily archives of blog posts, monthly archives, yearly archives, latest blog posts, post categories, post tags, and authors. There is also a shortcode that allows you to display a list of published pages on your website.
No options page is available for the plugin, however you can modify the output of shortcodes by using one of four shortcode attributes. For each shortcode you can define the number of items that are listed, define the heading, select the list type, and add a custom title.
Archive Page is a flexible archive WordPress plugin that lets you list blog posts and pages in a number of ways. Worth checking out if you are seeking a simple solution.
Archivist – Custom Archive Templates (FREE)
One of the most customisable archive page solutions available is Archivist. The plugin lets you adjust the archive template that is used to display your content.
A host of archive template tags can be inserted into the main body of the archive, above it, or below it. You can style your archive page using CSS too.
The default output of Archivist will display post thumbnails, post titles, publication date, author, and category. It looks great, however the real power of Archivist comes from selecting which template tags and custom fields are displayed.
You are not limited to the default template either. You can create as many templates as you wish and display them on different pages.
This kind of flexibility gives you full control over what is displayed and what is not displayed on your archive page.
Archivist does not support the listing of pages or custom post types, however it is one of the best solutions for displaying post archives from your blog.
Annual Archive (FREE / $23.95+)
Annual Archive is a simple archive WordPress plugin that lets you display a list of blog post archives. You can list posts by day, week, month, year, post by post, or alphabetically.
In the settings area there is a box to enter custom CSS for your archive, however most modications take place within the shortcode using shortcode attributes. There are attributes available to let you define how many items are displayed, whether text is displayed before or after items, and what format lists use.
A premium version of the plugin is available from $23.95.
Annual Archive Pro adds additional features such as listing archives by custom post type, listing archives by category, and custom date formats.
Annual Archive is a user-friendly archive page solution. It’s a good choice for those want to display content from their blog and you can add support for custom post types by upgrading.
In our search for the best archive page WordPress plugins, we came across a number of other useful archive page solutions.
If you have created your own archive.php page template, or you are using one that was provided with your WordPress theme, you may want to consider Compact Archives. The plugin lets you use a new template tag called compact_archive to display archives in a compact table-like design.
The majority of other archive plugins we came across display archives in WordPress widgets.
If you are looking to display an archive of posts on your website sidebar, I recommend checking these WordPress plugins out. They are all free to download.
If your website does not already have an archive page, I highly recommend adding one. An archive page is a fantastic way of helping visitors find your older content and it cane help your search engine presence too.
In comparison to five years ago, there are significantly less archive WordPress plugin solutions on the market today. This should be no surprise as most modern WordPress themes come packaged with an archive.php page template.
If your WordPress theme does not have an archive template, or you are not happy with the one that is provided, an archive page WordPress plugin is one of the best ways to create an archive page.
Be aware, however, that some archive page solutions do not support pages and other custom post types. You can address this by manually linking to important areas of your website at the top of the archive page (e.g. contact page, gallery, shop etc); however if your website publishes a large amount of content outwith your blog, it is perhaps more practical to select a solution that does support the custom post types you use.
Those of you who want more control over how your content looks on your archive page should consider Posts Table Pro and Archivist. Both of these plugins give you more control over how thumbnails and item listings appear.
Used/using any of these plugins? Thoughts?