If you write long articles or posts in WordPress you should consider how you want those posts to display. There are three main types of pagination in WordPress for your individual articles:
- One long post
- One post that has multiple pages
- One post that loads your content incrementally (called infinite scrolling)
What are the pros and cons of the different types of pagination in WordPress?
One Long Post
This is the default and what most people use. Often you will have an excerpt on your main blog and the reader will click through to a single page with the entire article. The advantage is that the user only needs to click once to read your entire article, but often articles can get unwieldy and keeping your place difficult. On mobile sites I’ve noticed that while the content will load quickly, third party ad services load later and, as they load, may force the page back to the top, even when the reader has scrolled down reading the article. This happens at the site of my local newspaper and I hate it!
Page load time can also be a problem if your article contains a lot of images: photographs, charts, etc. These add interest and clarity to your writing, but also add weight to the page, causing it to load more slowly. Kissmetrics has some great articles about page speed and SEO.
One Post that Loads Content Incrementally
This option loads only the part of the content that is in the reader’s window and loads additional content as the reader scrolls down. It lightens up the page load time, but not as much as using multiple page, mostly because of the coding that is needed to achieve the effect. Page speed still is better than just one long post. Unfortunately, enabling this option for a single post is difficult to implement in WordPress. There are a couple of plugins that will implement incremental scrolling for your entire blog home page, but this is a problem for SEO and usability reasons.
First of all, the plugins I tested call up one post at a time and as you scroll they then unload the previous post and call the next. There is no real page for the post, making it difficult to create links to individual articles. SEO is a nightmare – search engines don’t scroll, they just load the page, so they may not see all of your content.
One Post with Multiple Pages
Picture a magazine article with the story covering several pages. Presenting your content in multiple pages provides a way to break your content up into easier-to-digest chunks. Page load time is much better because you are not loading all of the images at once. Navigation forward and back makes it easy for readers to refresh themselves about previous content.
Multiple pages will also garner you multiple page hits from one visit and if you use Google Analytics you can view how much of the article your readers actually viewed. A word of warning – don’t use pagination just to garner clicks! It gets annoying. Cracked.com generally does it correctly, dividing up their long list posts into two or three pages, max.
If you are planning to monetize your WordPress website with adverts, then being able to show a high number of page views and total number of pages per session will increase the potential revenue your site could generate.
Of the three types of pagination in WordPress I prefer this option, though I rarely use it myself. Depending upon your theme, you may be able to use it without a plugin just by adding <!––nextpage––> to your post in text view (not visual view) where you want your page breaks.
My theme has built-in support for tabs, so I could create multi-page articles using tab, but I find this ugly and counter-intuitive.
Most users are better off using a plugin like Advanced Post Pagination. I recommend the Pro version at $12 because it allows you to add an image to the “next page”, “previous page” buttons as well as title the buttons and provide a short description.
Pagination makes your articles more readable, increases page load speed and can garner you more clicks. Are you using pagination in WordPress? Tell me about about it in the comments.