The easier your site is to view and navigate, the more likely visitors will engage with your content, click through to new pages, and potentially make the move from curiosity to conversion.
One way to improve site navigation is with pagination, which refers to navigation between one page and another.
High-quality pagination is extremely important for any website because it helps make sites more user-friendly, and it provides easy-to-understand page information that helps boost SEO rankings.
The default WordPress pagination with “Older posts” and “Newer posts” works well for blogs with fewer articles, but if your site is packed with lots of articles, you’ll need a better pagination system to help users jump from one page to another without getting confused or frustrated.
In this post, we'll break down what pagination looks like in WordPress and provide some of the best plugins available for improving page navigation on your site.
What is pagination in WordPress?
Pagination in WordPress is a way to break substantive content into smaller, easier-to-view pieces. Consider a multi-page blog post that includes charts, graphs, and images. If the post requires users to scroll, and scroll, and scroll some more, chances are they’ll stop long before they reach the end, even if your content as a whole is compelling.
Pagination lets you logically divide content into smaller pieces for easier reading. WordPress offers basic, built-in pagination tools that allow you to create links for “next” or “previous” posts along with in-page links that let users quickly navigate a single piece of longer content.
If you’re looking to break out of the basic and add customized content connections, however, you’ll need a WordPress plugin. Here’s a list of great options to help streamline navigation and increase user engagement.
10 Best WordPress Pagination Plugins
With more than one million downloads, WP-PageNavi is the most popular and widely used WordPress pagination plugin. It replaces the ''Older posts'' and ''Newer posts'' links with beautiful, numbered navigation.
This plugin is a breeze to use. Once you activate it, you can go to Settings > PageNavi to customize the plugin to meet your website's needs.
Here's an example of what this pagination plugin looks like when it's live on your site.
2. Pagination by BestWebSoft
Price: Free with premium plans available
Pagination by BestWebSoft is a simple, streamlined plugin that offers custom pagination for your WordPress site.
The plugin lets you automatically add pagination to your home page, blog, archive, or search results and choose where it appears — above or below your main content or customized via a specific function.
You can also customize pagination with hover, background, text, and border-color along with border width and radius. Pagination also offers detailed, step-by-step documentation and videos to make setup easy.
WP-Paginate has more than 40,000 active installations and is regularly updated to improve functionality.
This open-source plugin offers multiple pagination styles and color choices, along with the ability to add custom CSS for pagination links via the Custom CSS tab included under WP-Paginate Settings.
The plugin also supports pagination for post comments as of version 1.1, which is a great way to clean up comment sections on popular posts and ensure that users don’t feel overwhelmed while reading comments or posting their own responses.
4. Theia Post Slider
The Theia Post Slider takes a different approach to WordPress pagination plugins. Instead of standard next page/previous page buttons or numbered page links, Theia makes it possible to transform multi-page posts into slideshows that provide forward/back arrows along with “_ of _ page” numbering to let visitors know where they are in your content and how much is left.
Along with compatibility for any WordPress theme, Theia works out-of-the-box and can be customized with over 200 slider themes.
Here's an example of what this plugin looks like.
5. WooCommerce Infinite Scroll
This pagination plugin moves away from forward/back navigation to offer Infinite Scroll for WooCommerce sites.
With Infinite Scroll, new product pages are loaded automatically when users reach the bottom of the page. This means they don’t have to click through for the next set of related products but can instead keep scrolling until they find what they want.
Infinite Scroll is a great approach for product category pages that show similar items with differing price points and features. You can also opt for a “Load More” button at the bottom of each page rather than Infinite Scroll — the plugin’s official page notes that Infinite Scroll is often useful on larger desktops where there’s plenty of screen space, while Load More buttons are often a better choice for mobile devices.
6. Alphabetic Pagination
This pagination plugin does exactly what you’d think — site owners and admins can organize posts, pages, or archives alphabetically for easy navigation and reference.
This open-source plugin is regularly updated and already has more than 1,000 active installations. It’s easy to install and deploy on any WordPress site, lets you choose automatic or custom implementation, and allows you to choose how and where to display post type and status.
It also works with the Chameleon WordPress plugin to provide customized templates and pagination styling.
7. Next Post Fly Box
Next Post Fly Box takes a unique approach to pagination. Instead of creating links or buttons at the bottom or top of a page, Next Post Fly Box offers next page/previous page navigation using a floating pop-up box on the left or right side of the active window that follows the user as they scroll.
With support for custom post types and categories, animation settings and dimension settings along with free lifetime updates after purchase, Next Post Fly Box is a great way to help your WordPress pagination stand out.
The caveat? While the pop-up nature of this pagination plugin keeps it front-and-center for users, it’s best used sparingly to avoid irritating potential customers.
8. Easy Pagination Control
This pagination plugin was designed for maximum simplicity and minimum performance impact. It provides easy pagination for main WordPress entities and custom types via the Easy Pagination Control tab, but only works with the “pre_get_posts” hook.
The result is that anything beyond basic pagination requests are ignored, in turn making it possible to use this plugin with any theme — albeit with minimal customization options.
Put simply? If you’re looking for a quick way to improve current pagination, Easy Pagination Control is a good place to start.
9. Envira Gallery
Price: $14/year for Basic Plan, $34/year for Plus Plan, $49/year for Pro Plan
Designed specifically for image galleries, Envria Gallery lets you display image thumbnails on multiple pages for quick navigation.
This not only makes it easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for but also reduces total load times by minimizing the number of images per page.
The plugin is activated/deactivated with a simple checkbox and you can select the number of pictures to display per page. You can also enable “Scroll to Gallery,” which will automatically scroll users to the relevant gallery section when selected.
10. SX No Homepage Pagination
The last plugin on our list actually does the opposite of what you’d expect — it removes any pagination from your homepage.
While in most cases more robust pagination is better for your site, there are cases where reduced pagination can improve user engagement, such as during a complete website refresh. In this case, you may have pages with content that’s no longer applicable — while you want users to find your homepage, you don’t want to redirect them to outdated content.
The SX No Homepage Pagination both removes any existing homepage pagination to keep users on track and redirects previously paginated content back to your homepage.
Maximizing Pagination Potential
The right pagination approach is critical for any website. Even with great content and compelling offers, users won’t bother sticking around to learn more about your brand if your site is frustrating to use. Maximize your pagination potential with WordPress plugins so you can create, curate, and customize your content’s navigation features and continue to grow your website.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in January 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.