How to set up a “recent posts” blog page when you have a static, custom home page (in WordPress)

Woman blogging

Some SEOs suggest creating a static home page for your niche site (or any site for that matter) where you can link from the home page to your most important articles.  By most important I mean the articles you really want to rank highly in Google search.

It actually makes sense.  Home pages of sites attract the most inbound links so it’s a powerful page. Linking from it passes on the SEO power of those links. Moreover, articles linked to from a home page tell Google that those pages are important.

It passes my sniff test.  I create custom static home pages on my larger sites.

But, there’s still one problem and that is what if you also want to offer visitors, especially regulars, a page where all your blog posts are set out in chronological order (i.e. recent to oldest)?   Can you?

Yes you can and it’s easily done in WordPress.  I do this exact setup on Fat Stacks. The home page is static.  Here’s the “Blog page” where you can access all posts starting with the most recent.

How to create a separate recent posts “Blog” page when you have a static home page in WordPress

It’s very simple.  The following steps assume you already have your custom home page. Note, it needs to be a page (not a post).

Step 1: Create a new page and call it a “Blog” or “Recent Posts” or whatever you want it called. Be sure to publish it.  You don’t need to add any content to it.  You just need the slug.  I like /blog as the slug personally.  You can keep the title blank if you prefer.

Step 2: Go to Settings => Reading in WordPress and assign your home page and blog page as follows:

How to set a home page and blog posts page in WordPress

Why not create a custom blog posts page in Gutenberg instead of the built-in WordPress method?

You can certainly do this if you prefer but I prefer fast and simple.  If there’s a built-in option, I prefer that because it’s fast and it works.

Another benefit of putting a dedicated blog posts page on your niche site

I find these pages very helpful for me to see what’s going on with my sites.  Every day, Mon to Fri I check the recent posts of my sites just to have a quick look to ensure all is well.  In fact, I create these pages as much for me as for visitors.

Do I link to the blog posts page from the home page and/or navigation menu?

Yes, I do.  Check out the menu navigation at the top of this site.  I have a link in the menu bar called “Blog”.  I could just as well call it “Recent posts”.  Call it whatever you want.

I also link to my blog posts page from the home page on every site that has a custom home page.

At what stage in a niche site’s growth do I create a custom home page and separate blog posts page?

It varies.  I currently have this set up on four sites. If I’m going to go the custom home page route, I wait until I have 50K to 100K monthly visitors.

A few other sites are big enough to warrant it as well but in some cases I don’t find it’s really necessary. Let me explain.

I go the custom home page route when I have cornerstone articles I want to link to from the home page in an effort to rank in Google.  I have some niche sites that aren’t quote so hierarchical in which case the recent posts on the home page set up is perfectly good.

In other words, not all niche sites need a custom home page set up.  Use your discretion.

For Fat Stacks it’s a great setup because I like the email sign-up form prominently displayed on the home page.

How can you change the layout of a blog posts page?

The layout, whether a one, two, three or more column grid is dictated by your WordPress theme.  Fat Stacks uses the Astra theme and offers a variety of layouts. I also use Trellis theme on some sites which only offers a one-column layout.  Frankly, I don’t particularly care about the layout.  You shouldn’t sweat layouts either. It’s not going to make much of a difference especially since most traffic these days to most sites is on mobile which is a one-column layout no matter which theme you use.

How many blog posts should be shown on the page?

I prefer quite a few to spare visitors having to click into the next page. As you can see in the screenshot above, I set Fat Stacks to 18 blog post excerpts.  That’s pretty typical for me on most sites.  Again, this is one of those things that doesn’t matter much.  If it’s a two-column layout, choose an even number. If a three-column, choose a number that cleanly divides by three (12, 15, 18…).

What’s the best setup for seeing more posts?

These days most themes offer pagination to older posts or a load more button.  I prefer pagination just because it helps with orientation.  You can see if you’re on the second, third, fourth etc. page of all the post excerpts.  With load more you lose track of where you are.  Again, this is just a personal preference. Don’t sweat these very minor details.

Should a blog posts page have a sidebar?

Again, this is super minor.  With Trellis theme, my sites have a sidebar.  With Astra, my sites don’t have a sidebar on the blog posts page.  I don’t really care one way or the other.  Don’t waste more than thirty seconds thinking about this.

Should blog posts pages have a description or text above/below the grid of posts?

You can if you want but I don’t bother.  I’m not trying to rank the page.  Additional text would get in the way.  What can you say “Hi, welcome to my posts”. There’s no need.  But again, if you want to, go for it. It doesn’t matter. Just don’t add so much text above the grid that visitors bail on the page because they don’t want to wade through piles of text.

Should you put ads on blog posts pages?

Sure thing. I do.  If you’re with a reputable ad network such as AdThrive or Mediavine, they’ll do a nice job of it placing ads in between every few blog post excerpts.

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