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Yes it’s a must!

You must add a table of contents to relevant posts and pages on your blog.

Doing this makes life easier for your readers and it assists with post SEO.

You can either create a table of contents manually by writing code or you can use a WordPress Plugin.

In this post, I’m going to tell you why I recommend you use the Easy Table of Contents Plugin especially if you’re a beginner blogger.

Easy Table of Contents – Overview

Easy Table of Contents was developed by Steven Zahm and originally released in 2015.

It’s what is known as a fork of another plugin, that being, Table of Contents Plus, created by Michael Tran.

What this means is that a copy of the original plugin’s source code was taken and worked with to create a distinct and separate plugin.

Easy Table of Contents does what it’s name suggests. It allows you to easily insert a table of contents into your posts, pages and custom pages. You can see mine directly above this section.

Although it’s not a new plugin it has been downloaded many times over its lifetime. It continues to be downloaded every day as the following image captured today  demonstrates.

 

Best Features and Benefits 

 

  • Automatically uses your post headings to generate a table  of contents, giving you a neat list of section headings without you having to do anything.
  • Ability to disable the table on any page or post if you don’t want it to display, which means you have full control.
  • Many easy to understand global settings which allows you to customize its size, look and placement.
  • Choose from various bullet and number formats to suit your site or you can choose no numbering.
  • Able to display headings hierarchically or not, which means less important headings will be nested under more important ones. 
  • Option for readers to hide the table or you can hide it by default.
  • Supports smooth scrolling which makes using the table easy.
  • Decide which headings are used to generate the table. This can be changed on individual posts and pages.
  • Ability to exclude headings in global settings and at a post/page level.
  • Option to use the widget to display the table in  your side bar rather than in the main content.
  • Dependent on your theme, it’s possible for the table to be fixed or it can float and be visible as readers move down the page.

This plugin gets 5 stars for features and benefits. 

 

How Is the Plugin Supported?

It’s important to understand that this is a free plugin so support is limited, however there is a support forum hosted on WordPress  which the author and other parties are very active on.

A variety of topics are currently being discussed as you can see in the screenshot  below. When I looked through some of these threads, the plugin developer had responded to most queries and he seemed to be very helpful.

From personal experience I can also vouch for the fact that the author is active and responds to questions and comments.

I noticed that the plugin had not been updated in a few months, so I made a comment about this is in my review. Within a day or so I had received a response which you can read below.

Currently there is active support available so I give the plugin 5 stars here.

Cost

This is an easy one – it’s free!  5 stars! 

Feedback

83.7% of the reviews on the WordPress site give this plugin a five star rating which I think is pretty good. 

The only one star review said that the plugin was too complicated and only suitable for programmers. I’m certainly no programmer so I don’t agree with this. 

The only two star review was left because the plugin couldn’t be used with the theme, Elementor.

It’s worth remembering that sometimes plugins don’t ‘play nicely’ with some themes and other plugins. This is just a fact and there’s not a great deal you can do about it, other than to accept it and move on. 😉

The feedback for this plugin is very good overall so I’ve given it 4 stars.

How Reliable is the Plugin?

By reliable I want to know whether the plugin delivers consistently, offers good quality and performance and that it’s able to be trusted.

This is something which only becomes apparent over time. For now the plugin works well for me. But will it continue to do so?

My only concern is that it does not appear as if updates will continue to be regular into the future. The developer advised that he intends to release an update later this year which will only support the new WordPress editor, Gutenberg.

Although that’s great news, how will this plugin be performing overall in a few months or years from now?

If it does continue I’m sure I’ll continue to use it, if not, I won’t. Stay tuned for updates in the future.

For now I’m giving the plugin 4 stars for reliability.

 

 

Easy Table of CONTENTS Plugin – Wrap Up

Pros 

  • Lightweight at 76Kb so it should not impact your site speed.
  • Easy to customize and use.
  • No cost.
  • Currently supported.
  • It does the job!

Cons

  • Has not been updated in 10 months
Easy Table of Contents
  • Features/Benefits
  • Support
  • Cost
  • Feedback
  • Reliability
4.6

Conclusion:

Recommended. 🙂

If you want to know more about the benefits of using a table of contents on your blog and how to install and set up this plugin, you can read a previous post of mine, How to Create a Table of Contents in WordPress. 

Lastly remember that your website is unique. This or any other plugin may not work or it could impact your website’s speed.

I suggest you test the load time of your website using WebPageTest or a similar service, before you download the plugin and again, after you have activated and set it up.

Make sure you use the same test location and that you do the test  at the same time of the day as your first test. If the speed is dramatically affected then you may want to find a different plugin that works better on your blog. 

It’s not a question of whether you should use a table of contents on your blog but how you’re going to do it. I can recommend the Easy Table of Contents plugin.

Have you used this plugin yourself? Any tips or nightmare stories to share? And of course, if I’ve left something out that you’re dying to share, please do.

 

Got Questions? Something to say? Leave a comment. Let’s chat

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30 Comments

  1. Saint Mathew

    Thanks for taking your time to write about EASY TABLE OF CONTENTS PLUGIN REVIEW. This would really help a lot of bloggers like me and make life easier as you have said in your article, I haven’t been using a Table of Contents in my posts but will surely change that from now on. Thanks once again.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi and thanks for stopping by and for leaving some feedback. The plugin is easy to use and set up and worth trialing at least. 

      All the best 

      Mark

      Reply
  2. Jafor Iqbal

    Thanks for the Easy Table of Contents Plugin Review. It is lifetime free?  This was a helpful article about a plugin for bloggers. I have read about its features, benefits, and support system. I have to admit it is so alluring. There is a lot of advantages to using this plugin. I am very interested to use this plugin which has been highly recommended. Thanks to the author.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      You are very welcome. Yes it free and there does not appear to be any plans to develop it further as a paid product. 

      The best thing to do it is try it out and see if it’s going to work for you too. 

      Mark 

      Reply
  3. Jean

    Wow! This article of yours was quite informative. You explained in a detailed manner all the pros & cons concerning “Easy Table of Contents Plugin”. I had never heard about it before but you enlightened me about it. It’s good to know that it is free. Personally, I wouldn’t buy it since the plugin hasn’t been updated in almost a year. Anyway, keep on writing that good content.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Jean

      Yes I would not buy a plugin that has not been updated recently either.  I think most premium good quality plugins that are still relevant are updated though.  It’s just the free ones that fall by the way side. As I see it, I’ll keep using it for as long as it works. If it stops working, I’ll remove it and find another solution.

      Mark 

      Reply
  4. Netta

    Thanks for your well-thought-out review of the Easy Table of Contents plugin.  I am still considering an effective way to add a table of contents to my posts that doesn’t involve venturing into computer language and this one sounds like a viable option.  The fact that it is free is a biggie.  The fact that it is not being updated is also a biggie.

    Decisions, decisions…..  

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Netta

      I hear you on both of those – free is great but plugins that are not updated do not last, since they can stop working with newer versions of WordPress. 

      So far so good though so I’m hoping I don’t run into issues with this plugin. If I do I will definitely be updating this post and suggesting alternatives. 

      Good luck with making a choice. 

      Mark

      Reply
  5. phranell86

    All I can say is wow! Could this be the answer to my question? I have been seeing a lot of sites recently with table of contents and always think to myself “This is really cool, how did they do that?”Before now, I thought those table of contents were created manually, so I thought to myself “I wouldn’t have such time to create a stuff like that.” Thanks to the Easy Table of Contents plugin, I can have my blog posts well-laid out and easy to navigate. This information your shared is pure Gold! Plus, I can’t believe that the plugin is free. Please make more reviews of products like this in the future since I’ll be checking your site regularly.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Awesome to hear that the review was helpful and that the plugin will be of use to you on your website too. By the way there are heaps of free plugins available at WordPress.They are not all good though so it pays to read reviews and check out how long ago the plugin was updated. Plugins that have not been updated for years are probably best to stay away from as they will not have been tested with current versions of WordPress. 

      Mark

      Reply
  6. Nuttanee

    Thank you for taking your time reviewing the Easy Table of Contents plugin. Do you think that this plugin is a must? I feel like I have a lot of plugins for my site and I have heard that a lot of plugins can slow your site down, is that true? Does this plugin only work if I write my content directly through WP? I am currently writing my content with Google docs since it is more convenient. I will check this plugin out. Thanks

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Nuttanee

      As with everything to do with blogging, you need to focus on your top priorities at the time. Maybe having a TOC at this time is not at the top of your list. Also, I think that it depends on your niche, the kind of content you publish and if a lot of your posts and pages are lengthy and have a lot of section titles. 

      You also don’t have to use a plugin to create a TOC. You can do it manually by writing code to create the links. It’s actually not that difficult, but it is fiddly and time consuming.I referred to some good training for this in my post, How to Create a Table of Contents in WordPress  so you may want to check that out too. 

      One should definitely try and keep plugins to a minimum. Having too many can slow your website down. I suggest only using plug-ins that improve the performance and function of your website. Anything else is probably unnecessary. 

      Lastly it does not matter where you write your content. The plugin will use what you eventually publish to your website, so the table of contents will only appear after you have published the post or page. 

      Hope that helps.

      Mark

      Reply
  7. Theresa

    It never occurred to me that I should create a table of contents for my blog but after reading your post, I realize that it makes sense to have one.

    Thanks for the information about the Easy Table of Contents Plugin. I love that is free and won’t slow down my web page. I appreciate your screenshots that show how it works and that there is support available.

    I’m going to give it a shot! Thanks.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Theresa 

      Good to hear you’re going to give it go. Hopefully, it will all work out well on your blog, but I agree with you, having support available if there is a problem is very important. I was particularly impressed by this since it’s a free plugin and support with free products is not always very good.

      Mark

      Reply
  8. Denis

    I have a blog and I have to admit that I’ve never inserted a table of content in any of my articles.  Maybe it was because of ignorance?  I’m not sure.  However, you have convinced me to try this plugin!  It seems very easy and it has a lot of good reviews, so why not?  

    You have made 2 really important statements in your article.  One is the fact that it makes it easier for the readers, so that is a no brainer.  And second, you say that it helps SEO.  Could you explain how a table of contents would make an article more SEO compliant?

    Thanks! 

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Denis 

      Great to have you visit,and thanks for the question which is an excellent one to ask. 

       Google uses approximately 200 factors when it comes to ranking websites and one of the top ones is bounce rate. In other words they look to see how quickly the user leaves your website after clicking on your link. The longer they stay, the better as Google will give your keyword more authority. 

      So how do you get people to stay on your website? Obviously there’s more than one way, but we are talking about how a TOC can help with this. It has the potential to make your blog more user-friendly, especially if you have a lot of long pages and blog posts with many section titles.

      It can help the user to see at a glance what your post is about, and consequently may keep them on your site longer. It may show them that your post is relevant, and even if they’re not going to read the full post, maybe they will click on one of those links and read a section they are specifically interested in. 

      Secondly if your section titles are long tail keywords these will be active links on your page which will help your on page SEO. In addition, it could help your content to get listed as a featured snippet in the search results. For example, if your link is in the 3 rd position in the search results, but its featured snippet includes links from your website, then your link can be ranked at the 0 position which is as good as it can get.

      Hope that helps.

      Mark 

      Reply
  9. kemdi21

    Hey, Mark

     Thanks so much for sharing such an amazing post!! I am also a blogger myself, however, I have never made use of a table of contents while blogging. It’s great WordPress offers the Easy Table of Contents  Plugin for beginners such as myself.

    My only concern is if I install this plugin in WordPress, will it affect the version of WordPress I am currently using? Since I am not on the latest version of WordPress, will I have to download an updated version of WordPress to make use of this plugin? 

    Once again thanks for sharing. Really appreciate it. 

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hey there!

      Thanks for the visit and great question. Before installing any plugin it’s always a good idea to check on the official plugin page on WordPress to see what the WordPress version requirements are and also to see whether the plugin has been tested with the version you are running.

      In the case of this plugin, the page tells us that you need version 4.4 or higher so that should help you decide whether the version you’re running will  do the job. It’s been tested up to version 4.9.9 which means currently it has not been tested with the most up-to-date version which is 5.03. It does not mean that won’t work with other versions though, just that it’s not tested so it’s a bit more of a risk. 

      Hope that helps.

      Mark 

      Reply
  10. Sophia

    Oooh! I really like how the table of contents looks on your site. I think I will need to update mine with this really useful plugin. So how it basically works is that after you upload and activate it, you set it up to basically how you want it to look, where it will be and how many rows,etc…. BUT when it comes down to writing each article, the table of contents will automatically be there and will know how to set itself by the H-tags and headers you use. My question is, how does it help SEO and rankings? Will Google make neat tags for you when they rank you for keywords if you use this plugin?

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Sophia 

      Yep it sounds like you understand how the plugin works – spot on! 

      From an SEO angle, firstly a TOC contributes to making your website more user-friendly. What this means is that readers are more likely to stay on your website than click away shortly after getting there. Google uses this as one of its top ranking factors to measure the success of the relationship between your keyword and your content. If people stick around, it shows Google that they like what they found, and that means Google will attribute more authority to your keyword and improve your ranking.

      If your section titles are long tail keywords the those will be active links on your page plus which the TOC links will sometimes help your content to get listed as a featured snippet in the search results. On some level this is a ranking factor, because if your link is in the 3 rd position in the search results, but it’s featured snippet includes links from your website, it can be ranked on 0 position and you can’t get any better than that.

      Mark 

      Reply
  11. Aweda Olakunle

    Thanks for the valuable insight. I had no knowledge of the Easy Table of Contents plugin and  I have always wondered how some blogs created a table of contents in their posts. It will be a great tool to input a table of contents on posts and help readers to have an overview and be able to jump to a specific section of a post.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Aweda

      There is more than one way to add a table of contents to your blog posts, but this plug-in works really well, and it’s free, so if you looking to achieve the same effect on your website, I can definitely recommend it. 

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. It’s much appreciated.

      Mark

      Reply
  12. JJ

    Hi Mark, I have just started my blogging site and could really use the table of contents display which you described. It seems quite easy to set up and it also seems easy to edit and customize. I also like the fact that is free and doesn’t mess up the site speed. Overall I would use it because it has been given 5 * reviews and what better way to decide on a product than the voices of experience. Thank you for the information.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi JJ

      Thanks for adding to the conversation here. 

      I’m all for keeping things simple and easy which is why I like this plugin. One does have to continually monitor your website as the smallest of changes can create conflicts down the line, but so far so good. 

      As you say, the best way to decide on whether to use a product or not is by way of other’s experience and then testing it yourself to see if works for you too. 

      Mark

      Reply
  13. Tommy Potter

    Hello Mark,I have read your post with great interest as always. Indeed, I can confirm from my own experience the great features of the Table of Contents Plus plugin.When adding said Plugin my publications look much more professional besides that I have the advantage of internal links. The user experience is, and I think it helps a lot to create engagement among the visitors.I have been using the free version of this plugin for several months, and so far I have not paid for the premium version although of course, it has some exciting features for which it will be worth evaluating the expense in the future.I take this opportunity to ask you a question because I have put this table of contents in all my pages and posts, do you suggest that I select some of them only to use it?

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi there Tommy

      Than you for adding a comment about your experience, using a TOC plugin. Great to to hear it has improved your site in all the ways you mention. 

       I agree that using the free version is probably good enough unless you really need the premium features. I like to keep things clean and simple as long as it achieves my goal.

      That’s a great question and it’s one I have been thinking about myself. I’ve decided I’m not going to use it on all. I think it’s good to have some variety and also I don’t think it’s necessary for all posts and pages. But definitely keep it on longer posts and pages, so 1500 words and more and where you have used a lot of section titles. Probably also a good idea to keep it on posts where the section titles are long tail keywords. 

      Mark 

      Reply
  14. Geoffrey wurz

    Thank you for the review of the table of contents plugin. I was wondering if there is a way of telling how much this will help your SEO on a web site or not? I have seen that putting more and more plugins on your site is a bad thing to do. I guess what I’m asking is by using this plugin nothing bad will happen to my site?.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Geoffrey

      Theoretically the only way to measure how much adding a table of contents helps your SEO is to compare your rankings before and after adding the table. 

      On a practical level however, it’s virtually impossible to isolate one ranking factor since there are close to 200 factors that Google considers, so any change in your SEO is likely to be due to changes to multiple factors, some of which you may not even have direct control over. 

      In my opinion, it’s best to improve any and all aspects of your SEO, but you don’t want to focus on one factor like a TOC if it compromises the overall health of your blog. There’s only one way to find out though,  add it and see if it affects your site adversely. If it does, remove it. 

      It is true that you don’t want too many plugins on your website. So it means doing whatever you can manually and using plugins for the rest. Writing code for a TOC is not that difficult to do, but it is fiddly and time consuming. I referred to some good training for this in another post of mine, How to Create a Table of Contents in WordPress.

      Thanks for the visit and great question.

      Mark

      Reply
  15. Shubhangi

    Hey Mark,

    Thanks for a good review of EASY TABLE OF CONTENTS PLUGIN.

    A table of contents is really helpful when you have a really long post. It will be very useful to readers as well, if they don’t want to read a full entire content, then they can skip some of it.

    The full control over this plugin is great, as you can then make it visible on certain pages instead of throughout the site.

    Sure, I am going to try this plugin on one of my sites!

    Regards,

    S

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hello Shubhangi 

      Apparently very few people read all of one’s blog posts anyway. I think a table of contents at least gives them a snapshot of what you going to cover and maybe it’ll encourage them to read more. 

      Like you say, it’s very useful on ultra long posts too, when a reader might not be interested in every aspect you’ve covered. 

      I do like the fact that you have full control with the plug-in and the fact that it’s very lightweight. I hope it performs well on one of your sites as a test too. 

      Mark

      Reply

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