The Reading Settings found under the general settings menu allows you to choose options relating to how visitors read and consume the content on your site. From what type of content is shown on the homepage to search engine visibility, it is important that you not only review these settings but actually understand them. These settings can be overwritten by other themes and plugins, but most are not.
Terminology You Need To Know
Homepage - The first page of your website a visitor sees when visiting your website. For example, the homepage of google.com is a plain white screen with a search bar.
Static Page - This is not a blog post but a page.
Syndication Feeds - Also known as an RSS feed, syndication feeds are a way for you to offer your blog content in a computer-generated format readable by a news aggregator, such as Feedly. This allows users to follow multiple blogs without visiting each blog individually and saves them time.
Reading Settings - What It All Means
Your Homepage Displays - WordPress allows you to choose what type of content is shown on your homepage or when someone goes to your URL directly such as https://example.com. If your latest posts are chosen then the last 10 blog posts (or the number indicated in the Blogs pages shown at most option) are displayed. If you chose a static page then you have the option to choose which page will be the homepage and which page will display the blog posts. Please note that you must first create the page before it will appear as a choice under the static page option.
Blog Posts Show at Most - This option allows you to specify how many blog posts will appear on the homepage. If you have more than the number indicated then a navigation menu will appear allowing your readers to read more blog posts.
Syndication Feeds Show at Most - This option is just like the one above, Blog Posts Show at Most, with the exception that it limits the number of posts that are shown through the RSS feed in which your blog readers can subscribe to.
For Each Post in a Feed, Include - When using the syndication feed this option lets you indicate how your content should be shown. You can show either the full blog post or just a summary or excerpt. If the summary option is chosen the reader will be presented with the excerpt or first few sentences with a link to continue reading the post on your website.
Search Engine Visibility - If the checkbox for “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” is checked WordPress will tell the search engines that you do not want your website to be indexed by the engine engines. This means your website will not show up in search performed on the internet. Please note that it is up to the search engines to honor this request.
Remember these settings are important in controlling the way your website content is shown to visitors. If you want your website to be found on the search engines don’t forget to make sure the Search Engine Visibility checkbox is NOT checked! You want web traffic from the search engines!