Your blog is starting to get more visitors, a couple of your posts are ranking very well in google search results. You’ve worked on getting SEO on every post using WordPress SEO by Yoast, but now that you are getting visitors, you want to keep them. A great approach is using related posts. I’ll cover a couple of popular choices for how to keep your visitors onsite.
Why Related Posts?
Related posts provides a way to follow-up with your reader once they’ve made it to the bottom of your article. They quietly wait for your reader to reach the end of your post and then politely ask if the reader would like more. The goal is present posts which are similar and interesting enough for a reader to click on them. Once you’ve got the reader to click on the first related post, you’ve increased the odds that they will be back in the future.
How to Display Related Posts
Before we get into the individual plugins themselves I wanted to spend a moment talking about how to configure your related posts. I generally like to use 3-6 related posts. It provides enough options that something should be of interest, but not so many as to overwhelm someone.
Text vs Pictures
Everyone loves pictures, but pictures may not be right for your site. In order to use pictures, you need to have a nice square thumbnail that can be used for every post. If you don’t, there will either by a dummy image or some chopped off image. Neither of which puts your best foot forward. In this case it might be better to use just text.
When I use just text, I generally have 4-5 related posts in a bulleted list. When I use pictures, I frequently use a vertical approach showing 3 pictures per row and 1-2 rows.
Well Done Examples
I’ve taken a couple screen shots of websites that have done a very nice and effective job of displaying related posts.
WebDesignerDepot uses a single row of three images. Their site includes a lot of images, so the related posts need their own pop to stand out.
CopyBlogger uses a bulleted list of text. Their site has an overall minimalist theme without many pictures, so this style fits in well.
Plugins for WordPress
There are two approaches when it comes to displaying related posts: carefully hand selecting the posts or letting a plugin do all the work. Personally, I’m lazy. I choose letting the plugin doing all of the work. But, if you really want to do the work yourself, don’t worry, I have a plugin that will just help you out a little.
All of these plugins have the ability to automatically add related posts after your post. This means you don’t need to fiddle around with your theme’s HTML files and it will work with any theme.
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) has been downloaded over 2 million times, so you might say it’s popular. The setup is quite simple, just activate the plugin and select where you would like your related posts to appear. There are two default themes and the ability to create your own with PHP.
The major downside to YARPP is the lack of matching articles. Unless your articles are VERY closely related, you will frequently end up with no related posts. That defeats the purpose of having the plugin and is the reason I stopped using it.
WordPress Related Posts
WordPress Related Posts (WRP) has the features and stability in a very easy to use package. In my experience WRP tends to provide a lot better results than YARPP. And to let you know just how well it is doing, there are get metrics to track how many times people are clicking on the related posts.
Another aspect which makes WRP shine is the customizability. There are several different styles built in for how your related posts are displayed, or you can use your own CSS (no PHP or HTML needed). With the styles you can also choose one style for desktop and different one for mobile. Especially nice if your site style changes a bit based on the display device.
Related Posts by Zemanta
I promised the ability to hand pick your posts, and Related Posts by Zemanta (RPZ) has it! RPZ has the features of WRP and also has the ability to hand pick posts or use posts from related websites. Zemanta has set things up so that your posts can show up as related on similar sites and in turn you can display related posts from other sites. Rather nice if you’d like to participate in some link exchanging.
Which is my favorite? I use WordPress Related Posts. For me it provides the best listing of any of the plugins I’ve tried. But there are also a lot of people who really enjoy YARPP, so I’d recommend trying out whichever plugin looks to be the best fit for you. If you are happy with the results, keep using it. Otherwise, try out another one of the options.