Plugins for related posts or content for WordPress are very useful, but there is a myriad of these available. So we took it upon ourselves to check them all out for you. Here’s an overview of the best ones, what they have to offer and how you can get them for your own WordPress blog.
You have been there, you have seen it.
Actually, you could go as far to say that every internet user has. Whatever you do online, whether it is reading your favourite news site or browsing through some blogs you like, you cannot help but notice one thing at the end of almost any article: thumbnail pictures and article headlines usually with a heading along the lines of “you might also be interested in“, “related posts” or, more simply, “we recommend“.
And there is ample reason why so many publishers show you related posts or articles: You as a visitor will spend more time on their website, increasing the number of page views. And some of the articles previewed are often not even related articles of the publisher but sponsored posts (read: ads). So besides increasing the time a visitor spends on a website the related posts widget can actually make the website owner some money as well.
Sounds pretty good?
Now, we agree. The question is: How do you get those article recommendations below your blog posts? You could go through older posts manually, search for matching ones and then add thumbnails and links at the end of each new posts. But surely there must be a simpler solution?
Luckily, there is: You can actually install a variety of WordPress related post plugins which automatically link the related articles below any new post, doing all the work for you. So, time to go straight to the WordPress plugin directory to find one.
Well… not so fast!
The bigger the selection, the harder it is to choose
More than 1,000 search results certainly is a lot to choose from. Especially when there is no easy way to compare the plugins and find out which one is best suited to your requirements.
But fear not: After comparing the many plugins we decided to share our results so that you don’t have to do. So without further ado I present to you, in no particular order, the 10 best related posts plugins for WordPress:
- YARPP (Yet Another Related Posts Plugin)
- Contextual Relations
- WordPress Related Posts by Zemanta
- nrelate (outdated)
We cannot rank these top 10 plugins as each plugin has its own advantages and disadvantages depending on your requirements. That’s why we came up with the following (terrific) table.
The results, scientifically proven (more or less)
As you can see above we did what every fairly organised individual would have done facing the task of comparing the vast array of plugins: We identified a number of key features, put them in a table and then checked each plugin for these features. The idea here, of course, is to give you all the information at a glance. On the detailed review pages (see list with links above) we also give you a hands-on impression and more detailed info on each plugin.
In order for you to better understand the comparison table here is a small explanation detailing each feature:
1. Custom positioning: Can you decide where you’d like the widget to be placed or does the plugin only allow the placement at a fixed position, e.g. end of article?
2. Self hosted/External: All plugins have some sort of algorithm deciding which posts are related. Computing this algorithm requires resource. Depending on the type of widget you choose, the computation is either done on the servers of the plugin publisher (External) or on your own server (Self hosted). Also, thumbnail images will be hosted on your server or externally.
3. Custom layouts: Say you are quite the design wizard and want the related posts to blend in seamlessly with the rest of your website. Comes in handy then if the plugin allows you to customise the layout.
4. Revenue generation: Since the rise of native advertising, more and more publishers of related content plugins have started to offer the option of including sponsored posts. Revenues are shared with you as the website owner.
5. Requirements: Some plugins can only be used by websites with a certain reach, but this was in the minority for all plugins we checked.
6. Automated post selection: Will the related posts plugin automatically select the related posts?
7. Manual post selection: Linked to point 6. If you are unhappy with the automatically selected related post, can you override the related content?
8. Text links/Thumbnail links: Can you choose between text links and thumbnails for the related post?
9. Price: Always a hot topic: How much does it cost? The good news is that just one plugin in our top 10 costs money.
10. Multi language support: Related post plugins do their job, at least if they automatically choose related content, based on language. Therefore, for a publisher to add multi language support to a plugin is not as trivial as it might seem. That’s why not all of the plugins have it.
11. Registration: For some of the plugins, especially with external hosting, registration may be required. If you place ads in the sponsored posts registration will be required to receive your cut.
It’s all about the numbers
Now that we gave you an overview of the best plugins and their features, let’s get a bit more concrete here as to what results you can actually expect. How many more page impressions does a WordPress related posts plugin generate?
Well, we hate to say it, but it depends. It depends on the placement of the widget, on its layout, on the quality of content on your site and last but not least it depends on how good the recommendation algorithm of the plugin works with the content on your site.
So, you see, there is no simple answer here. And that’s one of the reasons why we don’t simply say “This is the winner plugin, pick that one!”.
Having said that, it is possible to get an increase of around 10% in page views with a plugin that works properly with your content and blends in well with your layout (some even improved our page views by over 10%). Hence, the prize is there and it absolutely makes sense for you to try different plugins, different layouts and different placement and find out what works best for you.
One more thing, (yep, Steve Jobs-style), and something that’s very important: Besides an immediate increase in page views a related posts plugin can substantially help in building up a larger base of return visitors in the long term. How so you ask?
Chartbeat, famous for its real time analytics, did some great research and found out that there is a 54% chance for a visitor coming from Facebook or Twitter to come back to your site if he reads more than one article on your page. For visitors coming from Google the likelihood of the visitor coming back is 51%, again only if he reads more than one article.
You see, beyond a short term boost in page impressions it is really in your long term interest to make visitors read more than one article during their visit. Who does not dream of turning drive-by Google, Twitter and Facebook visitors into loyal readers? Well, a related posts plugin is a start.
Do you have any questions regarding our comparison? Or other great plugins that you use? We’d love to hear your about your experiences!