Taking Control of Related Posts

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Looking to reduces your bounce rate?

It’s hard getting new visitors to your site. Once they are there, you want to keep them for as long as possible. It’s not just important for your own internal web traffic but can help with your search engine rankings. Bounce rate – the rate in which people only read one page before leaving – is increasingly being used as a guide to quality for some search engines.

Displaying links to related post helps keep visitors on-site.

Getting your web visitors to stay on site should be a high priority for any online property. This is why related posts can be such a powerful tool. You will generally find them at the bottom of a page after the main content. They are in that position for a reason. Many studies have shown that after a web visitor has finished reading your post then they are in action mode – they want to do something.

If your post has been interesting then they want to read more, if you don’t provide quick and easy access to that information then they will hit the browser back button to go back to the search engine results and look for information elsewhere. Give them links to other posts (or products) related to the page and you’ll keep them on site for longer. Don’t hide your related posts away in sidebars or footers but bring them directly below the content of the page.

Give your visitors a selection of personally chosen related posts.

Time spent on selecting the best related posts will be time well spent. I am a great fan of WordPress as a content management system. It’s easy to use and is highly configurable and has literally thousands of plugins to make life easy. The worst thing you can do is to use one of the automatic related posts plugins. It might initially look the easiest and most convenient way of inserting related posts but there are drawbacks.

Automatic related posts plugins tend to operate by returning posts from the same category or with the same tag – but is this always the most interesting post to put before the reader? Just delivering a list of links based on a category post or a tag really is not the best way to interact with your readers.

You really need some way of manually selecting the posts. Human interaction is always the best way to get other people interested.  There are a number of keyword or search based related posts plugins available for WordPress. Some of the plugins operate entirely within the web site’s environment while others will do the searching and feeding through third party search functions and databases.

Keep your post search capabilities on your own server for stability and security.

Using a plugin that relies on a third party search and database facility obviously brings up it’s own dangers. If that third party web site went down then you loss your related posts functionality. Third parties also need to make money so if you grant them access to your web site with a feed of your own posts you open up the dangers of them being able to feed adverts . You really do need to keep your related posts search function within your own web environment no matter how enticing the third party offer may be.

For me the most effective WordPress related posts plugin has to be Microkid’s Related Posts. It offers an ajax powered search facility on your post editor page so you can run keyword searches and select the posts you think will be most interesting to your visitors. This plugin offers some other useful features to.

For best effect don’t just link back to related posts but link forward to.

There’s a reciprocal linking feature which will ink the two posts together. What’s so good about this is that your older posts will generally have page authority and page rank with search engines that can be fed into your newer posts. In turn your newer posts can bring an old post out of archives and back to the attention of search engines as still being relevant and topical. This reciprocal linking feature is very powerful. In it’s standard ‘out of the box’ form though you need to be careful you don’t overdue linking back to one post or those reciprocal links build up to a never ending list of related posts – too many related posts links can spoil the effectiveness of the technique.

Related posts help blur the lines between your ecommerce and your blog posts.

The other option I love about the Microkid Related Post plugin is it’s ability to support custom posts. I run sites using WordPress wp ecommerce and this Microkid’s plugin allows me to integrate my blog posts and my products closely -blurring that shopping and entertainment boundary. If someone reads one of my blog posts about wild birds where better than to place a link to my related bird feeders or binocular products page.

The plugin as it stands is not perfect. It doesn’t offer thumbnails and it does not control the number of links to a page in the reciprocal linking feature but it is a powerful foundation on which to build a mod or adapt for your own custom requirements.

Kevin Heath

Kevin Heath

Kevin Heath is ex-web developer and editor at Wildlife News. He has released a modified version of the Microkid related posts plugin to display thumbnails... Read Full Bio
Kevin Heath

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