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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  • Nick Stamoulis

    Developing a strong internal linking structure is a great way to optimize your blog for SEO. Having those related posts connected makes you appear as more of an authority on the subject. I’m also a fan of incorporating “Most Popular Posts” and “Newest Posts” into the side navigation. It lets readers branch out a little further into your blog.

  • Apple Slut

    If you have a wordpress site, try Microkid’s Related Posts plugin. It lets you customize related post links for every post you write. Most related posts plugins are automated based on tags or post category. Selecting your own, on a per post basis, is much better for relevancy.

  • Apple Slut

    If you have a wordpress site, try Microkid’s Related Posts plugin. It lets you customize related post links for every post you write. Most related posts plugins are automated based on tags or post category. Selecting your own, on a per post basis, is much better for relevancy.

    • Wildlife News

      I agree with the micorkid plugin but as I mentioned in the article it does need to be hacked a little to get the most from it. Microkid is also very low on server resources as once youv’e chosen the related posts they get saved. most other related posts plugins for wordpress will deliver them ‘on the fly’ which can add a lot of CPU time to a busy site.

  • Brent

    Great article Kevin. Seems like a very intuitive way to help fight the bounce rate problem, but one I had not thought of. Thanks for sharing – I will be putting this strategy to use, and sharing it with my clients/readers.

  • Emarketinguide

    Linking the related post is good like creating more links for the post. Secondly if the reader like to know more about topic will stick to you which is going to increase your page rank for sure.

  • Greg Moore

    Hi Kevin,

    I like this post because it’s focused on an important problem:  People who come to your blog usually read the article they are interested in and leave.

    This is a huge observation.  You are observing that blogging is – from this perspective – a waste of time.  Old blog articles are rarely read.

    The solution you present is helpful to me because I’ve often observed that people place links in the middle of a blog post, but clicking takes me away from what I’m reading – it’s a distraction, created perhaps to pass link juice to another page, but in the process creating a bad user experience.

    Placing a link at the end of a blog post is a much better idea.

    By chance I recently read another post about the horrible problem of older blog posts being largely unread.  This is a horrible problem because people put so much work into blog posts, only to have them read on the rarest of occasions.

    The alternate solution is “email blogging.”  What you do is create a simple page to gather a name and email address.  Your blog might have a few articles, or if you want to go radical you may have no blog at all.  Instead you get laser focused on getting email addresses from your website visitors.  This greatly simplifies your website, and gets you focused on optimization – A/B testing the page that collects their name and email address.

    Then – using an auto responder like MailChimp – you send emails periodically, each one containing a link to an article that otherwise would have been a blog post.

    When someone gives their email address to download a cool article, they receive an email with a link to the article that also says you will send them other interesting content from time to time, and they can unsubscribe at any time if they like.

    Many people will enjoy receiving the emails – assuming they have a link to something worthwhile.  Later someone else gives you their email address and they begin receiving the sequence of emails.

    In this way, each person cycles through your content, one article at a time.

    Now everybody who likes your content and continues to receive the emails will cycle through your entire series of “blog posts,” article by article.

    Email blogging!

    This has a big impact on revenue.  We’ve all heard that intelligent use of your house email list is one of this highest ROI activities you can perform.  Every once and a while your email can contain an offer, and because it’s being sent to someone who has already received ten emails, the offer is being sent to someone who is acquainted with you and likes you – hence the high conversion rate, hence the high ROI.

    Is this cool or what?

    Greg Moore
    San Francisco
    My blog is:  Analytics Examples

  • jason hillard

    am i the only one who finds it odd that there are no “related posts” below this content? #justsayin

  • Arsenal fc

    A good read as always