I’ve been experimenting with related posts plugins.

The related posts plugin I have been using is “Contextual Related Posts“.

However, having seen the related posts on other blogs which include thumbnails, I decided to experiment with two of those.

Today’s Lesson

The two plugins I’ve been testing automatically add related posts in a horizontal strip at the end of each post.

LinkWithin is the one I have installed on this blog (see bottom of post), as well as on my green blog, “From Waste To Resource”.

LinkWithin did not produce the same results on The Blog Boutique, so on there I installed the Related Posts Thumbnails plugin.
Sample of what related posts with thumbnail looks like
The Contextual Related Posts plugin also offers the thumbnail option, however the posts are listed vertically with the adjustable size thumbnail being to the left of the title.

So, why use one or more of these plugins?

Advantages of using thumbnails with related posts plugins:

  1. Can increase page views by enticing readers to click on additional related and/or relevant posts
  2. More choices give readers the opportunity to choose other articles to comment on
  3. Adds more pizazz to our blogs via the use of a few more photos which break up the verbiage
  4. Might increase subscriptions to our blogs
  5. We can personalize the output, including the number of related posts we want to display.
  6. Easy to install
  7. Could increase advertising revenue if a visitor reads more than one post and is exposed to more of our ads
  8. LinkWithin is also compatible with WordPress (self-hosted), Blogger, Typepad and “Other” (not sure what “other” means)
  9. Support on all of these plugins appears to be strong.

Disadvantages

  1. May decrease the load time of our pages, as do most plugins and/or widgets
  2. Can be difficult to install for those who are not familiar with the process
  3. If no images are found in a blog post, only an empty square will show
  4. One or more of the plugins may not work properly if our theme does not support thumbnails

Interestingly, the posts linked to by Contextual Related Posts plugin are sometimes different than the posts linked to by LinkWithin. Although the posts may be similar, I feel the Contextual Related Posts plugin does a better job of linking to the most relevant related posts, plus it offers the greatest range of options for customization.

For now, I’ll leave both plugins activated on this blog, however, so as not to reduce my page loads times any further, I will not be using the thumbnails for the Contextual Related Posts at this time.

Today’s Assignment

If a blog displays related posts, do you click on the links?

Do you use a related posts plugin? If so, which one?

Care to share?

signature for blog post.

P.S. Although there are other related posts plugins with thumbnails, these are ones which have worked the best for me.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
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Look Who's Talking
  1. Kelvin KaoNo Gravatar says:

    Unfortunately, I had to go back and carefully look for it when you mentioned it. How long have they been there? I’ve actually never noticed them before. My theory is, they looked like ads to me so I’ve never really paid attention. On the other hand, I might pay more attention if they were just text. Then again that’s just me. I am curious to know how other people would respond to it.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Kelvin,

      I just started using the LinkWithin plugin on this blog shortly before I wrote this post, so that’s why you wouldn’t have noticed it. Up until then, I have always used the Contextual Related Posts plugin, which is only text.

      I see what you’re saying about how the LinkWithin images can look like ads, but hopefully our readers will take a closer look and see they’re not.

  2. I use Yet Another Related Post Plugin. It creates a list of 5 related post at the bottom post. It’s customizable, but I have not played with that much. I think the posts it selects are relevant and so far I’m happy with it. Does mean I won’t change it if something better comes out. lol

    Like Kelvin, I didn’t really notice the LinkWithin posts. They do look like ads to me as well

    I did notice the Contextual list because of the bold “Show Related Posts” text, but why does it have “Powered by…” listed there? I think that should be separated from the related posts lists.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Heather,

      I used YARPP on one of my other blogs, but have now switched it over to the CRRP (Contextual Related Posts plugin).

      Yes. The “Powered by…” is real close to the list of posts. I think I could add more spaces and even take that off, however, I do want to give credit to the plugin author since it’s free.

      • I agree that credit should be given. Maybe not having it as a bullet point like the post would give it some separation. The way it is, a quick glance makes you think it’s a blog post. Just a suggestion. :)

        • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

          Hi Heather,

          I looked at the editor for the plugin, found where “powered by…” is, but since it’s in the section that says “do not edit”, I was scared to start messing around. I may tinker with it on my test blog and see what happens. I agree, it does look like another post so maybe if I can decrease the size of the type or move it down, it would work better.

  3. I love LinkedWithin. From looking at my stats, I can see many, many people click on another post supplied by this plug-in. I think the images really do encourage people to click. I don’t feel links to related posts are enticing enough. I don’t have the problem of a blank box because I always have a picture with my posts.

    And you’re right. It was a cinch to install and it’s behaved for me every since I enabled it. Highly recommended!

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Kathy,

      Thank you for the thumbs up on LinkWithin. I’ve seen it on your blog and it adds pizazz to the bottom of your posts, plus by looking at the photos, I often click on those posts of yours I’ve missed.

      When I was installing the thumbnail plugins it also reminded me of the importance of including an enticing photo in our posts, as well.

  4. HilaryNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara .. I usually don’t link across. I tend to – if someone points something useful out within the post, or says it as a postscript at the bottom of the post .. but it has to be really interesting for me to look at.

    But then I’m not ‘surfing’ as such ..

    For the moment I manually add mine .. all the best Hilary

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Hilary,

      I’m sure there are many who don’t pay attention to the related posts, but I feel it’s nice to have it there for those who do.

      Manually adding related posts is a sure fire way to know we’re linking to very relevant posts, or posts we want to get more attention to.

      • I discovered your blog recently and absolutley loved it.
        I also add related posts manually, whenever there are any related posts. And they do get clicked.

        • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

          Thank you Indian Homemaker,

          You’re another vote for manually adding related posts. Although that can be more work, knowing they get clicked on makes it worth it.

  5. Mike GoadNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t click on related post links and don’t have a related post plugin. I do have a recent post listing in the footer right now.

    I guess I only include addons based on how I use the internet, which may not be the most effective way to do things. hmmm… more to ponder on for future design work.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Mike,

      I think we all have a tendency to do that – set up our sites the way we surf or use the internet. I’m happy this post got you thinking about possibly adding related posts to your blogs, as well. We don’t know if it will be beneficial unless we try it.

      If you do, let me know if you have questions. I’d be glad to answer them the best I can.

  6. Cath LawsonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara – Thanks for this. I deleted all my plugins recently when my blog was hacked and contaminated with a virus. I’m looking at adding them back slowly, so I’ll check these out.

    At the moment I add related posts at the bottom of each post manually, as I use those for SEO purposes, as well as further reading. If I could find a plug-in that would choose the right posts, it would be a big timesaver.

    I do click on related posts links if the titles attract me.

    BTW – I deleted the gravatar plug-in and can’t remember where to go to reinstall it. Do you know the url please?

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Catherine,

      Oh my gosh, it’s like you’re starting over.

      With regard to the related posts plugins, I find the Contextual Related one appears to link to the most relevant posts, and you can add custom sized thumbnails to that, if you want.

      To change your gravatar, go to gravatar.com. Just make sure you’re email address matches. (I was just on their site and see they made some changes so hopefully it won’t be difficult to figure out how to change yours)

  7. SaraNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara — This post reminds me that I’ve been neglecting my site for some time. I don’t use any related posts plugins, but I think it’s a good idea.

    I have clicked on a related posts at other sites, but I don’t do it very often. I think is because I’m kind of slow leaving comments and so by the time I complete my comment, I’m ready to go the next visit.

    On the other hand, I think it’s a good thing to have, especially if your site is self-improvement or educational in some way. Having related posts allows the reader to learn more about a subject.

    Interesting topic and thanks for the reminder:~)

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      You’re welcome Sara,

      That’s true. Related posts work great for those who are researching online and aren’t sure where to go next on a blog. Although we can check a person’s archives, if we’re staying on one topic, a related post plugin can save time by giving us more options in one place for similar posts.

      Have fun tweaking your blog. :)

  8. J.D. MeierNo Gravatar says:

    What a powerful example of how important headlines are.

    Here’s what I noticed:
    – I tend not to click on related posts — unless I’m exploring and they seem hand-picked and super relevant (otherwise, I’ll just search more)
    – The visuals catch my eye, but the headlines are what counts (the language choice can quickly tell me the relevancy and utility.)

    It is nice to have flare on the bottom.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi J.D..

      Great observation. Our titles can be what inspires others to read our posts, so if we have a post someone missed, they may be more apt to click on a related post if it’s got a catchy title.

      Like you, I like how the thumbnails add flair to the bottom of our post.

  9. DavinaNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara,
    I don’t use any related post plugins and I’ve rarely clicked on those links on other blogs. However, I believe that if I were not a blogger who was caught up in the stream of blogging, I would spend more time on a blog that had alternative reading suggestions. Especially here; if I were new to blogging or researching, I’d take advantage of the information that was easily accessible.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Davina,

      I never thought of that, but what you said is true. As bloggers who “make the rounds”, we may not take time to check out the related posts on all of the blogs we visit, however, for a new blogger, they may be thrilled to find so much in one spot.

  10. Keith DavisNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara
    No I don’t use one and yes I click on the related posts links… if the title sounds interesting / useful.
    The one on this blog looks fantastic.
    Why don’t I use one? Page load time, too many plugins?
    Not sure really but having seen LinkWithin I might give it a try.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Keith,

      I’m not sure how much these plugins affect the load time, but from looking at their size, they appear to be pretty light weight.

      The LinkWithin is super easy to download. Just click on the link I provided in the post and follow the instructions. Then, voila, there it is. I might add, it has one option – to include the thumbnails on our home page, or not. Pretty simple.

  11. LindaNo Gravatar says:

    I have recently added LinkedWithin to see if it would generate interest in some of my older posts. I have some with no pictures, so I get the blank boxes. In some cases, all I get are text links, which is fine for those posts. The down side is that some of my older posts are obsolete, the information has expired or is no longer relevant, and I don’t really want those picked up. I’m not sure at this point whether I’ll keep it or look into something else.

    As for related post links on others’ blogs, it depends on what catches my attention.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Linda,

      I hear you. On one of my other blogs, I don’t have pictures on a lot of the older posts so the thumbnail option is kind of wasted.

      With regard to your outdated or expired posts, the “Related Posts Thumbnails plugin” which I installed on The Blog Boutique has an option to exclude posts BEFORE a specific date. That might be one to try, too. With that plugin, I’m not sure how relevant the posts it links to are, but by experimenting it would be easy to figure out.

  12. Tony SingleNo Gravatar says:

    Unfortunately, I’m hosted on WordPress.com which doesn’t let me to modify Trottersville much. This includes the number and kinds of widgets that any given template might allow.

    Having said that, should I look to be hosting on a different platform or whatnot, this will be valuable information. My blog has a big visual component to it, so I love the thought of having a LinkedWithin plugin to entice visitors to read more strips and stuff from the archive! :)

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Tony,

      Yes. That is one of the unfortunate things about being hosted on WordPress.com, however, you could to what Hilary and Cath do and add relevant/related posts manually. I’m guessing you could also add a thumbnail, but that would be more work.

      Switching platforms is an option. I’m self hosted WordPress, however, with that also comes the expense of a web host. If that’s in your budget, staying with WordPress would make the switch easy since the dashboards are very similar.

  13. TracyNo Gravatar says:

    I use Similar Posts and people do click on it. Not everyone, but it seems those that do go really deep into the site. In fact, I’d say about once a day it seems that one or more people pretty much go through my entire site by following those trails.

    One question I have about Linked Within is what happens if your post doesn’t have an image. Not all of mine do.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Tracy,

      Like you said, some visitors will go deep into our sites and read more than one post. That’s always nice to see. Hopefully they then decide to subscribe so they can stay current.

      Re: LinkWorth. If a post does not have an image, it will display a blank box. I don’t know if that’s bad or not, but you could always go bad and add images, too. (When time permits, or not :) )

  14. Hi! I came across your article by accident so please forgive me for intruding, especially when I haven’t been a visitor here before.

    I had Linkwithin but I became so concerned about how long it took to load, considering Google’s need for speed, I made my own Linkwithin widget. Not as good of course, but I can pick the images to put in.

    Take Care,
    Peter

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      No need to apologize Petert,

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing the widget you made. I checked out your post and it appears to be a pretty easy install. I also like how you added the option to add which images to include. That makes it even more personal. Great job!

  15. Angelia SimsNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara!

    Excellent information. I find it so interesting all the things one can do to make things easier and more enticing. I definitely click if I see something that catches my eye. It’s a great way to go back and read related material.

    Your page is always very easy to read and super user friendly. I learn a lot when I come here. Thank you for that!

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Angela,

      Yes. With blogging there are many ways we can make it easier for our readers to navigate our sites. And I think that’s what it’s all about. Even if a search brings them to a specific post, if they see we offer even more, they’re likely to stick around and hopefully come back.

  16. George AngusNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara,

    I do use a related post plug-in but it’s kinda stinky. It does not seem to recognize things that it should and keeps coming up with a “related post” 3. Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll upgrade this week!

    George

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      You’re welcome George,

      I hear you. Some of the related posts plugins are better than others. I know when I was trying to find a related posts plugin with thumbnails, some were too difficult to use or didn’t provide the output I wanted. Trial and error, you know?

  17. PatriciaNo Gravatar says:

    I manually add my related reading posts to my blog, because IT girl says I do not use tags properly. On my dashboard, I can see that folks who do not comment often read the referred posts and new readers read the posts that are recorded as having the most readers….they stay a long time on site – about 3 minutes.

    I can not get IT Girl to add too many pictures. I wish I could get several of my posts on Stumbleupon but folks do not seem to be doing that so much any more – although that is where I get the big readers to my site. I sometimes ask someone to do it for me.

    I seem to need to do things in the blog world the most time consuming way possible, which right now includes reading as many other bloggers as possible each week and always adding new one.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Patricia,

      That is one advantage of adding related posts manually; you get to hand pick the posts you’d like your visitors to see. And, you can also add posts which may not be related, but those which you feel show your best work. With a plugin, we don’t have those choices.

      I commend you for your dedication to blogging, Patricia. Finding a new blog each week is a marvelous idea and I’m betting those whom you find are thrilled to have a new reader. :)

  18. “May decrease the load time of our pages, as do most plugins and/or widgets” – I used to ignore load time, but I’m becoming more and more aware of how important it is.

  19. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Vered,

    Yes. The load time of our blogs is VERY important. With the attention spam of online surfers being so short, if our blogs don’t load fast enough, they move on to the next site.

  20. Alien GhostNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    Sometimes, but not too often, I click on “Related Posts” if the title really looks like a sort of enhancement of the main post.

    I don’t have any related posts plugin right now mostly because I don’t know how to install them and haven’t had the time to get to it (kind of busy lately) but I’ll definitely check out the ones you mention and see what happens.

    Raul

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Raul,

      When you get to the point where you decide to install a related post plugin, if you need help or have a question, please do not hesitate to ask.

      • Alien GhostNo Gravatar says:

        Hello Again Barbara,

        Done! (Thanks to the automation incorporated in both plugins)

        After trying both I decided to stick with LinkWithin over Related Posts Thumbnails. The reason is that neither offer related posts but random selections. I tried selecting different boxes with the Related Posts Thumbnails but still just random choices that many times are not related to the main post.

        At least LinkWithin uses the pictures in the different posts while Related Posts Thumbnails just shows a standard blue design for post without pictures (even if the post do have a picture).

        So no more tinkering for now, I’ll keep LinkWithin for a while and see what happens and then decide again.

        Thank you for suggesting the plugins and offering help! :)

        Raul

        • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

          You’re welcome Raul,

          Hey! You did great. The LinkWithin links look awesome on your blog. I was on there earlier and found posts of yours I hadn’t seen before, so it’s doing it’s job.

          That’s interesting you mentioned the plugins are pulling random posts. I was wondering about that, too. I know somewhere I read they go by tags and/or categories, but since I rarely use tags, like you said, the results look more random.

  21. VenNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t use a related posts plugin on my site because it’s still relatively new and doesn’t have enough content for a related posts plugin to be useful yet. I plan on adding one once I’ve built up my content a little more.

    I’m definitely the type who will look at related post links and click on them if they seem interesting. If I find a blog post I really like on a blog I haven’t seen before, I tend to stick around and look through the other content to see what other good stuff I can find and related post links makes that easier to do. I like the text only links more than I like the thumbnails though. Just a personal preference, I guess.

    I like the look of the Contextual Related Posts plugin and may give that one a try on my blog and see how it does. I agree with Heather though, the credit link would look better as a separate line beneath the list instead of being part of the list itself.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Ven,

      I know what you’re saying. When we land on a blog that’s new to us, it’s fun to poke around to see what else the author has to offer. Related posts or recent posts are a great place to start.

      Yes. The “powered by” does look out of place on the Contextual Related posts. I looked at the editor for it and it says not to edit that section. I hate to make a mistake, so for now I’ll leave it alone. Maybe the plugin editor will change it for us. :)

  22. TracyNo Gravatar says:

    I have been using yet another related post plugin but I have not been happy with the result. I just have not had a lot of time to put into experimenting with another plugin.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Tracy,

      I’ve tried YARPP too, but like you, wasn’t happy with the results. If you have a chance, try the Contextual one, and see if that works better for you.

  23. Hi Barb,

    I have often clicked on your related posts, as I do on blogs that teach me something about that which I’m still learning. :) I checked several ways of doing them and liked the one you use — hence, it’s the one I’ve been using for several months. (I’d prefer the font size to be smaller, but otherwise it’s my plug-in of choice for related topics. Sans images.)

    As for the thumbnails, I’m always attracted by the visual — but I have yet to click on one unless I want to see the whole graphic. I don’t click on them for the post itself.

    Barb

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Barb,

      That’s good to know the Contextual Related Post plugin is working well for you, too.

      I know what you’re saying about the thumbnails. Since they crop the image in some cases, what we see may not be a true reflection of the post, hence we may not click through.

  24. rainerNo Gravatar says:

    i always want to make my reader stay a while but i dont know how. this article give some advice that came through my mind.. i think ill try it right now.. thx

  25. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    You’re welcome Rainer,

    I’m happy to hear this post is helpful. My belief is the more we can offer our readers, the better the chance we have to see them stick around. Have fun installing the plugins.

  26. Hi Barbara,

    I rarely click on other related posts. I used to, but now sadly, I hardly even have time to come and visit the friends I want to come and spend time with and when I do I am often reading three or four posts at a time to catch up. ( I don’t want to miss anything) I like the way it looks though with the pictures. It’s much more enticing then words only. If I were to suddenly find myself with lots of free time, that would be more appealing.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Wendi,

      I know what you’re saying. In the early days of blogging, we seem to have more time, but as life happens and we add more to our plates, our blogging time decreases, too. Like you, I like the pictures, too.

  27. AnthonyNo Gravatar says:

    I never click on related posts. Maybe if I’m shopping I click on related products though! I feel like if the content isn’t keeping your readers on thee page then you need to work on that. Blogs that have great content keep me engaged. I also read comments more. Blogs with so so content are visited once in awhile and I just skim the material.

  28. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Anthony,

    I don’t know if it’s always that the content doesn’t keep a reader on a specific page as much as it is, sometimes (at least for me) the current post isn’t of interest to me, but I’ve found previous posts that are.

    Like you, I also spend a lot of time reading comments. Often, that’s where the value truly lies.

  29. I have not known about the plugin which you are talking about! I do have used related posts plugin over my wordpress blog but it was not that effective and i think the results generated were mainly based on tags etc.

    Anyhow, i think the concept of using thumbnails with related post is really interesting. I don’t think it will increase your page loading time much but it will surely make visitor looks at that related posts at least for once!

    Nice blog and great post! I have bookmarked your blog so that i can install this plugin whenever i get free time!

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Top Engineering.

      I wondered about that too – the loading time. From what I’m experiencing on blogs which use thumbnails for related posts, it doesn’t appear to slow down the loading time for the page, so that’s good.

      And I agree. Thumbnails may help to entice visitors to check out our related posts a little closer.

  30. Barbara,
    I think it’s an excellent plugin for reducing bounce rate and also build internal links that’s good for SEO. I sometime link on the related posts because it may be more interesting ‘by title’ than what I am reading.

    Another important point to keep the stickiness is the recent posts and slide shows on top of the page. You are doing it right by having the ‘recent lessons’ right on top of the sidebar.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Ajith,

      That’s a good point. By showing related posts, we can increase the stickiness of our blogs.

      Re: Recent posts. I noticed how when others included recent posts above the fold and in a conspicuous spot, I am more apt to stick around and check them out, so that’s why I put mine where they are. Thank you for noticing. :)

  31. mikeNo Gravatar says:

    I have been using linkedwithin for a while now great product

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Mike,

      Thank you for sharing the thumbs up on LinkWithin. Like you, I sure enjoy how it works.

  32. Alvin LimNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks for the tips. I am looking for alternative related post plugin with thumbnail to replace with my existing LinkWithin. I notice that LinkWithin is not relating all the posts correctly.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      You’re welcome Alvin,

      As mentioned in previous comments, it appears LinkWithin is showing “random” posts rather than related. Since I use both on this blog, I’m not too concerned, however for those bloggers who are using only one, LinkWithin may not be the best choice (for related posts).

      It was also mentioned LinkWithin may use tags. If that’s the case, I can see why it’s not working properly here (since I rarely use tags).

  33. I do use the related post plug-in and I sometimes click on related posts links on other blogs especially when the title is enticing enough ;-).

  34. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Udegbunam,

    That’s true. An enticing title can be the determining factor to clicking on a related post.

  35. Tom BakerNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks Barbara. I am always looking for new ways to keep my visitors at my site for longer than just that days post. I’ve been reading several of your posts and a few should help a lot! Have a great day.