This post is for people who own blogs that have a lot of visual content, like the Food, Viral, Fashion or Photography Blogs.
It is a good practice to show related posts below the content on single pages to make readers stay on your site for longer. Displaying related content with Thumbnails in a clean, clutter-free format can help grab the attention of the visitor and will also help you keep your bounce rate low.
I will be listing some interesting plugins I came across while researching for a suitable one for my own site.
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WP-Prosperity is actually a WordPress theme, but it gets a mention here because I am currently using the inbuilt feature of this theme to display related posts on almost my all sites. WP-Prosperity lets you do this in just one click from the Themes Options. However, it only lets you display the related posts in a single row, meaning, if you want to display more than 3 posts, the thumbnails becomes too small that it doesn’t look good.
Also, you can not see the Post titles unless you hover the mouse over the thumbnails. WP-Prosperity is a great theme for any kind of site, I know that no WordPress theme is perfect but Fortunately we can still use the Plugins to get the required functionality.
It is currently one of the most popular services, which will let you show related posts on the blog. Outbrain is not just a WordPress plugins to show related posts on your blog as it also offers monetization features to earn revenue by displaying third party sites (Native Ads) not just in the related posts section but in other sections like the post stream, video players and even mobile apps.
It kinds of fits very well for the currently popular Viral sites that have a high amount of share. This helps them monetize their content easily.
You have to create and account on their website and put the codes in your post. There is also a WordPress Plugin available, but it has not been updated in last two years. I wasn’t going to include this plugin in this post but then they were targeting me on Facebook and elsewhere, which made me consider them one more time. (Moral: Retargeting Advertising works)
Shareaholic (previously known as Sexy Bookmarks) is the plugins I have used for years, but for the sharing buttons. They Rebranded from ‘Sexy Bookmarks’ and introduced few more features, one of which is ‘Related Posts’ which displays 6 or 8 related posts in two rows and looks clean. You can also choose from a number of layouts to display.
A blogger named Pamela Hazelton (blog link) has had some issues with Shareaholic regarding the affiliate links where she claimed Shareaholic keeps the ‘Affiliate link’ feature Turned On, by default which rewrites the links on user’s sites to turn them into affiliate links.
Shareaholic does share the revenue with users but if you are not registered on their site and just using the codes, it is still turned on and you will never get your share of revenue.
[note note_color=”#fffda6″ radius=”5″]Note: You have to register with Shareaholic to turn the Monetization features off.[/note]
After doing a bit of google search, I found that there are too many people who seem to get angry at the fact that Shareaholic takes no pain to tell publishers about the ads running by default. (here one such link)
However, if you don’t want to register on yet another website that offers nice features then you should stay away from Shareaholic. Let’s move on to the next plugin in the list.
[note note_color=”#fffda6″ radius=”5″]Note: If you want to use Shareaholic, make sure you turn off the ‘Affiliate Link’ and Set Ads, in the related post grid to zero. They are ON by default.[/note]
Another service, which offers more than just Related post section. AddThis has been offering sharing buttons that are used by millions of websites (14 Million to be precise). Even I have used their sharing buttons few years ago. They started offering many other features since then and have even improved their sharing buttons.
They also offer pro features which start at $10/month, in which you get many tools for user engagement.
Zemanta is the simplest plugin of all others in this list, but it still manages to display related posts in a nice manner. If you don’t want too many functionalities and customizing features, this plugin is pretty easy to get started. It displays related posts with squared thumbnails in a row, which are also responsive/ mobile friendly.
Some other ‘Related Posts’ plugin mentions
Yet Another Related Posts Plugins (YARPP) is another simple plugin for related posts, but It came as too simple for me, maybe it will be suitable for you as Displaying related post is the core function of this plugin. It is the simplest plugin to do so. The updated version also allows you to display Thumbnails.
Related Posts by Taxonomy is the plugin that helps to display related posts more precisely. Mostly all the services show related posts based on the content below with they are displayed. They have their own system to figure this out, and sometimes, posts are just there to give readers another post to check.
Post Thumbnails Editor, as the name suggests, lets you edit thumbnails. Meaning, if you are someone who chooses one of the existing post images as a featured image, he can edit it so that the thumbnail looks nice and not a cropped out portion of a nice photo. Though it is a lot of work, but it gives you control over the thumbnails that will be visible to all your visitors.