Plugins are a staple of well-known software programs being used today, WordPress being no exception. After all, the WordPress.org website currently supports close to 45,000 plug-ins that have been downloaded a whopping 1.3 billion times!
For those not familiar, plugins are very similar to apps on a cell phone, where you can add different plugins to your WordPress blog to give it additional functionality.
Recall that from its humble origins right up to the current “app” explosion being witnessed today, WordPress supports and encourages (customizable) plugins that are beneficial for a number of reasons, for example:
- Give third-party application developers the ability to use their creativity to extend and improve WordPress functionality.
- Add new features.
- Keep source code isolated and manageable moving forward; without compromising application-related licensing issues.
One of the most popular types of WordPress plugins are "related content plugins".
As the name implies, related content plugins occupy a special niche, and are of interest to bloggers, content writers, and others concerned with their online presence. For WordPress bloggers, in particular, the right plugin can improve your searchability (e.g. SEO, organic searches), increase targeted page views, and enhance your status as an expert within your chosen field.
What a related content plugin allows you to do is have other related pages on your website automatically be shown at the end of your blog posts. This allows the visitor to consume more content on your website, spend more time on your website, and will be more likely to take a desire action such as opt-ing into your email list or purchasing one of the products or services.
Let's tak a look at some of the most popular related content plugins for WordPress.
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP)
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) was one of the first and remains one of the most popular WordPress plug-ins. Created by Jeff Parker several years ago, it now comes in two (2) versions: YARPP Basic and YARPP Pro.
Standard features on YARPP Basic include:
- Thumbnail view of related content; RSS feeds.
- Related posts, pages, and custom post types.
- A templating system that lets you control how your results are displayed.
- Using an advanced algorithm that factors in tags, post titles, categories, etc. YARPP finds related content from across your site.
- Custom display options.
Minimum Plugin Requirements: PHP 5, MySQL 4.1, and WordPress 3.3 or greater
Monetizable: Yes, with YARPP Pro
When it comes to related content plugins you can't go wrong with YARPP.
JetPack offers several features that tie into modern related content plugin use: Increased website traffic, detailed stats views, speeding up your site, and protecting you from hackers.
In addition, its highlighted features include:
- Traffic analysis.
- Optimized image performance through WordPress.com's content delivery network.
- Centralized plugin management through WordPress.com's dashboard.
- Special features like: Custom CSS, Contact Forms, Notifications and Subscriptions, Configurable Widgets and much more.
JetPack requires a free WordPress.com account, because several of its features make use of the WordPress.com cloud. The JetPack engineering team does offer dedicated technical support should the need arise.
Minimum Plugin Requirements: WordPress 4.4 or greater for latest version (v4.0.2)
One of the advantages of using the JetPack plug-in is that it's built into WordPress and doesn't take up any additional resources that could potentially slow your website down.
Contextual Related Posts
Contextual Related Posts (CRP) is a highly-rated WordPress plugin (4.8 out of 5 stars as of this writing) that has built its reputation on strong support features for thumbnails, shortcodes, widgets, custom post types and CSS styles.
Here are some of the things you get for making a commitment to CRP:
- Automation: CRP starts displaying related content on your WordPress site and automatically feeds it when you activate the plugin without the need to edit template files. Add related posts to widgetized areas of your theme.
- An algorithm that lets you find related posts by title or the current post's content. A related posts list lets you include posts, pages, attachments or any other custom post type!
- Styles: The output is wrapped in CSS classes which allow you to easily style the list. You can enter your custom CSS styles from within the WordPress Admin area or use the style included.
- Extendable code: CRP has tons of filters and actions that allow any developer to easily add features, edit outputs, etc.
Minimum Plugin Requirements: WordPress 3.5 or greater
OutBrain (OutBrain Engage) is a premium website plug-in slowly moving up the popularity chain within the WordPress community. Thanks to its content recommendation system, readers can have personalized links that best relate to display what they really want.
As with other related content plugins, OutBrain generates image thumbnails (as well as text-based recommendations) that also lead readers to topics that interest them the most. Outbrain.com’s business-like approach to related content opens up native monetization possibilities for WordPress bloggers. The OutBrain widget works to improve traffic shaping, responsive design, and improving the video experience wherever appropriate.
The idea here is that you can show related content from other websites and can get paid when your visitors click on those related content posts.
Minimum Plugin Requirements: WordPress 4.0 or greater
Related Posts Slider
Related Post Slider (RPS) is a lightweight version of Related Posts plugins that when installed and implemented can be inserted anywhere in a WordPress blog post.
It offers slider functionality that readers (or prospects) are increasingly being exposed to on the latest blog sites. Its main features include:
- News style or horizontal carousel formats.
- CSS customization ability from settings panel; preset themes.
- Works with Related Post, WordPress Related Posts plugin and YARPP plugins (see above).
- Widget option available.
Cost: Free (Latest Version 2.2)
Minimum Plugin Requirements: WordPress 3.5 or greater (compatible up to 4.4.3.)
Monetizable: To be Determined
Final Thoughts on Related Content WordPress Plugins
Related content plugins enhance a reader's experience on your WordPress blog with little risk of alienating loyal, long-time subscribers. This is what you want. Trying out one or more of these options may be the best thing you can do today to increase traffic and earn revenue.
Editor's Note: Updated by Online Business/Hosting Expert Brian T. Edmondson