Paint Me A Picture
Of What’s Worth Reading!
Relevant related post links are an important part of both SEO and overall reader experience.
They form one of several ways that we interlink our content to make Google happy while encouraging our readers to stay on site and read more stuff!
Because it’s not glamorous, interlinking tends to get overlooked for the strong role it plays in the success of our sites.
While it’s (very) important to manually text-link new content to old content and old content to new content, related posts give us a way to include some of that even when we forget to do the manual stuff we should be doing.
It’s important that the results be honestly related for both the satisfaction of the reader and for the appeasement of the Google gods! (I stress this because lots of plugins return junky results.)
Text links are fantastic for Googlebot and make for good reading, but what about the visual nature of our readers?
Adding image-thumbnails to our related posts can encourage click-through while adding a more stylish element to our site than text links can.
Adding Related Post Images To WordPress
There are three ways to accomplish this task: (1) Plugins (2) Code (3) Plugin + Code
1) WordPress Plugins To Add Related Post Thumbnails
Both of these plugins do an okay job of producing images and related content for your reader although you depend on the stability of their servers to keep it working (meaning if they have a hiccup, your stuff either does not display or displays incorrectly).
nRelate is newer (and potentially much better). It’s presence in the WordPress repository is reassuring. However, the emails they have sent to LinkWithin’s customers have kept me from wanting to recommend them as a company. LinkWithin however has been around a long time and while it occasionally has quirks is considered generally stable.
Neither plugin will immediately produce images as you must give them time to cache your site which can take “hours to days”. And the status of either of these as passing as much link juice as our own stuff would pass is dubious at best.
2) Creating Related Post Links & Thumbnails With Code
Code is a site owner and SEO’s friend because it helps keep the site loading faster than plugins can accomplish. (This leads to better loading times which leads to better results with the Google gods!)
There are quite a few tutorials available to help you with this, but since I was on Thesis, I really enjoyed the one from over at Daily Blogging (shown below).
Mani’s tutorial made it straight-forward to add the code to Thesis necessary to output thumbnail-based related posts.
I moved to this code, from using YARPP, because I was hoping to eliminate the weight that YARPP can be on a site. However, I discovered that, while pretty, most of the posts returned were not nearly as related as I would have hoped.
If you need a code-solution for Thesis (or want to make the minor modifications it would need for a non-thesis site) this would be my code of choice as I found it really stable.
3) Using A WordPress Plugin PLUS Code To Generate Quality Related Post Thumbnails
The plugin we affectionately call “YARPP” (Yet Another Related Post Plugin) is considered by most in the WordPress world to produce the best related post results available at this time. How good is it? Well, Matt Cutts (Google’s SEO guy) mentioned YARPP by name.
Yet the problem with YARPP for the purpose of this exercise is that without some assistance, it only produces text-based links that are not particularly stylish. Effective yes, Stylish no.
While there are a number of tutorials available for adding the code to make YARPP do what we want, a lot of the older ones do not take advantage of WordPress 3.0’s “Featured Image” setting in your post editor. (And there’s no way I wanted to set all of these images manually a second time!)
Fortunately, John over at Urban Giraffe has a great (and current) guide to adding related thumbnails to YARPP (via code snippets)!
I did have to add both list-style-type: none; and display: inline; to the css for both .related-posts and .related-posts li to get it to be horizontal but no sweat!
You can see however, that John’s images do not tend to use next near the bottom. Because of that, they are suitable for the text overlay, but my thumbnails are not.
So I expanded the .related-posts height to 180 px and the .related-title to 70 px. I also altered the opacity to 0.95 and tweaked the font color to match. This gave me:
The code provided by Urban Giraffe is suitable for use on Thesis and non-Thesis themes alike and works very well to add related post thumbnail images to YARPP on WordPress.
This gives me the advantage of using YARPP to do the heavy-lifting of generating highly relevant related posts while manipulating it to give me a stylish output that isn’t as bah as text-links!
(You may notice from time to time that because I do not have featured images added to all my old content that it sometimes uses text in place of the pictures. I’m cool with that. Just more work I need to do on my old content and haven’t gotten around to!)
As you can see, there are multiple ways to accomplish a similar effect. While the plugins alone are not likely to give you as much SEO benefit as you may hope they still serve your reader and are useful when you’re not ready to do it yourself or to hire someone to add code for you.
I have previously left YARPP and now returned to it for the benefits it brings.
Interlinking your WordPress content using BOTH related links AND manual links is an important key to taking care of your reader while building your SEO.
Are you using related posts on your blog? If so, which plugin or code are you using?
~ Kim ~
Simple Tech Tips For Marketing
PS: You might notice that on some posts, I STILL have some related text links at the bottom of the post. These are links to related posts by other bloggers that I have added as part of using Zemanta to improve my SEO.