Picture yourself on a new site. You were bored, wandering around on StumbleUpon hoping to find something interesting when after several pages, you settled on one that looked promising. The information is really good, well written, and just what you needed. After looking around, you realize the site is huge. Hundred upon hundreds of posts await your reading. Where do you begin? You could look at the list of related posts at the bottom of the page you are on, but on the side, you see two words that catch your attention: Popular Posts.
WordPress Popular Posts
WordPress Popular Posts is a free WordPress plugin, created by HÃ©ctor Cabrera, that identifies and links to your most popular posts and pages. This list appears as a widget that can be placed in one of the appropriate areas on your site (this list on this site is in the right sidebar near the top). Having a list of your popular posts and pages gives the reader an opportunity to explore some of your best work.
There are very few settings for the WordPress Popular Posts Posts plugin. What settings there are can be accessed through the widget. Here is a run down of your options (you can see a screen shot of my setting to the right):
- Number of Posts
- Time Range – used to control how the list is generated, from displaying the most popular posts of all time to the last 24 hours
- Sort post by – this drop down lets you control what criteria is used to generate the list; comments, total views, or average daily views
- Include Pages – check if you want your pages, not just posts, included in the list
- Shorten title output – check if you have really long titles and want to display only a certain length
- Display post excerpts – check to display a small piece of your post in the list with you specifying the length of the excerpt
- Exclude categories – check if you don’t want posts under specific categories listed
- Display post thumbnail – used to display an image from your post in the list
- Display comment count – check this if you want the number of comments listed by each post
- Display views – check this if you want to display the number of times the page or post has been viewed
- Display author – check to display the author of the post. Not very useful on a one author site, but may be handy on larger sites
- Display date – check to display the publish date for each post
- Use custom HTML markup – when checked, it allows for more control, using HTML and CSS, of the list display
- Use content formatting tags – check to change the order of the different parts of each listing. Say you want to display the number of views, the author, then the title, here is where you do that
But wait, there’s more…
If you are like me, you are always looking for more data, especially when it comes to your site. WordPress Popular Posts can help you again. Head up to the Dashboard section of your WordPress admin page (the top section on the left). There, you will find the stats page with your top 10 most popular posts, organized by the time range. Curious to see what posts have been most popular today, last week, last month, or of all time? There is an app…. er… uh… button for that. Select the time range you want and there is your list.
One major benefit of this stat page is being able to see the number of views for each post. Granted, the information is not as intricate as Google Analytics, but I have found it very helpful, especially when comparing new posts to existing content. It also helps you see themes in your posts that resonate better with readers.
Overall, WordPress Popular Posts is a great plugin to add to your site. Not only does it help readers find some of your best content, it helps you know what your readers are viewing. By breaking down the data by different time frames, you can understand how readers are consuming your content and how to provide them with the best you can offer
Are you using a popular post plugin? Leave me a comment and let me know which one