Note: Since this post I am testing a new plugin that is in beta from WPEngine on related posts. So you won’t see this plugin on my blog here. But I still highly recommend it as one of the top solutions.
I know what you are asking. Another plugin for related posts? And a premium one at that?
Well, when someone I know and trust, such as the developer Barry Kooij comes out with a premium version of Related Posts for WordPress, I just have to check it out. We met for the first time at WooConf in San Francisco, and that’s where he shared it with me.
Now there is a free version on WordPress.org that you can check out as well. But with the features the premium version gave me, I chose to go that route.
In the past I have tried and used various free related posts plugins. In fact I still refer one or two to clients (but that will probably end now 🙂. Some of them I chose to stay away from after learning how bloated the plugin is, or how it works, storing the database on their servers. And the ones I did find that worked pretty good, well, their settings were complicated for the casual WordPress user. So in the end, I stopped using them.
But I have been thinking about using one again. Luckily, Barry hit me just a the right time.
So let’s take a look….
When you install and activate, you will go through an easy process of installing the plugin. Your first choice will be to choose which posts types you want included. As you can see from my site I have a lot of plugins that are generating posts types. For now I am just choosing Posts.
Depending how many posts you have, will determine how long this takes. I have 475 posts, and it really went pretty quick. Once the Caching Posts are finished, you will now choose how many related posts you want to show and tell it to link them. You have the option to skip this and do it later. But I went ahead and did it. And you can always change this later.
As I mentioned before, some of these kinds of plugins are filled with settings. This one is much leaner and easier to setup. First you have your General Settings. All of these are pretty straight-forward. I’ve changed the heading text to something other than Related Posts, and the number of characters you show will also depend on the Styling you choose.
One thing to remember at this point is the option to show images. This will pull in from your Featured Images. If you don’t have Featured Images set on all of your posts, in the screenshot down a bit, you will notice what happens. Unfortunately, I do not have all my posts set with Featured Images, so I chose not to show them.
Now if you have used other plugins like this, like me, you may have found that you could put in a filler image for posts that didn’t have one. Initially that seems like a good option, but if two of the three posts showing didn’t have an image, well, it doesn’t look that great with the image duplicated on two of them. Something to think about.
This gives you three options for the layout, which I feel is plenty. Also, if you are into CSS, you can do some magic here as well.
This is where you will have to test the waters. Myself, I started with the default settings and will keep an eye on what posts are showing up. If I feel the need to tweak it down the road, I will go for it. The five choices you do have here give you enough control over the priority each one has in the final results. Just remember, as noted, if you do change these you will need to run the installer again.
Since I just installed this, my first impression is I am happy with the results. First I tried the first layout, without images. Thought I keeping it that way, but tested a couple others.
When I did this same layout with the images, this was my first result. Because the size of the image is quite a bit bigger, I would have gone back and increased the amount of text shown.
Now as I mentioned before, if you are missing Featured Images on some of your posts, this is what happens. This is when I decided I wanted to go back to text only.
And since I had it set at 3 posts, I figured either the first or third layout option would work best. As you can see below, I chose the three-column, and am just including the titles, no text.
What if you wanted to pick your own related posts? Or maybe switch one out that doesn’t have a featured image? Or reorder the ones that are listed?
If you scroll down as you are created a post, you will find some additional options on your editor page that will let you do those exact things.
And if you do click on Add Related Posts, you get a list of all related posts and the option to choose from any of your posts as well.
Am I happy with that? You bet. It’s clean and simple. Of course font, link colors, etc. will all be determined by your theme, unless you get into the CSS, as mentioned before.
So I will tweak and play around with this for the months to come. And yes, I would highly recommend this lean and clean plugin. Like I say, it’s always good to go with a plugin, even if it costs you a few bucks, when you know and trust the developer. And as I consider plugins along the way, I always remember: you get what you pay for. So maybe you should snag your own copy of the Related Posts for WordPress. And, BTW, if you would like to follow Barry on Twitter, you will find him @cageNL.