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The Benefits of Highlighting Popular Posts on Your Blog

Stephan Spencer writes a useful SEO Tip on highlighting Popular Posts and kindly uses ProBlogger’s top menus as an example of one way of doing it.

I have to admit that my reasoning for using the boxes at the top of my blog was twofold.

Probloggerfeaturedposts-1

I first saw the idea on a blog that Rachel had designed for herself and then asked her if she could incorporate it into my design. My reasoning was that it would help with:

1. Blog Stickability – when a new reader comes to a blog the chances are pretty high that they will spend a minute or two with you (at the most) looking at the page that they enter on and then that they will either hit the back button on their browser to return to the place they came from, will leave your blog via a link on your blog or will close their browser. Giving them something else within your blog means they stay with you for another minute or two which increases the long term chances that for some sort of connection or loyalty to you.

If you give your new readers a way to go deep within your blog to multiple pages where they’ll find rich helpful content the chances are that they’ll come back again.

I quite often get emails from readers who have spent an hour or two on their first visit to ProBlogger surfing through the archives after discovering some of my best content via these menus. It’s funny to see them progress through posts and leave comments as they go along and is not uncommon to get 10 or more comments within an hour as they progress through the articles linked to from the menus above.

In a sense what you’re doing is giving readers a guided tour of your blog in the hope that along the way they’ll make a decision to make a regular stopping place in their online activities.

2. SEO – as Stephan writes – Search engines also love it when you link deeper within your blog and the benefits of doing so are tangible.

When I analyze my blog statistics each week to see which posts are most popular it is almost always the case that the posts linked to in my top menus are the most visited. This is of course partly because they are linked to prominently and people visit them (as discussed above) but it is also because these posts tend to rank higher than other posts on my blog in Google.

One of the key principles of SEO is that if someone links to a post on your blog that Google sees this as a vote of confidence in that post and will boost it’s ranking (sort of like a popularity contest). As a result most SEO types love to get links to their blogs and posts from other blogs. However it’s not just links from outside your blog that impact SEO. If you link from within your blog to key posts it boosts their ranking also (not as much as an incoming link from outside your blog – but it does seem to count).

In a sense what you’re doing is giving Search Engines a guided tour of your blog and showing them your best bits so that they can promote those for you.

As a result of these two benefits of doing so it’s well worth identifying your key posts on your blog and linking to them from other points within your blog. You can do this from within other relevant posts, form a a sidebar, from a menu or even using plugins (WP has a variety of them that allow you to create a list of popular, relevant or recent posts).

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Ohad says:

    Darren,
    I tend to add links within my posts to earlier posts that relate to the current one. This gives my user more relevant information and gets them to stay and browse through my site for a few more pages.

    I have found the same inner links in your blog to my liking.

  2. Thilak says:

    I used Popularity Plugin for wordpress, but it depends on comments for status, So its not so accurate

    Can you please suggest a good plugin to display popular post in wordpress !

    Regards

    Thilak Raj Rao

  3. Thilak says:

    Darren,
    I tend to add links within my posts to earlier posts that relate to the current one. This gives my user more relevant information and gets them to stay and browse through my site for a few more pages.

    I have found the same inner links in your blog to my liking.

    Excellent Idea Ohad, I’ll start implementing it on my blog

    Thanks

  4. Don M says:

    This is something I have on my to-do list of features to incorporate into a couple of blogs. On a couple of my blogs I pretty much ripped off the weblogsinc-style layout. The large 300×250 featured ad on the right side really isn’t performing well and I have been thinking about making that space a place for popular articles.

    Regarding Thilak’s comment, I think that you would need to use a plugin that fits your definition of what the term “popular” means. Does it mean “number of comments”? Or does it mean “number of page views”? Or does it mean “number of outbound clicks” (to affiliate sales or Google Ads perhaps)?

    For me I have found it easier to edit my most popular posts in the sidebar manually. This way I can sometimes tweak the title to make it more enticing on the homepage. Or I can remove some extra words to make it look “nice” in the sidebar … you know …. aesthetically pleasing.

    -dm

  5. Don M says:

    Oh and regarding Darren’s point on SEO linking principles WITHIN your blog I’ll give you an example:

    On one of my blogs I posted a summary of a press release for a new product that was related to my blog. Then I posted a follow up when the product was ACTUALLY released. In that post I linked to my earlier post. And in my earlier post I went back and added an addendum stating the product had been released and linked to that new article.

    Later on the company offered an affiliate program for said product. So I created a new entry promoting the product and linked to both of my earlier posts – which gave me credibility that I wasn’t just “hawking” a product.

    I also went into my old posts and turned the OLD links to those products into affiliate links and also linked to the newest post which promoted the product.

    The result? I own the search engines (MSN, Yahoo, AND Google) for that product.

    The bonus in this case was that the company was aware of my earlier promotions WITHOUT being an affiliate member and put a quote of my earlier review on their website and a link back to MY site.

    So now I have RECIPROCAL LINKS from an affiliate program.

    The downside is that it is a small priced product so the referral isn’t very large. But it makes me between $5-$10 per day and never goes below $5 daily. So if you figure on average $7/day I am making at least $200 month from this product.

    …. man … I shoulda made this into my own blog post … heheh.

  6. A.B. Dada says:

    I’m working on re-designing my blog network interface, and one of the major upgrades will be a “Popular Posts” topbar with 3 boxes, a la problogger. Not to copy, actually, but to improve. For me, the first box would be a great place to put the truly most popular posts (WordPress has a great plugin for tracking it). The middle box would be for newbies and the top 6 blogs for them. The right box would be top posts across the entire blog network.

    In my experience, the deeper a person goes on their first visit or two, the likelihood of them coming back increases. I’m pretty good about not tracking individuals but trends, and I’m shocked at how many more page imprssions I’ve gotten since I changed my interface. More page impressions = more return chance it seems. Giving newbies the opportunity to go deeper is very, very important.

  7. This is an idea that I’ve been toying with for a bit, and I think I’m going to do it as soon as I can get up the energy to change my layout =p.

  8. Don M says:

    I don’t think Darren has automated his most popular content at the top. On the contrary, it would appear he has meticulously crafted a manual “popular posts” collection based on his knowledge of the space, his goals and perspective, and the user behavior on the site.

    This is likely one of the reasons his site stands out in a sea of half-assed how-to blogs.

    -dm

  9. Ohad says:

    Darren,
    I think we have to agree that we are all learning/copying stuff off you site. Come to think of it, that’s the main theme of problogger, isn’t it?
    Keep teaching us and helping us improve our blogs.

  10. dave says:

    Highlighting popular posts on your blog shows your effective management and organising skills. Good work!

  11. Janice says:

    Great tips as usual Darren.

    I am a big fan and I got “stuck” on you from this technique of yours. My first visit I spent much more than an hour reading your highlighted posts etc. And everytime I visit you I read more than one post. My only frustration is that I don’t have enough time to read everything you have written!

    I am new to blogging – my site is three months old. I have been visiting you since I started.

    My twin sister was a software developer and we have two online children’s speciatly stores. Our income comes from those stores, but we wanted to start a blog for our target market. As well, we plan on putting blogs on our stores and perhaps starting other blogs in the future.

    Right now I am am in that beginning stage of visiting and commenting on other blogs in my target audience and establishing relationships etc. It is slow going, but is working.

    Thanks for all your great help! (sorry I have been a lurker and not commented. Since my blog is such a baby, and in the “mom” category, I felt a little insecure commenting over here.)

  12. L says:

    Except the plugin I found for showing popular posts won’t work for me, another plugin is required for the plugin, and I’m not sure my version of Word Press works with it. Or something’s wrong; neither work. I will not upgrade to 2.0 ever; I hate the way it does images (with or without the Rich Text) among other things.

    One thing you don’t seem to do, Darren, is usually show us the plugins to do things. Many of us don’t have luck searching.

    Any ideas, everyone, on such a plugin?

  13. Lipped Media says:

    I just reworked a layout on Style Spotlight http://www.style-spotlight.net/, today to reflect things I’ve learned on your site. I try to make improvements all along, but it’s very difficult, and I get stuck with a certain thing and don’t know where to go.

    There’s a new menu with top posts and categories, even searches, and I did something I’ve wanted to do from the beginning, and played with then: top images. The caps link to posts, not images. I’m trying to make sure all the images open within a more link in the post, but the bloggers have a lot they’re (STILL!) learning. I’m such a nag, too. I ask for above and beyond the normal blogging (like for SEO and these such things).

    Anyway, I also am in the middle of changing another thing, to make the posts more visible and the header portion smaller, I’m removing the “Lipped Media” bar, and adding a box with what was more necessary to me.

    Finally, because there are now images at the top, and soon I’m adding the Glam ad as a leaderboard, I took away the celeb photos from the logo. It’s clean and smaller, so I’m fine with it.

    Anyway, thanks! I hope it works out.

  14. Darren Rowse says:

    nice changes Lipped Media

  15. L says:

    Actually, that change might have cause on post to rise higher on Google last night. I’m not sure. We’re getting over 1,000 visits more than usual (which is over 100%) because of a #4 spot on Google for a big news term (name)!

    We were on the first page on Google a few days ago, but lower down, then we slipped. Now we’re way up.

  16. Darren, great idea. I wish Know More Media could easily implement a “popular posts” feature on each of our blogs and maybe even on our portal site for network-wide popular posts. … Hmm … I guess ‘wishing don’t make it so’ :) – so I’m off to see what we can do about that.

  17. Darren, I must say that your site is so informative and helpful. Being new to blogging (just a couple of months) I am learning things the hard way. A lot of things I did learn came from asking others how they did it and they were kind enough to teach me.

    Our blog happens to be the #1 most popular page on our site and it is chock full of rich, helpful content, but interestingly (and sort of to my frustration), people don’t comment. I wonder why. I will have to dig a little deeper within your files to see if I can resolve that issue.

    And I also want to learn how to create the post-its at the top. That may go a bit beyond my web knowledge….

  18. Damnati says:

    Great tips!!! Specially for newbies.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Darren Rowse over at ProBlogger just wrote on the benefits of highlighting popular posts on one’s blog (after he noted a similar post by Stephan Spencer using ProBlogger’s top menus as an example). Just like how previous writings on this subject have tended to be, it’s an all benefits-type of post, which should normally be more than okay. [...]

  2. [...] En todos los blogs existen una serie de artículos que interesan más que otros. Esos posts populares suelen ser los que atraen más comentarios, más visitas o más referencias. Por eso, en muchas bitácoras se resaltan de diferentes formas, bien incluyéndolos en la barra lateral o creando una página propia. En Problogger se destacan las ventajas que se obtiene de ello. [...]

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