The more excellent content you give people to read, the greater their incentive to stick around on your site. And keeping people on your site longer is the name of the game to maximize conversions.
Some people do this by including internal links in every piece of content. It’s an easy way to get readers to tunnel deeper within your site, especially if you make sure to keep linked content relevant. But there’s another method that works really well: highlighting related content or relevant resources at the end of the piece of content your web visitor is already reading.
Advantages of Related Posts
Placing related posts at the end of an article to attract your audience has a number of advantages. For one, it reduces bounce rate. A high bounce rate may mean they haven’t found what they want; while a low one means your site is meeting their needs. If people are following links around your site, then they’re not bouncing away in seconds, which is good news.
Related content can also help convert search traffic into repeat visitors. As Dil Rules points out, when people find your site in search, it’s because they are looking for specific information. Many people leave as soon as they find what they want, but if you can show them other content related to their original interest, they’ll want to check it out.
Related posts increase conversions because the longer your visitors stay, the more likely it is that they’ll want to connect with you, sign up for a mailing list or take up an offer.
So how do you use related posts effectively? There are two main strategies: using your own content or using content created by others (there’s a payoff, I promise!)
How to Show Related Content on WordPress Sites
Using content from your own site keeps everything in-house. Since around a quarter of all websites run on WordPress, let’s start with some of the popular options for that platform.
- The JetPack plugin that is available by default in every WordPress installation includes a related posts module. If you have already activated JetPack, all you have to do is activate the related content module and configure the minimal layout options. This plugin selects related content based on post content, categories and tags. The creators say it’s got a major advantage over other plugins: since all processing is done by WordPress.com, there’s no additional load on your server.
- Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) is another popular WordPress alternative allowing you to showcase related posts, pages and custom posts. Install it in the usual way and then you can set parameters for how the plugin chooses related content. You can use tags, categories, titles and even do some manual configuration if you like playing with code. YARPP lets you choose how posts are displayed (thumbnail or list). There’s also a pro version which allows additional customization, in-depth reporting and the ability to pull content from other sites.
- Social sharing plugin Shareaholic includes the option to display related content. Once you have signed into Shareaholic on the web, enable the functionality via your web dashboard, and choose the number of related and promoted posts you want to display. You can also choose these options via Shareaholic’s App Manager. At first glance, options for this plugin seem more limited than others in the list, but check it out for yourself.
- Contextual Related Posts uses post content and title to automatically identify relevant content, though you can exclude categories from display. The plugin also allows you to customize excerpts and change filters to modify the output.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a good starting point, including some of the most popular options. If none of these works for you, check out the alternatives in these selections from WPMU Dev and Followistic.
And if you’re technically inclined, this tutorial from WP Tron shows you how to display related posts without a plugin on the Genesis theme. DIYThemes has similar instructions for Thesis.
Content Discovery and Related Content
Interestingly, you can also make your site more appealing by showcasing content from other sites. Content discovery tools promote your content on other sites which sounds counter-intuitive, but the payoff (I promised there was one) is that those sites also display your content, putting it in front of new audiences and potentially bringing them to your incredibly sticky site. 🙂
These won’t work for everyone, but if you are creating high quality content in a popular niche, they could be worth a try.
- Outbrain – featuring your content on some high-end media sites
- Taboola – recommending content to drive engagement and revenue
- Zemanta – amplifying content ads via promoted recommendations and other methods
- Gravity – personalizing content discovery to match publishers, advertisers and consumers
- mGID – a native content ads platform which displays related content from across the web.
Not sold on how these could work for you? Think about it. If your content appears as related content on a high quality, trusted site, some of that trust rubs off on you. It’s a bit like pre-selling the people who follow the link on the value of your site and content.
Tips on Using Related Content Effectively to Improve Conversions
If you’re going to use related content on your site, here are some additional tips to help you get more from this strategy.
- Search Engine Watch suggests you use personas to decide on related content. While this article is suggesting using categories and tags to identify these, there’s a whole lot of analytics data out there that can tell you who’s reading and sharing your content, so use this too.
- Optimize Smart suggests that you use related content not just on the obvious pages, but on pages like your About page, giving visitors somewhere to go after they learn about you. You can also give people additional content destinations when they complete a purchase or signup.
- Nanorep suggests using related content to move prospects further along the funnel by recommending something specifically related to where they are now.
Do you use related content to retain your audience? What’s your favorite tool for doing this?
Read other Crazy Egg articles by Sharon Hurley Hall.