You need to hook your visitors.
For a blog to be successful, your visitors can’t read one post and leave. They need to binge!
They should look around and be overwhelmed by all the awesome ideas and salacious headlines.
One of the best ways to create this effect is to promote your most popular posts. These posts are already proven to be visitor favorites, so they’re more likely to interest first-time visitors.
In this post, you’ll learn how to use a widget to easily display your site’s:
- Most popular posts this month
- Most popular posts of all time
- Most commented on posts
We’ll be doing all of this with the use of one simple plugin.
How to Use the Popular Posts plugin
The first step is to install and activate the WordPress Popular Posts plugin.
You can download it from the page linked here or search for it by name through the Plugins > Add New menu.
Once activated, you’ll find the new WordPress Popular Posts widget in your Widgets menu (Appearance > Widgets).
When you add the widget to one of your areas, it will display a long list of configuration settings. Here’s a quick look at the first settings, which are especially important:
As you can see, it’s easy to configure the number of posts, sorting mechanism, and the time range for posts included.
The plugin also adds a new settings menu where it displays analytics for all of your articles.
If you don’t have analytics installed, this will be extremely helpful for understanding your posts’ performance. Even if you have an analytics program like Google Analytics installed, you might prefer this dashboard’s simplicity.
While this plugin is fairly simple to use after installation, I’ll cover a few example configurations next to show you how to get the most out of this neat plugin.
Display popular posts this month
One of the most common ways to use this plugin is to display the posts that have been most popular on your site over the last thirty days.
This setting is easily configured with the Time Range filter.
You’ll also notice a checkbox that allows you to limit the posts to only those published in the time range. For example, checking it now would create a list of the most popular posts published in the last thirty days. Leaving it unchecked will display a list of the posts with the most views over the last thirty days, regardless of when they were published.
Display your most popular posts of all time
Want to show off your best stuff?
You can update the Time range filter to “All-time” to have your most popular posts ever published show up.
This setting tells the plugin to rank your posts based on the total views they’ve received, and it automatically considers all published posts.
Display your most commented post
So far, the popularity ranking has been based on the default metric: total views.
You can switch the sorting metric to average daily views or comments with this setting:
You can continue to use the time range and other settings to specify the posts you want to target, but now the number of comments will be the ranking criteria rather than the number of views.
More ways to promote your content
These three examples should get you started, but there is still a lot more you can do with the WordPress Popular Posts widget.
You can limit the posts based on category or tag and even exclude specific posts you don’t want to be included.
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