Have you visited a website recently and noticed a list of popular posts being promoted in the sidebar or elsewhere on the site? Did you follow these links to check out a post, then find yourself clicking through to another and then another, only to discover yourself lost in someone else’s content? Wish that would happen to the visitors on your website?
In this article, we’ll look at the best WordPress popular post plugins that make generating and displaying these links totally hands-off. We’ll also cover the benefits of taking the time to promote your most popular posts and best content, and why it’s a feature that no WordPress site should be without.
Why Display Your Popular Posts?
The number one reason to display your popular posts is to keep your visitors on your site for longer. By displaying links to content that previous visitors have found interesting, you’re more likely to persuade new readers to click through to your other articles.
Encouraging your audience to engage with your content in this way should create a ripple effect. The more posts and pages visited the more likely you are to get social media shares and likes, comments on your blog, an email address, and that all important returning visitor.
In short, the more time a visitor spends on your site, the greater the relationship they will have with your brand. This in turn makes it easier for them to buy your products, hire your services, trust your recommendations, or simply decide to make a return visit at a later date.
It’s also believed that search engines use metrics like time on site, pages viewed per visit, and bounce rates when deciding where to rank a website in their results. These are all measurements that popular post plugins can help improve. Therefore using one of these plugins should be a core element of your SEO strategy.
The Best Popular Posts Plugins for WordPress
So, now you know the benefits of adding a popular post display, the only thing left to decide is which plugin you are going to use to help you do so.
01. Top 10 – Popular Posts Plugin for WordPress
Top 10 Popular posts plugin for WordPress is an impressive and powerful free plugin. This plugin provides a widget that enables you to display your most popular and trending posts. It also tracks daily and total visits to each article, page, and custom post type, and then displays the count to your audience.
Customization features are also vast with the Top 10 plugin. You can choose how many posts you want to display, show the most popular posts ever, or within a certain time frame, as well as being able to exclude posts from particular categories. In addition to this, you can style the visuals of your popular post list using CSS code. All these options enable you to create a popular post display tailored to your site’s specific needs.
Other Features Include:
- Thumbnail Support: to display the first image of each post as a thumbnail
- An inbuilt Caching System to cache your popular posts
- Compatible with most cache plugins (WP-Super-Cache, W3 Total Cache and Quick Cache)
- Admin interface: access post information from within your WordPress Admin area
- Extendable Code: developers can easily add features and edit outputs
Top 10 is by far my personal favorite out of the free popular post plugins available. But with all of us having different needs, there may be another that suits your site better.
02. Plus Thumbnail Post Widget for WordPress
The Plus Thumbnail Post Widget for WordPress is a premium plugin that enables you to show a variety of post lists based on different criteria. You can display the most popular posts on your blog (based on the most commented on), the most viewed posts, the last posts added, or just simply a random selection.
Extensive options are also offered with this plugin to allow you to customize the settings as you see fit. You can filter by category, choose how many posts you want to display, show the number of visits to each post, and much much more. This enables you to create a post list to your exact requirements.
Extra features offered:
- Display: there are 5 different ways to display
- Styling: choose colors, style and layout
- Image Size: set the height of image that works for your site
- Comments: You can choose to display post comments
- Interval: select the interval for the posts you want to display (last 24 hours, week, month or year)
This plugin is very visually pleasing and with so many customizable features it is a good choice for many. For just $17 it could be yours today.
03. WordPress Popular Posts
With over 200,000 installs the WordPress Popular Posts plugin is a popular choice with the WordPress community. This free plugin is highly customizable, easy to install and highly configurable, if you like writing code.
Offering a multi-widget option, it allows you to display several popular posts widgets on your website, all with their own settings. It also includes custom post type support, enabling you to display other content, not just trending posts and pages.
The visuals of this plugin can be impressively altered to suit your site’s style. You can use your own layout to control how your most popular posts are shown on your theme as well as display thumbnails of the posts’ images. This plugin also lets you order your post list by comments, views, or average views per day.
Further features available:
- Time Range: list posts that have been popular within a specific time frame
- Statistics: check the statistics on your top posts from within your dashboard
- Shortcode Support: enables you to add your popular post lists to pages too
- Template Tags: allows you to embed your popular post entries on your theme without using a widget
- WPML support
This feature rich free WordPress plugin is another superb option for those wanting to display popular posts on a blog. However, the drawback with WordPress Popular Posts is that unless you are a confident coder some of the features offered may take you a while to set up.
04. Coliris Pro – Most Popular & Recent Post Widget
The premium plugin Coliris Pro – Most Popular Recent Post Widget offers an eye-catching display of posts, something a little different from the norm. With recent posts shown in a bright and colorful list style, it will be hard not to attract viewers to the display.
Coliris Pro is a simple yet powerful plugin. Although the customization features aren’t immense, it does have some good options to help you create a list relevant to your site’s needs. The choice is there to display pages, recent posts, popular posts, and most popular posts all on different widgets. The style and colors of each list can also be customized using CSS.
Other features offered:
- Simple Widget Interface Configuration
- Advanced Post Filtering Techniques
- Advanced Post Content Display
- Cache updated every 5 minutes
- Available in 5 languages
If you are looking to display your popular post list in a strikingly colorful and interesting way then this is the plugin for you. Available from CodeCanyon this plugin will cost you just $15.
05. Stylish Popular Posts
Stylish Popular Posts is another plugin that focuses on the visuals. This free WordPress plugin is a good choice for those looking for their posts to be displayed in a professional and impressive way. That said, what it makes up for in beauty it lacks in features, so don’t expect too much in the way of customization.
Stylish Popular Posts is extremely easy to install and use. It creates a widget that displays your posts based on the number of comments received. Be warned, this plugin only works using widgets, so if you aren’t keen on using widgets on your site this is not the plugin for you.
Further features include:
- Uses custom thumbnails
- Option of choosing how many posts you want to display
- Simple to use, a good option for non-coders
This plugin has a lot of potential and if more features are added in the future, it may well become extremely popular.
06. Top Social Stories
Top Social Stories is a plugin with a difference to those already mentioned. The plugins above all compile their list of posts based on how your visitors have interacted with your content. Top Social Stories creates a list of your most popular blog posts based on how many times they have been shared on social media.
Using analytics from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, and Linkedin, this impressive plugin enables you to display a list of your most popular posts on social media, as well as the number of times it has been liked, shared and commented on. Working side by side with some good social sharing buttons, Top Social Stories should help you increase your social media following and encourage engagement across your accounts.
- Daily stats displayed and stats over a period on the widget
- Displays featured image in thumbnail
- Allows forced inclusion of posts
- Works for custom post types
- Social metrics tool to analyze your most viral posts
Although maybe a better option for larger sites, this plugin can also be customized to suit the more humble blog. To purchase this plugin it will set you back $19.
All the plugins mentioned above are good options to help you implement a popular post display. Think carefully about the size of your site, your brand’s image, and what your audience responds well to, as all of these will be factors in choosing the right plugin for you. Even the premium plugins mentioned in this article are not expensive, so it is well worth trying out a few different ones to see which best suits you.
We hope this article helped you find the perfect popular posts plugin for your site. You may also want to see our comparison of best contact form WordPress plugins.
Once you have a plugin up and running, monitor your audience. You should start seeing more click throughs to your popular posts and hopefully more returning visitors as your audience starts to engage with your content.
Do you use a popular posts plugin? Which one do you use and have you seen any noticeable results? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.