Content is arguably the most important aspect of digital marketing. Nowadays, websites are filled with various blog posts on different topics and subject matters. As a website owner, it is important to showcase the most popular posts that a new reader landing on your site might be interested in exploring. But how do you decide which ones to go through? The popular posts plugins for WordPress can help you with this. These plugins will point your audience towards the most viewed and popular posts on your website.
Why Do You Need Popular Posts?
Popular posts are essential part of any website due to the following reasons:
- They can help you facilitate more growth and traffic through upselling, cross-selling and internal linking.
- Popular posts are important for SEO and content navigation purposes.
- Through the popular posts plugin, you can also set up other content highlighting options such as related posts, similar posts, and recommended posts, all of which can help you bulletproof your content marketing funnel and make a mark with your digital marketing endeavors.
First, we will explain how to add popular posts without plugin and then go through some of the best popular posts plugins for WordPress that you can use to take your blog to the next level.
Add Popular Posts in WordPress without Plugin
WordPress offers a “Latest Posts” block that you can use to showcase recent posts anywhere on your site. However, there are no default widgets available for showcasing your popular posts. The good reason behind this is that popular posts need a tracking of page views to each page on your site. This is possible when you have analytics tracking integrated and, in most cases, the popular posts plugin needs to create database tables to keep the tracking records. Using database query can easily drag down the page loading speed of you website. You can manually add the popular post widgets to avoid using additional plugin with no impact to speed.
- First, go to your Google Analytics account (or any other analytics tracking application you use).
- In old Google Analytics platform, you can go to “Behavior > All Pages” section to find the list of top pages along with page views for the selected time frame. This process may change if you are using the latest GA4 in which you may need to create a report to get the details.
- Once you have the list of top articles, login to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to “Appearance > Menus” section.
- Create a new menu and add the list of your top posts that you have collected from Google Analytics. You can decide the number of posts from 5 to 10 depending upon the layout of your site.
- Save your menu and go to “Appearance > Widgets” section.
- Select the location like sidebar or footer where you want to insert the popular posts widget.
- Click on the + icon and select “Navigation Menu” widget.
- Provide the title as “Popular Posts” (or anything you like) and select the menu you have created.
- Click on the “Update” button on top right corner to publish your changes.
- Note that if you have disabled Gutenberg editor or the widgets block editor, then you can drag and drop “Navigation Menu” widget using the legacy interface.
- Depending upon your theme’s style, the popular posts will look something like below.
If required you can create custom sidebars and assign widgets based on categories. In this way, you can manually insert different set of popular posts on different sidebars to showcase popular posts for specific category. Remember, you have to manually prepare the list of items from your Google Analytics and group based on categories.
1. Jetpack Top Posts & Pages
Jetpack is one of the most popular WordPress plugins that offers different modules. If you are using Jetpack, you can enable popular posts to showcase your most viewed posts and pages as a widget.
- Go to “Jetpack > Settings” menu and click on “Writing” tab.
- Scroll down and enable “Make extra widgets…..” under “Widgets” section.
- This will enable additional widgets like “Top Posts & Pages” for your site.
- Now, go to “Appearance > Widgets” section and insert “Top Posts & Pages (Jetpack)” widget.
- Add title for your widget and press “Update” button.
- Jetpack will automatically show top viewed posts and pages in the widget.
As the name suggests, this plugin does what it says. WordPress Popular Posts plugin provides you widgets and tons of customizable options. You can make use of them to display the list of top blog posts that your website has to offer.
- Allows you to use the custom post type option to create sections such as popular posts, related posts, and suggested posts on your blog post.
- The plugin provides multiples popular posts widgets which you can use and customize.
- Restrict the list based on specific time frame and sort by views, comments or average views per day.
- You have an integrated dashboard to monitor the statistics of how many people viewed your popular posts.
- Supports thumbnails and caching to speed up the loading of popular posts.
Do not get confused with the name of this plugin with top 10 list of plugins. The plugin will provide you with two different widgets, one of which can show a complete list of the most popular posts on your site, and the other serves as a page counter that will count page views across your site.
- You can use the widget to configure how many posts to display, add excerpts, enable comments and discussions, amongst other things.
- Counts page views across all posts, pages and custom post types which you can display automatically through shortcodes.
- Popular posts support thumbnails and you can change the style easily with custom CSS.
- Possible to exclude posts based on category and post ID.
The Relevant plugin is another brilliant option for displaying popular posts on your website. But not just that, with this plugin, showing related, latest, and featured posts is relatively easy too.
- You can choose the position as before or after content and use shortcodes for showcasing popular, related, latest or featured posts to your pages, posts or any other custom post type.
- It is possible to display popular posts only from the current category of the post user is viewing.
- You can show total page views and sort based on comments or views.
The only problem with this plugin is that it has too many options covering related, popular, features and latest posts. If you are only looking for adding popular posts then this plugin will be too heavy for your need.
- This plugin has the most easy-to-use and straightforward settings panel compared to all the other plugins on this list.
- You can enable/disable the required post types with a click.
- Popular posts can be filtered by comments, views count, for a particular time frame and per category.
- You can also enable or disable other information such as reader comments, page view count, post date, and author in your popular posts.
6. Display Posts – Easy lists, grids, navigation, and more
This plugin is unique compared to others because you can easily display WordPress posts using shortcodes. For example, you can easily showcase the most comments list of posts in the list using an in-built shortcode.
- Allows you to filter posts based on category while also providing an option to display posts based on total number of comments.
- You can customize the display with thumbnails and showing excerpt.
- Plugin provides decent documentation and handful of extensions.
This is just a bonus option that you can try as well. While it’s not as good as the other plugins mentioned above, it is unique as you can display a list of the least read blog posts with this plugin. It’s perhaps time to give the unnoticed posts on your site with this plugin.
You can decide the number of posts and exclude posts older than certain days or contains certain words in the title.
Note: Use the shortcodes with care to avoid unnecessary work in future. These shortcodes will be showing in the content if you deactivate the plugin looking ugly in the frontend. It is a pain task to remove all unused shortcodes manually by using SQL command or editing each post.
And that’s all. While there are plenty of plugins to choose from, it depends on the size and need for your site. If you are already using plugins like Jetpack, it’s good idea to simply activate the popular posts module. Otherwise, you may need to try one of the other listed plugins from the list.