This is a guest post by David Kendall.
Not every post you write on your blog will be a winner, but that doesn’t mean you should stop writing blog posts that aren’t perfect. After all, you won’t find out what’s popular until you post it, and you need to keep your blog updated at all times. So, what’s a blogger to do when your most valuable articles get buried under newer posts?
Highlighting the best content on your blog is one great way to show off your most valuable content and entice readers to click from your “traffic-attracting” posts to the ones that provide value and make them a loyal reader. Here are five strategies for highlighting your best posts.
1. Use a popular post widget.
WordPress offers a number of plugins to automatically display your best posts based on view count. You can display this widget in your sidebar or a widget box in your theme. Simply search the WordPress plugins database for “popular posts” and you’ll find many different options, so you can choose your favorite.
One favorite of many bloggers is “WordPress Popular Posts” with over 300,000 downloads. You can use this plugin widget more than once if you want to configure it differently for each instance. For example, you could have a widget for your most popular posts in each category, or have separate widgets for the most popular posts in the last month and most popular posts of all time. Experiment with different settings and see what your readers tend to prefer: popular posts sorted by view count, comment count, or average daily views.
2. Use a content slider.
A widget like SlideDeck 2 will allow you to pull posts and highlight your favorite ones in a slider, which you can then display on your homepage or in any other chosen location. Simply install and configure according to the plugin instructions, and you can tweak many settings in an easily navigable admin interface. For example, you can choose to show excerpts, loop playback, manually set the animation between slides, and more. Just be sure you’re choosing the right posts to highlight!
You can use a widget like the one above to easily find out your most popular posts, or simply choose the ones you’re most proud of. Refresh it every so often by adding new popular posts and deleting some of the older ones, particularly if they are outdated.
3. Publish a regular “best posts” summary.
Even if you only do it once a year, an ordinary post that highlights other posts can be a hit with your readers. New site visitors might stumble upon it, because this type of post is very likely to be linked to and shared by your readers. Repeat visitors will appreciate the recap. It will draw attention and comments to outdated posts, and you might be able to highlight something that is particularly relevant now, such as a trend you predicted last year.
4. Use a “related posts” plugin to draw people in.
Once your readers have finished a post, why not highlight some of your best posts that directly relate to the topic of that article? One plugin that can do this is Related Posts via Taxonomies, a plugin that makes it easy to choose which posts you want to display in your Related Posts widget. There are enough options that you can easily work with your posts to generate a best posts tag if you want to do more work, or just let it list related posts on its own. The one used on this site is Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.
Try tagging all your best posts with a specific tag so you can instruct the plugin to display posts from that particular tag. Exclude any behind-the-scenes personal posts, and sort them by their score of “relatedness” to your article or by your date published or modified.
5. Use Sticky Posts to stick it to your homepage.
If you have one blog post that simply shines above all others, put it at the top of your homepage so all your new readers notice it. WordPress 2.7 and above lets you sticky a post by simply clicking the “stick this post to the front page” option on the publish post page, a checkbox that should appear in the “Visibility” section. If you need to have several posts stickied in a particular order, the Q2W3 Post Order plugin will let you sort not just sticky posts but all your posts on your site, in a category, or in a tag.
It’s important to make sure your blog readers can find your most valuable, popular, and shareable content so they can benefit from your site and spread the word via social media. Don’t let your well-written posts languish in favor of newer posts. People want to read your best stuff, so make it easy by choosing one or more of these methods!