Many blogs use the related entries plugin (or it’s equivalent) – along with anti-spam plugins and smart URLs it has become an integral part of a blogger’s arsenal.
I’ve recommended the plugin myself a countless number of times but yesterday while working on one of my blogs I started wondering if, in some cases, showing related posts would actually be less effective?
Consider this – the most common spot to show related entries is at the end of a blog entry. However, that spot is also a prime advertising spot, that’s where you put the comments and if you want people to digg/reddit/delicious/stumble/etc your post, that’s where you put your social bookmarking links as well.
All that clutter means that when the reader reaches the end of your article, he doesn’t have just one thing to do – he’s presented with an array of options. More often then not, I’ve found out that the fewer choices you give to the reader in terms of what to do next, the better results you will get.
So for example, if you’re looking to maximise your AdSense CTR, don’t put other ‘exits’ – outgoing links – around the ad block. If you want to maximise comments, emphasize the comments section and reduce the clutter between the post and the comments area (i.e. ads, plugins, other links).
So what happened yesterday is that I’m thinking of replacing the ad block at the end of the post with a graphic ad promoting a forum, and while I’m OK with losing the extra revenue I don’t think that the ad will be that effective, especially with the related articles, the social bookmarking links and the other fluff that comes in at the end of the article.
Is this a case where you should a) ditch the related entries plugin or b) shift them to the sidebar, or as an aside inside the post itself, or something like that?
For a couple of years now I’ve taken it for granted that you ‘must show’ related entries at the end of each post because ‘it’s good for increasing pageviews, SEO, etc’.
On a successful site that already has good rankings and a good visitor to pageviews ratio, do you still need the related entries plugin? And if yes, what’s a good place to put it (apart from the end of the post)?