How to suck a reader deep into your blog

The first time I ever got sucked into a blog, I read for about three hours straight. I took a break and then came back to read for a couple more hours that day. I still read that blog today.

  • One reason I stayed for so long was because I love reading.
  • Another reason I stayed for so long was because the content on the site was incredible, especially for the time.
  • But one other reason I stayed for so long was because of a simple feature the site included at the end of each post: a list of related posts.

Of these three reasons, the first was almost completely out of the blogger’s control. Sure, as a blogger, you can market your site to a specific type of audience that might tend to read more than the average person, but overall you don’t have much say in how much your readers naturally love to read.

The second reason, all the great content, is super tough. That’s not a reason to give up trying – I think bloggers should certainly try to write good content. But it takes a lot of work.

The third reason I stuck around, though, is pretty easy for a blogger to set up, especially compared to those other two. It really doesn’t take much effort to create an auto-generated, related posts feature on a blog (at least not if you’re using WordPress.org). 🙂

All you have to do is find a related posts plugin, install and configure it, and you’re all set.

[If you’re just interested in reading, not the blogging side of this, you can safely skip the next four paragraphs.]

There are dozens of plugins like this, and I’ve used a couple different ones since I started blogging. For right now, though, I think I can totally recommend YARPP, which stands for Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.

YARPP has lots of customizable features, many of which you can play with right from your WordPress dashboard without messing with any code. If you’re into playing with the code styling a bit, though, YARPP helps you do that too really easily.

I’m still playing around with the setup to see what works best for Marshallogue. YARPP lets me choose how it generates related posts, whether I want it to base the list on tags, categories, post titles, or just the material in the posts themselves. I can use any combination of those I want, and I can even specify which to weight highest.

Plus, if you want, it can grab thumbnail images for you or cut out posts with a certain tag… whatever. This is probably geeky enough as it is, so I won’t continue to elaborate on all the other options. If you’re interested, take a look at it after you finish reading this.

For now, check out how I have it working here. Below I have a section where you can see more from Marshallogue.

The cool thing about having this at the bottom of every post is that if you click through to read something else, you’ll get to the bottom of that new post and then be presented with even more to check out. With over 450 posts here now, it’ll keep you busy. It can even get a little addicting. As a reader, I know I get sucked into blogs that have this feature. I even click through the posts on my own sites.

And even more than that, I know from being a blogger that readers get sucked into it because I can literally watch people in my site stats clicking through the posts (although now that I said that, some of you are probably a little more nervous about doing it). 🙂

But go for it anyway. See what you can discover. And if you’re a blogger, see what you can help your readers discover by optimizing your sites this way.

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