Thursday, May 13, 2010

Help others see more of your blog

chain-link Being on the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog (31DBBB) project certainly has its advantages. Every day there is something new to learn, and on other occasions it is a case of discovering that I have done at least some things right. We are now at day 8, and one of the ideas being brought forward is to link between your posts as a blogger. That way, readers of your blog can discover more about your blog without really doing a search.

Different ways of linking posts

1. There is the obvious way of linking between your posts by using categories or labels. For instance, this post will have a few labels such as 31DBBB, Blogging and more, which can be seen at the top of this post under the post title. Every time I label a post with one of these labels, it will be added to the list of posts available under that label. What I do not like about this method is that the visitor must actually click on the label before he can see any posts related to that label. What I do like is that I can build a list of categories and have my posts automatically placed under those categories.

2. You can also make use of your own linking between posts when their subject matter is much more closely related than just a couple of underlying tag words. This way you can reference your own posts that directly have something to do with one another. By doing this, you can introduce your visitors to some of those hard to find posts that you wrote such a long time ago. As an example of doing this see my article Pastor Ray McCauley to divorce again. Also see how I link between posts in Jennifer Knapp: another Christian artist comes out.

3. Thirdly, you can start writing a series of posts directly related to a subject that you are expanding on as you go along. Here I have actually put some of these in my sidebar, so that they are always available. I made the following series available in my sidebar:

4. Next, you can also make use of Google Analytics to get a list of your most visited articles and put it in your sidebar as an advertisement. This way, visitors will see what is popular according to other visitors.

5. Finally, you can make use of a plugin or HTML/Java Script code to display related posts at the bottom of your post. To suit your needs you will have to search the web for this. I will introduce you to one such a tool. With this one you will have to take a crack at your blog's code. The drawback for some is that it is written only for blogs. I discovered this tool just today. Go get the code from there and include it into your template's code. Before making changes to your blog code, first make a backup of it. This script makes use of your labels to display your related posts. As is, it allows for 3 labels to be used, and 100 posts per label to be displayed. In my opinion, that is a bit excessive. It will be time consuming when loading your posts. What I did was to set it to make use of 5 labels per post and to display up to 5 posts per label. That means no more than 25 post links will be displayed. You can see the effect below this post. Look for the Related Posts by Categories heading below this post. In order to set your script to 5 labels and 5 posts per label, look in the script for:
maxNumberOfPostsPerLabel = 100;
maxNumberOfLabels = 3;
Set them as follows:
maxNumberOfPostsPerLabel = 5;
maxNumberOfLabels = 5;
Now save your blog template and voila! It is done!

I am sure some of you have discovered other ways to link to related posts through your blog. Why don't you share them with us?

13 May 2010:  Here is another list of widgets that you can add to your blog to highlight Related Posts.

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