Displaying your most popular posts in WordPress is a surefire way to capitalize on your strongest content, and ensure that your best work gets the exposure it deserves.
Displaying popular posts is a common practice among savvy WordPress bloggers, and you can see the concept in action right here on the WPMU.org homepage. In the right hand column is a self-updating list of the most popular posts on the blog, which helps our site visitors locate the stuff they will *hopefully* find valuable.
If you’re not yet using some kind of popular posts list on your WordPress blog, you really should be. This article sheds some light on how to make it happen.
Why displaying popular posts in WordPress is a good idea
Keep your best posts fresh
There’s nothing worse than writing a great post and then letting it slip away into obscurity. By showing a list of popular posts in WordPress, you can vastly increase the number of eyeballs on your content and keep your readers engaged.
Track the performance of your posts
You can also use the popular posts system as a kind of analytics tool for tracking the performance of your articles. It’s an easy way to gather intelligence on your readers – find out what they like and what they don’t.
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How to display popular posts on your WordPress site
Before we proceed, keep in mind that a lot of WordPress themes have a ‘popular post’ functionality already built into them. Double check whether this is an option in your current theme. If not, these are three plugins that you might want to check out (there are plenty more out there).
This plugin allows you to display a simple list of popular posts in any widgetized area of your WordPress site. You can choose how popularity of your posts is determined, either by comment count, page views or average daily page views. You can also choose a time range for the display, eg. ‘popular posts from the past week’.
A bit more complex than WordPress Popular Posts, this plugin gives you similar functionality, plus some additional features, like embedding popular post lists directly in the content of your site with the use of shortcodes.
This plugin functions in much the same way as the others, but as the same suggests, it uses data from WordPress.com to determine your most popular posts. Requires either the WordPress.com Stats or Jetpack plugin to be installed on your site.
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Display popular posts in WordPress without a plugin
If you’re comfortable hacking around with a bit of PHP code, there are a few different ways you can achieve a popular posts display without the use of any plugins.
We have a nice little tutorial here on How to Display Your Most Popular Posts in the Last 30 Days. WPSnipp.com also have a good article on displaying popular posts using post views data.
Can you recommend any other snippets or plugins for displaying popular posts in WordPress? If you’re using a different method on your site, please leave a comment below and let us know about it.