Center of Attention: Some Great Plugins for Popular Posts

Creating a ton of great content is a wonderful thing for a blogger utilizing a WordPress-based site. But what happens when—heaven forbid—you create too many stellar posts? What happens when your archive is bursting at the seams, and your visitors have to wade through a sea of posts to find what they’re after? The unfortunate reality is that most readers, even those truly dedicated to your site, may not have the time and patience to search through past content to find the most outstanding posts that everyone loved but that they missed when they were fresh and new.

Well, as the (new) old saying goes, there’s an app for that. Or more specifically, a plugin that highlights your “popular posts” and gives readers a little help by highlighting what has gotten the most attention and simplifying finding such material. And there are some serious benefits to using such a plugin: most importantly, you can keep visitors on your site longer, which gives your more time to promote yourself and your content.

So for those who have been wondering which plugin is suitable for keeping their most popular posts front and center, here are some certainly worth investigating, especially for those prolific writers who are happily inundated with stellar words that everyone wants to read.

  • The leader of the pack is, well, Jetpack, created by the good folks at WordPress themselves. This free plugin, which already enjoys a place on more than one millions websites, gives owners access to the “Top Post and Pages” widget, which is only one of its many exciting features. With the plugin you can choose to display posts based on several different criteria: most liked or most traffic (in any given period of time) for instance. You can also enable the widget to display a certain number of items in a sidebar and have them appear as simple text or an image.
  • A close second in popularity to Jetpack is WordPress Popular Posts: the name pretty sums it up, and it’s currently found on more than 200,000 websites and receives a nearly perfect rating from users. The strength of this plugin is that it’s incredibly easy to use and customize. It allows you to enable a host of widgets, each of which have different options such as displaying popular posts that appeared within a certain time range or based on the number of total views, average views, comments etc.
  • The Top 10 plugin—also free—is really convenient in that it registers the number of page views your posts receive on an hourly basis and automatically displays those getting the most attention. You can customize the sidebar widgets based on the number or type of posts and it works across your entire site, meaning you can even include a category to exclude certain types of posts and add CSS styles that can tag your most popular articles with a unique flair and style all your own.
  • If you’re looking for something fairly straightforward consider Post Hit Counter. As the name suggests it tracks how many times all your posts are viewed but also lets you display a list of the most viewed posts. This plugin is certainly a no-brainer in that it does all the work for you, but the sidebar options are pretty limited. However, it does give you the ability to choose which types of posts should be registered and counted, which is nice in preventing certain users such as administrators from accidentally or inadvertently increasing hits and giving a false impression of what’s most popular.
  • Super Post will cost you a few bucks—about ten actually—which may make you wonder that, with all the great free plugins available, why should anyone consider paying? Simply put, you get what you pay for, and in this case it may be worth the investment. With the plugin you can create queries that scan your various types of posts and display categories based on specific tags. It’s a little more complicated to manage than the aforementioned choices, but if you have a little WordPress savvy you’ll quickly discover that the provided widget allows you to really go over the top with customizations: display your posts based on most commented with or without thumbnails, excerpts etc. and add your personal touch by altering the appearance of the widget as you desire.

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