One incredibly simple, yet highly underutilized strategy to decrease your blog’s bounce rate and increase your pageviews per visitor is to use a popular post widget in your sidebar.
A popular post widget aggregates your top-performing posts by view count and displays links to them in a widget (usually no more than 5 posts in one widget). This is a surefire way to get your visitors to browse through more posts; by exposing them to links to posts on your site, you increase the likelihood of getting them to actually read the posts.
Sold on the worth of a popular post widget? Great — in this post, we’ll take a look at the 5 top ones for WordPress.
Popular Widget is one of the most downloaded plugins on this list, having already accumulated an impressive 65K downloads. It boasts an impressive array of features, including the ability to filter by post category, display post excerpts (with custom excerpt lengths), display view counts and/or thumbnails, and set a custom title length.
Popular Widget also allows you to specify a custom time range for the calculation of the most popular posts. The default range is 365 days, but you can customize it to whatever you wish. I personally suggest keeping it at a maximum of one month so that the posts can rotate more frequently. The widget is also tabbed — readers can filter the posts according to view count or by its recency.
Lastly, Popular Widget isn’t just for posts — it gives you the same functionality for recent comments as well. By downloading this plugin, you can kill two birds with one stone.
If you’re just looking for something simple and easy to setup rather than a plugin with all the bells and whistles, then Simple Popular Content is right for you.
The plugin just gets the job done: the widget displays the most viewed pages or posts along with their view count in hyperlinkss. You can customize the number of either that show and also exclude certain posts or pages according to their ID.
Although you don’t get a customizable time range, you can reset the widget’s stat tracking whenever you’d like.
WP Most Popular is another simple popular post widget.
The original purpose of the plugin was simply to rank blog posts by their popularity so that bloggers could know what type of content resonates best with their audience — the widget that displays links to the content is really just a secondary feature.
You can choose from 4 predefined time ranges — 1 day, 7 days, 30 days, and all time — but you can’t set a custom one. WP Most Popular supports custom styling and post type filters.
Popularity Posts Widget is a flexible plugin with a good amount of customization ability. As seen in the image above, the widget can display a post’s thumbnail, view count, and comment count under its linked title in the widget.
It comes with the same time ranges as WP Most Popular: 1 day, 7 days, 30 days, or all time.
The posts can also be filtered by category, and you can even insert the widget into your posts/pages with the shortcode [ppw].
WordPress Popular Posts is the most recognized plugin on this list with a whopping 760K downloads, and for good reason: it offers a tremendous amount of features.
To start with, the plugin comes with multiple widgets, each with specific styling options and settings. Besides having the standard 4 predefined time ranges, it also allows you to set a custom one. If desired, thumbnails can be displayed along with post links.
The plugin also integrates seamlessly with WP-PostRatings to filter popular posts according to their ratings. WordPress Popular Posts offers localization support, automatic maintenance, and a [wpp] shortcode to display your most popular links in posts/pages. It’s by far the most functional popular post widget plugin on this list (and also my personal favorite).
Which one of these plugins do you like most? Which one will we see in action on your blog?