Micro.blog: Adding Hosted Related Posts

Anyone familiar with Wordpress knows about the Related Posts feature as part of JetPack. This places 3 links to other posts you have written with similar content just below each post on WP and it does a pretty good job of it. I think Blogger has a similar function.

It took many months, but what I noticed, over time on WP is that visitors, often helicoptering in from search engines, would actually use the Related Posts to explore deeper and read more posts on my blog, which is what I wanted.

I knew I would be giving that up when I moved to Micro.blog which does not have a Related Posts option. (For good reason, to do Related Posts right and make them relevant takes quite a bit of programming and overhead and it’s not vital to the MB service in the way editing templates or categories are.) But I started wondering if there was a third party hosted service that would do it and discovered two that are not just Wordpress plugins, but usable on most websites.

Disclaimer: At this moment, I don’t know if either of these “free” services insert ads or whatever

The Experiment: Add This

I have signed up for Add This and installed the JS code on my Micro.blog hosted blog. Three types of code were available for an HTML site:

  1. Slider - I hate sliders so I skipped that.
  2. Inline - This puts the Related Posts in among your content, not my favorite but I might try it if it will put the related posts immediately below the content and above the Comments. Must experiment.
  3. Footer - The related posts show up in the bottom of the page no matter what. Don’t let the name fool you the code goes in the Post template not the Footer on MB.

Installation

You install the unique JS code just like I installed the Comment Code in the template.

How it Works

Once you install the custom code on your template you need to manually bring up individual blog posts. As near as I can tell this calls in AddThis which scrapes the page and adds that page to it’s list of your pages. Per AddThis: it takes about 24 - 48 hours for related posts to show up.

Does it Work?

As I write this, I’m less than 24 hours into it so it’s too early to know anything.

Some observations:

  1. When I installed this my blog title was kinda long. Add This wants to put the full title before the post title so all related posts look like they have the same Title. You have to mouse over to see the rest of the post title. I have shortened the blog title but I may have to manually call fro a re-scrape.
  2. I’m not sure about relevance. The long blog title might be messing things up. Right now it looks like it’s just suggesting random posts, but that might still be better than nothing. I’m not sure how relevant this will be even under optimal conditions. We will see.
  3. I focused on having it scrape long form blog posts.
  4. The Footer style code always appears at the bottom of the page. This is not all bad since it does not interfere with the rest of the page content if it loads a little slow.
  5. It will slow page loads slightly. Not a problem with the Footer style code.
  6. It is easy to install.
  7. You can get rid of the AddThis branding. Fortunately the branding is small.
  8. I like that the code does not tack on Sharing buttons or other stuff I don’t want.
  9. It does adapt to mobile.

On page example, here.

Will it Increase Page Views?

That is going to take a few weeks of testing. I don’t think it will hurt. Since it appears in the footer it is quite far down on the page. I will let you know as I experiment.

If anyone else decides to experiment with either of these services please let me know! Thanks.

Brad Enslen @bradenslen

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