Recent posts and comments for WordPress

recent posts commentsWhen I was writing the chapter about internal links for our ebook, I also mentioned Recent Posts and Recent Comments. But these subjects were mentioned only very briefly. It seems so logical to add these for any blog, that it didn’t seem necessary to use more than a page to explain these. But if it is common sense to me, is it to everyone? My post about Common sense for your website taught me it isn’t. And if it is for you, it won’t hurt to emphasize that common sense.

In this post I will discuss a number of common internal links that can easily be added via WordPress itself. Or any plugin that is created up for the purpose.

Recent posts

For any website with a blog, adding recent posts or a section with a selection of links to posts (examples listed below) can be a valuable asset. We do that on our website as well. It’s an easy way of telling your visitor:

  • about recent market developments;
  • about recently added information to your website that might be of interest for him or her;
  • about new products or services your company offers;
  • or simply to let your visitor know that you have a blog.

versatile recent postsThis section usually consists of a simple list of links. WordPress offers this functionality by default like shown in the image on the right (this is actually in our Versatile Theme). But to be honest, even if you are less technical, you can create a nice PHP snippet using the examples WordPress gives for the wp_get_recent_posts function. If you prefer shortcodes, I recommend Bill Ericksons’ Display Posts Shortcode plugin.

Just recently, I also started playing with this very customizable plugin called Recent Posts Widget Extended. This plugin is very customizable right from the Appearance > Widget section in WordPress. If you don’t want to use shortcodes in widgets and prefer a customizable recent posts widget, you should really try this plugin.

There are many variations to the recent posts links:

  • Related Posts: usually below the actual article. Very helpful for people that want to read related posts if they like (the subject of) your article.
  • Featured posts: link to your main posts, best read articles or posts that relate to recent market development, for instance by linking to the most recent posts in a category.

Besides that, in the previous examples you can of course replace ‘post’ with ‘products’, and all will make sense as well.

Recent comments

You have to think about this section. If you add a recent comments section and your last comment is dated 2013, that will immediately add an expire date to your website as well. Apparently you haven’t written anything interesting last year?

But if you have comments on all your posts (thank you, valued commenters on this website) and you write articles on a regular basis, the recent comments section will be very valuable. Comments allow for keyword variations, as a visitor might have used a different keyword than the one you are using over and over on your blog. Next to that, and more importantly, a recent comments section will show your visitor you have a vivid and engaging reader base. Meaning you must have something interesting to say.

Note that in most cases you want to limit the number of links on your page (we aim for max 50 links per page), so the link value per link will be best. That might be a reason to choose between recent posts or recent links in your sidebar. In that case I would recommend recent posts. The reason for that is simple: If you have a vivid blog, chances are all recent comment links will go to the same page :)

WordPress has a function for recent comments as well: get_comments. It’s highly customizable, by the way. It’s really easy to display for instance just the comments made in the last week. As I don’t have any experience with plugins that can help you with these recent comments, I’m looking forward to any suggestions you might have.

Like with the recent post alternatives, something similar to the recent comments could be recent reviews or testimonials. Both are user generated content of course. In a recent project I found this plugin for testimonials very useful. It adds, for instance. If you are looking for a nice way to add testimonials to your WordPress site, be sure to check it out. It’s a new kid on the block, only released in May 2014, but I really like it!

Closing thought

Recent posts and recent comments are valuable internal links for any website. There are many ways to add these and it isn’t that hard to do. If you feel people aren’t visiting or even finding the blog on your website, you should simply add a small widget to your sidebar and see the traffic grow!

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!