On 1 December 2014, nRelate announced that it would be switching off its related posts recommendation service. Their Related Posts plugin and service for WordPress was an extremely popular plugin because of its ease of use and many options. So now that they are shutting their doors, many WordPress site owners are looking around for a replacement. Here is what I am recommending to my WordPress tech support customers at ClickWP.
IMPORTANT: Choosing the wrong related posts plugin can severely slow your site down. This is because calculating the related-ness of posts is a resource intensive process. For sites with more than 200 posts, I recommend off-loading the computational work to an external service.
The best plugin to replace nRelate is… it depends.
If you use Jetpack and don’t care about customization, use the Jetpack Related Posts module.
If you don’t want to signup for other accounts & services, Contextual Related Posts is a good option for sites with less than 200 posts. Another to consider is Related Posts for WordPress which claims to be able to handle a lot more posts.
If you don’t mind or need an external service to compute your related posts, Shareaholic and AddThis are the best options. One thing to note is that AddThis settings are controlled outside of WordPress, so you must signup for an AddThis account to use this option.
If you’re a publisher who’s willing to pay to increase your audience engagement with your content, Contextly seems very promising.
Want more options? Read this post by Followistic: The 10 Best Related Posts Plugins for WordPress
My thoughts on each of the above options:
Related Posts by Jetpack
This is the simplest option of the bunch. If you already use Jetpack, just activate this module and you’re done.
Pros: Dead simple setup, no additional load on your server
Cons: Only 2 styles, no option to limit suggestions to recent posts
Learn more: http://jetpack.me/support/related-posts/
Contextual Related Posts
A “good enough” option. It has built in caching so it won’t tax your server too much and if you have the technical skills you can customize it to fit into your theme.
Pros: Doesn’t require 3rd party service / account
Cons: Default theme looks quite meh
Related Posts for WordPress
This is probably the “Pro” option. Upon installation, the plugin starts a wizard that caches your posts and then computes the related-ness and links your posts. With that computation out of the way, the plugin shouldn’t slow down your site at all.
However, the default styles are quite poor. Even the Premium version’s themes don’t look very promising. You’ll need to style this on your own if you want it to look good on your site. Otherwise, choose to go with a plain list and not display thumbnails.
Pros: Promises to not slow down large sites. Can manually link posts
Cons: Need to know some CSS to get it to look good on your site.
Learn more: http://relatedpostsforwp.com
Contextly is a content recommendation engine that aims to increase engagement with your content, including your videos on YouTube. I like they way they show related videos in a pop-up modal window without sending the reader off-site to YouTube. They offer automatic, semi-automatic and manual recommendations and have a really cool in-story sidebars feature.
I also really like their focus on helping publishers create and surface high-quality for audiences content rather than simply focusing on monetization. Check out their latest blog post for a taste of this – A Tale of Two Publishing Worlds. I’m personally looking forward to testing them out on future projects.
Pros: Advanced & attractive looking widgets, multiple themes, top content reports
Cons: Free version only for sites with up to 10k pageviews per month
Learn more: http://contextly.com
Shareaholic started out as SexyBookmarks and now also offer “Related & Promoted Content”. This means that you also get sharing buttons with this plugin.
Shareaholic will display promoted posts from advertisers in your list of related posts. You can disable this editing your Related Content Settings, or signup for a Shareaholic account to receive a cut as a publisher.
Pros: Related Posts looks good on both desktop and mobile, multiple themes
Cons: Your site joins Shareholic’s ad inventory which it sells to advertisers
Learn more: http://shareaholic.com
AddThis is a lot like Shareaholic except it requires you signup for an AddThis account for it to work on your site. This is because AddThis settings are controlled entirely through addthis.com; the WordPress plugin is just a bridge that connects the your site to their service.
AddThis may be best suited for larger publishers because they have a professional-level suite of tools which include sharing buttons and marketing tools too. However the best tools are only available to Pro members for $99/year or $12/month.
Pros: Big suite of professional tools for you to grow traffic, Attractive and modern looking design
Cons: Related posts take a while to calculate and appear, Pro account required for best tools
Learn more: http://www.addthis.com
Which related posts plugin do you use? How did you decide on that plugin? Let me know in the comments.
: Added Contextly based on CEO Ryan Singel’s comments below