Best related posts plugins to replace nRelate

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.

tl;dr Summary

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.

Related Posts by Jetpack

Related Posts by Jetpack

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

Learn more: https://wordpress.org/plugins/contextual-related-posts/

Contextual Related Posts (above) and Related Posts for WP (below)

Contextual Related Posts (above) and Related Posts for WP (below)

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

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.

Contextly Related Videos. More info

Contextly displays related videos in a pop-up. More info

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

Shareaholic started out as SexyBookmarks and now also offer “Related & Promoted Content”. This means that you also get sharing buttons with this plugin.

Shareaholic buttons and Related Content modules

Shareaholic buttons and Related Content modules

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

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.

 

Update 14 Dec: Added Contextly based on CEO Ryan Singel’s comments below

6 Comments on "Best related posts plugins to replace nRelate"

  • Hi David,

    You might also take a look at Contextly. We do more than just related (though we do that very well). We also include trending/popular, evergreen (think oldies but goodies) and personalization. There’s editorial controls, great analytics and in-story sidebars, etc.

    Contextly

    Love to hear what you think.

    RS

    • Hey Ryan, thanks for stopping by and introducing Contextly. Reading through your site, I’m already a fan (because I hate the Outbrain/Taboola links too). 

      Would you agree with my assessment however, that Contextly is better suited for bigger or serious publishers? I feel that hobby bloggers would be reluctant to pay a monthly fee for your service. Also, is it possible to customize the theme of the Contextly widgets?

      I do have a few customers who are larger publishers though and will definitely be suggesting that they do the trial. 

      • Hi David,

        We do have some serious firepower in our technology, and the differences in what we do are easier to see the more content a site has.

        But we’ve found that serious publishers includes businesses running blogs, niche sites that have dedicated audiences and personal publishers who publish quite frequently.

        We’ve also found that many publishers really like our analytics, which we publish as email reports – rather than as a dashboard. And we’ll be doing even more of that soon.

        As for styling, yes, we have a few different styles to choose from, which can each then be customized. Some of that can be done with point-n-click tools, but we also give full CSS access.

        Thanks for the response and would love to hear what your bigger clients (and maybe even you) think.

        Best,

        RS

        • Thanks so much Ryan. I’ve updated my article to include Contextly and will definitely have at least 2 of my consulting clients do the trial. Cheers and thanks again for reaching out

  • Most solutions produce “possibly related” posts.

    You could also add “accurate” related posts manually using HTML or a custom field.

    • Thanks Brad! Yup manually curating related links are another option although many prefer simple, automatic options too

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