October 18, 2010
What do you do with your posts that you are particularly proud of? Of all the blogs I come across, rarely do I find one that has a well thought-out ‘popular’ or ‘featured’ posts section in their sidebar. The benefits of having this section for your posts of special interest are substantial for both your readers and SEO, so if you do not have one of these sections for your best posts please read on as I give you a taster of the reasons why linking to your most popular posts improves your blog.
Sometimes when I first find a new blog I feel wary, as if I was entering a club where faithful regulars shake each others hands, pat each other on the back and share in-jokes in a huddle by the bar. I feel a little left out even before I read anything past the initial post. I want to know immediately, what makes this blogger tick? What is the story here? Nothing answers this faster and gets me more engaged than a quick glance at a ‘popular posts’ section that highlights what everyone else has read and has discussed already, what can I know that makes me part of the in-crowd?
For example, the other day I read this fun post and I wanted to know:
- Is this a typical post?
- Are there any other posts I could read that are like this one?
In short, I wanted a popular posts section to browse like a contents page of a book, to point me in the right direction to a post either just as good or even better than this one!
But not only is a ‘popular posts’ section great for the navigation and leading new (and old) readers around your blog, having a well-developed internal linking structure is good for SEO, as this article on Beanstalk SEO blog explains,
“The closer a page is in clicks from your homepage, the higher the value (or PageRank) the page is assigned.”
That is to say, if you have a post linked in a popular posts section on your homepage, this post will be given more strength, and will be internally passed PageRank. This is like an elixir of life for your posts, an internal link in the sidebar saves them from being buried in your archives along with your not-so-great posts.
There are plenty of widgets out there that will sort your best posts out for you and update automatically according to number of comments or number of views of each post. But you know which are your best articles – so there are many reasons why manually placing a popular/featured post links is a really good idea.
First and foremost, manually compiling your popular posts section gives you the freedom to act on your own instinct rather than on statistics, you can mix it up with some old and new posts or even promote a pet post to help it on its way to popular post stardom. Another bright idea is to ask your readers to vote on which is their favourite post? E.g. shortlist your top 4 or 5 posts (you could even add a wild-card one that you really don’t think people will agree with) and ask people to vote in the comments section. They may even give you more hints as to what they like and dislike about your writing which will be invaluable feedback for creating more posts that will resonate with your readers in the future. You can always watch the stats to see whether there they back up what people say they like to read and what people actually read!
Another suggested way to make your internal links to popular posts stand out and also to be visually appealing is to place a hyperlinked image instead of anchor text. But be warned this won’t pass any PageRank!
In essence, having your best posts listed as internal links in the sidebar not only leads interested readers onto reading more and to feel a connection with who you are and what you are good at writing about, but it also strengthens the post by passing PageRank from the homepage.