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Blogging 201: Make the Most of Your Archives

Published, but not forgotten: today, you’ll integrate features to draw traffic to your older content, including widgets, related posts, and a “Best of” page.

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The internet is ephemeral — you publish a post, and it sinks to the bottom of your blog before you know it. You’re competing with breaking news and dealing with short attention spans. We all feel pushed to keep pace, writing post after post each day.

Readers and search engines love seeing new content on your homepage (and you’ve got a plan to give it to them for the next 30 days), but you can keep things even fresher by highlighting your archives: your best posts, hidden gems, and timeless content. After all, if a reader just found you, it’s all new to them.

Today’s assignment: integrate a feature to draw traffic to your older content like a widget, related posts, or a “Best of” page.

Why do this?

  • Because while readers can use the search feature or click on tags to find your older content, a go-to page compiling your best posts is even simpler — you never know which post will be the one that gets them to click “Follow,” so make the good ones easy to find.
  • Because while your About page does a great job introducing you, a curated selection of posts further illustrates your perspectives and personality.

It’s important to make your archived content available to readers, old and new — especially the posts you’re most proud of. There are a few different ways to do this; one (or more) is bound to work for your blog.

First, when writing new posts, you can simply refer to ideas and discussions you’ve published before with well-placed links, sprinkled naturally throughout your posts. Readers are already engaging in your post, so pointing them to other content draws them deeper into your blog.

Second, you’ve got handy widgets in your dashboard under Appearance → Widgets to promote your older work in your sidebar and footer, including the Top Posts and Page WidgetArchives Widget, and Categories Widget. These types of widgets automatically pull in archival and popular content — they’re quick, simple additions to drive traffic to older work. Each widget has configuration options, so you can control how each appears and how much real estate they take up in your sidebar.

Third, you can activate the Related Posts feature, which analyzes the words in each post, searches your site for similar posts, and displays them in a “Related” section at the bottom of every post:

related

You can activate the “Related Posts” feature in your dashboard under Settings → Reading. You can choose whether you’d like to display a heading as well as whether to show image thumbnails, in keeping with your blog’s look:

related admin

If you want more control over this type of content, you can manually create a “You May Also Like” section at the end of each post, and display a bullet list of relevant posts you’ve written on the topic. You’ll have to decide on the posts you want to include and put the links in yourself, but you get complete say over what appears.

If you’re feeling especially spry, experiment with shortcodes to build you highlights page — give your favorite posts the tag “highlight,” and use a shortcode to automatically pull them onto the page.

Finally, a great way to drive readers to your archives is to compile a “Best of” page of your favorite and most popular work. Call it “Greatest Hits.” Or “Best of [insert your blog name here].” Then, add it as an item to your custom menu, alongside your About and other important pages, so your visitors can easily access it. It’s a fun way to promote your best work, and you can refresh the list whenever you want — it doesn’t have to be static. You can also go for a one-two punch on your About page, and add a section with your best work. About pages tend to be fairly popular, so it’s an easy way to ensure that those links are highly visible.

Incorporate at least one of these features into your blog today — more than one, if it works for you. Ask questions here, and head to The Commons to chat about the dos and don’ts for each option.

Editor’s Note: Using The Commons and feeling overwhelmed by new post notifications? If you’re following the Commons, head to https://wordpress.com/following/edit/ to modify your settings. Find the 201 Commons and click “Edit” — you’ll be able to turn notifications off entirely, or choose to receive them as daily or weekly digests.

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