Ever since Barry announced that he’s working on a related posts plugin, I’ve been keeping track of the project. Now that it’s available, the reviews for the free plugin have been five stars all the way, so there must be something good in it, right?
The one thing that has always been a challenge for related posts plugins, is performance. Related Posts for WordPress makes a bold statement about that:
Related Posts for WordPress won’t lag your server!
We don’t think having related posts should slow down your website. That’s why Related Posts for WordPress creates its own cache and does all the heavy lifting in the admin panel, keeping your website fast as it should be!
So it’s free, gets five star reviews all the time and is not making my site any slower? Sounds too good to be true? Well, the new premium version of the plugin adds even more juice. It offers related posts for all (including custom) post types, support for all (custom) taxonomies and themes for the output of the related posts (no coding required).
Easily add related posts to any website
The Related Posts for WordPress plugin is designed to making it as easy as possible for the end user. You activate the plugin, follow the wizard which will make the initial relations between your posts and you are done. The default settings make it work in almost any theme right away and you don’t need to worry about complicated settings or anything like that.
Performance for related posts
I like to keep websites as fast as possible. When I think about related posts, I think about extra queries to the database and doing a lot of hard work to find posts that are related to the current one. For some reason, this has always been an issue for other existing related posts plugins. To be fair, I haven’t tested all of them recently, but they all calculated the related posts on the fly (caching the results as well, so they don’t need to calculate on every page load).
What’s different about this with Related Posts for WordPress, is that this plugin only does these queries and calculations in the backend of your site, while you are working on the posts in your admin panel. After the initial wizard, the plugin does all the heavy lifting when you save a new post and your visitors won’t notice any slowdowns. To me, this is one of the best parts of this plugin.
Related posts for all your (custom) post types
The free version offers related posts for the default posts in WordPress. This will add a list of related posts right below each post, triggering your visitors to read more of your content.
If you want to offer the same possibilities with your post types, possibly even custom post types, the premium version offers this as well. You can add related posts to any post type you want, in the same way it works with posts.
The premium version also takes your custom taxonomies into account when determining related posts, where the free plugin only uses default categories and tags. Should you be using an extra taxonomy to organise your content, then it will be really beneficial to get the premium version.
Decisions over options
If you have seen one of the other existing related posts plugins, you’ve probably also seen their settings pages. The free version of the Related Posts for WordPress plugin gives you almost no options and makes a lot of decisions for you. It determines what the most important fields of your posts are when it comes to finding related content for it.
The premium version of the plugin offers you a couple extra settings to customise all this. You can for example make the title more (or less) important, by adjusting the weights of those areas:
Easy to customise
As a developer, I like to tinker with the code of the plugins I use. Related Posts for WordPress makes me a happy developer by having a really well structured plugin, from the file structure all the way to the code comments.
When I started using the plugin, I didn’t like the position of the related posts in my theme by default. I wanted to show the related posts in the sidebar of my theme. It was really easy to find the ‘rp4wp_append_content’ filter in the code and used that to hide the related posts below my content. Adding the widget was all there was left for me to do and I had it working exactly as I wanted to.
This means that you’ll have to be a little code savvy to customise the output just the way you want it to. The default settings are, I said before, very good, so it will be plug & play for most use cases.
Change the styling, or use the bundled themes
As soon as you have the related posts positioned the way you want them, you might want to style them a little to your needs. The HTML of the related posts comes with a couple handy classes that make it super easy for you to write some lines of CSS to tweak the output.
In the premium version of the plugin, there are a couple themes available that enable you to show the related posts in multiple columns without having to change a single line of code.
The premium version of the plugin also allows you to override its templates, if your theme has a need for it. Some themes have unique ways of showing content and overrides make it possible to fully integrate the plugin with any theme.
Verdict: Is it worth a purchase?
There are some use cases where the free plugin will be enough. If you just want to add a list of related posts below each post of your blog, you probably don’t need the premium version.
As soon as you have extra post types or taxonomies you want to use, or want to tweak the algorithm that determines what posts are related, you definitely want to get the premium version. It’s currently priced at $29 per site, which is an absolute bargain if you ask me, based on the awesome features you get.
Related Posts for WordPress is the best related posts plugin out there at this moment; it’s super easy to use and customise and won’t hurt the performance of your site in anyway.
PS: Yes, this post contains affiliate links to the premium version of the plugin. If you purchase the plugin through one of my links, I earn a small commission fee. I did not get paid to publish this review. The review reflects my honest opinion about the plugin and is not affected by this affiliate deal.