Review and How to Use: Related Posts Featured in the Jetpack Plugin Suite

Related Posts Featured in the Jetpack Plugin Suite
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One alternative to the nRelate plugin is an easy to use interface, only takes a few minutes to configure, and you might even have access to that plugin right now. That plugin is Related Posts and it’s a feature of Jetpack.

Today, I will explain how this plugin works, looks, and might thoughts on this plugin.

How Does Related Posts Work?

Related Posts Featured in JetPack

Related Posts works by scanning your posts, analyzing, and then displays contextual posts your readers might be interested in. Once activated, the plugin analysis, processing, and serves the results via their cloud. This means, there is no additional load on your web server.

Many of the related article plugins do all that the processing on your own web host. When this happens, the processing can put a huge strain on the webserver. Because that, many web hosts have band many of these plugins from use.

How to Setup and Configure Related Posts

Related Posts Featured in JetPack

Setting up the Related Post plugin is simple. Its even more simple if you already have the JetPack.Me plugin installed. Then all you have to do is go into the settings and click on the feature you want to activate or deactivate.

If you do not have Jetpack installed on your system. Then all you have to do is to download the plugin, activate it, and select the features you want to use on your site.

Once you have the plugin installed and activated, go into the Settings >>> Select Reading >>> and scroll down to Related Posts.

Related Posts Featured in JetPack

By default you will find that the thumbnail preview images are not active. To activate them, just select “Use a large and visually striking layout

Related Posts Featured in JetPack

Once activated, related posts  then will display three related articles with thumbnails. These are the only easy configurable changes you can make. To make more changes to the look and feel of this plugin, you will have to go into the code and make changes. Check out this document to learn how to make those changes.

Related Posts Featured in JetPack

The above image, was taken from a recent review I did on my personal site. For demo purposes, I used a review article I wrote. So the results displayed three more reviews the visitors might want to read.

Information Needed to Use Related Posts

There are few things you need to make this plugin work successfully on your site..

  • To avoid cross-linking, you must have 10 published posts for related content to appear.
  • Related content is generated based on tags, categories, and the content within the article.
  • Related Posts uses WordPress.com infrastructure and mirrors your content there for indexing. If you have intermittent issues that affect only certain posts, request an reindex of your site. This can be done through Jetpack >>> Debug (link in the footer) >>> Reindex
  • The article’s feature image will be the thumbnail used for the related content. If a featured image is not selected, the first image in the body of the article will be used.
  • The thumbnails will be resized and cropped atomically using Photon to 350px wide by 200px tall for consistent visual display.
  • There is no way to tell the system how to crop the image. It does it automatically.
  • If your images are hosted on other sites, those images MUST be publicly accessible. The WordPress.com servers will pull the image and scale it to the right size

My Thoughts on the Related Posts Plugin Featured in Jetpack

When I heard the news about nRelate shutting down services at the end of 2014, I had to share the news on WPLeaders and find an alternative solution to serving up related articles on the sites operate.

I decided Related Posts was easiest to install and configure, I would set it up and review it first. Below are my findings and thoughts on the plugin

My Findings

As mentioned before, its easy to setup and configure. Took about two minutes to activate, configure, and test the plugin before I was satisfied with how it looked on my site.

So far I haven’t noticed a strain or any issues with the related content being served on the site. Since the plugin does the heavy lifting via an offsite service, there’s no strain on the server. The service does a pretty good job at selecting the related content and it will work for most sites.

As for the looks, it doesn’t look as good as nRelate and doesn’t have the options to add more articles the results. To add more content, you would have to go into the code and tell it to serve up more content. But that’s only if the system will do it.

The whole display needs a redesign. The way it adds the article name and category/tag under the thumbnail takes up to much as and doesn’t look as good. It would look better with the title overlaid the thumbnail and the category removed all together.

If you want to change the related content section to something other than “related” you can uncheck the title. Nothing else is an option. You will have to recode it to make those changes!

My Thoughts

If the design issues were resolved and more options were added, this would be a great plugin to replace nRelate. If you do not need a flashy related content plugin, then this is the plugin for you. If you need more options, you will have to look elsewhere.

For someone that doesn’t code or doesn’t have the time to code, having to go into the code to make changes unacceptable. If those changes are needed and they have to pay someone to do it, would cost to much and they will look elsewhere.

Would I recommend this Plugin?

It depends, if simple is all that is needed. Then use it, I would recommend this plugin and I would even run a few sites that do not need the extra features.

If you need more and can code those changes yourself, then I would recommend this plugin. If the changes you have mind are complicated, you might want to reach out to their support staff and see if its possible.

If you can make those changes yourself, then I would look at the different options out there. Maybe one of those will work better for you…

Pros

  • No Server Load
  • Accurate
  • Easy to Install
  • Easy to Configure
  • Part of Jetpack

Cons

  • Lack of Design
  • Next to No Features
  • Uses to Much Space in the Article
  • Need Coding Skills to Make Changes

Jetpack Related Posts

Summary: Jetpack Related Posts works by scanning your posts, analyzing, and then displays contextual posts your readers might be interested in. Once activated, the plugin analysis, processing, and serves the results via their cloud.

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Jack Yan
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on 2015-06-11 08:27:11

I love the idea behind Related Posts, as sometimes our sites can cause a bit of server load. The trouble is getting it to work. Even without any customizations, it wouldn’t display. We have five different WordPress sites, and none of them will show Related Posts. They each have different configurations, so it’s surprising to me that we haven’t come across anyone else with the same bug.

I made an interesting discovery: if I add ?wtf or anything after a question mark, the Related Posts will appear. I can’t explain this, and neither can anyone on the WordPress support forums so far. We also can’t get a consistent thumbnail size, but I would rather we showed the correct proportions of the images anyway.

The support, however, has been fantastic. Jeremy, the author of the plug-in, has been patient in responding to me and suggesting fixes. While we haven’t got there yet, he identified some other faults with one of our sites, and thanks to him we got those fixed. It hasn’t fixed Related Posts yet, but I still consider that a win.



Olaf Lederer
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on 2015-01-08 02:51:48

Right, JetPack Related comments are great until you need to customize them!
That's the problem with most of the Jetpack stuff, it works out of the box and it s___s if it comes to customizations. If they provide an option where I'm able to use a custom template, I would use theme on every blog. A hook might be cool too 🙂



Hesham Zebida
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on 2014-12-29 23:06:48

Hey James, thank you for the detailed review.

I am a fan of how Jetpack works in general, and I would recommend such functionality as related posts.



About the Author James Johnston

James spends most of his free time using social media and loves to teach others about design, web development, CSS, SEO, and social media. He is addicted to WordPress, social media, and technology. You can reach him on his, personal website.

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