Wordpress & Web Development

Keep Your Blog Readers Engaged & On-Site With The nRelate Plugin [WordPress]

James Bruce 20-05-2012

wordpress pluginsOne problem that faces us as bloggers is how to keep users on the site, how to show them other content they might be interested in. The best way to do this appears to be a “related posts” plugin of some sort; but which to choose?


For a long time, I’ve recommended YARPP (Yet Another Related Posts Plugin), but nRelate is a fairly new contender. Their plugin offers extensive customization options, as well as more features.


Start by searching the WordPress plugin archive for nRelate. There should be 3 results that come up. The first – nRelate Related Content – is the base plugin. Install that now. As you read the rest of the review, you can decide whether or not you want the additional features offered by the other add-on plugins. They are not essential.

wordpress plugins

Standard Features

The basic related content plugin is extremely powerful. Head on over to the dashboard first. Here’s you’ll be presented with some good initial settings, as well as messages about indexation. If you’re not in the habit of setting featured thumbnails, try this plugin to set them all retroactively from the first image found in the post.

On the thumbnail gallery tab, you can choose the display style for your related posts. This is perhaps the most powerful feature of the base plugin, and should really be appreciated by those of you who are less technical with code. There’s a wide variety of styles to choose from, and of course you can always add your own completely custom CSS. Note, the number of posts shown here is for illustrative purposes only.


blog plugin

On the main plugin screen, you can set:

  • Thumbnail size and default images
  • Number of posts to feature
  • Categories to exclude
  • Relevancy strictness (a high strictness means posts will be a better match, but there is a chance none will appear at all if no matches are found).
  • Show posts from partner sites (found in your Blogroll).

It may take a while for the widget to appear on your posts, as your site needs to be indexed. This usually takes less than 2 hours though.

nRelate also offers a sponsored option, whereby you can highlight content from other paying blogs. I can’t comment on the effectiveness or payout of this yet, but if you’d like to sign up to try it out yourself, you need to register as a partner first.


blog plugin

Most Popular Posts

The nRelate Most Popular plugin adds a widget, which uses viewing stats to display most popular posts over a specific time period. I’ve chosen to use this to display 4 of the most popular posts from the last week, displayed on the sidebar. You also add this to the end of posts in addition to related content. The options page is similar to Related Content, so you should have no problem figuring it out.

If you have problems getting the automatic widgets to work, PHP functions are provided to manually add to your template files – I applaud the developers for including this!

Suggested Flyout

Flyout completes the nRelate package, and performs essentially the same function as Related Content, but with a totally different display style. Flyout will pull in a layered pop-up in from the side of the screen when the user gets to a certain point in the post – typically at the end. It can be effective because rather than being a static page element, it’s a call-to-action – immediately prompting the user to do something. Again, everything is highly customisable and can be used to display more than one post if you like.


The Flyout plugin also has an additional styles selection tab:

wordpress plugins

The Competition

YARPP is listed on our Best Of WordPress Plugins The Best WordPress Plugins Read More page, so I’ll start with that. YARPP is entirely self hosted, so all the “relatedness” is stored in your database. This can make it quite intensive for large sites such as MakeUseOf, with 10,000+ posts, each of which must be cross-referenced with every other one when a new post is published.

In terms of customization options, you can create your own templates and adjust the CSS, but this is all done manually. If you’re not proficient with CSS or HTML, customizing is extremely difficult.


For me, nRelate is a far superior option; that’s ignoring the additional features it offers of Flyout and Most Popular.

LinkWithin is another popular choice, but offers even less customization and development appears to have ceased on this years ago. Given the lack of options, it’s difficult recommending this to anyone. There’s also been some SEO issues with this plugin apparently redirecting visitors instead of using internal links.

There is the possibility of additional traffic by linking to other “partner” sites, but there must be a mutual partnership before this occurs.

OutBrain is another recent offering, with about as much customisation as LinkWithin. OutBrain is focused more on analytics and user metrics though, it seems. It also offers monetization through sponsored post highlights if your blog has more than a million pageviews a month. There’s nothing outstanding about it for the average blog though.

I must say, I was skeptical about yet another plugin to display related posts, but nRelate has proudly made its way onto my personal absolute must-have plugins list, and the Best Of pages The Best WordPress Plugins Read More will be updated as such. Even if you already have a related content plugin running that you’re happy with, I strongly suggest you give nRelate a go. You won’t be disappointed.

Let me know what you think of it in the comments, I’d love to hear from some fellow bloggers and I’m happy to help out if you’re having some issues getting it working.

Related topics: Blogging, Wordpress Plugins.

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  1. Christopher Webb-Orenstein
    November 15, 2012 at 6:01 am

    I've been debating whether or not to get this.

  2. Aamir
    November 1, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    I just activated this plugin on my site and currently re-indexing is being performed as I changed the permalink few months ago.

    My main concern is whether I should use the Javascript version of new non-javascript version. Before this plugin I was using YARPP but removed it because it , what I think, was causing keyword stuffing by displaying the related posts.

    What I think is that I should give a try to Javascript mode.

    What do you people think?/

    • Muo TechGuy
      November 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm

      It wouldnt cause keyword stuffing unless your posts are incredibly short, in which case you have real problems regardless of this plugin...

      I think honestly, it doesnt really matter either way. If you want the links indexed, use non-javascript. Thats all.

  3. Kirti Gautam
    July 8, 2012 at 4:54 am

    it is amazing

  4. nico
    July 5, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Is there a way to tally click metrics with nRelate? Outbrain has click numbers and percentages, but I see no way to measure the effectiveness of nRelate.

    • muotechguy
      July 7, 2012 at 8:33 am

      Not that I know of - the reason Outbrain did that is because they transformed links to their own click tracking; it's terrible for SEO. nRelate is far better for seo, but loses that ability it seems. I could be wrong, but I dont see it on my dashboard anywhere either.

  5. Hitesh Nair
    June 17, 2012 at 8:23 am

    It's only OK..

  6. bcd49002f4fdeaff5ea4ba6ddcd9b339
    May 22, 2012 at 1:13 am

    Looks like this is fantastic gadget.

  7. Saqib
    May 21, 2012 at 6:36 am

    So which related post plugin does make use of use? This is unrelated question but I would like to know :)

    • James Bruce
      May 21, 2012 at 7:24 am

      Currently we use YARRP, but we plan to switch to nRelate in the following weeks, mainly because it will strain our servers less than YARPP currently does.

      • Felipe Veiga
        May 21, 2012 at 11:14 pm

        I was inclined by your post to change to the nRelate, however my issue with Outbrain and linked within was the lack of customization (with YARPP I can customize even the thumbnail, cache, threshold of accuracy) which was particularly important for non-english blogs.

        And lastly, but nonetheless, is the use of links to out brain and linked within servers, instead of my own URL.

        • muotechguy
          May 22, 2012 at 10:13 am

          Good concerns to have, and quite valid.

          nRelate is incredibly customization - some might consider the options overwhelming. Thumbnail, and relevancy can be customized; caching is not needed as it's a third party server - no stress on your servers.

          Links are also fine - internal, not via some weird SEO value stealing shortlink.