Why Show Popular Posts in WordPress Sidebar? Well, when a visitor comes to your site, they don’t usually want them to look at a page and then leave. Instead, it’s almost always better for you to keep them on your site, browsing and looking at multiple pages.
There are many reasons for this. If you display any kind of ads, such as Google AdSense, the chances of your visitor clicking on an ad during their visit increases with each page they view. Even if you haven’t monetized your website with ads, a more engaged visitor is more likely to sign up for your mailing list, follow you on social media, or even purchase your services compared to a visitor who bounces right back.
To keep visitors moving around your site, it’s a good idea to practice good internal linking habits. For example, by linking to related content on your blog from each article, you are giving them related information to review. You can use a related posts plugin at the end of your article to dynamically suggest other site content that they might be interested in once they’ve finished reading the article in front of them. Also, your sidebar is a prime place to link to your best content – this is a great place to add links to your most popular posts.
If you are new to WordPress, it can be confusing to add popular articles to the sidebar. However, if you follow the steps below, you will learn the fastest and easiest way to promote your most successful content to your readers on every page of your website, right from the WordPress sidebar.
How to Show Popular Posts in WordPress Sidebar with Jetpack
Jetpack is a plugin from the creators of WordPress, Automattic, that contains a ton of extra features that don’t come with WordPress by default. One of those additional features is some extra widgets that you can use on your site, including a popular posts widget.
Using this widget is the easiest way to display the links to the most popular articles on your website, especially if you are already planning to install Jetpack.
So let’s get started with our guide on how to display popular posts in the WordPress sidebar. If Jetpack is already installed and configured, you can skip to step two.
1. Install Jetpack
If you use the WordPress installer provided by your web host, Jetpack is usually included and activated automatically with the base installation; you just have to connect it with your WordPress.com account to activate it.
If it’s not there, just go to Plugins / Add New and it will be in the “Featured” plugins list. Click on “Install now”, and then on “Activate plugin”:
You will see a bright green banner at the top of the Plugins page asking you to connect to WordPress.com. This allows Jetpack services running through its servers to function on your website. This includes the modules site statistics and Advertising . Click the “Connect with WordPress.com” button:
If you don’t have a WordPress.com account, it will guide you through the account creation process. If you have it, and have recently connected to it, it will ask you if you want to connect to that account. If so, click “Approve”:
Jetpack will then prompt you to “Jump Start”, which activates the recommended features. You can click the blue button to get started quickly, or click “Skip” if you prefer to customize the settings you want to turn on or off. Either way, you can edit the settings later, so unless you’re already familiar with Jetpack, I’d suggest just clicking “Jump Start”:
On the next screen, you can edit which settings are on or off and edit them if you wish:
2. Configure your widgets
Now that you’ve installed Jetpack, connected to WordPress.com, and configured your settings, we’re ready to display popular posts in the WordPress sidebar.
navigate to Appearance / Widgets . This is where you can drag and drop elements into the sidebar and footer. Each theme is a little different and some have many widget areas while others have only a few.
Scroll through the list of available widgets until you see one called “Top Posts & Pages (Jetpack)”:
Drag this widget to the sidebar settings at the top of the page. It will expand to reveal a full set of options for how you would like to display popular posts in the WordPress sidebar:
From the top, there are a number of settings you can change to customize the look of your popular post sidebar widget.
The title is optional. If you don’t enter a title for the widget, it will simply appear in your sidebar without a title. If you want to add a title, some example titles you can use are “Popular”, “Trending” or “Top 5”.
The following chart determines how many popular articles appear in the sidebar, up to ten. Remember that the more articles you include, the longer this section of the sidebar will be, especially if you choose to include images. Whatever you choose, make sure to view some of your shorter pages and posts so the sidebar doesn’t extend ridiculously beyond the page content.
The next option allows you to choose which types of content to include in the sidebar. If your website is configured as a blog, with most of the content added as Posts, I recommend that you uncheck pages here.
The final option has the most impact on how your widget will look.
«Text list» is the simplest and most self-explanatory option; it will simply display a list of links.
“List of images” is probably the most popular option, displaying the title of the post and a thumbnail of the featured image of each post.
“Image Grid” will skip the post title altogether and only display a grid of featured images – which users can hover over to see the titles.
Here’s an example of what your widget setup might look like once it’s complete:
If you want to customize where popular posts appear and don’t appear, you can adjust these settings by clicking the “Visibility” button.
Click “Save” and you’re good to go. Now you can visit your website to see your new and popular post sidebar widget.
Now you know how to display popular posts in WordPress sidebar. Displaying links to popular articles in your sidebar is a great way to encourage visitors to stay and see more of your website. The Top Posts & Pages widget Jetpack is one of the easiest ways to add this functionality to your WordPress website.
It’s worth mentioning that your list of popular posts may take a while to update. It is based on the last day or two of site statistics so if a post suddenly spikes in traffic, it likely won’t show up in your sidebar for a few hours at least.
What is your favorite way to display popular posts in the WordPress sidebar – with Jetpack, or do you prefer another plugin? Share your favorite method in the comments below!