There are really very few problems with WordPress, let’s face it. The platform is designed well, there are frequent updates, there’s a great number of superb themes (hint!), and a similar number of equally superb plugins, and so on, BUT praising WordPress is not exactly the topic here. There is one serious problem after all, I’m afraid. And it’s not so obvious at first.
The problem: Your posts are visible only when they’re freshly published.
Once two weeks have passed your post ends up somewhere on the 2nd or 3rd page, buried under newer entries. And in most cases it is never to be seen again.
If you’re spending any serious amount of time on crafting your posts – you know, quality content and stuff – then you naturally want them to be seen by as many people as possible.
First of all, if you have a news site then it’s not a problem. News naturally age quite fast and WordPress can only help with that. So if that’s the case, you can stop reading right here.
However, if you really do want to give your content some additional attention, I hope I can be of some help.
The obvious methods
Let’s start with the obvious methods (although it’s not the main thing I want to show you in this post) because I want to keep the message complete, so bear with me.
Simply use your sidebar (widgets), plugins, and create custom resource pages.
The thing with using your sidebar is quite obvious, so I’m sure you get the idea. You basically include some widgets pointing to your previous posts. The only downside is that those widgets don’t usually update on their own.
When it comes to plugins, I have four of those to recommend:
This plugin enables a widget that displays the most popular posts on your blog. You can set what the rules are for deciding what’s popular and what’s not.
Why not use social media to give your posts a new life, right? This plugin takes a look into your archives, picks a post, and tweets it to your followers (automatically).
This plugin automatically links keywords and phrases in your posts with corresponding posts and pages on your blog. Apart from focusing attention on your older posts it also improves your on-page SEO through internal linking.
The plugin displays a list of posts and pages related to the current entry. You can display this list as a widget or use a custom placement code (you have to edit your template files for this).
The last item on the obvious list are custom resource pages. In essence, a custom resource page is like any other page, only the content is somewhat specific.
The idea is that you create a page with just a little copy and many various links to related content. Remember that the page needs to follow a certain theme.
Like for example, if you have a guitar blog and a lot of posts on playing guitar chords, why not create a resource page about playing guitar chords. The page could contain some introductory paragraphs, links to all of your posts about chords, and even some bonus content. There’s also place for some affiliate links and such if you’re into those things.
You can then take such a page and link to it from your main menu or the sidebar.
Another benefit is that custom resource pages can reach good rankings in search engines if you spend some time optimizing them.
The clever methods
Maybe not that clever, but surely different.
First of all, nothing kills your post more than an old publication date. People simply tend to think that if something has been published a long time ago then it’s not relevant any more.
So my first advice is this: Don’t display the publication date next to the post’s headline. You can display it just above the comment form if you want to. Or, you can remove it altogether.
Note. Here I’m talking about the full post view (the single.php file, for example). Your listings (index.php and so on) can still show the publication date.
Another clever method is to provide a good archives page.
The standard archives page in WordPress is a mess … sorry, it had to be said. It buries your content just as much as any other listing does.
The only way out of this is to create a custom archives page. This, however, is not that simple, so this time I’m just going to leave you with the idea and send you over to my other post about the topic if you want to get some more in-depth info: using a custom WordPress archive page.
The final method on the clever list is the following piece of custom PHP code.
This time we’re taking care of the main index.php listing. Your homepage is naturally the place where you want to show some of your older posts, among their younger brothers and sisters.
However, most index.php files are set up in a way that they display a simple list of the most recent posts, with no place for anything else. Here’s where we break this pattern.
The idea is that we create some space right after the first post listing and display a random archive post as the second one.
Take your default index.php file and proceed with this:
- Find the loop.
- Include “$first_post_marker = true;” just above the loop.
- Locate the closing “endwhile;” of the loop.
- Include the following code directly above this “endwhile;”:
if($first_post_marker && strlen($_SERVER[‘REQUEST_URI’]) < 2) //to make sure that we’re on the first page
$week = date(‘W’);
$whatyear = date(‘Y’)-1;
$custom_query = new WP_Query( ‘year=’ . $whatyear . ‘&w=’ . $week . ‘&orderby=rand’); //random entry from the archive; same week, only one year back
Here’s where you display your post, use the same formatting you’re using in the main loop.
Usually calls like: “the_title();” and “the_content(”);” and so on.
break; //we only need one post
$first_post_marker = false;
The code may look complicated, but it’s actually quite simple. I’m positive you’ll get a grasp of it very quickly.
There surely are many more ways of un-burying your archive posts, and this guide presents only a handful of ideas. It’s obviously not the maximum you can do, but it’s always a start.
I, personally, have noticed a significant improvement in traffic after introducing this last piece of code to my blog. Visitors who come to my homepage are simply more convinced to click the second listing on the page, rather than to go through the archives manually.
What’s your take on this? Do you have any insights of your own on how to un-bury old content?