Get Sticky with Thumbnails: 5 WordPress Related Posts Plugins Compared


Everyone knows that  a “sticky” site is what you want. The longer your visitors stay around, the more likely they are to do whatever it is you would eventually like them to do. When they stick around, it also means they like you, and so they are more likely to remember you and come back for more.

Perhaps one of the best ways to draw visitors to more content on your site is to attract their eyes with thumbnails from related posts.

In this comparison, we’ll give you a rundown of five plugins that do just that, outlining the pros and cons of each. You’ll also want to check out the comparison chart at the end.

5 Related Posts Plugins with Thumbnails

1. IGIT Related Posts With Thumb Image After Post (Download it here.)

The IGIT Related Posts plugin has a lot of very nice options, allowing you to size thumbnails, display thumbnails horizontally or vertically, choose the number of thumbnails, choose the background color, choose font size and color, and more.

OPTIONS MENU

HORIZONTAL DISPLAY

VERTICAL DISPLAY

Nicest features: It allows you to choose horizontal or vertical positioning. Lots of styling options.

Biggest drawbacks: Doesn’t always do a great job resizing certain images. Seems there is no option to display excerpts.

(Download it here.)


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 2. Related Posts Thumbnails  (Download it here.)

The Related Posts Thumbnails plugin has a number of nice options such as showing thumbnails on pages and attachments in addition to posts, including a date function to show post only after a certain date, determining the number of thumbnails to include, styling options such as background color and border color, text length, and the ability to decide how the related posts are chosen: by category, tags, categories and tags, random, or custom. It also allows you to choose the source the thumbnails.

OPTIONS MENU

DISPLAY


Nicest features: Allows you to choose how to get related posts. Lots of styling options.

Biggest drawbacks:  Shows large, horizontal strips of the images, which can be nice in many cases; however, in some cases, it is difficult to know what the picture is. Seems there is no option to display excerpts.

 (Download it here.)


3.  Smart Related Posts Thumbnails (Download it here.)

The Smart Related Posts Thumbnails plugin has fewer options than the first two plugins, but it seems to do the trick. It allows three different sizes and gives an open option for the number of thumbnails to display. The one nice feature about this plugin is that it give you a smooth pop-up excerpt on roll-over.

In addition, this plugin seems to take its thumbnails from images inside the posts, not the “featured image” of the post. It does a nice job of resizing the images.

OPTIONS MENU

DISPLAY

Nicest features: Does a nice job of resizing large thumbnails and also has a nice mouse-over pop-up excerpt.

Biggest drawback: Not many styling options.

(Download it here.)


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4.  Wp-Thumbie – Related Posts with Thumbnails for WordPress (Download it here.)

The WP-Thumbie plugin allows you to control the number of thumbnails, the size of the thumbnails, the length of the text, turn excerpts on or off, include or exclude pages, and it allows you to exclude certain categories.

OPTIONS MENU

DISPLAY

Nicest features:  Does a nice job of resizing images, and it allows you to turn excerpts on or off.

Biggest drawback: Not as many styling options as some of the others, but it seems to have the basics covered.

 (Download it here.)


5. KC Related Posts By Category  (Download it here.)

The KC Related Post by Category plugin does just what it says — pulls in related posts by category. For some, this simple plugin may be just the ticket if that’s what you’re looking for.

OPTIONS MENU

DISPLAY

Nicest features: Does a nice job of resizing images.

Biggest drawback: Not many options. No excerpts. Has a horizontal and a vertical option; however, the vertical option doesn’t show thumbnails.


RECAP – Comparison Chart

LINKS

  1. IGIT
  2. Related
  3. Smart
  4. WP Thumbie
  5. KC

Is There a Winner?

If I had to pick a winner of this bunch, for my money I would have to say WP-Thumbie. Although it doesn’t come with as many options as some, it does two things that I think are very important: It resizes the images nicely so that you can always tell what the full picture looks like, and it gives you the option to include excerpts.

The Smart Related Posts plugin does show excerpts in a pop-up, which seems fine to me; however, because the layout is horizontal, the titles get bunched up under the images and look somewhat ragged, in my opinion. If you are looking for a horizontal display, or you don’t care about showing excerpts, then another may be your choice.

The one caveat that needs to be mentioned here is that only time will tell how well the “related posts” are related for ALL of these plugins. If you know of a good related thumbnail plugin that isn’t mentioned here, let us know in the comments.

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(Thanks to FotoosVanRobin for the image.)

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Comments (22)

  1. I don’t know why you didn’t look at either Link Within or nRelate. They do the indexing off-site and are relatively flexible. I haven’t done much work at all trying to customize nRelate as it is pretty much the way I want it.

    But the best thing about nRelate is the quality of their support. Their support is as good or better than any other plugin or service I use, and I use several. Highly recommend you consider nRelate. Mike…

  2. @ Brad – Not sure what WPMU uses. I’ll have to ask.

    @ Mike and Marko – Thanks for the heads up on nRelate. I’ll have to check them out. I just looked briefly at the site. It saw where it says you can enable advertising, but can you use them without ads?

    • Hi Joe,

      Yes, you can use them without ads. The ads are optional and you have to register for the Ad program first. I haven’t signed up yet – maybe at a later time with more content on my site as well as more traffic I’ll look into it some more.

      The options do look flexible enough, though. You can select the number of ads, their placement (First spot, last or random) and if you want to show a “sponsored” animation to differentiate the ads from your own related content.

  3. hi there,

    I really liked this comparison but am looking for a follow-up post :-)

    how about adding some criteria when looking at the contenders?

    i.e.
    – do they allow custom relations instead of the automatic posts matching?
    – what type of output do they create, i.e. wrap the outpu in li tags or offer a sliding related posts feature?

  4. Brad – I think you will need a YouTube plugin. I have played around with a few in the past, and I think you might be able to do what you’re asking (or at least get close). I’m not sure exactly which plugin you’d need. You’ll have to research them and see. I know there are plugins where you can target individual YT channels, and possibly even tags within that channel, but I don’t know if you can do it on a post-by-post basis. (But maybe you can.) Or maybe you could get a plugin modified to do exactly what you’re looking for. In any case, the plugins in this post above won’t do what you’re looking for. Look for a Youtube plugin.

    • Sandy – To be honest, it’s been a while since this post, and so I can’t remember exactly. While the sidebar can be a good place, I would think directly under the post is also a good place (possibly even better). Many people may see the related thumbnails and excerpts as part of the post itself.

  5. Hi!

    If I may recommend my fairly new plugin, Related Posts Lite: https://wordpress.org/plugins/related-posts-lite/

    By developing this plugin I tried to solve the fundamental issues with these types of plugins, which is the high database usage. The plugin uses a built in caching system, and highly optimized database queries. I hope some of you might find it useful.

    It’s interesting to see how some of the plugins you mentioned in your article are still in development, 3 years later :)

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