A Simple WordPress Trick that Makes You Look Smarter

A Simple WordPress Trick that Makes You Look Smarter

Let’s face it—present company excluded, of course—we’re not all geniuses all the time. We have our good days and our bad days, our shining moments and our duller ones, our good posts and our not-always-so-absolutely-stellar-go-tell-your-mama posts. … Some of us anyway.

Your regular visitors will forgive you the occasional not-so-stellar post. But what about new visitors? If they don’t know that your hair doesn’t always look like that, and your breath doesn’t always smell like that, they might get the wrong impression.

But there’s an easy solution to this problem. Simply put your best foot forward, especially to new visitors. And the way to do that on WordPress is to highlight your better posts in a prominent position with a section called “Featured Posts” or “Best Of,” etc. In this way, when new visitors arrive on your site and begin looking around, they will be nudged in the direction of you on your bests days, your smartest days, if you will.

3 Ways to Highlight Your Best Posts

There are lots of ways you can highlight your best posts–from making a simple menu to installing a slider plugin and really drawing the attention of your visitors. No matter which you choose, you will need to decide how you are going to implement it. And so below we will go over three different ways of implementation, each slightly more difficult than the one before it (but also with more benefits).

1. The Easiest Way

The easiest way to highlight your best posts is to simple make a custom menu for them via the WordPress menu system, and then drop that menu into a prominent position on the sidebar.

A slightly more involved way, but still in this category of “very easy,” is to install a slider plugin and then use that to present your best posts.

Different sliders work in different ways. One of the most common ways they function is by displaying a certain category of your choice. If that’s the case, then just make a category title “Featured” or “Best Of” (or whatever you’d like to call these posts), and then just put the posts in that category (as well as their original categories) when you want to highlight them.

A few popular WordPress sliders:


 2. A Slightly More Involved Way

The second way is slightly more involved because it uses the Dynamic Widgets plugin.  

The Dynamic Widgets plugin lets you make any widget conditional. In other words, you can choose to show a widget or not depending on certain conditions, such as whether the user is on the home page or a post page or a category page, etc. But you can also choose to show a widget or not depending on whether the user is logged in or not, and so that’s how we’re going to use it.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This plugin only controls widgets. As long as it’s a widget, you can make it conditional. So if you are using a slider plugin, for example, make sure that you can control the position of the slider via widgets. Of the three sliders mentioned above, only the first two are widget sliders (Smooth Slider and Content Slider by SlideDeck).

So let’s say we’re going to show a Featured Posts Menu with our top posts in it, but we’re only going to show that widget to visitors who aren’t logged in. The reasoning here is that if they ARE logged in, then they are already probably pretty familiar with your content.

Once you have your widget set up and your Dynamic Widgets plugin installed, you will need go to your widgets section and click on “Static” in the widget box.

This will take you to the Dynamic Widgets control panel where you can control who sees the widget. In our case, we’re going to show it only to visitors not logged in.

The Dynamics Widget plugin lets you choose other options as well, such as showing the widget on certain pages but not on others.

Again, you can find the Dynamic Widgets plugin here.

 3. The Most Involved Way

The only problem with the solution above (#2) is that, depending on your site, you might have regular visitors to your site that never register for your site. In that case, your regular visitors will be seeing your “Featured Content” widget all the time. That may not be bad (and, in fact, may be good), but if you would prefer to use that space to show your regular visitors something else, you’re going to need a more involved solution.

The BTBuckets plugin is such a solution.

The BTBuckets plugin works in much the way that the Dynamic Widgets plugin described above does; however, it is able to recognize whether a visitor is a returning visitor or a new visitor, regardless of whether or not they are logged in. It does this with the use of cookies.

The reason why the BTBuckets is more involved is because you can’t just download it and turn it on. You need to register with the BTBuckets site, get an API code to put into the plugin, and then also put a snippet of code in your header.

The company behind BTBuckets present themselves this way:

“BTBuckets is a free personalization and on-site behavioral targeting tool that allows websites to increase engagement and ultimately maximize conversion rate optimization in real-time, by segmenting and targeting strategic user groups.”

For some, the API and the code snippet may be more involved than they’re comfortable with, but this plugin does seem to offer the advantage of targeting different visitors in a more exact way.

You can find the BTBuckets plugin here.

(Note: I looked long and hard for a plugin that had similar capabilities yet wasn’t quite as intrusive, but I couldn’t find one. I even tried playing around with plugin combinations such as using the “Who Sees Ads” plugins with various sliders, but it seems injecting PHP into “Who Sees Ads” is something the author felt carried too many risks. If you know of a similar plugin, please mention it in the comments.)

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

Regardless of which solution you go with, putting your best foot forward by highlighting stellar content is a smart thing do because, well, making yourself look smart is usually always a smart thing to do.


(Thanks to ralph and jenny for the image. Thanks to AMagill for the image.)