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A while ago I was doing some research into how I could better design the layout of my blog to encourage new visitors to read more posts, rather than just bouncing away (i.e. leaving after reading one post).
I already used a plug-in called YARRP (Yet Another Related Posts Plug-in), to show a list of posts that were similar to the one the reader was looking at. Although I found this blog post describing how you could customise your related posts layout to include thumbnail images for each post.
Depending on your PHP & CSS skills, the customisation could either take you 20 minutes to implement, or a whole evening. It also depends on what formatting problems your theme has would would need working around. In my case, I think it took me five hours, on and off. My CSS skills were a little rusy, and my theme had an issue which made different posts have different issues. So it took a lot of systematic experimentation to mess around with CSS margins to make sure everything stayed where it was supposed to be!
Note that you need to be self-hosting to be able to do this one.
You’ll be able to see the results of my implementation of this at the bottom of the page, and it I have noticed an objective benefit in having done this. According to Google Analytics, comparing the month before and the month after making this change, my bounce rate fell by 4.4%, my page views per visit ratio increased by 3.4%, and my average time per visit went up by 25%.
Doing this hasn’t gained me more visitors, but that’s not the point. From where ever they come, this layout change is designed to make your visitors stick around and see more of your work. Going by the above results, it really does seem to work.
So, all that’s left to say is thanks to Zach at buildinternet.com for posting about this, as it’s been a good help to me.