Early last month (October), I was reading Dave Lucas's blog article EntreCard Effect and noticed that he had mentioned that his traffic tripled since EntreCard closed. Dave attributed this growth to LinkWithin and Outbrain. As I was not familiar with either of these, I performed a Google search and found another post by Dave (Righthaven DMCA LinkWithin) where he welcomed LinkWithin back on his blog.
At this point, I visited both the Outbrain and LinkWithin websites and learned that these were 3rd party widgets that can be added to your blog and will display the pretty "You might also like" references the bottom of each post. I then remembered reading about this topic a while ago on Sharkbytes's My Quality Day. So I checked her blog and Dickster's Random Thoughts and found that both of these were displaying the related articles as well.
So, in my haste, I registered with Outbrain and added the widget to my 4 blogs. Within a short time, these were displaying my own related links. However, many of my early blog posts did not contain pictures, so Outbrain often presented this content simply as a list of links.
When I compared this to the blogs above, I saw that the also had nice little pictures along with the title of the blog post. Then, I realized that everyone else was using LinkWithin and not Outbrain.
Outbrain & LinkWithin
Unsure which was better, I decided to remove Outbrain from 2 blogs and replace it with LinkWithin. At first, I was happy with the results, but I wanted to display 4 links on one blog rather than 3. In order to do this, I had to re-install the widget again. However, after I did this, I found that both blogs now had 4 related article links. This meant that all would have either 3 or 4 articles. I settled on the four of them.
I waited 1 month and then checked my Webmaster and Analytics statistics. Neither of these showed an increase in traffic. While the actual visitor traffic remained constant, the appearance in Google Search results decreased substantially.
Further, I found that Outbrain had less images than LinkWithin, so I liked LinkWithin better. But, LinkWithin was redirecting my traffic back to their site, which I did not like.
Thus, I decided to see if there was an alternative to these two, and found the blog article: Switch from LinkWithin to nRelate which described the pros and cons of LinkWithin and nRelate.
Figuring that I was still experimenting, I decided to remove the Outbrain and LinkWithin widgets and replace them with nRelate.
Almost immediately, I found that nRelate was a better solution for my 4 blogs.
- First, I was able to custom tailor the layout of each widget according to the space available on my blogs (3 blogs display 4 results, and 1 blog displays 5).
- Second, I was able to change the size of the graphic images being displayed.
- Third, nRelate displays "stock" icons on those posts that do not contain their own graphics (so there is always an image).
- Fourth, I have the ability to display paid ads to generate income payable to Paypal (however, Outbrain also lets you display paid ads).
- And fifth, the "related posts" being displayed were relevant to the current post. This means that if someone is reading an Entrecard post, they will see other related Entrecard articles of mine as well. However, the drawback here is that the initial indexing of the blog can take up to 2 hours before the "You may also like -" results appear.
Lastly, I like the fact that I can choose to display paid ads in these widgets. This provides an opportunity to increase income without having to do any more work.