Displaying the popular posts of your WordPress website on the sidebar is one of the ways to increase the page views of the site. This is because readers are usually drawn to posts that have a lot of viewers.
And more page views simply means more shares, more engagements and more conversions.
But then again, how you display the popular posts in your WordPress sidebar does matter too. For example, if you just place a bunch of links to the popular posts without any indicators that it’s popular, high chances are that readers will not click on the links. On the other hand, if you display the popular posts in a unique way with some figures to prove how popular it is, high chances are that readers will click on it.
Which is why you will need a plugin for it. There are many popular posts plugin available for free in the WordPress plugin repo. At the same time, there are some premium ones too available in sites like CodeCanyon. It’s a matter of finding the right one that will fit into your WordPress website like the perfect pair of shoes.
To make your life easier, I have taken my time to research and list down the best popular posts plugin in WordPress. With this list, you don’t need to go into panicking-mode to look for one.
This is a free popular posts plugin. It’s also the most used popular posts plugin in WordPress with more than 300,000 active
I’ll tell you why it’s the most used – it’s because it’s fully customizable and super-duper easy to use.
For instance, you can customize its appearance. You can have the thumbnails to appear, the page views to appear, the comment counts to appear, and you can even customize it’s layout if you are good in tweaking the CSS rules.
There’s also some serious sorting options enabled on this plugin. You can sort the popular posts by the number of comments, sort it by the number of views, and sort it by the average views per day. And if you have Disqus as your comment system, this plugin is capable of fetching the comment count from it if sorting based on the number of comments is in your priority list.
There’s even a statistics dashboard which gives you a bigger picture on the popular posts of your WordPress website.
Developed by Ajay D’Souza, Top 10 is another free plugin available in the WordPress plugin repo which has been received well by fellow WordPress developers and website owners. The plugin is currently active in more than 30,000 WordPress websites.
Based on the numbers, it’s quite obvious that the plugin which is listed above is better, but, if you don’t like what you see above, this is your next best bet.
This plugin is also customizable in terms of appearance. Provided that you are good with CSS styles. Otherwise, you will need to settle with the standard appearance, which is not bad at all.
You can also decide how many popular posts to be displayed on the sidebar, decide the time range of the popular posts,
And if you don’t want certain popular posts to be displayed on the sidebar, you can exclude them by specifying the post ID in the plugin settings page.
The developers of this plugin sort of had a different idea in terms of how a popular posts widget should work if compared to the other two plugins above. This is because the widget of this plugin is split into four parts; Popular, Comments, Recent, and Tags.
The Popular part is to display the popular posts, the Comments part is to display the recently commented posts, the Recent part is to display the recently published posts and the Tags part is to display the recent tags.
Readers can easily switch from parts to parts depending on what they want to see.
On the other hand, you as the website owner will be able to eliminate the parts which you think not needed. For example, if you only want the popular posts to be displayed, then you can simply remove the other parts from the plugin’s widget settings area.
These parts are also called tabs due to the tabbed interface which allows multiple panels to be contained within a single window. Hence why the plugin is called WP Tab Widget.
The only downside with this plugin is that you are not able to set a time range for popular posts. It displays them based on total views.