Bibblio Review: Maybe The Best WordPress Related Posts Plugin
When you’re running a website, you should always be seeking out ways to get your visitors more engaged.
I mean, you spend so much time finding ways to get traffic to your website, it’s a shame to let people get away after they read a single piece of content, right?
There are all kinds of strategies to increase engagement, but one of the best methods is showing quality related content. This is something the big guys like Netflix and Amazon are well aware of, which is why they invest huge into ways to serve up optimized content recommendations.
It’s no different for your WordPress site.
If you can show visitors posts that are truly related to the content they’ve just read, they’ll be more likely to stick around and engage with your site.
Bibblio helps you do just that on your WordPress site. It lets you display highlight relevant content without hurting your site’s performance.
In my Bibblio review, I’ll give you a deeper look at how this tool works, as well as how it performs.
In general, I’m a big fan of this product, so you should definitely give this one a read.
Update: I originally wrote this review in February 2018. Since then, Bibblio has added some new features that give you more control over which related posts display, and we’ve also started using Bibblio here at WPLift (you can probably see it in action on this very page!). As a result, I’ve updated this Bibblio review in September 2018 and September 2020 to account for those new features.
Bibblio Review: What The Technology Does
Bibblio is a related posts tool which means its core function is, obviously, helping you display related posts.
So how does it come up with the related posts to display?
It uses machine learning algorithms that, in theory, are constantly learning and improving. I know that’s kind of jargony. But done well, it should result in better content recommendations. In the hands-on section of the review, you can see what kinds of suggestions Bibblio comes up with, as I’ll use it on a regular site.
In the latest version of Bibblio, you can now also:
- Choose between different algorithms for which posts to display. For example, you can have Bibblio prioritize displaying the most popular posts (that are still relevant). Or, you could have it ignore popularity and just display the most relevant posts no matter what (i.e. without factoring in popularity).
- Prioritize more recent posts over older posts (optional). This is another neat way to control which related posts show up.
- Group your content into separate catalogues and recommend them separately, so you can drive more traffic to specific content types such as custom posts, e-commerce pages, e-books, etc.
Then, to display those suggestions, you have some more options:
- Flexible module placement. Bibblio makes it easy to display related posts via widget or shortcode.
- Thumbnail support. Bibblio will automatically use a post’s featured image as a thumbnail
- Different design options. You can choose from over 150 different module combinations to control how things look. This is another one of Bibblio’s strong points – you can switch up aspect ratios, choose what text to display, control hover effects, and more.
And other relevant features you might want to look at include:
- Impression and CTR analytics to monitor the recommendations’ effectiveness – super cool
- Easy custom post type support – no need to dig into code like other plugins
- Exclusion rules to omit certain posts from being displayed
- Responsive design so your recommendations always look good
- Option to choose one of multiple catalogues of content to display recommendations from
Why Bibblio’s Performance Features Deserve Its Own Header
If you’ve ever considered managed WordPress hosting, you might be familiar with the fact that some managed WordPress hosts block certain types of plugins.
And one of those types of plugins that commonly gets blocked is certain types of related posts plugins.
But here’s what I like about Bibblio:
It avoids the pitfalls of other related posts plugins by handling all of the processing on its own servers, rather than making your server do the work.
Then, it caches the results and gives you the final product.
This isn’t 100% unique – Jetpack Related Posts takes the same approach. But it is an absolute must-have in a related posts plugin, in my opinion.
I’ve tested different related posts plugin before and there is a massive performance difference between plugins like Bibblio and Jetpack and the other related posts plugins.
How To Show Related Posts On WordPress With Bibblio
Ok, so I’ve told you all about what Bibblio can do. But how does it work? Here’s where I actually go hands-on and show you how everything comes together.
Because testing a related posts solution requires an established site, I’m going to run it on the staging site for a graphic t-shirt website of mine.
The site essentially curates different graphic t-shirts via a custom post type. Given that it’s using a custom post type, I think that will be a pretty good test of Bibblio’s performance.
Setting Up Bibblio
To install Bibblio on your site, you’ll first need to create a Bibblio account using a valid email address. Once activated, you’ll be able to log into your Bibblio account and follow the installation instructions there.
1. Choose a plan that corresponds to your traffic or simply start with the free plan (you can always change it later).
2. Fill in the Sign-up form and click Get Started!
3. Bibblio will send you a confirmation email. Go to your email and confirm your account.
4. Once you activate your account through your email, you’ll be sent to the Bibblio login page. Enter your email and password, and then click Log in.
5. When you log in, you’ll be greeted by the Bibblio Quick Start wizard. Here are the instructions you need to follow in order to install Bibblio.
Importing Content to Bibblio
Your posts need to be imported to your Bibblio account in order to generate recommendations. This is done by adding a Quick Start code snippet to your WP admin which will load on your posts and automatically import the post’s content and metadata to Bibblio.
1. Make sure your site is not password protected (Bibblio needs to access the pages in order to import the content to generate recommendations) and that you have at least 5 posts published on your site. This is the minimum number of posts required for the recommendation engine to make connections between your content.
2. Check your Whitelist. For security purposes, only the domains you add to the whitelist will be able to display recommendations. The domain you used during sign-up will automatically appear here, but you can also add staging domains if you want to test it on there first.
3. Next, you can configure your module with the Module Builder. A module essentially lets you control how your related posts are displayed.
You have a lot of options to choose from, divided into three different categories:
I’m going to go with a vertical layout because I plan to show these in my sidebar with a widget:
4. Add tracking. You can add tracking parameters to the code snippet to track Bibblio on your analytics platform. Click Create a new tracking parameter. Add a name for the parameter and its value, then click Add to snippet.
5. Once you finish designing your module, Bibblio will automatically generate two Quick Start code snippets. The first snippet in Step 4.a imports your content to Bibblio.
You should copy it, go to your theme editor in your WP admin (Appearance > Theme Editor) and paste it inside the post template of your site’s theme (usually single.php). Don’t forget to select Update File. Alternatively, you can add it to your site using the WordPress Widgets, as long as the widget only appears on your posts. Nothing will be displayed on your site at this stage.
Make sure you only add this code snippet to your posts; if it loads on your entire site, including your homepage, Bibblio will import unnecessary pages which will then appear in the recommendations.
6. You can verify how many posts have been imported on your Bibblio account in the storage count, or navigate to the Content tab to see which posts have been imported and the recommendations Bibblio generated for each of them.
And that’s it! All that’s left to do is insert your new related posts module somewhere on your site.
Inserting The Bibblio Related Posts Module Via The Widget
The absolute easiest way to insert Bibblio related posts is via the included widget. All you do is drag the widget where you want it to appear:
And…voila! You have some stylish recommendations in your sidebar:
Are Bibblio’s Recommendations Good?
Based on my test site, I would say that yes, Bibblio’s recommendations are spot on.
Let me give you some examples to show you how I came to that conclusion…
First, let’s look at the example screenshot from above.
I have an Arrested Development t-shirt open, and all the related posts also deal with Arrested Development.
So…spot on – makes sense.
Let’s try another one. This time, I’ll pull up a Game Of Thrones t-shirt. Again, Bibblio does a good job serving up related content:
And…let’s do one more test.
I’ll pull up this neat Walter White shirt. And, as I’d hoped, Bibblio serves up three other Breaking Bad shirts as recommendations:
So…three separate tests, all with positive results. Bibblio’s recommendation engine gets a thumbs up from me.
Viewing Analytics For Your Related Posts Section
Here’s one part of Bibblio that I really like:
Once you start displaying related posts, you can view real-time analytics to see how effective your related posts section is at engaging visitors:
That’s super cool. As far as I know, no other related posts plugins give you easy CTR analytics like this.
What I Like About Bibblio
- You get a good amount of control over how your related post recommendations work in the latest version. I like the option to weight posts by popularity, as it helps you drive traffic towards the content you know does well.
- It’s super easy to use, especially if you’re working with non-standard content like custom post types. I’d struggled to find other related posts plugins that could work seamlessly with custom post types without code, but Bibblio made the process super simple.
- The different module settings make it easy to fit recommendations into different parts of your theme.
- All the hard work happens on Bibblio’s servers, which means your site won’t slow down and you won’t get angry emails from your hosting provider.
- At least in my testing, the recommendations were spot on which is a good sign that Bibblio’s AI is doing well.
- The analytics features are super helpful and something that’s pretty unique as far as related posts plugins go.
One Small Suggestion To Improve Bibblio
I don’t really have much to complain about.
The only area where I could suggest an improvement is including some type of PHP function for adding related posts directly to theme template files.
I should point out that you can still do this by using the do_shortcode function, so it’s not a major gripe. But it’s my (limited) understanding that using do_shortcode isn’t as efficient as calling the function directly.
Additionally, a way to implement this functionality through the dashboard would be helpful for more casual users. Most people want to display related posts underneath the regular content, so a simple checkbox to accomplish this would be helpful for people who aren’t comfortable editing theme template files.
How Much Does Bibblio Cost?
Everyone can use the full-featured Bibblio service for free. Money only comes into the matter if you exceed the usage limits on the free plan.
So what are those limits?
The free plan lets you store:
- 500 pieces of content (each individual post or custom post type is one piece of content)
- Serve up 25,000 recommendation calls per month (each time Bibblio delivers a set of recommendations is one call).
For small blogs, the free plan is probably more than enough.
Larger sites, however, will need to pay to exceed those limits.
Paid plans start at $19 per month for 50,000 recommendation calls per month and go up from there.
Final Thoughts On Bibblio Related Posts
This review came at a good time for me because I’ve actually been searching out a quality related posts solution to use on the live version of the staging site I showed you.
Bibblio ticks all the boxes I was looking for:
- Easy to use with both regular posts and custom post types
- Performance-oriented by doing all the work on its own server
- Serves up quality recommendations
After testing 4-5 of the most popular options on that same staging site, I can say that Bibblio is the best related posts solution that I’ve used.