Organize your wordpress blog by setting up a post series people can follow for specific topics.

When you blog I think the most important 2 things are the usability of your theme and the organization of your content. If people can’t find their way around and use your navigation, and if they can’t similar and related content they need – they will leave. One of the best things I ever did for this blog was to start some article series on related topics.

This is installment #20 of 30 WordPress Hacks in 30 days.

Writing posts in a “series” has many benefits…

Benefits of a Post Series

  • Readers come back for new installments
  • RSS subscriptions increase
  • Easier to come up with new blog posts
  • Easier to monetize a “series” than individual posts
  • You can seek out “sponsors” for the series
  • You could solicit “guest authors” for the series
  • You can promote the series with article marketing and backlinks
  • A series gives you rankings for new keywords
  • A series “home page” is another indexable page for search, and can be an SEO goldmine

I’ve been asked “What’s the difference between a ‘post series’ and just adding posts to categories or tags?” The answer to that question is “original content”. You could write a series of posts in WordPress and just assign them to the same tag or category. Then, all you would have to do is create “tag-slug.php” file or “category-id.php” file to add original content to that page before “the loop” of posts. That page would then contain your intro paragraph, and then listings of posts (either full or excerpts).

What I prefer to do is to create a WordPress “page” manually instead. What I did on this blog was to create the page “series”, and then ALL posts series are children of that, so they become /series/name-of-this-series. Then, in my Sidebar’s list of pages, it has “Article Series” and then the list of the series are automatically added as I create them. If you took the tag or category approach, the series would be listed either in a tag could or category list (which I don’t like).

The other reason I like the WP page approach to series, is because you can list the posts one by one, and instead of full posts or “excerpts” you can create an original content description for each and every one of them. This can be tedious (I know), but the SEO benefits of creating a brand new description of every post in a series are innumerable. Your series home page (can over time) become much greater in SERP’s than any individual article ever could. Also – what would you rather have dugg or stumbled, a page listing a dozen+ posts, or a single post?

I wrote this post because I want you to think about your blog over the long haul. If you create a plan for a post series, you can set it up to be most beneficial from the very beginning.

Planning for a Post Series

  • Create a WordPress theme template for the series home page. Read Hacking WordPress Template files.
  • When creating the template, add a “file include” before and after the loop (see below)
  • Create a WordPress “page” and assign the template you just created and uploaded
  • Make the first paragraph a brief 20 word synopsis of the series, then write 1 to 3 paragraphs of original content “before the loop”
  • In additional paragraphs, write one “header” with the title of each post, and then a paragraph or original content describing it after each

Using “file includes” for posts

The reason I like to create a template for the post home page is because this way I can add 2 “includes” to the post series home page, which can also be used in each an every post. All you do is create the files in notepad, and name one “common-series-name-before.php” and the other “common-series-name-after.php” like this:

In your theme template, place the first with the before file “before the loop”, and the second line with the after file “after the loop”. Save and upload to your theme directory. Now all you have to do is create those files in Notepad and upload to your theme directory for it all to work.

The only thing I haven’t told you yet is what to put in those files! It can be anything you want, text, html, you name it. The goal is this, you have an area before and after the content of your series home that you can use to monetize, add affiliate offers, promote other sections of your site, add adsense – or anything else. You could also use select that same template for each post in the series, and monetize them all with exactly the same ads.

These included files are a great way to re-monetize posts and series with new offers, or even announce to readers (without deleting the content and losing indexed SEO pages) that the content is no longer valid – please visit page ABC now for new info.

Additional Ways to setup WordPress Post Series

I have described to you in detail the way that I like to setup post series in WordPress, and the reasons I do it this way. I personally (now) avoid plugins when I can when you can use native features and functions instead, because the more plugins you add to WordPress – the slower it becomes. The good news is, for those of you that aren’t as comfortable hacking templates and code, there is an easier way (you just might not get as many SEO benefits). There are several WordPress plugins that are capable or organizing posts series.

In Series: is a WordPress plugin for managing a series of posts in WordPress, including next and previous links for each posts, tables of content, and more without editing any theme files. Unfortunately the highest version of WordPress listed (tested) with is 2.3. It is not listed on the WordPress 2.5 or 2.6 Plugin Compatibility lists.

Organize Series: is a WordPress plugin that actually adds a new taxonomy to your blog so you can add either “tags” or “categories” or “series” to posts. It provides better organiztion by allowing you to access and list series posts directly from the “Manage” page, and it’s (currently) on the WP 2.5 Plugin Compatibility list.

I hope you start (or continue) to use posts series within your blog. Your readers will visit more often, you will attract more new readers, and it will be easier for you to continue to write new posts!