Best Posts Summary is a WordPress plugin that automatically generates a summary post of your best posts over a specified period of time based on the most popular posts in terms of number of comments or number of visits. The plugin has many customization options including the ability to choose the number of posts to include in the summary post, whether to include post titles with or without post content, the sort order of the posts, and the formatting of the post.
The idea of the plugin came from the fact that I was spending so much time on my current blog creating a summary post of my best posts from the previous month. Creating a summary post of your best posts is a very good idea for several reasons:
- Easily Digestible – If you follow sites likes Gizmodo, Engadget, or LifeHacker, you’ve probably realized the importance of summary posts for your readers. It’s impossible for anyone to keep track of 20 to 30 posts everyday. A summary post every day, week, or month depending on your posting frequency will help readers find the best content quickly.
- Deep-Linking SEO Benefits – Deep linking is a hyperlink that points to a specific page of a website, rather than the main page or homepage. Linking to your internal pages acts as a vote for those pages in terms of SEO and therefore gives them better rankings in search engine result pages (SERPs). Internal link structure of a site is a very important part of SEO strategies and this plugin does it for you automatically. You can read an article here on how deep linking in your own site can increase search engine rankings.
- Find What Works – A by-product of this plugin is that you will get to see which posts are your top posts for each time period based on comments or visitors. Knowing which posts readers find the most useful will help you focus on writing more relevant and better posts. Instead of manually going through your archives, you will automatically be able to see which posts were the most popular.
- Do Zero Manual Work – The main reason I created this plugin is that it simply saved me hours of manual labor. Creating a summary post is a time-consuming task as it involves finding the best content, lots of copying and pasting, formatting each entry and more. If you have so many posts that you want to summarize on a daily or weekly basis, it’s even more time-consuming and tedious. Best Posts Summary does all the work for you while still allowing you to customize the post to your needs exactly.
Example of a Best Posts Summary
I’ve implemented the plugin on my own site and here is what the output of the plugin looks like for a monthly best post:
Download Best Posts Summary
Currently the plugin is only in English, but I hope to provide translated versions if there is enough demand.
Simply download the Zip-Archive and extract all files into your wp-content/plugins/ directory. Then go into your WordPress administration page, click on Plugins and activate it. After that you will have a new menu option called “Best Posts Summary” under the “Options” menu. You can enable the plugin and modify the other options there.
Once you have the plugin installed, you need to activate it from the Options panel. Click Options, then Best Posts Summary.
To enable the plugin, choose a value from the drop down menu for the frequency at which you would like the summary post to be created.
There are three options for the frequency of the summary post: daily, weekly and monthly. Daily will create a new post every day of the best posts from the previous day. Obviously only use it if you have enough posts. Weekly will create a new post every Monday for the previous week (Monday through Sunday). Monthly will create a post on the 1st of every month.
Note that a summary post itself will never be included in another summary post in the future.
Posts from Period
Along with the post frequency, you can choose the period in time that you want the posts to be pulled from. For example, if you choose a post frequency of Monthly, then it makes sense to choose a Posts from Period setting of Previous Month so that at the beginning of each month you get the best posts from last month.
However, to make it more flexible, you can also mix and match. For example, let’s say you have written 60 posts in the month of March and you want to summarize the best posts of March during the month of April. You could have the plugin create a summary post every week instead of on the first of the month. The plugin remembers which posts it has already used and will therefore not use those again in the next summary post created.
If there are not enough posts that meet the criteria you have specified, no post will be created. For example, if you have 15 posts in March and you tell the plugin to create a post every week that has 5 posts, it will only create three posts since you only have 15 posts for the entire month. It’s best to mix match only when you know you have enough posts in the period.
Number of Posts
The number of posts that you want to have in your summary posts. Note that based on your actual content and the options you select, you may end up with less posts. One reason might be you simply don’t have enough posts. The other reason is if you are using Strict Criteria, which is explained below.
Further down in the options, you can choose the criteria for choosing your best posts, either via number of comments or via visits. If you chose comments, then checking Strict Criteria will only pick posts that have at least one comment. If there are more slots open, they will not be filled and therefore you could have less posts than the number you put into “Number of Posts”. Not checking Strict Criteria will pick all of your posts with comments and if there are any slots left over, will then pick posts without comments.
Selected Categories allows you to choose all categories to pick your best posts from or only specific categories. That way, if you only want posts from certain categories, you can uncheck All Categories and manually choose each category. Hold down the CONTROL key to select multiple categories.
Title of Post
Everyone has their own way of writing a title for a post, so I made that the plugin would allow full customization for the post title. Using a combination of text and tags, your title can range from “Favorite posts from March 2008 on MyBlogTitle” to “Best posts on MyBlogTitle from 2008″.
Currently the plugin supports blog name, day, week, month, year and date as usable tags. Depending on user feedback, I may include more tags in future releases.
Ordering & Sorting
Ordering and Criteria (below) both go hand in hand. There are several ways you can choose to sort the posts in the summary post. You can sort by Title, Date, Randomly, or by Criteria. Sorting by title, date, and randomly are all self-explanatory, i.e. the first post listed if you sort by title will start with the lowest letter in the alphabet, etc.
If you choose to sort by criteria, then the posts will either be sorted by the choice you make for Criteria, either Number of Visits or Number of Comments. Note that by default, the post template will display the number of comments or number of visits next to the post title in the summary post.
Number of Words from Text
This option is fairly straight-forward. In the post template, there is a tag called [text], which will include the first X number of words from the main post content along with the summary.
The number of words from text is the option that controls how much text is displayed for the post preview. Note that the plugin tries to be smart and not simply but off abruptly after a certain number of words. Depending on the number of words you specify, the plugin will pull the rest of the sentence at which the last word ended.
So if you decide to include 30 words and the 30th word is in the second sentence, the entire second sentence will also be included in the preview.
As explained above, Criteria is the option that lets you decide which posts to pick as the “most popular”. Currently, I have only two options, most visits or most comments. Eventually, I may add other criteria for selecting best posts, but these two seems to be the most obvious choices.
Note that if you want to use the Number of Visits option for criteria, you have to install the Popularity Contest plugin. The plugin uses the stats from that plugin to figure out the most visited posts for a particular time period.
This is probably my favorite option for the plugin. I’ve always been a stickler when it comes to formatting my posts and making my site look good and clean. That’s why I designed the plugin so that you can customize every aspect of the post summary output!
If you know CSS and little bit of HTML, you can change the font family, font size, link colors, spacing between posts, and just about everything else. By default, I’ve included a post template that I think will look good on most blogs.
You can also customize the output using more template tags. Tags are included for the post tite, post link (permalink), post date, post author, post category, post content, and comment or visit counts.
Since this is my first plugin, there will probably be bugs and problems that I was simply ignorant of. If you run into problems or issues, feel free to email me at Aseem1234 [at] gmail [dot] com. I’ll also be creating a support page at the WordPress Support Forum soon.
All files and their contents are licensed under the General Public LIcense (GPL).
Version .9 released on November 7th, 2008