Feb 2, 2012  •  In Blogging, Bloggy Thursdays, Geek, WordPress

Bloggy Thursdays: Why I Stopped Using LinkWithin (And Switched to nRelate)

***Update: with the recent discontinuation of nRelate, I have switched over to Contextual Related Posts. (You can see it in action at the bottom of this post!) I was able to customize the widgets fairly easily, and the matching algorithm is probably the best I’ve ever come across!

Welcome to this installment of Bloggy Thursdays, where I share with my fellow bloggers tips and tutorials to maximize and better your blog. While I do not consider myself an expert, I do like to think that after 10+ years of blogging — in addition to my technical knowledge — I know more than the average blogger when it comes to making your blog more appealing to readers.

Do you have any comments, questions, or topics you’d like to see covered here? Please send me a message via my contact form. Enjoy!

While doing some research for today’s Bloggy Thursdays, I stumbled upon an interesting piece of information: LinkWithin, one of the most popular “Related Links” widgets — and certainly a tool that many of my blogger friends use — is not recommended for SEO purposes.

Why? Essentially, LinkWithin is a parasitic widget. The way it works is by redirecting your traffic through their own site, effectively linking to themselves from all over your site and then 301 directing the user back to your site, thus stealing your internal link juice.

(To find out why internal links are important in SEO, check out “The Importance of Internal Linking” at Dragonfly SEO.)

Some of the websites that wrote about this issue stated that LinkWithin has started to do away with this practice, but I still saw it in effect on this blog, under the “Referrers” tab of my stats page:

See all the views from “widget3.linkwithin.com” and similar?

Aside from SEO issues, I also did not like the fact that LinkWithin’s extra step of redirecting traffic may cause visitors additional delays.

So what’s a blogger to do?

If you are using WordPress, one easy step is to install the popular Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP). However, the biggest drawback to this plugin is that while it does provide templates, it can still be difficult to configure and customize the output, especially if you aren’t familiar with PHP and/or CSS.

Another good option is Outbrain, which is used by some of the most popular sites on the web, but this service requires that you receive more than 500,000 visitors a month.

This is when I came across nRelate’s Related Content widget.

(And for non-WordPress bloggers, nRelate is also available for Blogger and Tumblr! They are also in the process of rolling out versions for Drupal, Typepad, and others!)

Installing nRelate is as simple as installing any other WordPress plugin: just download, install, and activate. And unlike LinkWithin, nRelate has an extensive options panel built right into WordPress’s admin.

And here is where you can experience the best part about nRelate — all the customizations! You can:

  • change the size of your thumbnails
  • easily change the title for the related content box
  • specify a default image for when the post does not have any images
  • choose your level of relevancy
  • choose to exclude certain categories
  • …and much, much more!

You can also choose from a list of seven different styles for your thumbnails, which you can further customize via CSS, or create a completely customized style yourself.

nRelate also has an optional advertisement program that can earn you some money by inserting custom ad spaces within your related content. The best part is that it allows you to configure not just how many ad spaces to include, but also the location such as before or after your own related post content, or have the location randomized. (I will not be employing this at the time, but I may consider it in the future.)

Another great product that nRelate offers is its Most Popular widget, which does exactly what its name implies by displaying thumbnails (or even just text links) just as its Related Content widget does.

nRelate needs at least 2 hours to index your site and for its widget to start appearing — and since I currently have 1,625 posts on this blog  😯 — it hasn’t started to show up on my site yet. However, you can see an example via their site, or just by Googling “nRelate examples.”

If what I have read online is true, the Related Content widget will start working flawlessly as soon as nRelate finishes indexing my site. I will definitely post a follow-up to this post if I find nRelate unsatisfactory in any way!

Update, December 2014:
Many nRelate users (including myself) were dismayed to find that nRelate will be closing its doors come 2015. After doing much research — and trials! — on the subject, I have decided to switch to Contextual Related Posts. It is free to use, and the algorithm is better than anything I’ve seen yet.

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121 Responses to “Bloggy Thursdays: Why I Stopped Using LinkWithin (And Switched to nRelate)”

  1. […] Geek In Heels said: While doing some research for today’s Bloggy Thursdays, I stumbled upon an interesting piece of information:LinkWithin, one of the most popular “Related Links” widgets — and certainly a tool that many of my blogger friends use — is not recommended for SEO purposes. Why? Essentially, LinkWithin is a parasitic widget. The way it works is by redirecting your traffic through their own site, effectively linking to themselves from all over your site and then 301 directing the user back to your site, thus stealing your internal link juice. […]

  2. elly gray says:

    Thank you for the suggestions – I’m going to check out nRelate! I found your post after searching how to fix an error with LinkedIn on Blogger. No idea what was happening, but even after fixing the code I couldn’t get posts to show up. I didn’t know about the routing thing (well I’m sure it’s not advertised anywhere), but nRelate sounds like a great alternative.

  3. Thanks for the guide. I used nRelated posts but the widget is not appearing on the site. I liked it more than linkwidget. Hope to resolved the issue to appear it on the site. I didn’t know how link juice is stolen by Linkwithin. Thanks for the help.

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  5. Paul says:

    Have you tried ProGrids, we created a Related Post Widget that is easy to install on Blogger and WordPress. It doesn’t steal your seo links as well.

  6. Thank you for the update. The problem I am facing with LinkWithin is that the widget appears on every posts on my Homepage itself. I hate it. I will try nRelate for sure. Your post has motivated me to shift to nRelate. Thankx again.
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  7. Question says:

    What are you going to switch to now that Nrelate it calling it quits at the end of 2014?

  8. Penny says:

    I am totally in love with nRelate and therefore totally bummed at the announcement of their farewell: http://nrelate.com/content/2014/12/01/farewell/ – what are you thinking might be a good replacement?

  9. And what are you doing now that nRelate is no more?

  10. Thank you so much for the advice – so useful! I have now replaced LinkWithin with Yet Another Post as LinkWithin was linking to deleted posts.

  11. […] weren’t actually referring anyone to my blog. It’s an unnecessary step. I came across this blog entry at Geek In Heels that gets a little more in depth about it, and through that entry I discovered the plugin nRelate. […]

  12. […] Linkwithin wiederum ist ein Plugin, das den Traffic über sich leitet und so die Search Engine Optimierung für das eigene Blog de facto killt, […]

  13. Lindsey says:

    Thanks for this post! I came across it after having downloaded Linkwithin but found it didn’t do exactly as I wanted… on reading your post I decided I’d be better off trying out YARP and I’m so glad I did. It’s early days but so far seems to offer far better customisation options! Glad to have discovered your blog too – love your wide range of content! Will take note to read your sleep training post shortly! Now following you on bloglovin too so please keep up the good work! 🙂

  14. […] -Bloggy Thursdays: Why I Stopped Using LinkWithin (And Switched to nRelate) (Geek in Heels) […]

  15. natalie says:

    So glad I saw your post! I just added YARPP to my wordpress site (I’ve always used blogger in the past), but I can’t get it to go on the bottom of my posts! Do you have any good places to look for a tutorial on this? It only shows up on my sidebar; and only if you click on an individual post. 🙁

  16. Nancie says:

    Wait… YARPP pro is also free?
    Thanks for this, I’ve been using Zemanta, but I was looking for a way to make some money on my blog. Too bad YARPP is only for WordPress.

  17. Sherry says:

    Thanks a lot for sharing.. i was actually recently install linkwithin but i have also seen some problem in this plugin. now i am going to install nrelate.. 🙂

  18. mustLOLO says:

    Interesting, but how did you find out that LinkWithin redirecting your traffic through their own site?

  19. Madel says:

    Not happy with Linkwithin as well….I got it straight from the site but it’s linking to another entirely different blog – that’s not mine! Will be trying your recommendations here. Thanks a bunch! 😀

  20. th says:

    linkwithin isn’t doing anything for my blog other than, you might like and a big blank spot and their active link to their website. I have labels and tags in my posts so it should be able to find related posts easily. nrelate is no longer available and as far as I can tell, outbrain charges a fee per day. I’m just starting out, so not an option. any other suggestions. I tried using a code I found that you can use to edit your HTML.. but it seemed out of date and I was afraid of dismantling my entire blog if I continued further.

  21. […] ärgert das wirklich sehr, und ich muss Jenny von Geek in Heels recht geben, wenn sie schreibt, dass Linkwithin ein parasitäres Programm ist. Mein ganzer Blog […]

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