An often overlooked part of your WordPress posts is the Post Meta Data Section. This is the section at the bottom of your post that lists who posted the content and when, and may include the categories, tags, bio information, and a lot of other details you might want readers to know about the post and the author, or even about the blog.
The post meta data section is typically featured in two areas on your blog post: under the post title or below the post content. The post meta data featured under the post title usually consists of the author, date and post categories and/or tags. The post meta data set below the post content may include that information along with the date the post was updated, tags, mood, location, related posts, related tags, author bios, and more.
On my Family History blog, I feature a large post meta data section. As a genealogy blog, the contributors are often family members and/or experts in genealogy research. Therefore, I want information about them and their lives to be featured. The post meta data section includes a combination of template tags and WordPress Plugins to show author information, categories, how many articles each author has contributed to the blog, the date the post was last modified, related posts, article series information, and other information about the post. I also needed to host information about the copyright, use, and reprint policy of the content, and other information.
The WordPress Codex article on Designing Your Post Meta Data Section offers many different ways to use WordPress template tags in your post meta data section to add categories and other information, so let’s look at some of the WordPress Plugins you can use in the post meta data section, as part of my month long series on WordPress Plugins.
Note: For the most part, the following WordPress Plugins involve editing your WordPress Theme template files in order to add the Plugin template tag exactly where you wish the generated information to appear. For information and tips on installing any of these WordPress Plugins in WordPress Themes, see How to Install, Configure, and Use WordPress Plugins.
Post Updated WordPress Plugins
For those who offer manuals, guides and technical information on your blogs where the updated date is just as important as the published date, you can add a Post Updated WordPress Plugin to showcase the date the post was updated.
Post Updated and Last Modified are two WordPress Plugins I’ve used to showcase the date the post was last modified. You can put the Plugin template tag in a sentence in your post meta data, combined with the original publish date if you want, such as
Originally posted on July 24, 2005, and updated on January 4, 2007.
Many bloggers aren’t satisfied with a normal date. They want something that shows how long it has been since the post was published. The WP Relative Date Plugin showcases the date in a “relative” way by how many minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or year since the post was published. It looks like:
Posted 1 year, 3 months, and 4 days ago
Adding Author Information
Information about the author of the post helps the reader know a little more about their expertise on the subject and can also direct the reader to more posts by the same author.
The Customizable Post Listings WordPress Plugin has an option to list posts by a specific author, pointing the visitor to more and/or related content on your blog by the same author. You can find instructions on this in the Customizable Post Listings WordPress Plugin Guide. The Posts by Author WordPress Plugin also offers posts by author.
Get Author Profile WordPress Plugin helps you include information about the post author in your post meta data section. You can include their first and last name, display name, email, website, number of posts they’ve published on the blog, chat IDs, and biography profile information, among other bits and pieces.
The Post Author Profile WordPress Plugin works much in the same way, providing bio information, post costs, and other information from the blog user’s Profile panel.
Usermeta WordPress Plugin and Userextra WordPress Plugin also allow using author information within your post meta data section. These are not for the lighthearted and require editing the Theme template files and familiarity with PHP, but will help if you really want to customize the information in your post meta data section.
Level10 Blog Matrix WordPress Plugin also provides a lot of author data you can use in the post meta data section, though currently, it is also not for the casual user. I can showcase author information as well as posts by the author globally and within a specific category. It is best used for multiple blogger blogs.
Add User Photo WordPress Plugin adds a photograph of the user to the author profile panel which can be featured in the post meta data section. This is not a simple Plugin and requires editing core programming files and editing your WordPress Theme template files. It’s a great idea, and would be better if the process was made simpler.
Post author meta data is not restricted to the post meta data section. You can feature author information on the author template file using these and other WordPress Plugins. For information on how to create a custom author template file for your WordPress blog, see Author Templates.
One of the most common items found in the post meta data section are tags. They can be tags which search your own site for related posts, Technorati, Google, or any search results or source you would like to use.
The Ultimate Tag Warrior WordPress Plugin is one of the most popular tag Plugin. It allows you to add tags to the post meta data section, including related tags and related posts. The tags can be listed in a line with commas, spaces, or other dividers, or in a tag cloud. For more information, see Ultimate Tag Warrior WordPress Plugin for Dummies.
There are many other tag WordPress Plugin options and you will some of them featured in Blog Navigation WordPress Plugins: Related, Recent, Most Popular Posts and More.
While not specifically tags, you can “tag” your posts with social bookmarking site submission links in your post meta data section, encouraging readers to recommend your post article to others. See Social Bookmarking Submit Links on WordPress Blogs for more information on WordPress Plugins for social bookmarking link bars.
Adding Post Lists
The term stickiness refers to the ability of a website to keep users on the site longer than a glance. The longer they hang around, the more “sticky” the blog. You can increase blog navigation, and stickiness, by providing a list of posts in your post meta data section, inviting your readers to see what else you have to offer them.
The more popular list of posts featured in the post meta data section are related posts. The most popular related posts WordPress Plugins are WASABI Related Entries, Similar Posts: WordPress Plugin, and Semiologic’s Related Posts WordPress Plugin. You can find more listed in Blog Navigation WordPress Plugins: Related, Recent, Most Popular Posts and More.
Writing an article series and want to help your readers connect the dots between your different articles within the series? Then try the In-Series WordPress Plugin which helps you create a list of your articles within a specific series. You can learn more about using this, and your other options in Connecting Articles in Series: In Series WordPress Plugin.
Another way of displaying related and similar posts to the current post is to list the other posts within the same category. The WordPress List Posts in Category Plugin, WP Category Posts Plugin, and Customizable Post Listings WordPress Plugin will create lists of posts within a specific category.
There are many blog score cards you can show off in your post meta data section. Probably the most popular count would be the number of blog posts by the post’s author.
The BlogStats PCC Plugin is a fairly new WordPress Plugin which also includes post costs by author as well as for your entire blog. It will allow you to post stats on the total number of posts, comments, categories, and more.
Why not mix up the info and include how many categories you have on your blog in your post meta data section. CatCount WordPress Plugin also displays the category count.
You can even use the Post Count WordPress Plugin to create a sentence that says “This is only one of the 846 posts for you to read on this blog”.
For more blog statistics you can use within your post meta data section, see Counting WordPress: Statistics WordPress Plugins.
Adding Random Content to Your Post Meta Data Section
You can add a variety of random content to your post meta data section with WordPress Plugins.
A favorite is to add a random quote using the WP_quotes Random Quote Plugin. Just place the tag wherever you want it to appear in the post meta data section at the bottom of your post.
Want to add a random image? I feature a random image in the post meta data section of every post on Taking Your Camera on the Road.
You can use any random image generating WordPress Plugin or script including:
- Photomatt’s Random Image Rotator
- Image Rotator PHP from Automatic Labs
- Andersdrengen – Randomizer WordPress Plugin
Random File WordPress Plugin will retrieve a randomly chosen file in a specific directory on your blog’s server. Inside of the files you can include code for random images/logos or text to create quotes, sayings, images, and more in your post meta data section.
With the Customizable Post Listings WordPress Plugin, you can also add a random list of posts on your blog, either from all your posts or from a specific category. This will introduce your readers to more of your brilliant blog content.
Display Meta Data Elsewhere on Your WordPress Blog
Your posts aren’t the only place you can add meta data on your WordPress blog. I use the Category Word Count WordPress Plugin to provide a listing of how many words I’ve written in a specific category on my customized category pages on Taking Your Camera on the Road. It’s silly, but I like it.
You can add post meta data to categories, author pages, archives, tag pages, and any page in your WordPress Theme. Experiment and have some fun with this.
WordPress Plugins that will work in the meta data sections need to be able to work within the WordPress Loop or stand on their own, so you have a lot of flexibility with your choices. You can include the latest weather report from your area, time zone information, cartoons, even signatures, and anything you want in your post meta data section.
Are you using any WordPress Plugins within your post data section? What are you using and why?
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