The “Related” content section is one of the many page design elements carried over from the print world to the web. It’s implemented in different shapes and forms, but the goal is the same: Increase reader engagement and keep them clicking.
Every serious content management system has some sort of module to generate relevant content, from simple tag cross-referencing to complex algorithms that weigh a mix of taxonomy, title, content, and user data. Services from third-party companies like Outbrain not only index your content but also offer a distribution channel for publishers. Think AdSense for content. Taboola even offers a similar service for video, or what it terms “personalized video recommendations.”
With all the technology being thrown at it, the related content section still feels like an afterthought. For example, here’s a round-up from publishing heavyweights (clockwise from top left) The Daily Beast, The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, and Bloomberg. Aside from Harvard Business Review’s sliding box in the footer (recently popularized by the New York Times), all are a blur of links, some with questionable relevance. How effective are these, really?
But wait, what have we here? Techcrunch has a deceptively simple but quite useful variation. It looks interesting at first glance:
First, we’re informed that articles listed are associated by the main subject, Amazon. Then, the links follow — clearly dated, listed by publish date, with the current article highlighted in its chronological position. Instant context. Suddenly, the lowly related content box is useful again.