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I am using WordPress and by default my related posts system works by gathering posts and shows them based on the tags they have. This is OK when you have few posts but with a lot of posts only the newest ones show up and the older ones never.

If I change the code and show random related posts based on the same tags and category and with each refresh the related posts would be shown under the original article and each time different ones.

Now the question is, would that hurt my SEO? (Doing this would cause the related articles to be from any date.) This will also be better for the visitors experience also cause a user who comes today and then again tomorrow will not see the same related posts but also posts from 2-3 months and even 3years ago by using the random related posts.

This question was asked some years ago also on Matt Cutts blog, with no answer from anyone though.

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This has been discussed twice on WebmasterWorld:

There certainly isn't a consensus in those threads. Here are some excerpts from the comments that I find most compelling:

Tedster:

In a word - yes. Random links have often created ranking troubles, especially if the links are newly generated with each page load. Especially at launch, when you have so many challenges to deal with just to begin to establish visibility and trust, I would not suggest doing this.

Sgt_Kickaxe:

Problem: the pages are fairly dynamic though they do draw descriptive information via rss from sections of my own site. Being that they are dynamic I couldn't easily assign a permanent link to each page and so the links are random, but relevant. I only have 100 or so random links in total and show 5 at a time.

So far so good, Google doesn't seem to be penalizing the site at all. It may take 3-6 months before I can know for sure but after 2 months all is well.

Walkman:

No, I do this on a site and it got increased traffic. So by itself they don't harm you

Robert Charlton:

That said... and playing devils advocate here... I've occasionally seen relatively large sites with randomly rotating product menus for their less important related products, which overall appear to do surprising well, well enough in fact that I've wondered whether they know something that I don't.

1script:

I actually have a number of forum sites using a somewhat similar feature - Related posts. I would not call the links random of course because the degree of similarity differs and some post are really more related, so only those are shown. But those links aren't static either because with new discussions the list of related posts always updates.

I've never tracked any effects on ranking except for maybe one obvious one: you can't rank for anything at all if Googlebot hasn't seen the page, and I hope that those links help Gbot learn about more URLs on my site. Getting them to index more pages has always been an uphill battle for me, so I've kept these links just for indexing sake.

  • Thank you very much Stephen, I honestly searched before I made this question especially on google and while creating this question on here and couldnt find any info. Thank you for the valuable information, from reading all this I come to the conclusion that maybe adding 2 lines of related posts is the best bet. One (static) in my case with the tags relevancy and one more under it with the random posts from same category. Thanks again :) – Jack Stanson Jun 13 '14 at 20:47
  • We don't mind questions that have been asked other places. The voting system here means that the good quality answers float to the top, so it is more convenient than digging through a forum. – Stephen Ostermiller Jun 13 '14 at 22:32

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