Review: The Sphere Related Content Widget

I added the Sphere related content widget to OpTempo last night. You’ll see the link for it at the bottom of each post, like this.

Sphere Widget Button

When you click on it you’ll see an AJAX inline pop-up that will allow you to see a list of other blog posts and news articles on the topic of the article you’re reading. Click on a link in the list to open a new page (or tab if you’re using IE7 or Firefox) with a related article. It’s a neat way to explore news items you’re interested in.

How I Found Out About It

I noticed I was getting some traffic from CNN on certain news items. I went over to their site and noticed they had a link that would display Sphere content. From there I went on to the Sphere web site, signed up, and downloaded their widget.

What’s Good About It

The widget integrates easily into your WordPress site. All you have to do is download it, unzip it, upload it to your site, and activate the plug-in from your admin interface. After that the link for it starts appearing after each of your posts.

The links are JavaScript based so there are no “nofollow” or other SEO worries with using it that I can see.

If you’re a political blogger you can select to only show related items with your political leanings, right or left, or to show all. This is nice if you’re into that.

How much it will affect traffic is kind of an unknown at this point. I’ll certainly be monitoring it to see if it’s a positive or negative influence.

Overall, I think it serves to improve the user experience on a site like OpTempo where a lot of the content is going to be news related so I’ll keep it around for a while.

What’s Not-So-Good About It

It could drain traffic away from your site so that is one thing to be mindful of. However, this could be offset by new users finding you through the widget so it might be a wash.

They do show their ads on the widget and don’t revenue share so you are giving away ad space by using them. Once again, this might balance out over the long run.

One thing I would like to see is the ability to select multiple search topics, general news, or tag based related item searches. You have to pick a single category when you set up your account.

All in all, there are a lot of positives for a news based blogger and few negatives so I think it’s a worthwhile addition. What are your thoughts on it? Useful or not?


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Comment by Martin Remy
2007-10-19 14:56:15

Thanks for trying out the Sphere Related Content Widget on OpTempo, and for your thoughtful review. We’re glad to have you in the Sphere Related Content family. We think giving your readers additional content and context to what you’re blogging about is a net positive for your blog, and our partners (like CNN) are finding the same.

Thanks again,

CTO/ Founder, Sphere

Comment by jfc
2007-10-19 15:38:53

Thanks for stopping by Martin,

As a software developer myself it’s always a pleasure to see an application as well written as this widget. Kudos to your development team.

2008-03-24 17:25:06

I noticed that you are no longer using this widget. Is there a reason for this?

* Phyllis *

Comment by jfc
2008-03-25 08:46:29

Hi Phyllis,

I’m no longer using this widget since it no longer fits well with OpTempo’s theme.

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