I’m sure you will have all come across the SimpleReach Slide Plugin over the last few months, whether you realised it or not. The plugin displays a sliding box at the bottom right hand side of your page which promotes other content from your website.
By doing this the plugin helps keep visitors on your website longer. In each slide there are social media buttons for visitors to vote for the article on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. This gives even more exposure to your content.
In order to use the plugin you need to sign up to SimpleReach.com and get an API key and publisher key for your website. This only takes a few seconds and doing so will allow you to view reports on the performance of your slides (more on that later).
The plugin allows you to change some basic display settings through your admin area. You can change the header title of the slide from the default text ‘RECOMMENDED FOR YOU’. The link colour of your article can be changed and you can move the slide up from the bottom of the page 30, 40, 50 or 60 pixels. Unfortunately, you can’t move the slide to a different area of the page from here (e.g. bottom left or bottom centre).
By default the slide is only shown on posts but you can also display it on pages. Hopefully in a future version you will be able to select pages only and perhaps show the slide on other areas of your website such as archives and custom post types.
One of the slides best features is the ability to only promote posts from the same category as the one that is being viewed by the visitor. In order to manage what posts are being displayed on your site you need to login to your account at SimpleReach.
The last option in the settings area asks if you want to add the slide logo to your slide. There is a note saying that this increases engagement however it is unclear what this means. The slide logo simply links back to SimpleReach (using your site as a reference e.g. http://simplereach.com/?ref=www.wpmods.com). SimpleReach isn’t an ad network so you won’t be getting any impressions back in return; therefore I fail to see any benefit from adding this logo to your site.
Managing Your Posts
Although you can change some basic settings through your admin area, you manage your posts through your SimpleReach account. One of the options is the ‘Headline Cleaner’. This allows you to remove certain text from the title tag of each article. For example, if I appended ‘- WordPress Mods’ to the end of every page title here I would add this text here so that it would be removed from the post title in slides.
You can’t set a time period of posts which you want to be displayed however through your account you can go through each post and decide whether it wants to be shown. This gives you control over exactly what is displayed on your site as you can choose what posts are to be displays and what date they should be displayed until.
More control over what is being displayed would certainly be welcomed though. For me, the process of individually selecting and deselecting each post is a pain, particularly if there is new content being added to your website daily.
For example, the ability to filter posts by category so that you can easily set the exact posts from each category to be displayed. An override option for promoting the same post(s) throughout your site would be great too as it would allow you to push traffic towards your featured articles, competitions and other articles that need exposure.
Once it has been activated on your website you should see the slide pop out as your scroll down your post page.
The slide can be closed by visitors by clicking on the x button.
If the visitor clicks on the question mark they are given an option to opt out of any future recommendations.
Through the reports area of your account you can see the number of impressions and clicks for each of your websites. The developers advise that most people get around an 8% click through rate. After installing the plugin for an hour or so I was getting a click through rate of over 3%.
Time will tell if this conversion rate will remain this high as return visitors will surely suffer from ad blindness after a while and not click on it, though conversions for new visitors to your website should be consistent. Regardless, I’m fairly impressed at a 3% click through rate for a service of this kind.
The reports page also shows the number of people who have opted out from seeing the slide. The slide is quite discrete so shouldn’t annoy too many visitors though if you start to see the number of people opting out increase, it could be an indication that your visitors want it removed.
Problems With The Plugin
I had planned on reviewing this plugin a month or so ago but was unable to get it working on WPMods or on my test blog. I contacted the developer about this and they later contacted me to ask if I could try out the latest version (version 0.58). This resolved the issue I was having and the plugin now displays slides as it should. However, there are still a lot of small issues that need to be addressed.
If you look at the screenshot of the slide you will see that there is no image displayed. The plugin is supposed to show a 70×70 preview image for posts that have a featured image attached to them. The vast majority of posts on WPMods (bar a few earlier posts) all have featured images attached to them yet I only saw an image on the slide once out of 50 times. Perhaps the plugin is clashing with another plugin I have installed here such as W3 Total Cache.
The plugin is also supposed to have a Google+ voting button but this is absent from the slide too, with only the Facebook Like and Twitter Retweet buttons being shown.
I do not note these issues to criticise, only to show that this plugin is still in the beta stage of development. New features are still being added and bugs are still being ironed out.
On the plus side, the plugin uses ‘asynchronous loading’ so it doesn’t add any loading time to your page and SimpleReach provide support directly via email. If you have a look at the support forum for the plugin on WordPress.org you will see that they have actively been helping everyone who has asked for help, whether it be a plugin error or simply someone not understanding how it works.
They have also published a useful documentation area that shows you how to install the plugin, how to style it and how to modify settings. They should be commended for offering this level of support to users of a free plugin.
Simple Reach Slide is a fairly new plugin. There are still a few small bugs that need to be ironed out and most customisation options to be added. Taking these things into consideration, I think Simple Reach Slide is a great plugin. It helps keep visitors on your website by promoting your other posts, it helps increase the number of social media votes to your posts and best of all – it’s free to download!
I encourage you all to give the plugin a try for a few days to see if your average number of page views increases.
If you have any questions about how to use this plugin, please let me know and I’ll do my best to address them :)