The current recommended way to set up "Top Posts" for your sidebar is:
- Open up Google Webmaster Tools and view pages, sort by pageviews descending over the last 30 days
- Create a "Featured" category on your website, using Yoast to noindex it on just that one category
- Assign the top pages from Google Search Console to the "Featured" category, making sure not to assign it as the "primary category"
- Use the FSRI shortcode to display the top posts: fsri category="featured" posts_per_page="8"
- If not using the Feast Plugin, use the theme's "Featured Posts" widget to display the "Featured" category
- one-half display
- display 6-8 posts
- display image before title
- display title
- do not display content/excerpt
- do not display "see more"
Why not featured post widgets?
There are no plugins out there that we're aware of, that tie directly into Google Search Console to fetch the top pages.
This means that the plugins have to insert code on each to track pageviews.
Then they need to run database queries and calculations on each page load to get their "auto" top posts, which slows down server response times.
Doing the steps outlined above to manually curate a "Top Posts" category takes just 5 minutes per month, is more accurate, and is more pagespeed friendly.