11 Items That Improve Your Blog Sidebar
Your blog sidebar can be your blog’s best friend! People are lazy and don’t like to read too much, scroll too far, or search too hard for information. Mind you, sidebars are are only useful if they are useful. The can create visual clutter extremely fast. So just make sure everything in your sidebar is necessary.
Unless your blog is your homepage or your site is set up like a news outlet, a homepage sidebar isn’t essential. I do not recommend adding a sidebar to any non-blog website unless it is functional and critical.
You can also use your side bar as part of the design or as an extra navigation if you don’t like the typical blog sidebar look.
Here are 11 things to put into your blog sidebar.
Your blog is going to have a wealth of information and you want to give your visitors the ability to find that information as easily as possible, which is why we utilize the blog sidebar. Your navigation should direct them to wherever their hearts desire but in case, for whatever reason, don’t find what they’re looking for or just want to use the search function it is there.
In order to make your site as user-friendly as possible, you will want to make sure a search bar is in your sidebar, especially if they come to you for a specific reason. You can always add your search bar to the header toolbar or navigation to make space in your sidebar.
If your content is heavy in brands, items, or subjects I think it is important to add tags to your sidebar. Tags are not here to help you with SEO they are here to help your visitors find what they are looking for. It reflects keywords (of the post) or points of the article. Think of tags like the index at the back of a book.
How to use tags:
First, you need to be extremely organized with the tags you use in your posts and pages. Use the same tags when you mention products, brands, or topics. Creating guidelines helps you know what and when to assign tags.
Tags are not to be confused with Categories but they can sometimes be interchanged. This is why guidelines are important.
Example 1: Travel Blogger
Blog Post Title is: Best wineries in Tuscany
Relevant Categories: Destinations
Tags: Wineries, Winery, Tuscany
Example 2 – Beauty Blogger
Blog Post Title: Best Lipsticks of 2018
Relevant Categories: 2018 Favorites, Lips
Tags: Lipstick, Matte, Longwear, Liquid Lipstick
Example 3 – Marketing Blogger
Blog Post Title: How to choose the best Page Keywords
Relevant Categories: SEO
Tags: SEO, Keywords, Search Engine Optimization, On-Page SEO
It may be confusing because sometimes categories and tags can be interchanged.
A category is an overall topic. This makes it crazy easy for your visitors to know what kind of great information they will be receiving from you. Categories should absolutely be in your navigation but, again, to be user-friendly adding them to the sidebar for easy access is a great move. If they aren’t in your Navigation then they need to either be on your homepage or in your sidebar.
A social share bar is great to have in your sidebar. Be careful with the social widgets though. If you add a widget for every social media medium you have it will begin to get crowded.
My suggestion is to put one or two that you are most active in or want to promote and grow. You can utilize your footer for more real estate.
To keep from going into the social rabbit hole and getting social overwhelm, do a little research on where your target reader and ideal client hangs out. Then become active on those platforms.
Trying to stay active on 3 to 7 platforms is a full-time job if you do it properly… and who has time to do that? I mean besides me because that is what we do at Make Your Mark lol!
Relevant or Recent Posts or Pages
Adding relevant posts to your sidebar is a great way to keep visitors on your site longer. When I say relevant I mean relevant. If you are blogging about Christmas decorations your relevant post should not be “What to wear for your company 4th of July picnic”. Something along the lines of drink recipes for your holiday party would be more relevant.
Another option is to add Recent posts to your sidebar. This can help show your visitors the range of topics they can expect to see from you.
If you want to display both, my recommendation would be to display your relevant posts on the sidebar and your recent posts on the bottom of the blog. If you’ve purchased a great theme then it will have the option there for you at the bottom of your blog post.
This is a great place to add an optin. If you are looking to build your email list, this is more real estate you can utilize to do that. Make it enticing don’t just use the newsletter sign up widget. Create something that makes people look and then offer them something awesome so they sign up.
For more info on optins check out my Revamp your Homepage Design blog post.
Free 21 Page Interactive + Printable Checklist to
Grab your free copy to help you update your homepage and attract your ideal clients and inspire them to take action!
Most About sections I read bore me. So if you’re going to do it do it right! Be personable. You can accomplish this with a business as well, whether you are the face of it or not. When you create your about me/us section make it unique, fun, funny, or extremely informative depending on your niche.
Don’t write a novel you guys…you don’t have the space – keep it short, add credentials, and make them want you!
Add your affiliate links or any ads to your sidebar. Just like your “related posts” make sure your ads are relevant to what they are reading. If you have the correct theme or design this is very possible. If I were you I would make sure you ask your affiliate for a nice colour 300×300 or 300×600 piece of art for their ad that you can use for your site, in your brand colours if possible, so it is more appealing.
How should you organize all of this?
In whichever way makes the most sense, makes you the most money, is promoting what you want to promote, and helps you reach your blogging and business goals.
- If your goal is to gain more followers on your social media platforms then you need to make sure the social widgets are in the top 50% of your sidebar.
- If you want to increase page views and the time people are on your site reading then your blog posts then your relevant/recent posts, categories, or tags should be in the top 50 percent. The next most important items should be in the middle third.
- If you are looking to make money then your affiliate links and shop links/products should be in the top 50% of your sidebar
The worst is when someone’s sidebar is 2, 3 or 4 times longer than the actual content of the blog post. This means you clearly have too much information, too many ads or too many widgets. Remember when there is too much information your visitors stop looking. So you may want to incorporate your optins and social widgets into your actual blog post (like I did above), in the navigation, or the footer.
Last Tid Bit:
Why choosing the right theme or hiring the right designer is important.
The right theme, platform, and plugin will allow you to customize and change what information displays on a certain page easily.
For example; You may only want your optin on the pages that talk about a certain subject. Or may want to have different social media platforms on different pages.
So, when searching for themes, plugins or designers make sure you have flexibility and versatility.