When it comes to WordPress sidebars, they have been around for a long time. While there are many themes that have full page layouts, most bloggers have preferred having at least one sidebar.
People tend to use their sidebars like their favorite junk drawers, cramming in everything they're not sure has a place anywhere else.
It can be tempting to cram in as much as possible, and if you're not careful, you'll end up with an area that overwhelms and distracts your visitor.
Does your blog need a sidebar?
People come to your site for information, to read your content. Those who love your stuff will engage by commenting and share your stuff. No sidebar needed.
So think about this while reading a page of information. Will you stop to look at the information contained in the sidebar? If you do, you often get sidetracked and lose interest in the article.
So, why then use the WordPress sidebar? It's where you get people to do stuff. It's also where you can promote products and services.
Should you always use the WordPress sidebar?
That depends, but first let's look at what the standards are in every theme.
- The search bar: A way for your readers to easily search your content
- Recent posts/popular posts: Showcasing your best posts to that readers can find your best articles.
- RSS and social network links: Everyone needs subscribers and followers right, and this is how you get them there.
- Archives: Sames as recent posts but it shows all he articles you've written.
- Ads and promotions: Ways to showcase things you've got going on or products you endorse
See, there's a lot you can include, and I recommend using a sidebar but not necessarily on all pages.
Sidebars should be included on the pages you are trying to make money. And that includes improving conversions through list building.
To the left or to the right?
Although I'm a righty girl, it's been proven that items on the left side convert better.
Quicksprout tested the left versus the right sidebar options and found that there was a 9% drop in blog post reading and a 13% increase in opt-ins.
Because people read left to right you can clearly see why the left placed WordPress sidebar would be more effective. But according to the numbers above, you can also see that the placement depends on the purpose.
Determining what to include.
Make a list of the important and must-have elements. If you're selling stuff, then the shopping cart would be the most important. However, if you're a speaker, then your most current gig or schedule would be it for you.
2. Trash filler items
If it doesn't make you money or add value to your readers, get rid of it. Many bloggers value badges, but your readers may not care one way or the other. To them, they are clutter. You can take those items and showcase them at the end of the blog page in an “as seen in” type of display.
Others might include a tag cloud. If you're featuring most popular posts or categories, there is no need for the cloud of words; it's wasted space.
3. Promote yourself first
Remember your sidebar is there for conversions and money making right? When people take that action, you've lost them from that page. It's important that you keep them on your site as long as possible. Do this by promoting your services or products.
Your sidebars say a lot about you and are an important part of your page design. Remember it's a piece of your marketing, make sure you present your visitors with the best choices for them. Stop throwing stuff in there to see what sticks.
If you're not sure that your WordPress sidebar is working for you, drop a line or leave a comment below.