3 Simple Ways To DeJunking Your WordPress Sidebar

Better Website

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.

1. Prioritize

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.

19 thoughts on “3 Simple Ways To DeJunking Your WordPress Sidebar”

  1. I will go and relook at my blog. Thanks for the tips. I have read studies that having your optin on the top right is the best place to put it. I will have to try both. #virtualbrainstorming

    1. That depends on your objective. If you’re building a list then yes that would be a great place for it but if you’ve got a webinar to promote then that would be it.

  2. After spending oodles of time designing my site, I realized that most people’s first entry is via my blog. Even though all my posts are on the Huffington Post first, this is people up close and personal intro to me. We had a custom designed sign up for my newsletter widget we designed and only the archives in the sidebar. We just added a photo and bio, kept the sign up for my newsletter with free book chapter, and have swamped out archives for categories. My blog sidebar is very temperamental and there are some challenges with spacing and colour codes holding, however, I feel the blog sidebar is very key as a way for people to see and know a bit more about you. I also didn’t know about the left or right option and for now, I’m sticking with what seems to be the most easy to work with. Right sidebar. Thanks for the post as it has me relooking at what is most important to me. Last piece is to add a “favourite posts” plugin so I can rotate blog posts and hopefully gain more traffic. Any suggestions for that, Lee? I know there are plugins that pull the last four blogs, however, I have that in my footer.

  3. You know, until reading your blog, I wasn’t giving my side bar much thought. I never thought to put my latest promotion on there & I love this idea. I’ve also heard that you can now add a Periscope “live” button. Not sure if that would be too distracting, but on the other hand, people can really get to know me even better by seeing me live.. Things to think about it! Thanks for the posts!!!

    1. If you’re trying to build your Periscope audience then a button could help. I would find it personally distracting and lead me into the social media rabbit hole and away from your site.

  4. Lee, Wish we had met so much earlier, great post! I have a few old sites on WP were in the process of taking them down but “NOW”, after reading your blog, I will rework one of the old sites to it’s best, The rest we taking off WP completely our 3 newest sites are in the making and are almost ready for launch. Thanks

  5. Great sidebar tips! After reading your post, I decided that I will revise my sidebar before the beginning of the year. I was able to make a list of the tasks and the areas of the side bar I want to change so I can either outsource the work or do it over a few months. Thanks for the motivation. I really appreciate it.

  6. A timely blog post, Lee. I’m in the midst of setting up a new blog and wasn’t sure what to include as the basics and what I could leave off. Understanding the roles of each piece makes my decisions easier. I wasn’t familiar with the conversion info about left vs. right side bars. Hmm, need to give mine a little more thought. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Glad it helped you Ruth. Conversions are different for everyone and a good rule of thumb is if it doesn’t make you money, leave it off.

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