What You Should Place In Your WordPress Sidebar

sidebar widgetsYour WordPress sidebar possesses some prime real estate on your blog or niche website, so it’s interesting how many people seem to simply set it up with the standard default settings. Whether you utilize one or two sidebars I want to share with you what you really should place in your WordPress sidebar.

You may not agree with all of my recommendations and that’s okay. Sometimes what you place in this prime territory is limited by the theme you use, your blog/niche topic, and yes, your personal preference. After running through my list, leave me a comment or two to let me know if you agree or to tell me I have a couple screws loose.

WordPress Widgets You Should Place In Your Sidebar

Bio Box

Actually I’m rather neutral about having an About Me or some such widget on your sidebar as I think it really depends on how your blog is set up and your site focus. You might have noticed that I don’t have one. I did once and it linked to my Meet Marilyn Thompson page but I feel it’s unnecessary for this site.

Granted as a blogger you want people to get to know you because being upfront is what it’s all about but I’d rather you get to know me through my content, my writing style, and by commenting. Then if you want to know more about my exciting background you can check out my About page.

Tip: If you do use a Bio Box add your picture, it makes it more friendly

Opt-in Widget

Opt-in widgetI know you’ve heard that it’s all about your list, that it’s important for your readers to subscribe so that you can keep in touch and build your following. You’ll notice I use an Opt-in so that you can download my eBook, jump on over there to the upper right if you haven’t yet.

Typically you want to have some type of enticement to encourage your reader to opt-in, not simply a box the reads “Enter Your Info Here”. People have become accustomed to Opt-in boxes that deliver something in return, so offer a free report, eBook, or subscription to your newsletter.

Tip: Make your Opt-in Box noticeable by placing it above the fold but not flashy and obtrusive.

Promotions

Let’s presume that you want to make money with your blog or niche site, that it’s not simply a hobby. There are a number of ways to promote products and solutions in your content but take advantage of your sidebar real estate. Don’t simply create a long list of banners and ads, think about your audience and provide resources to they be looking for.

Make sure that the products or services you promote are credible and pertain to your blog topic. The focus of my site here is to provide blogging tips and help you achieve your online business dreams, If I were to place ads for dog treats or baby strollers they might sell but they would be out of place.

Tip: Place an ad for something that helps your reader above the fold not simply something animated that draws attention.

Search Box and Category Listing

Provide your visitor with a means to find a particular topic on your blog. This is especially useful for your frequent followers as they may recall that they read about a particular topic and want to find it again quickly. Help them to do so by placing a Search Box in the upper area of your sidebar or the header if your theme allows.

A category listing is a super way for your readers to find other topics of interest on your blog, but please oh please, don’t simply add a long list of categories to your sidebar. If you always write about 6 or 7 topics then okay go ahead and list them all. But remember you want to have room for more widgets not simply a long listing of categories.

Tip: If you write posts under many categories use a dropdown menu as I have.

Social Media Buttons

Follow MeI’m all in favor of placing social media buttons in numerous locations on your blog, above a post, below a post, and most definitely in the sidebar. The sidebar though is where you place the social buttons so readers can connect with you, this is where you add the links to your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ accounts, and others if you like. Add a heading such as Follow Me, or Let’s Connect to help them take action.

Tip: Test your links every so often to make sure they take the reader where they should. Internet gremlins have been known to mess with links that you seldom check.

Popular Posts

You always want readers to check out other articles you have written so don’t simply leave it to them to start clicking around through your menus and such, chances are they won’t, they’ll simply leave. So make it easy for them by listing your popular or recommended posts in a sidebar widget. Chances are they may find another article that looks of interest and they’ll hang around a while. This is also a reason why you want to use headlines that make readers click.

Tip: Don’t simply use the default Recent Posts widget, use a text box and populate it with your more popular or most commented posts. These are the posts that may entice the reader to stay longer on your site.

WordPress Widgets You Should Never Place In Your Sidebar

Tag Cloud

OMG I hate tag clouds! What is the purpose? Maybe it’s me but I ask you – how many people really click on tag clouds to read additional posts? Not me. For the most part they look amateurish. Sorry if you use them, I did too way back when, but no more.

Blogroll

You don’t find this widget used much any longer and that’s a good thing,  I understand that they are intended to be used for attracting traffic and backlinks but use another approach. You might notice that I have a Blogs and Other Sites I Like (which I need to update) that links to other sites I feel of interest to my reader.

Recent Comments

Now I know many of you will honestly think I’ve fallen off the deep end by stating this but I ask – do you really click on the list of comments to read any? Not me. Maybe it’s supposed to be a social thing and show that people leave comments on your blog as some people include the number of comments by a reader as well. Me, I just say why.

So what do you think of my list, do you agree or do you think I have a couple screws loose.

 

To your hard-earned success,
Marilyn T

Comments

  1. I’m trying to figure out what to put in my sidebars too. I’ve gone back and forth with some things and it does depend on what type of site it is for me.
    Jenn Alex Brockman recently posted…Cleaning the Beach is like organizing your home officeMy Profile

  2. Agree with all of these, especially the ones not to include. I absolutely detest when I see a tag could on someone’s blog. They look ridiculous. I’m a huge fan of the search even on smaller blogs. I actually use my own search a lot to see if I have any related content that I should link to in my new blog posts. Helps me find them faster.
    Misty Spears recently posted…Kindle Book Publishing Project Update #3 – Fleshing Out that Content!My Profile

  3. I don’t have a search on my blog. I think I read somewhere that you shouldn’t have a search. Why ever not? I can’t think of any reason not to have it now so I just went off and did a search on Google for “why you should not have a search function on your blog” and found the place I read that on. It was socialtriggers.com (Derek Halpern’s site). Apparently the reason is that if you don’t have a ton of content on your site, people are more likely to be disappointed by a search than happy with the results, so if you don’t want to upset them leave it off – unless you have a lot of content and most of their searches covered. I have 190 posts now but wonder if that’s enough.
    Ana recently posted…20 Different Types Of KissesMy Profile

  4. I think it’s important to mention that the optin box and your social media links for people to follow you should be ABOVE the fold. This means visitors should not have to scroll down to find them. They should see them immediately upon landing on your blog page.
    Bonnie Gean recently posted…My Top 10 Favorite BlogsMy Profile

  5. I always wondered about the use of the Tag Cloud thing. Weird. I still have a few things to add to my sidebar – a link to my bio page, a link and image to my PLR store and social buttons, which I have on each post but not the home page.

    Thanks for the reminder 🙂
    Victoria Virgo recently posted…10 Reasons You Should Join The 30 Day Writing Challenge GroupMy Profile

  6. Hi Marilyn! I have now bookmarked your blog so I can come back and read more tips. This is a great, informative post. I never thought about most of these ideas you mentioned – and I confess that I do use a couple that you said NOT to use! I did get rid of my Tag Cloud awhile back, at least! I have some very empty prime real estate, though, as you put it, so I’ll have to do some remodeling on my blog! Thanks for sharing these!
    K. Lee Banks recently posted…Guest Blog Post Featuring Nicki Jacoby on Perfection and BathroomsMy Profile

    • Welcome K. Lee, so nice to see a new face.

      I’m very pleased you’re finding my posts helpful, if there’s anything you would like info about or help with please let me know.

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