What Items Should You Put On Your Blog’s Sidebar

Share:

What Items Should You Put On Your Blog’s SidebarOur blog content is what brings our readers to us closer but a blog’s sidebar definitely has its part to play as it display useful and important information. It’s part of human nature to want more stuff and our blog’s sidebar is one place where we always stuff as many information as possible for our readers. Having a widget ready sidebar in our theme can be a breeze but it also can make our blog look cluttered and untidy if we put too much information in it.

Even though i am in the blogging niche, you can see on the sidebar i have various categories on blogging, SEO, social media, weekly roundup, traffic report etc. There was originally a total of 13 categories and i deleted three of them due to the suggestion of Steve Roy in a post he had written.

After doing that, i started to think about whether my sidebar has too much stuff and does it distract readers from focusing their eyeballs on the content.

What can you put on your sidebars?

There are lots of items you can insert in your sidebar and below are the ones i can think of.

  • Social buttons
  • Subscription Form and buttons
  • Email opt in list box
  • About page
  • Search box
  • Ads
  • Facebook fan page
  • Recent post
  • Recent comments
  • Most popular/commented post
  • Categories
  • Pages
  • Archives
  • Blogroll
  • Tag cloud
  • Badges
  • Donation buttons

Of course i cannot cover all but i guess these are the most common ones you can find in a blog’s sidebar. There are also plugins such as “Top Commentators” that you can put on the sidebar. Do you put them all in? Of course not, nobody will ever do that unless you decide to quit blogging.

What is the main purpose of a blog’s sidebar?

Before you decide what widgets you want, you need to understand why you need a sidebar, in other word what is its main purpose. Your headline and content is the one that attracts people to stay in your blog, then the purpose of a sidebar is to make them stay longer. It should be able to help you to attract more pageviews as well as display some important information to let your readers understand what your blog is all about.

You can also use it to monetize your blog where you can put some ads there. The most common ads space is the 125 X 125 ads banner. The options you can use in your blog’s sidebar is limitless.

What Items should you put on your Sidebar?

It depends. You got to judge by yourself which is your priority.

Is connection and engagement with your readers your priority?

Then you may want to show your social profiles button above the fold which people can find easily.

Are you selling ads space in your blog?

Then your ads banner need to high up so that the conversion which leads to sale is higher.

There you can see, it really depends on you. The higher your ads banner is, your earning may be higher but at the same time you are sending people earlier to leave your site. No matter which niche you are in, i always prefer to see these four items on a blog’s sidebar when i visit a blog.

Four essential items your readers should see

There are so many choices for your sidebar but there are four which you must have in your blog.

1. Subscription option

Be it a list or feedburner subscription. You need to provide options for people to subscribe if you want loyal readers.

2. Social profile button

Twitter, Facebook, the latest Google +, Linklein or any other social networks you are in, these are the place where people can find you and networking with you.

3. Most popular post

Your most popular content don’t have to hide under the archives. You need to dig them out and put them in front of your readers.

4. Search box

There are times when people know the content comes from your blog but they are not willing to explore the archives and look for them. This is when your search box comes in handy.

Your sidebar widgets should not be permanent

We get confuse sometimes when we are given too much choices. Whatever you put on your sidebar, you have your reasons for doing that but your sidebar widgets should not be permanent. I took down the recent comments widget today due to the suggestion of Steve Roy. Recent comments widget is to encourage interaction. Come to think of it, i no long require this since i have installed the Reply Me plugin which sent an email directly when i reply to the comment.

I have also changed my “WordPress Popular Post Tool” plugin to “WordPress Popular Tool” Plugin. The difference is the former classify posts with post comments as most popular post. The latter gives more option as you can select based on pageviews and comments too.

Most commented ≠ Most popular

Some of your post may have lots of comments but it may not attract any pageviews from your visitors. Take a look at this in-page analytics from Google.

In Page Analytics

From the image, you can see only two post attracts some clicks for the past one month. They are not the post that attract the most pageviews. In other words, not too many people are interested to read the rest of the post even they attract a lot of comments. I will try the other plugin but it will take some time to capture the pageview data, starting from the date when it’s installed. I will definitely update you on this if i see any difference.

Conclusion

There are plenty of choices for us when we are inserting widgets in our sidebar. We have to restrict ourselves from going overboard and try to keep things as simple as possible. Consider each sidebar widget carefully whether you require them and make sure it’s helpful to you.

What are your thoughts about your blog sidebar?

Which widgets do you think is essential in a blog’s sidebar?

Please share your experiences with us.

Please Share this Post

Please help to share the post by tweeting or using the social buttons you can find here. I definitely welcome more people to talk about this topic. Thank you.

Cheers,

About Lye Kuek Hin

Comments

  1. Hey Lye. Good list of items to include, I think the most critical issue is the order you place these items, and which items you choose to put above the fold. I’m toying with switching to a left sidebar verses right as I’ve read that items on the left get clicked more. Not using too many ads and having content of value is key to success with a sidebar.

    • Lye Kuek Hin says:

      Hi Daniel,

      I agree. It’s always important to prioritize items that we think is important to us.

      Though most people are comfortable to see content on the left and sidebar on the right, there is nothing wrong in doing vice versa. I guess you need to do some split testing to know which one works best for you.

      Thanks for the comments. Appreciate you dropping by.

      Lye

  2. Lye, solid list of good items to include in your sidebar. (some very important blog real estate.

    Not sure if I simply never noticed it before but I like the graphics for your “let’s connect”.

    I recently found another cool idea for sidebar. Check out the “Stumble Upon” button on my site now. It randomly stumbles articles for your blog that are in the SU database.

    All credit for this idea goes to Tristan at bloggingbookshelf. He has a nice little write up on this (and a graphic) at his site. I think it is a nice sidebar addition you do not see very often.

    • Lye Kuek Hin says:

      Hi Steve,

      I can’t remember which site i got it from but i got to know these icons from a WordPress blog i subscribe. Glad you like them mate.

      That was a cool post by Tristan. I am still considering as i already have the stumble button in my post. Probably you can write us a post regarding your results if it works well for you.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

      Lye

  3. The 3 absolute sidebar essentials are:

    1) A subscribe via email box (the money is in the list!)

    2) Social sharing buttons – the amount of times i wanted to share a post but couldnt find the share buttons is shocking!

    3) Top posts. Showcase your best content so that your best foot is always put forward :)

    • Lye Kuek Hin says:

      Hi Sandip,

      Hands up for the choices mate. These three are important and essential.

      Thanks for joining in the discussion.

      Lye

  4. Lye,

    You have compiled a great list!

    However, I’m trying to steer away of adding too much stuff there, because eventually I want visitors to opt-in to my list and not get distracted too much.

    Just opt-in box, resources and perhaps something else, but nothing too fancy.

    Cheers,
    Timo

    • Lye Kuek Hin says:

      Hi Timo,

      If opt-in is your priority, then you should put them above the fold an reduce other unnecessary distraction.

      Besides that, you would like to put them in your about page and below your post.

      Thanks for the comments.

      Lye

  5. Great Post, the Subscription box, the Search box and Social media links are very important.
    They are the three “S”.

  6. Informative post but you could have also given procedure or links through which these can be uploaded on to the blog.I am in search of link for Email option/ Subscription option and social buttons.

    • Lye Kuek Hin says:

      Hi S.R,

      For subscription, you may want to make use of feedburner. You can look for social icons in iconfinder. The icons are free and you can use them in your site.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

      Lye

  7. Great post Lye, you have shared all aspects of Sidebar usage. Keep up the good work.

  8. I want to put these all things if it in my hand but i will give much priority to social buttons where i can make networking with many people.

    • Lye Kuek Hin says:

      Hi Sam,

      You need to hold some restriction as too many items will become a distraction.

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Lye

  9. Sidebar is used basically for money making purpose, I mean you can post ads or affiliate links which helps you to make money.

    • Lye Kuek Hin says:

      Hi Priya,

      Sure it can be used for monetization. However i suggest take it down if it is not converting well.

      Thanks for the comments.

      Lye

  10. You can use sidebar to show more interesting things which your readers may like to read or willing to click on links.

    • Lye Kuek Hin says:

      Hi Aanchal,

      You can do that. It’s actually up to individual preference. Just make sure your readers find it helpful because the sidebar is not for us.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

      Lye

  11. Hi, Lye!
    Your sidebar is quite all right, as it doesn’t bother browsing the post. But some bloggers tend to have really annoying sidebars with social buttons always following you… it just makes you loose nerves with it. As you say, they can look very messy and untidy. Sometimes, it is even hard to post a comment because of them.
    Why making things harder when they can be easier and not as intrusive?

    • Lye Kuek Hin says:

      Hi Kristina,

      I guess you are talking about some social sharing buttons. I don’t know what’s the plugin called but it can be distracting when it follows as you scroll. I don’t like that as well.

      Thanks for the comments.

      Lye

  12. Hi, Lye
    As far as I can see more and more bloggers are using the sidebar that you have (with social buttons) placed on the left of your blog. That’s a nice variant as the sidebar doesn’t prevent you from reading the content but at the same timt you don’t have to scroll anywhere to share the article. Also it’s useful to add it at the eng of the article. But the sidebars that are always in front of your eyes are really annoying.

    • Lye Kuek Hin says:

      Hi Josh,

      I am not talking about the social sharing sidebar instead i am talking about the widgets sidebar on the right.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Lye

  13. Great opinions. Before reading this i only use categories and a search box in sidebar but now i have lots of options which can encourage my visitors to stay long.

    • Lye Kuek Hin says:

      Hi Rakesh,

      Only install what you need. We need to restrict else our sidebar will get cluttered and messy.

      Thanks for the comments.

      Lye

  14. That was a good post on sidebar usage. I have just included “Facebook Like” widgets, recent posts and popular pages. I believe I need to include search and subscription buttons.

  15. The truth is, i rarely look at the sidebar. and when i do, i’m interested in two things: feeds, and categories. The first is self explanatory, i want subscribe to blogs i like, the second one is a must, clicking Next on the front page gets tiresome after a while, you need some kind of structure.
    Anything else on he sidebar i mostly ignore, it’s just noise.

    • Lye Kuek Hin says:

      Hi Richard,

      Options for subscription is a must. I guess you are a fan of minimalists :). Ultimately we need to prevent from clutter our sidebar and our site.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

      Lye

  16. Putting stuffs on one’s blog sidebar is the way to go but a blogger needs to make sure of not putting too much in order to avoid confusing his/her readers. I actually had same experience before where I ended up not clicking any of the sidebar. Imagine almost 40% of the whole pages where eaten up by sidebar stuffs. LOL

    • Lye Kuek Hin says:

      Hi Maria,

      Sidebar is a place where we put the most important information where it is necessary. Other than that, we should not see the sidebar fill up with widgets.

      Thanks for the comments.

      Lye

  17. As a new blogger this is a good checklist of things I need to do on my site. I really like the idea of ‘social blogging’, but there is so much info out there that it can be difficult for the newbie.

  18. Recent post, Recent comments, Most popular/commented post and Categories are the most common items found on blogs sidebar. I guess these four are what visitors after of. With these items present on a blogger’s sidebar, it can guide the readers for the other posts that might also be useful to them.

    • Lye Kuek Hin says:

      Hi Greg,

      The four that you have mentioned are indeed the most common to be found in the sidebar. Every blogger love to keep their visitors as long as possible in their blog. The link to other post will attract the readers to continue reading thus decreasing the bounce rate.

      Thanks for the comments.

      Lye

      • Yes! The more interesting post they can find within the sidebar, the more chances to keep the visitor keep reading into your site. It’s a proven fact for me.

  19. Sidebars are definitely very important for any blog. Here I think the blog owner should put information that he or she thinks will be of benefit to the reader. It all depends on ones preferences. Awesome post.

  20. I always look for Recent post, search bar and recent comments gadget whenever I visit a blog. These are the most useful gadgets for a blog I guess.

  21. Arjun Rai says:

    Category, facebook fans and recent blogs are the most important points which i would like to add on my sidebar.

  22. Karan lugani says:

    The sidebar monetization depends on the niche and type of blog. A popular blog may have to cover up ads and more while a new blog had loads of space to add the widgets.

  23. So far, I’ve seen lots of blogs who add so many things on their sidebar. I think some of the most commonly used items that are presented on their sidebar are the following: recent comments, recent post, categories, pages, archives, blogroll, subscription button, search box and about page.

    • I agree with you but i will prefer to add few things on side bar which visually makes comfortable to the user and few things like recent posts and social networking links is perfect for that.

  24. I think the right answer is all the widgets that engage with your readers. Social Media buttons, subscriptions, other posts are 100% necessary in the sidebar. So check your blog and fix it if it does not match the advice the author of this blog gave us.

  25. I prefer to put “top commentators” recent posts, social and subscription widget on my sidebar.

Speak Your Mind

*