What you post in your sidebar is important. It should do two things:
- It should relate directly to the goals of your blog.
- It should help your readers.
It should lead your visitors through your pages and help them with what you want them to do.
Blogs have different purposes and different designs. So there is no 1 size fits all approach but read on and you will find my must haves for your sidebar.
First of all decide what your blog's ultimate goal is at the moment: get more readers, get readers to subscribe to a newsletter, sell a product, get more pageviews.
Secondly decide what your visitor is looking for.
MUST HAVES FOR A GOOD VISITOR EXPERIENCE:
1. Search bar
2. A short profile with your credentials. Credentials could be where you have blogged or books you have written that relate to your niche.
3. Further reading - this could be called 'Popular Posts' "Latest Posts' "Recent Posts' etc and will take the visitor to other posts in your site.
4. If you have many readers from other countries they may appreciate a translate button.
WHAT YOU WANT IS DIFFERENT THAN YOUR VISITOR.
If you want visitors to subscribe to your course or email them you should have an Call to Action i.e an email capture e.g.
Sign Up for my Latest Posts
Get my Newsletter each week
Get my pdf on ....
Sign up for my course on ...If you want visitors to connect with you on social media you could add your icons (if they are not somewhere else on your site)
If you are trying to make money with your blog - your product could be in the sidebar. If you are trying to make money with adsense/ another network or affiliate marketing place 1 or 2 of these in the sidebar. Personally I find more than this becomes a little overwhelming. remember these all take readers off your blog and away from you and they may never return.
WHAT TO REMOVE FROM YOUR SIDEBAR
1. Mega Data - if you are on wordpress this is automatically on your site and must be removed as it
can affect how search engines see your site, as it creates a link to your log in page from every page of your blog. This may be why you have not been getting much organic search traffic.
2. Archives - that are just a list of date. Who is using this? No one! When I come to your site I cannot use it to search by as it does not give me a list of topics, just a list of dates. The only thing it tells me is how long you have been blogging. If this is important to you put it in your profile i.e "blogging since 2011".
EXAMPLES OF SIDEBARS from the experts. ( I figure they have researched and tested what works over many years and are up to date with current trends). So check these out:
copyblogger - currently has a call to action, affiliate add link, search bar, social media icons and Popular articles. (They do not have a profile as they are a business)
microsoft - has only 2 things - More News and Stay Connected (They do not have a profile as they are a business)
Maria Forleo - Call to Action, followed by a luverly profile pic with Oprah (giving her massive credibility) and then Top Picks (of her blog). That's it.
Chris Brogan - cleverly combines his picture in his Call to Action right at the top of his sidebar, then Most Recent blog posts, then his Supporters (really his affiliate links).
Retro Housewife Goes Green - Lisa has her profile, social media icons, 1 add and her top posts.
The Great Fitness Experiment - Charlotte has her book and 1 other credential and that's all.
A Cup of Jo - Joanna has her pic and Call To action, social media icons, an add, This Month Most Popular, and 1 other add.
Did you find this article helpful? I would love to hear your thoughts on what should be in a sidebar in the comments.