Yeah me too. But your blog's sidebar is not a dumping ground for things you don't know what to do with like random menus and old logos. Think carefully what will be attractive to your ideal readers and prospects.

Not sure what to put in your sidebar? Here are seven of the most common things found in sidebars

  1. Mailing list opt-in box – collecting names and email addresses of people that visit your site can be one of the most important things you do. Utilising the space on your sidebar, above the fold, for an opt-in box is one of the first things you should set up on your blog's sidebar.
  2. Category navigation – be sure to let your readers know what they'll find on your blog. You can do this by including your blog categories (or even tags) in the sidebar.
  3. Recent posts – when people come to your blog, they want to see recent content you've published. Use the sidebar to display recent posts. This will allow your reader to quickly and easily see what they may not have read yet and enable the reader to click easily around your blog.
  4. Ads – be careful if you're going to include advertisements. Make sure they are relevant to what your readers are interested in and don't get carried away. Keep it to 1-2 at a time.
  5. Archives – use a dropdown option to include your blog archives if you like, although, in a typical WordPress blog, the date archives aren’t very reader-friendly.
  6. Bio – you've probably seen the blogs where the sidebar has a little ‘about the owner's box with an image. You can do this and link this information to your about page.
  7. Search bar – If readers can’t find what they want in your navigation, or your category or tag structure, a search box will do the trick.

You'll more than likely be making all these sidebar changes by using widgets so you'll need to make sure that during your theme selection process, you choose one that is widget ready. Also note that when you change themes, you may lose some widgets you already had in place. If you find some of them missing, check the “Inactive Widgets” section at the bottom of the widget dashboard.

Sidebars and footers are also the ideal home for your social media buttons. I prefer these at the bottom of the sidebar so they don't take the reader from your blog immediately, but enable the reader to progress through the site and get a feel for who you are.

Advanced WP blogging tip:

Customise your sidebar depending on the category you're using for that post.  I use over at Birds on the Blog. Each contributor has their own things in the sidebar. The only problem with this is when your authors want to tick multiple categories!

If you have differing ideal customers and want to target the offers you present then customising your sidebar will enable you to do that with ease.

Sarah x


Sarah & Kevin Arrow

Sarah and Kevin Arrow have been in the thick of the online marketing world since 2006, and they're buzzing to share their know-how right here with you! If you're keen to get noticed, they're the experts you'll want to talk to. Why not schedule a call or send them a quick message? They're all ears and can't wait to hear from you!

  • Thanks Sarah!

    I really like all seven tips, but I really like where you advise us to make sure that if we change themes, that the new theme is indeed widget ready!

    And # four, which is to be cautious about plastering too many blatant advertisements in the sidebar area as well. Very sound advice indeed!

    A little testing and tracking should help us as well! Thanks for offering seven extremely practical tips!

    That are not at all complicated to implement. Thanks!

  • All great points. Ads are a bit annoying but for bloggers who make their living from them – two is just not enough.
    I wonder, is there a rotating ad widget so they can change ads with each page load?

  • Hi Sarah. You know, you idea of having the social media connect buttons at the bottom is a good one! I would never have thought of that. I have a search box, categories, 2 ads, a subscribe widget and then the rest are boxes. I have Facebook Like and CommentLuv. I recently added a Twitter widget, which I like. Thanks for the new idea!

    All the best,

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