Throughout the years, there’s been a big debate over what you need in your sidebar. Search bars, opt-in boxes, and a few other widgets have been among the top of the list.
You, most likely, are using the wrong elements in your sidebar. It is a valuable space on your website that isn’t intrusive to readers, but can have a great CTR. It’s there, but it’s not getting in anybody’s way. Pretty cool.
Want to find out what your sidebar actually needs? Let’s get started.
Let’s Check Some Popular Blogs
During the redesign, I decided to redo the entire sidebar – the old one had some things in it that just didn’t do me any good. Thus, I decided to observe some of the top bloggers and create a report. These blogs include;
Wewh, that was a long list – 15 blogs that have achieved some form of success in their respective niches. Whether they have received large amounts of traffic, have a lot of subscribers, or are just known for being A-List blogs, they all have significance. Thus, I thought they’d be the best blogs to observe.
What I Found
After spending about an hour looking into the sidebars of each blog (and then recording the results), I found something that kind of surprised me – most of the contents of the sidebar where the same.
I felt as if I was continuously adding a checkmark to the same field for each of the 15 blogs. With such large gaps in niches, I never would have imagined that they’d be so closely related.
Newsletter Widgets – A Must
With all but three blogs utilizing a newsletter widget in their sidebar, it is pretty easily to conclude that they convert and are needed. Most of the blogs that didn’t utilize one didn’t have a newsletter, so perhaps they shouldn’t count here.
The results from individual A/B testing, subscription rates, and several other factors must lead these 12 bloggers to use the widget. It’s pretty genius, too – the opt-in box isn’t intrusive, yet it is visible to any users who actually look for it.
Being Social Works
Ten of the observed blogs had some form of advertisements when it came to their social networks. One thing I found consistent, though, was that Facebook was marketed more aggressively – it was used in its own widget quiet often.
My own testing lead me to be in agree-ance with the fact that social networks should be displayed – I get at least 5 followers among my social networks a day from my sidebar buttons. You should definitely utilize it.
Advertisements, Search Bars, and Popular Posts
I’m probably not the only one who’s been hearing a lot of bloggers talk about the death of advertisements being a main source of income. The investigation, however, proved that they are still effective – they were in use in a number of the blogs.
With an equal amount of popularity, popular posts (that’s a bit of an awkward wording, isn’t it?) appeared on seven of the blogs. It’s a smart move to use a popular posts widget – you can help readers find more content that is, well… Popular!
Search bars were also a common trend. While I don’t feel it belongs in the sidebar, I do think a search bar is needed on your website. Your sidebar should be reserved for more of the “sticky” things, so try and relocate it – I put my search bar in my navigation.
Why Does Any of This Matter?
You may be wondering why the results I found from 15 blogs even matters to you.
While looking for websites to observe, I was careful to only pick those that are popular, try and improve websites often, and believe in testing new things.
Most of these websites (ProBlogger and SmartPassiveIncome are two great examples) would never just throw something up without testing it. Only things that convert well will be passed on – it’s silly to use one bad solution when there is a good solution.
I really hope that nobody just grabs every widget I mentioned in my report (which you can download below). That’d not only be stupid, but it’d be a waste of my efforts – they are nearly suggestions. Before doing anything permanently, go ahead and do some testing. Just because it works for these blogs doesn’t mean it will work for you.
If you’d like to download the report, feel free to use the below links:
- Click here if you use Excel.
- Click here if you use OpenOffice.
- Click here if you use Ubuntu OS (like me!).
What’s in Your Sidebar?
Photo Credit: Thumbnail | Newsletter | Search