You are wondering what to put in the sidebar of your blog / WordPress site?
Using WordPress widgets, you will customize the sidebar as you like.
There are a lot of tools to put in this section of your site.
Today I will reveal which ones can not be missing and how to use them best.
I also explain how to use the sidebar in my WordPress course, where you will find many other valuable tips and practical demonstrations for your project. Take a look at all our courses.
This guide is organized into three parts:
- In the first section, I’ll give you some general tips on how to make the most of the sidebar.
- I will introduce you to the best tools to achieve different goals in the second section.
- In the third, I’ll explain how to create and edit your sidebar.
We just have to proceed with the points I have listed for you.
1. What to put in the sidebar: general advice
After deciding what to put in the sidebar, you will need to think about which order to use to place the elements.
As a general rule, I recommend placing at the top the widgets that will have to capture the user’s attention, which will help you increase conversions.
This could be the subscription form to your newsletter or contact form.
Instead, I suggest reserving the lower part of the sidebar for elements that take users off your website, for example, to social pages.
These links are essential but remember that, in most cases, your goal will be to keep users on your site for as long as possible.
To sum up:
- Elements that convert/keep users on your site: above the fold (i.e., visible to the user without him having to scroll down).
- Features that take the user off the site: below the fold.
As I explained to you in this article on Web Design trends, colour is a powerful tool for highlighting the most critical sections of your website.
Use it in the sidebar to guide the user’s eye to the element that will help you convert more.
However, don’t overdo it. Remember that the sidebar is an always-visible section of your website.
For this reason, it will have to be in complete harmony with the design used for your pages.
The sidebar must be visible but not distract the user when he wants to read the contents.
Consider a “sticky” sidebar
After deciding what to put in the sidebar, you might consider making it sticky.
What does it mean to “make the sidebar sticky”?
A sticky element maintains its position even when the user scrolls up or down the page, always remaining visible.
This is especially useful if you are publishing very long articles.
To make your sidebar sticky, you can use a WordPress plugin called Q2W3 Fixed Widget.
Using the plugin is simple.
Install and activate it on your site.
After doing that, you will find the Fixed Widget Options menu under the Appearance heading in WordPress.
Suppose you use a theme with a responsive sidebar. In that case, you will need to activate the “Inherit widget width from the parent container” option.
Save your changes and then open the Widget menu.
Here, you will simply have to select the widget to make sticky, check the Fixed Widget option, and then save.
Now that you’ve read the general tips let’s see which tools (i.e., widgets) I suggest you use depending on the various objectives of your site.
2. Objectives and tools
As you read in the introduction, the sidebar is essential for generating conversions. These are requests for a quote, subscription to the newsletter, “I like” your Facebook page, etc.
Or, it can “simply” serve to facilitate navigation within your blog and extend the average duration of visits, helping to improve the positioning of your pages.
there what to put in the sidebar to get concrete results:
Generate leads and sales
If you are wondering what to put in the sidebar to increase requests for quotations and sales, two elements cannot be missing:
- Contact form: a contact form that users can fill out to send their requests. The best tool is, without a doubt, Contact Form 7. To add it to the sidebar, create a contact form and copy the shortcode into a text widget;
- Celebrity endorsement: testimonials are one of the most potent tools for increasing the credibility of your website. To add them to the sidebar, you can use a plugin or a plain text widget. Many plugins in the WordPress plugin directory allow you to add social proof to your site, such as WP Testimonials Rotator Widget.
Increase the number of subscribers to your list
In a guide on what to put on your site’s sidebar, you can’t fail to be mentioned the newsletter subscription form.
When users read content that interests them, they are more likely to subscribe to your newsletter. For this reason, placing the registration form in the sidebar, always visible next to the post, is an excellent strategy.
Among the best tools, I point out the plugin MailPoet and the web app MailChimp.
If you want to know more about these resources, read the article about them.
Make yourself known to your users.
Showing users your profile is another great way to increase the site’s credibility.
In addition to the classic About Us page, I suggest you take advantage of the sidebar by inserting a photograph and a few introductory lines to your profile.
You can do this using a simple text widget, in which I also recommend that you include the link to your About Us page.
Extend the average duration of visits and simplify navigation
As I said in the previous section, when you decide what to put in your site’s sidebar, you also need to think about how you can keep users on pages longer.
The best way to do this is by inserting links to other sections of your site or videos that users can watch directly on the page.
Some useful widgets for your site
There are several valuable widgets:
- Categories: widget present by default on your WordPress site. Shows the list of types of your blog categories. If you wish, how many articles have been published for each topic? This can help users looking for all posts published on the same subject or all available information on a product;
- Recent posts: this is a great way to “keep-alive” your sidebar; in fact, it will be updated every time you publish a new article. This is also one of the default built-in widgets in WordPress (you will notice that there is also a widget called “Recent comments,” To view the latest interactions from your users);
- Archive: list of articles published for each month;
- Popular posts: using a viral plugin called WordPress Popular Post. You will be able to show a list of the articles that have received the most views and the number of comments left on each of them. Ultimately, suppose your users liked this content. In that case, they offer the solutions they are looking for or are written in the language they want. The plugin WordPress Popular Postit’s free and allows you to preview posts organizing articles by category and publication date. You can also choose to show multiple pieces at the same time, choosing different settings for each one;
- Search field: if you have a lot of articles, it might be worth entering a search field (the search functionality has been dramatically improved with the introduction of WordPress 3.8). This element is also present by default in the widget section of your site. This is an element that can improve the user experience on your site;
- YouTube video: what to put in the sidebar to attract the user’s attention and make it stay on the page longer? A YouTube video. To do this, copy the code you see in the “Embed Code” section below the YouTube video you have chosen (starts with <iframe …) and paste it into a text widget.
Generate social interactions
Suppose you want to promote your presence on social networks in the sidebar of your site. In that case, you can not miss the social badges(remember, however, that these may lead users out of your site, as mentioned at the beginning of this guide.
I, therefore, advise you to insert them in the lower part of the sidebar ).
- Facebook: insert the plugin to show the number of likes;
- Twitter: this tool will bring up the feed of your latest tweets;
- Pinterest: this tool shows a selection of your latest pins;
- Instagram: a plugin that displays your latest photos posted on Instagram and allows users to follow you directly from your site.
Now you know what to put in the sidebar to perfectly integrate social activity on your WordPress site.
Earning from the sidebar
What to put in the sidebar to earn? Affiliate product advertising and badges.
You will need to have very significant traffic volumes with advertising programs.
This is, however, a strategy adopted by many.
There are several programs and tools to insert advertising banners in the sidebar.
Alternatively, you can dedicate a section of your sidebar to the badges of the products you promote as an affiliate(i.e., for which you receive a percentage of each sale). In this case, your affiliate partner will provide you with the codes for inserting the badges.
- How to add the various tools to the sidebar
Have you decided what to put in the sidebar of your site? Good job!
Now you just have to insert the widgets one by one and give shape to the sidebar.
If you have chosen items that require plugins, first, navigate to the “Plugin” section of your Dashboard. Now install and activate the identified tools (you can skip this step if you want to use the WordPress default widgets ).
Then, navigate to the “Appearance”> “Widgets” section and drag the tools you want to use onto the sidebar.
You can configure them by clicking on the small arrow you see on the right of each widget.
At any time, you can change the configurations of a widget or remove it by clicking on “Cancel.”
When you are satisfied, scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Save.”
At this point, your sidebar is ready.
In this guide, I have explained what to put in the sidebar, why it is essential to exploit it, and the best tools to use.
If you need advice on generating more conversions and/or making money with your site, contact me to arrange a personalized consultation.
But first of all, I’m interested in knowing your opinion:
What elements do you use in the sidebar?
Are there any other tools you recommend to anyone wondering what to put in the sidebar?
Let me know by leaving a comment.