Most blogs these days have a sidebar alongside the content on their pages. This is a great place to add things that you want every visitor to see as they find your blog. It’s for the important components that you don’t want to hide on a page or in a blog post. It’s vital that you are using this space properly, for a better user experience and so you can benefit from the sidebar.
Below are five things that you should have in your blog’s sidebar. The only exception is if you have a theme that allows these things to be placed elsewhere, such as the header.
1. Social Media Icons – This is possibly the most essential item to have in your sidebar. You want people to follow your blog, right? Being on Facebook and Twitter is an excellent way to gain new readers and notify followers when you have a new post. Make the social media icons front and center so people can follow you for updates.
2. Search function – Behind social media icons, I think the search function is also vital. There are so many designs and themes out there for blogs, it can be overwhelming for the average reader. The same is true if you have lots of categories and options in your navigation bar. Having a search button allows the reader to quickly find content on the topic they are searching for. If they don’t have a way to find what they want, it’s likely they will leave without reading anything.
3. Hot Posts – The sidebar is a great place to display your most popular posts of the moment. This gets them even more traffic. Aim to share posts in this space that have a great, captivating photo. If it doesn’t have one, make one! The visual aspect will have your readers clicking, increasing your page views and lowering your bounce rate.
4. Advertising (if monetizing your blog) – Because your blog’s sidebar shows up on every page, it is prime real estate for ads. Whether you sell ad space or use affiliate ads, the banners in the sidebar are likely to draw the attention of your readers as they scroll down your page. Just be careful not to overdo it — too many ads down the sidebar can affect loading times and make your blog look spammy or like you’re just in it for the money.
5. Recent Posts – Along with showcasing images for your hottest posts, a list of your latest posts should also be included in the sidebar. This is especially true if you have your website set to only show 2-3 blog posts on the home page. The older posts can bumped off onto a second page, and they could be missed if someone hasn’t visited your blog in a couple weeks or more. List the 5-7 most recent posts so they are sure to get eyes on them.
What are your must-have’s for a blog’s sidebar?