DIGITAL MARKETING SINCE 1998

A blog sidebar – do you actually need one? The pros and cons

blog sidebar

Free Course: How I Grew My Hobby Blog from $0 to 6 Figures in 3 years

Learn from my 20+ years in digital marketing with this free 8-part video series delivered direct to your inbox

Table of Contents

As you might have guessed, I haven’t used a blog sidebar for a while. I’ll explain why shortly, and why you might want to consider using one. 

A blog sidebar can be a great way to include additional content on your site that isn’t directly related to the post you’re reading. 

However, it does take up valuable space and distracts from the main content of your site. In this article, we’ll explore what are some of the pros and cons of having a blog sidebar, so you can decide for yourself whether or not it’s right for you.

What Is a Blog Sidebar?

A blog sidebar is a secondary column on your site where you can include additional content that isn’t directly related to the post you’re reading. 

They are found in a typical WordPress theme.

Sidebars could be used for anything from ads for other products, links to external sites or social media accounts, archives of older posts, and more. 

A WordPress sidebar can have a widget area. 

Sidebars are often vertical in orientation rather than horizontal. A left sidebar is typically used for site navigation, and a right sidebar used for content or promotions. 

Although some developers prefer to have sidebars with two columns instead of one so it’s easier to read supplemental information while browsing a website without scrolling back and forth between pages.

What Are The Pros Of Having A Blog Sidebar?

The benefits of a blog sidebar include the following:

– Additional advertising opportunities. 

– Links to other relevant content, such as recent posts, a popular post or external sites with related information. 

– The ability to provide additional navigation options for visitors, such as categories and subcategories that may not be otherwise accessible via traditional menu bars at the top or bottom of each page. 

What Are The Cons Of Having A Blog Sidebar?

A potential downside is that sidebars can clutter up a blog post when too much information is included in them. 

This could frustrate visitors and lead to them abandoning your blog.

How To Avoid Potential Sidebar Clutter

There are a few ways you can avoid sidebar clutter, including the following: 

– Keep sidebars small by limiting or eliminating extraneous links to other pages on your blog; this could include “tag” labels for posts that may not have an easily accessible category label, such as “news.” 

For example, if there’s no easy way for visitors to navigate back through all of your previous news posts without scrolling up and down multiple times per post, then it might make sense to limit those tags so they only show up once in the sidebarwith an open link below each one. 

This keeps things tidy while still allowing people who want more As a result, it’s important to focus on providing only the most relevant links and information for visitors.

What should you put on your blog sidebar?

In my opinion, a custom sidebar should be used for lead generation. 

This means adding an opt-in form so people can subscribe to your email list. 

Having a great Call To Action (CTA) is essential for this to work. Ideally, you should offer a free gift in exchange for people to subscribe. 

A free ebook, pdf report, or video usually makes for a good free gift; sometimes called lead magnets. 

As long as the lead magnet addresses one of your target audience’s pain points, it should convert. 

There are many plugins available that let you add email forms. 

And adding some social media links to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram might be beneficial too. 

However, these should be placed below the fold if possible. 

Think of all links to other websites as exit signs. You don’t want people to leave your blog, but you do want them to have a way of following you on social media. 

You might also want to add a blogroll so visitors can easily access your favorite blogs, which is a common way to cross-promote with other websites that have a similar blogroll that includes your website. 

Should a blog have a sidebar?

I think it has to be your call.

If you want space to display adverts that don’t get in the way of the main content, a sidebar might be the answer. 

If you want to help readers navigate your blog, a sidebar can make it easier for them to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. 

And if you just need some extra space, like if you have long content that’s difficult to fit on one page in a narrow column or something similar, then adding an interesting sidebar is might be worth doing.

However, there are downsides too: 

– If visitors click away from your site because of adverts within the sidebars (or links outside), this may mean fewer potential subscribers / social media followers who could read more of your great work. 

– Sidebars sometimes take up valuable screen real estate which could be used for content. 

– If the sidebar is too distracting or cluttered with content that doesn’t align with your blog’s purpose this can also discourage readers and potential subscribers/followers – because what they’re looking at isn’t related to their interests whatsoever.

There are many considerations when you consider adding a sidebar into your blogging strategy, but all in all: would they work best on yours?

Conclusion

A sidebar area might work best if you have many different topics you want readers to see, or you want to generate leads or increase ad revenue. 

But for me, I prefer a blog design that keeps all eyes on the content itself with fewer distractions. 

I suggest testing having a blog sidebar for one month, and then without one for a month, and compare your metrics, so you let the data guide your decision. 

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email