What’s in YOUR sidebar?

There’s a small trend going around in the world of blogging to simply get rid of the sidebar altogether. Personally, I like the simplicity and the lack of distraction.

Plus, that sidebar always ends up getting pushed way down on mobile devices. And more and more traffic is mobile. According to ComScore, users spend about 69% of their overall media time on their smartphones.

Let that sink in for a moment.

But, when you go to most blogs, that sidebar just gets pushed way the heck down to the bottomwhere people don’t even see it.

But, this is not an argument for getting rid of your sidebar. While there is a trend, it is still most definitely a minority of blogs. Sidebars are still quite standard.

Thing is, I routinely see people who have sidebars that are just STUFFED. Overloaded.

Why is it that people feel the need to stuff every possible widget into that thing? To make the site look busy? Just as a place to get impulsive clicks and hopefully make a little money?

Think about this…

You may know that my family and I go on long road trips with our motorhome. Lots of time on the interstate. And, there’s always those billboards on the side of the road. Well, you may have to trust me that they’re there… because you likely never notice! Those interstate billboards are equivalent to your sidebar – and your reader is as oblivious and blind to what’s in your sidebar as I am to those billboards.

I’m focusing on the road. Your reader is focusing on your content.

So, those affiliate banners, those lists of monthly archives, those dropdowns… almost all of it is useless and nobody notices.

Perhaps it is time for a SIDEBAR AUDIT.

Everything in your sidebar should be very strategic and put there for a specific reason. And you also need to remember the rule about multiple calls to action. Give people too many choices and they’ll often pick none of them.

To me, the only valid uses of a sidebar widget are:

  • To entice the opt-in via a lead magnet.
  • MAYBE to show your social media links for secondary connections

I know about banner ads. And, if you must… you must. But, you also know what I think of those. 😉

When I had a sidebar, here’s what I preferred to do…

  1. Use a Thrive Leads widget as the top widget of the sidebar.
  2. Using Thrive Leads, build opt-in forms that go with the category that your post is in. This way it will change to be relevant to your post.
  3. Use Q2W3 Fixed Widget plug-in to make that opt-in “float” as the reader scrolls. This way it is always in view.

Yes, this means your sidebar will only contain an opt-in form. If you must have another widget, put it at the top. Any floating widget would need to be the last one in order to work right.

The theme for your sidebar is… SIMPLE! Keep it simple. You’re likely to have WAY less stuff in there than you do now – and that’s a good thing!

Go audit your sidebar widgets. Remove everything that isn’t necessary. Ideally, you’d strip it down only to a nice, optimized opt-in (using Thrive Leads, but you use what you want ultimately).

Everything on your blog should be strategic and built to serve a particular goal. And it just so happens that, in almost all cases, the primary purpose of your blog post pages is to get the opt-in. Everything else is, mostly, a distraction.

– David