In this post we’re going to look at 6 essential widgets to place in your blog’s sidebar…
How many times have you changed what you have displayed in your blog’s sidebar in the last 6 months or so? Lost count? Its OK, I’m guilty of it too, as I’m constantly removing and adding things to my sidebar.
We’re never happy with the way it looks, we feel as if there’s always something missing, and it’s always good to see what works and what doesn’t work. I consider myself to be a bit of a perfectionist and even though everything looks good, I’ll never be satisfied. I guess that comes from being an artist.
My misses spends half her time rearranging cushions and curtains, and it always baffles me as to why, I guess the same can be said about the sidebar of my WordPress blog, I’m never happy with the way it looks.
OK, I’m going off on one again as usual I know it, so I apologize.
The sidebar plays an important roll for your blog. As well as enhancing user experience, it also offers your visitors the options to navigate around various parts of your site easily, the sidebar also offer visitors the tools and resources that will help them to fulfill what ever they are trying to fulfill. Above all else, the sidebar is the perfect place to capture leads and generate sales for your core products.
So what should every blog have displayed in the sidebar, what are the most essential widgets, features, plugins, tools and resources to have? Let’s have a look –
6 Essential Widgets for your Blog Sidebar
1. Email Opt-in + Incentive
A lot of bloggers use incentives to entice people to get onto their email list. It’s no doubt in my mind to be one of the most effective ways to build an email list, so it goes without saying to have your email opt-in form placed firmly at the top of your blog sidebar.
You’ll no doubt have noticed on my blog here at Magnet4Marketing, I have my email opt-in form and freebie (eBook) located nicely at the top, above everything else, in prime location. And that’s because building an email list for me is the most important part of building a profitable blogging business.
A lot of people believe that ‘content is king’, not for me, content is important but it’s not king… for me relationships and building loyal subscribers are king.
2. Social Proof
Numbers mean everything when making a statement about your social followings. Social proof is a must have, and to conveniently display your social connections in your blog’s sidebar, there are a number of awesome WordPress plugins available to help you achieve just that, one of my favorites being WP MashSocial Widget. However if you want to keep it clean and relatively simple, you could just place your Facebook like box and Twitter counter widget in your sidebar like I have.
Just keep in mind though that having a large following is one thing, being active and engaging with your following is another. You want visitors to not just see that you have 1,000 fans on Facebook, but that you are actively engaging with those fans too. To me that’s what social proof is really about.
3. Most Popular and Recent Posts
The most popular post widget is essential if you want to show off your most popular posts. People love reading and commenting on posts that already have an engaging conversation taking place, so using a plugin like WordPress Popular Posts will help to achieve just that.
As well as popular posts you should also display your most recent posts too. If someone lands on a blog post or page from doing a search or clicking on a link or advertisement, having a most recent post widget can help them explore your latest content as well as give them an indication as to when your blog was last updated. I always think that’s important.
4. Links to your Core Product(s)
If you already have products of your own, that is brilliant and displaying it in your sidebar is an absolute must in any case. Whether you use an attractive banner (like the one for my eBook :)) or create a list with links of your core products, you simply want to make them visible to your visitors. I personally much prefer to use banners myself as it presents a more professional approach to marketing and promoting my own core products.
5. Custom Search Bar
If you’re using WordPress then you’ll know that the integrated search bar feature within the WordPress is pretty useless, in fact it’s just damn crap. A custom Google search box allows users to search for posts and pages on your blog more effectively. You need a Google AdSense account to places a custom search bar however.
6. Link to your Tools & Resources Page
Finally, most blogger’s will no doubt have a resource page with a list of recommended products and services they’ve either used or are currently using, and there is an opportunity to get more traffic to this resource page by displaying a link or a banner in your sidebar.
So folks that’s my top 6 essential widgets to display in your sidebar, but let me know your thoughts, do you think what I’ve listed is sufficient, or do you have a few more to add to the list. Leave me a comment below as always.
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