If your business has a blog, which I think it should, it's important to optimize the blogs sidebar.
A blog sidebar is a small section of your blog that offers space for information, links, opt-ins, ads... the possibilities are endless. Assuming most people are finding your website through your blog, it's important to optimize that static content for your audience and your business.
When properly optimized a blog sidebar can build a community, convert readers to subscribers and increase client conversions.
With seven simple tips you'll learn how to optimize your blogs sidebar and grow your business. Let's get started!
1 | Introduce Yourself
Before including anything else on your blog sidebar, introduce yourself. Assuming most people find your website through your blog content it's important to let these new readers learn a little bit about you and your blog.
Prioritizing the introduction gives your readers the opportunity to bond with your brand and humanize your business. Tell people a little bit about your blog and who you serve. Remember to keep it short, fun and welcoming!
The below example shows Kimi Kinsey's blog sidebar introduction. With only a few words we get a taste of her personality and insight into her blog. I walk away with the sense that Kimi's playful, creative and great with marketing.
2 | Include Social Media Links
You already know social media is a huge factor in marketing your business.
Including links in your sidebar to your social media accounts is just another way to cross-promote your content and continuously appear in front of your audience.
However, if you're throwing a few linked icons on your blog sidebar and moving on with life, you are missing some great opportunities. For example, my blog sidebar has a three call-to-actions for my social media accounts.
First, I have the linked icons. Second, I have my Instagram feed displayed on a slider. Lastly, I include a follow me button for my Bloglovin' account. That's three separate times I ask people to connect with me outside of my website.
Get creative, consider your priorities and ask your audience to follow you. It really can be that simple!
3 | Promote Popular Content
If you've been running a blog for a while you probably have some posts that are more popular than others.
If you know that a post is bringing in higher amounts of traffic, gaining you subscribers and clients... why wouldn't you promote that to your entire blog audience?
When people are reading your blog posts for the first time, you want to capture their attention and ensure they revisit your site. If you start promoting that popular content to them they are more likely to be a returning visitor because you are sharing your highest quality blog posts.
A few ways you can find out what your most popular blog posts are: researching your most popular content in Google Analytics, investigating your highest converting pins or even checking newsletter subscriptions and open rates.
4 | Add an Opt-In
An opt-in is an incentive provided to your audience in exchange for subscribing to your newsletter.
If you haven't already heard, your newsletter is one of the most powerful tools you have for fostering a community and creating a client base. "Consumers who purchase products through email spend 138% more than those that don’t receive email offers." - Source
Get creative with your opt-ins and be transparent about the exchange. No one likes to be spammed.
In my blog sidebar, I highlight my free website design audit. By clicking on the button I bring people to an informational page where they can subscribe to receive my download. It's a simple exchange, takes up minimal space and consistently grows my newsletter.
5 | Keep Information Simple
The worst thing you can do to your audience is overwhelm and confuse them.
When adding content to your sidebar be sure you are being concise and prioritizing the most important information.
Here are a few example of ways you may be overwhelming or confusing your audience: You're utilizing every possible widget. Descriptions and information is lengthy and unorganized. You aren't prioritizing content. You're including multiple advertisements from outside vendors.
Look through your sidebar and make sure you aren't making any of these mistakes. If you aren't sure ask a friend to read through it and have them summarize some of the messaging. If they struggle, you might want to simplify.
6 | Thoughtfully Organize your Content
As I touched on above, it's important to prioritize your content. This doesn't stop at what content you include on your sidebar. You should also prioritize the order you display the content.
A good rule of thumb is to organize the content by audience preference. Some of the first questions your audience will have are: Who is the person? Why do I care? What should I do now?
These questions can help guide you towards some great general layouts. My one suggestion is always keeping your photo and bio near the top of your sidebar. Connecting with and learning from you is always the top priority to your audience.
In the below example, With Grace and Gold organized their sidebar with a search widget at the top, a professional image and a short description. This layout aids the audience in finding additional content, introduces the owners and educates the audience about their business.
7 | Keep Advertisements to a Minimum
Lastly, it's important to refrain from over-saturating your sidebar with advertisements.
Personally, I don't suggest placing any vendor ads on your sidebar. But, I know that a lot of people make really good money from referrals and partnerships and a sidebar is a great opportunity to share your link.
However, I absolutely urge you to keep these advertisements to a minimum. Not only does it take up valuable space on your sidebar, where you could be promoting your own products and services, it also confuses your audience, clutters your website and breaks from your brand identity.
All in all, the best way you can optimize your blog sidebar is to be intentional, informative and on-brand.
Which of these seven tips were you surprised to read? Let me know in the comments!