Besides the actual blog content that you develop, the WordPress sidebar is the most important element in your blog. Good sidebar implementation will sink or swim a blog, so it’s important to know everything that your sidebar can do you for.
Here is a breakdown of some of the common uses for your sidebar to help grow your blog:
The sidebar is an excellent place to insert a few sentences about what your blog is about. This is especially useful is what your blog is about it not exactly clear from it’s title and domain name. Think long and hard about what exactly your blog is and write some boilerplate text about it that you can use in many places, including your sidebar.
The most valuable real estate on your blog is your sidebar content. Because of this you’ll have a lot of eyeballs looking at it, it’s important that you place a majority of your ads there. This can be anything from a skyscraper banner ad to simple 125×125 ad blocks. They will fit perfectly in your sidebar. Do not make the whole sidebar ad centered, because readers will the just ignore the ads. The ads must be crammed in between content readers want so they get noticed.
You can use your sidebar to communicate directly with your readers. Be it the intentions you have behind the site or links to a contact form or forum. Make it easy for people to contact you. If they can contact you quickly and easily then you’ll have many excellent opportunities come your way.
Your sidebar is also an excellent way to engage your readers. The WordPress sidebar is a great location for a site wide poll asking readers a question. It’s also a good idea to put the most recent comments in the sidebar. This will give readers and sense of ownership and encourage them to post even more on the site. This also fits in with communication. Make is easy for your readers to get in touch with you.
I hate blogs that make it difficult to browse the rest of the content. Oftentimes on new blogs, when content moves off the front page, it disappears into an essentially inaccessible archive. Don’t let this happen. Feature the most recent posts, most popular posts, a tag cloud, categories and archive listings. Also, give them a search box so that they can search your site quickly and easily. Your content is your most valuable asset, make it easy for people to find.
Syndicating your blog will only help your blog, so make it easy for your readers to subscribe to your content. On most blogs, the RSS subscribe icons are at the top of the sidebar, sometimes with huge icons. A subscriber is way more valuable than a onetime reader, so make it easy for them to subscribe.
You can also insert other RSS feeds into widgets into your WordPress sidebar. If you have other blogs you want to feature or any other content with a feed, this is a great way to display it.
Social networking should be a part of any successful blog. Make it easy for people to find you on social networks and many have widgets that you can put into the sidebar. One of the most popular social networks right now is Twitter, so make it easy for your readers to find your Twitter feed.
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The second most important blogging real estate after advertising is your blogroll. A successful blog must connect and build relationships with other blogs. This helps build traffic, relationships and goodwill. Links are a valuable commodity in the age of Google. Don’t give out links to just anyone, make sure you link to relevant blogs in your niche. Reach out to other bloggers before linking and most of the time, they will be thrilled to do a link exchange.
How Have You Used your Sidebar to Grow Your Blog?