Taking the time to optimize WordPress sidebars on your site to improve traffic and conversions should be one of your key priorities as well as creating compelling content to attract new readers. The sidebars are often overlooked because we can not understand their true function. We consider them as simple accessories for Web pages and posts. Therefore, we do not see our sidebars as a powerful tool for good user engagement.
In this article, I briefly discuss what the sidebars and common elements are. I will also present some tips to optimize the sidebars for good user engagement, which can lead to better traffic and conversions.
The true function of WordPress sidebars
WordPress sidebars show different information from the main content on a given webpage. These limited spaces are on one or both sides of a page and provide a home to widgets that show our ads, navigation menus, calendar, recent posts, etc.
However, despite their limited space, many users tend to fill the sidebars with as many widgets as possible. One reason is to meet the different needs and preferences of site users. Therefore, a site manager might want those widgets to be available in case a reader needs them. Furthermore, it is the most convenient way to do it. In the end, the page seems overcrowded. Users may feel overwhelmed by too much information or even interpret the site as "spam". The result is often negative: users leave and do not return.
This situation illustrates how WordPress sidebars have become one of the most overlooked parts of a webpage. Therefore, you miss their true function. That is to say, to keep only the most relevant widgets for the main content, which, in turn, helps to increase user involvement. We all know that good user engagement translates into increased traffic and greater conversion possibilities.
To make sure you're not losing your audience and you're taking advantage of your sidebars, here are some simple tips for optimizing WordPress sidebars on your site.
1. Limit the number of widgets displayed
Take some time to decide which widgets to include in your sidebars. It can be a bit difficult, I know. With so many WordPress widgets available, you might be tempted to add as many as you can in your sidebars. Yes, it's the most convenient way to do it. Do you think it will not do any harm, but have you visited a blog page with more ads, limited text and pre-defined widgets in the sidebar? If so, how was the experience? I myself find the pages rather overcrowded overcrowded. I prefer a page that is a little less complicated to look at, then highlights the main content; and the secondary contents are clearly positioned and easily accessible without being too intrusive.
To help you decide what to place in your sidebars, maybe it's a good idea to look at some of the most popular sites and see what widgets they have in common. This is exactly what I did. I looked at about 75 websites and found that 43 of them that had sidebars on their blog pages commonly used the following widgets.
Common Widgets of WordPress Sidebar
- Opt-in Widget News
- Navigation menu Internal links
- Social media icons
- Popular / trendy posts
- Recent / latest messages
- Search form
- Related posts
Of course, you can deviate from common practice because what is important is that you make a decision based on accurate considerations about what your pages need.
Important: make sure the widgets are not redundant
Study carefully what each widget is to make sure that its features are unique. You do not need 5 different social widgets just because they look slightly different. One is abundant
Use other areas compatible with widgets (such as the header or footer)
This way, you will not saturate your widgets in the sidebars. You may also want one or two important widgets to be displayed simultaneously in the sidebars, in the header and in the footer. Users can access it easily wherever they are on the page. If not, you can have the important widgets fixed, sticky and mobile. More information about this later.
Consider the devices used by your audience
Most web users prefer to browse their mobile devices. You want to make sure your pages are not overcrowded with widgets on small screens of mobile devices. While the best WordPress themes should be fully responsive, you can always use the development tools of your web browser (here the Chrome guide) or a premium tool like CrossBrowserTesting to view and test your site. This way you can be sure to optimize WordPress sidebars on common screen sizes.
2. Customize the sidebars for page or post
To reiterate, relevance is crucial (when optimizing WordPress sidebars, as well as when it comes to almost all other aspects of your site). Which of your chosen widgets are relevant to a specific page or post? They should be the only ones to show up. For example, not all pages should show the recent post widget; not all posts must show a biography of a certain author; and maybe all pages should bring your e-mail of membership.
3. Use mobile widgets
Having those important widgets (or even a whole sidebar) follow your users as they scroll up and down the page. These fixed, sticky and fluctuating widgets facilitate user action whenever they feel the need. They can do it regardless of where they are on the page. You no longer need to scroll to the sidebar or down to the footer to grab the widgets they need to interact with.
Nowadays, most blog post pages have fixed widgets, mainly social media links and navigation bars. You can even turn mobile widgets into action invite buttons by placing them in the corner of a page. Simply add a slide or a pop-up animation to the click (instead of making them appear on the main content yourself).
Reach your goal of optimizing WordPress sidebars efficiently
Now that you've learned some ways to optimize your WordPress sidebars, let's examine the things you need to do and do to make them happen.
Step 1: Understand what your customers and your business needs want
Understand what visitors are looking for on your site and know what they're looking for. All you need to do is make sure your sidebars guide them as they explore your websites for the information or products they need. You do not want to move them away otherwise.
Step 2: Choose the best tools to create a highly engaging website
Choose plug-ins that save you time designing and programming every part of your website, including sidebars. While you could certainly higher a developer to create something personalized, there are already a lot of great options available. From a wide range of plugins available in the WordPress repository you can choose the one that best suits your needs. There are plugins dedicated to the management of sidebars and WordPress widgets with less coding work or completely absent.
For example, a plug-in called Widget Options, which is available for free in the WordPress repository, allows you to perform both simple and complex widget management tasks – from visibility control (page, post, devices, and user restrictions) ), from style, to animation page builder support.
One of the main features of Widget Options is the visibility control of widgets on pages and posts. With this feature, you can limit the number of widgets displayed only to the relevant ones, thus customizing the sidebars for page or post. Furthermore, this free plugin also controls the visibility of widgets by device type: mobile, tablet or desktop. This is very useful when you need to control the number of widgets to be displayed on the tiny screens of mobile devices.
For more powerful features (and support), consider upgrading to Widget Options Premium. This includes additional options for widget style, fixed widgets, caching, custom links for widgets, authorization options, and more.
Why should you use a plugin for managing the sidebar and widgets? Because companies they should take the creation of content and product promotion seriously. Designing a website in tune with branding and site visitors in mind is one of your main priorities. You need to find a way to achieve your goal of providing highly engaging websites in terms of time and money.
There are many WordPress plugins available for a fee or free, and many of them are designed to allow you to manage your WordPress sites with fewer coding jobs or completely missing. Gone are the days when you have to spend long hours of programming every part of your websites. Furthermore, plugins with single or only a limited number of functions are out; all-in-one plugins are in. It's because the use of this type of plugin means less money to spend and not switch from one plug-in to another. So using a single plugin to optimize WordPress sidebars all over the site is very useful.
Step 3: Choose a layout for functionality and style
People want the quickest and easiest way to get the information they need. Regarding the sidebars, regardless of whether you choose a sidebar to 2, a single sidebar or a layout without a sidebar, consider how this choice will affect the overall functionality of your pages. Remember, the sidebars should help site users to engage. If you choose a layout without sidebar, be sure to place these widgets in a thoughtful way to help users easily explore the site.
Final words on how to optimize WordPress sidebars
Thanks for reading! I hope this article will help you understand that WordPress sidebars are not just simple accessories for our web pages. They play a key role in achieving better traffic and conversions.