Most blogs these days have a sidebar and it’s usually one of the first things you notice when you discover a new blog. What’s in that sidebar however can be incredibly important to growing your blog, your audience and encouraging people to spend more time on your blog rather than clicking off and going elsewhere. Remember, we’re not in the days of Piczo anymore so whilst flashing images, neon graphics and moving GIF’s might grab someones attention, it’ll soon give them a headache. Sidebars need to be (relatively) clean, easy to understand but most importantly, include the right information to benefit your fabulous blog! So let’s get into it, shall we? Here are some super handy things you can include in your blogs sidebar.
A follow button
“Alright, Captain obvious!” I hear you scream but seriously, having a follow button or an option for people to sign up to your blog via email in your sidebar is really handy and you know what’s even more handy? Having it right at the top, so it’s not hidden among a bunch of other things and easily scrolled past. It’s amazing how many blogs I go on that don’t offer you an easy option to follow them. At the end of the day, humans are pretty lazy and we want things as simple as possible so ensure your follow button is jumping out of your screen and smacking people in the face (but don’t have loads of annoying pop ups asking people to sign up for this or that because that can be just as detrimental).
A list of your most recent posts
I use these on other people’s blogs so much, why? Because I’m lazy! (I know, we’ve just covered that). But seriously, if I’m reading a post and I see a list of their other posts right next to me, I’m going to be intrigued and I’m definitely more likely to click on one of them rather than clicking back to the homepage and scrolling from there. That might just be me (because we know I’m lazy by now) but it’s another useful tool to encourage people to stay on your blog for longer.
A search bar
Please, for the love of blogging, have a search bar in your sidebar. Just don’t even question it. It doesn’t have to be big or fancy with fireworks, just a simple search bar that allows you to search for things. It’s really quite a neat invention. This is one the main things I’ve seen people moan about on Twitter, is other bloggers not having search bars so clearly it’s quite a universally desired thing when it comes to blogging. Seriously though, it just makes life easier. When compiling your sidebar think, “will this make a readers life easier?” If the answer is yes, then it might be a good option to include it. And a search bar definitely makes things easier.
Despite most bloggers having mostly the same stuff in their sidebars (which is totally okay), you still want yours to stand out and not look identical to the blogger next to you, so including something a little more personal to you can help shnazz up your sidebar (remind me never to say ‘shnazz’ again). This could be your blog button or a photo of you. I used to be a book blogger and I’m still a huge reader, so I have my Goodreads, “currently reading” shelf displayed on my sidebar so anyone who’s interested in books knows that they have that in common with me!
[…] a reader staying on your blog for longer or clicking off. Ways to improve navigation is to have a clear sidebar with all relevant information and a clear search bar at the top of your […]
Thank you x
Hey. I know this is probably such a dumb question, but I’m quite new to blogging and I’m not entirely sure how to add a search bar and follow button to my website? I’m kinda trying to get as much advice about blogging atm and learn as much as I can…Thanks x 🙂
If you’re on WordPress you’ll find it in the widgets section of your dash board!
My first book blog I use to spend SO MUCH TIME on my sidebar! Then one day as I was changing my template I lost EVERYTHING. This was nearly 3 years ago, but since then I’ve still been really bummed about it (I know, so dramatic right?!) that I get weird feelings about being too attached to my sidebar now.
I always think to update it from time to time but I just get so discouraged and afraid I’ll lose the whole thing again!
Oh no! That’s bloody awful!
IT WAS SO TRAUMATIC!
This is so helpful, thank you! I need to get a search bar for my blog soo badly!
You definitely should!
Ooh, goody, I have almost all of them…
…just as well, as I’m not great with working out the techie side of blogging! lol
I have plenty of techy blog posts as well as lots of info in my new eBook!
Ooh. Is it on your blog? Or where? U NEED help with that stuff 😂
All my blog posts are under the “blogging series” category and my eBook is in a drop down menu under the “work with me” category!
Ace! Thank you x
I agree with these! I have a follow button, a picture of myself, social medias, archives and categories!
Such a great and useful post for those just starting out x
Thank you 🙂
I don’t have my sidebar showing on my home page, it only displays on posts. I probably should put it back but I always feel like it looks messy on mine. I think the only thing you mentioned that isn’t on my sidebar are my most recent posts as they are displayed on my homepage. Mind you, I’m still not 100% happy with how my layout looks, so I may change it up. I get bored with it so easily! 🙂 x
Oh me too, I recently changed my layout up too cos I was bored stiff of it!
I saw you tweet this post out & couldn’t wait to read it. These are absolutely all so vital!! I personally like seeing an Archive on the sidebar; I like being able to snoop & see how long they’ve been blogging, & I think by clicking on specific months or years, you can get a real feel of how they’ve grown, what they’ve enjoyed talking about the most, and more. xx
An archive can definitely be good! Mine goes back all the way to 2013 😂
I actually forgot to ever have a follow blog button on the sidebar for a long time until a reader on twitter asked me where the button was – I hadn’t realized I never put it on the side!
And yes to adding a list of your most recent posts – it’s one of the ways I stay on a blog longer, as I’m reading something will catch my eye and suddenly I’m 4 posts in haha!
YES SEARCH BARS! I’ve come across a few blogs that don’t have a search bar and I feel like I’m lost if I don’t see one.
I actually didn’t know there was a plugin for goodreads – I love to read too, it’s a great way to keep track of the books I read & want to read. I only recently discovered goodreads and wow! I really wish I came across it sooner.
I have all of these in my side-bar (minus goodreads haha!) which makes me happy!
I would say something that is a must on the side bar is a way for readers to follow you on all socials 🙂
Yes! Goodreads have a widget section where you create your widget and then add it into your sidebar 🙂 I love seeing the GR widget on people’s sidebars and yes definitely socials are important too! The amount of times I’ve not been able to find a blogger on Twitter because their twitter link isn’t anywhere is ridiculous!
After reading this I just make a point of updating mine.
That’s great 🙂
thank you for sharing this! i have most of those things, going to add a search bar RIGHT now! xx
mich / simplymich. com
Yay! Glad to hear it 🙂
I think having a search bar is very important, agreed!great post and love all the points!
Thank you 🙂
Added a search box to my sidebar after reading this! Thanks
Glad to hear it! 🙂
This was really helpful, thank you! I’ll be coming back to this post next week, when I’m planning on dedicating some time to organising my sidebar and pages on my blog. Thanks for the help!
Sammy | selfcaresloth.wordpress.com
Glad it helped! 😌
I’m definitely going to make some changes to mine – I literally have only 1 of the 4 you mentioned 🤦🏼♀️ – I have my most recent Instagram photos in my sidebar and I really like that, it’s firever changing.
Yeah I like that element too 😌
Yes to everything and your email etc is so important x
I can’t stand it when a blogger is so uncontactable!
Ooh recent posts – now there is a good idea. Now to figure out how… I’m sure it’s easy when I start looking. I completely agree about the follow button – why make it hard? Great post as always, some new tips to store away!
Are you on WordPress? It’s under the widgets section on your dash board 😌
Some great tips xx
Thank you x
I think the search bar is so essential too! I’m always baffled when I go to find one of somebody’s blog and it’s not there x
Morgan // http://www.justmorgs.com
Same! I’m not going to sit there and scroll back through 6 months worth of posts either?!
Very helpful post. Thanks Jenny.
You’re welcome 😌
Will have to double check mine now!!! But love the idea of the goodreads shelf as I’ve just discovered this app and loving it!!
I love Goodreads, it’s amazing!
Thank you! It always great to get some good advice!
Thank you and you’re welcome 😌
These are all so very important for sure on a blog! Having a search bar is so helpful in finding older posts and also similar posts too! Great post!
Melissa 🌙 | Moonlight Mel
Definitely one of the most helpful things you can have! 😌
Lovely post, i am happy to say that i have all of these things on my side bar!!
Really find this post useful and helpful! I agree a sidebar is so essential and important to utilize, it’s where a lot of eyes go towards when visitors go to your site! I try to have mine with search bar for sure, with my photo, information about me, alongside a few extras, but nothing too overwhelming!
Great read & some good tips…(runs off to check what I have in my sidebar…)
Yay! I love your blogging tips posts, very useful!
Yay I have all of these things!! I always wonder if I have everything I need but it looks like I’ve got the basics. I also have my instagram feed on mine to fill it up a little x
I think having your Insta feed on it always looks great and it brightens it up a bit too 😌
That was going to be my next addition – the Insta feed. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it!
Not going to lie, I don’t think I even look at my side bar! Thanks for sharing this because I probably should update my sidebar!
Jessica & James | http://www.foodandbaker.co.uk / http://www.foodandbakertravels.co.uk
Haha you’re welcome! 😌
This is a wonderfully helpful post, not only for new bloggers but experienced bloggers who need a bit of a revamp of their blog too! I always love seeing a little personal touch such as an ‘about me’ section or just a little insight into the blogger themselves as I love finding out more about the blogger behind the screen! xx
Thank you 😌😌
I think I have all those things! Although my sidebar does not show on my homepage but on article pages only. I also have my Instagram and twitter to show a bit more.
I love your blog layout! People are coming for the posts anyway, not the homepage so they’ll always see your sidebar 😌
Great post! This is actually really helpful I never know what’s the most important things and which ways to put them on my sidebar, need to add my follower button to mine! X
I mean it’s not gospel but it definitely helps 😌
I actually had no idea that Blogger had some sidebar widget options for subscribing and following – so this post was the kick start I needed to figure out which one would be best to incorporate into my sidebar!
Thanks for that!
You’re very welcome 🙂
Whew! I’m all there! Well, I need to check that “something personal”, but otherwise, it’s good to see I’m on the right track according to someone with way more experience than me. Thanks!
Check it out and let me know your thoughts. Myquirkyfriend.com
Yay glad to hear it! 🙂
I also like seeing a ‘featured posts’ or ‘popular posts’ widget in sidebars. Gives me an idea of someone’s best posts.
Yeah me too, I love those!
This is a really helpful post Jenny! I only recently added a search box to my side bar as I completely forgot about it until I was browsing through the available widgets ha ha. I definitely agree with adding something personal, I always read the bio when I discover a new blog as its the quickest way to find out about someone. I have a list of random posts in my sidebar, but maybe a list of recent posts would be a better idea. Thanks for the suggestions, fab post as always! <3 xx
Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com
Random and recent would be great! 🙂
Great tips 🙂
Brianna | https://briannamarielifestyle.com
Thank you 😌
I need to stop putting my sidebar on the sidelines and give it some attention! Great post, thank you!
Absolutely! It deserves it! You’re welcome 😌
this is an amazing post! I love that you share all your knowledge with us 🙂
Thank you 🙂
when a blog i want to follow doesn’t have a follow button on their sidebar i internally scream because how do you expect people to follow your blog without a button??
Exactly! It really is THAT simple 😂
This is so helpful! I struggle sometimes with what to put on my sidebar so this has been really useful. I totally agree about a search bar, it’s so frustrating when you can’t find them on people’s blogs! xx
Tiffany x http://www.foodandotherloves.co.uk
Thank you! I agree, it’s so frustrating!
I like to see a link to archives or categories and posts in a sidebar so I can find old content more easily.
Categories are usually easy to find in menus but an archive is always good to have!
Sadly, you won’t believe the number of blogs I’ve found that only have ‘about’ and ‘contact’ in their menu. 🙁 I like easy navigation.
Oooh, there are some fabulously useful tips here! I’ve taken the plunge and bought a new theme so as soon as I get time I’ll be installing it and making sure I tick off all your suggestions. The big one for me is the search bar – I use this all the time on my own blog (haha!) as well as other blogs and it really frustrates me when I find a blog that doesn’t have one. I hadn’t thought about an extra personal touch (like Goodreads) before but that’s such a good idea. I’ll have to think about what I can include now 🙂 Really helpful post, as usual, thank you, Jenny! xxx
Lisa | http://www.lisasnotebook.com
Ooh can’t wait to see your new design! I use my own search bar loads too and honestly it drives me mad when I can’t find one on another blog! xxx
I may have a re-jig! I have a search box in my Primary Menus – I don’t know if anyone else uses it, but I do!
I have categories and archives at the top of my Sidebar and the Follow Button is underneath – but I think I’ll change it around as the blog grows it naturally falls lower down the sidebar. I also have social media (Flikr, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – but they don’t see a lot of action from this – I have to manually share to gain followers). I also have Top Posts and Pages and quite a few other bits (feel free to take a look – they may be perfectly useless!) because I don’t like empty Sidebars!
You definitely don’t need an empty sidebar – just a sidebar with useful components in a useful order 🙂 I’d suggest bumping the follow button up for sure!
I think it’s so important to have something personal in your sidebar! I feel like it makes it more personal!
Love, Amie ❤
The Curvaceous Vegan
I have most of these on my side bar so I feel like I have my blogging life together somehow 😀
Haha! Yay! I mean they’re all pretty obvious things to have but you’d be surprised by how many people forget!