It has almost turned a tradition or norm to include sidebar on blog irrespective of the niche and type of blog. But alas! Is it really necessary or imperative that blog must have a sidebar even though it’s seems to always come with theme package? Let’s dig deep into it.

Does your blog really need a sidebar?

There is no general answer or universal rule of thumb to this question. This is so because the need for a sidebar on website is solely dependent on what you want to achieve with your content or blog in general.

Really, the targeted conversion and optimization style adopted would underlay the urge to either use a sidebar or not.
How does sidebar aid conversion on blog? Maybe you might want to ask.

The answer is rooted in the importance of sidebar on website. The positioning (either left or right or both) and content type and arrangement play a crucial role in determining its effectiveness for conversion purposes.

Importance of sidebar

-It is a veritable place to put an opt-in form that helps collect visitors email address. This is a good funnel for future marketing because they are targeted.

– It help showcase the best or most popular or recent posts which has the affinity to reduce bounce rate thereby providing opportunity for visitor’s maximum engagement.

For instance, we provided 10 random posts on the sidebar which repopulates with new ones as the browser refreshes so as to make our old content accessible to you.

Apart from this, it is another way of ensuring our contents are crawled and indexed by search engine spider- you know search engine love meaty site.

– You can also insert banner or text adverts on your sidebar and give it scroll or fixed effect just as we did on this blog.
All these will definitely aid your conversion effort because you’re constantly positioning your most valuable content in contact with your targeted audience. Because of these, you might want to opt for a sidebar just as we did and lots of other renowned bloggers.

However, the positioning and arrangement of content are equally important as said earlier. Though people are use to right-sidebar, but left-sidebar has been known to convert more.

Where to put sidebar: left or right or both

This depends on the preference you set for your content. It is necessary to give blog post the highest priority if you want repeated visit because that is the major reason your blog reader came to your blog.

So, I suggest you stick to right sidebar even though left sidebar converts more visitors. You can leverage other avenue like header or footer to assuage for the slight reduction.

In an event where the pattern of writing is from right to left (like Hebrew, Arabic, Urdu, Persian, Yiddish, etc), it is expedient to use a left sidebar.

Some people go for both (left and right sidebars). Well, this might be a good choice if your targeted audience or visitors are from evenly spread geographical location.

However, if the space allotted for the two sidebars and blog post are well managed and the color combination blend smoothly, it may be aesthetically appealing. This could suffice for a news site.

In view of the above factors that highlighted the importance and relevance of sidebar on blog, one could easily conclude that it is therefore compulsory to have a sidebar on website coupled with the fact that it is popular among bloggers.

If this is true, how do you explain why the site of an association of veteran SEO bloggers- MOZ Blog does not have a sidebar on their newly redesigned website? Why do they take-away the sidebar that was on the old design? This will take us back to the initial question.

Does your blog really need a sidebar?

Purpose and target are the two principal factors to consider when contemplating the use of sidebar on website. What is the purpose of your blog? What goal do you set to achieve with your blog post. What are the site elements you want to hold prominent or showcase and for what purpose? How do you intend to blend these tools to aid engagement and conversion?

If you want total concentration on your blog post, it might be wise to jettison the use of sidebar, just as it is not wise to add it on pages solely developed for conversion e.g. sales page, product display or special landing pages.

Because sidebar would cause distractions and goal dilution except the design and content arrangement work in tandem along the path of conversion process.

As much as MOZ blog excluded the use of sidebar, they still embed social sharing icons within that space. They upheld image, author bio, social sharing, and comment box and of course blog post on their new blog design.

They combined these features in a way that make the site aesthetically appealing while engaging people with the post.

I found the direct link to the bio page of individual post author with direct contact links most insightful and useful from both visitors and customer perspective. What more do you need from a multi-author site like MOZ.

You can see how the site is purpose driven and targeted the audience both customer and visitors.

Conclusion: It is therefore neither necessary nor compulsory to include sidebar to your blog. The purpose of your blog and how you intend to blend available features to target or achieve your goal will determine the need for a sidebar.

However, I’ve come to realize that the features that are crucial for blog growth and therefore should be included on blog apart from blog post itself are social sharing links, opt-in box, comment box (optional) and probably a bio link. What do you think?

Francis 'Toke
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