Better Sidebars for Better Conversion – How Does Yours Look?

Better Sidebars for Better Conversion

This is no short version of the video ;) You have to watch the video to get the concept – so do it (the video is at the end of this post, read this first and then watch it).

Better Sidebars For Better Conversion is all about optimizing your sidebars for getting better results.

In the video, we will cover topics such as:

  • Customizing your widget titles for astonishment – Conversion by astonishing is something that we all can do. We need to astonish our readers by being different and then convince them (it will be easier for you to do is if you are able to astonish) to subscribe or do whatever you want them to do.
  • Removing sidebars from the post pages for better conversion. We will talk about how your sidebars can act as a distracting mechanism to your readers and how you can change that.Remove all Sidebars

Sidebars can be a big distraction. Would you want any distractions to your readers when they are reading your content? No, right?

Let me ask you, why do you write your content? Whatever your real motivation might be, I am sure that you still have a pinch of the desire for your readers to benefit from your posts.

And for that, you need to effectively say your message [awesome content].

But, content is not the only issue here. You need your readers to understand it thoroughly (strengthen their understanding or gain an understanding of the concept).

Distractions can cause your readers to quit [close the tab, do something else etc.].

We all have distractions in our life, don’t we? I mean, we face them everyday. Some, we defeat, others they take over us (which causes us to procrastinate and keep things for later).

There is a lot of things that is associated with this.

By removing a simple sidebar from your post pages, you can actually help your readers to get a better understanding and convince them to take action (by sharing/commenting on the post and then following your ideas – trying them out in their own blogs).
You can all do this by removing a distraction. A big distraction (I am not hyping this at all! Sidebars have been a big distraction for me and I do know a bunch of people who share the same idea. I have removed my sidebars from post pages – I practice what I preach – and I still experimenting with this idea).

Now, watch the video.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did (of course, I am the creator of the video so I will enjoy it, even if it sucks :D). Let me know of all your awesome thoughts. Thanks!

Better Sidebars for Better Conversions

This video is part of the Barry Wells 4 Week Video Challenge

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About 

Heya there!

My name is Jeevan Jacob John. I am a blogger, marketer, learner and a lot more things. You can learn more about me by visiting my blog - Daring Blogger.

89 Comments (click here to leave a comment)

  1. Hi JJ,

    Really cool idea. We want readers to read our stuff, AND to benefit from it. Tough to read, digest and use content if distractions grab at the attention.

    Removing sidebars is a quick and easy way to focus the attention. Also, include plenty of whitespace. It’s easy to focus our attention if we see black text on a ton of whitespace, without too many bells and whistles screaming at us.

    Add value, become valuable is the mantra. Focus your attention on making your content deliverable, digestible and usable, by removing all possible distractions.

    Thanks for sharing JJ!

    Ryan

    • Hey Ryan,

      Yes, of course. Organizing our posts with plenty of white space can also make a huge difference in conversion rate.

      No mention, Ryan. Thanks for adding your insights!

      I know I shouldn’t be asking for more, but if you have time, would you mind to check my contest entry for the guest blogging contest (it is linked at the end of this comment as comment luv link). Thanks!

      Jeevan Jacob John

    • You are totally right about the sidebar being a distraction – and if your reason for using it is to place adsense blocks then I find taking the time to custom place them within the text in relevant places, next to a relevant subheading makes a much higher CTR anyway.

  2. Hi JJ

    Removing the sidebar will help emphasise the content on that page., I agree. I do have a feature on my site where I use full width posts for large infographics. Some websites have a lot of flashy adds and unnecessary junk in their sidebar, by keeping only the relevant stuff in the sidebar that blends in with the rest of the site it will only complement the content.

    • Hey Aliosha,

      I am glad that you agree. Yes, some websites do have lot of flashy things that can distract readers from the content/

      Thanks for adding value to this post :)

  3. There is definitely a fine balance required depending on the call to action you have in mind in terms of conversion goal. Its also worth considering for other pages of non specific content that humans will entertain distraction if you are providing your customer as a one stop shop ie adsense and affiliate products.

    • Hey Jez,

      Placing the relevant stuff in the sidebar is the key (in post pages, you don’t really need a sidebar, you can put all the needed stuff – like subscription box – in the post itself).

      Thanks for dropping by!

  4. Chris

    If I had a nickle for every time I changed my sidebar, I’d be a rich man. This is a great article for anyone with a “messy” sidebar and that needs to clean it up and make it useful for the visitor.

  5. The is really great info. I agree that simple is better and you have to questions what is your motivation or call to action that you want the reader to take. If you want more subscribers, your subscriber form should stand out and give insignificance to this by placing that form at the bottom of every post.

  6. We had tried many, many different versions of our sidebar, both on our blog and on our website. This is where our calls-to-action are. This experience thought us that the only way to find out what works is to keep tryinig.

  7. I agree there is a fine balance between too much and not enough. I reckon ads play their part, but need to be limited to one per sidebar.

    • Hey Terence,

      Oh, there is no rule on how many ads you can have ;) But, it is better to have a low number of ads on sidebars (if it is possible, which I think it is, move your ads to somewhere else so that you can remove the sidebar, which is a distraction to your readers).

      Thanks for the comment, Terence!

  8. Videos I think are one of the best ways to get your message across. I am going to start some myself, and get amazing results because of it. Keep doing the great work! :)

    Don’t stuff to many items in one place, like the sidebar. It gets very confusing to your visitors. It will take them awhile to figure things out, and this can discourage them.

    • I am glad that you already have a positive outlook with the results (it may take some time to catch on, but results will soon come in, you just need to keep trying :D).

      I am glad that you agree.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Sam!

  9. Good idea. I never thought that my sidebars could be a distraction. Now that I think about it, some of my blogs have too many ads on the sidebars which probably distracts from the post. I’m going to try to remodel my post pages thanks for the advice!

  10. Kimberly Gauthier, Adventures in Blogging

    You’ve given me something to consider, but for now I’m going to keep my side bars. What I do is change the images around or swap them out for new images so that people (hopefully) don’t become sidebar blind. But I do like the idea of not having them on my post pages.

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. You’ve inspired some new ideas that I think will help me.

  11. Congrats Jeevan!

    Loved your first video and am glad that Adrienne, Ileane and Allie got you to participate at Barry’s challenge. I loved the way you spoke and the slides are sure a nice way to express yourself.

    This topic was interestig as well about why we really customize our sidebars. Well for me it’s always been for sharing the various content with people, or put up the various widgets and information to go through at a single glance. But yes, I never really gave it a serious thoughts as to why we really need them or can we go without them! I somehow feel we do need at least one sidebar, though the clean white space does look wonderful when I visit such blogs!

    I can understand that it may be distracting at times, but this is one way to share your other content with your readers once they are through with the content they are reading, rather than them returning on the home page to see the rest of the list.

    But I loved what you shared at the end of the video that it’s your blog, so go out and be different and suit yourself to what works best for you!

    Thanks for sharing :)

    • Yeah, I can understand. Once the majority goes for it (using sidebars), we tend to stick with it (we recognize it as a blogging rule, unconsciously).

      Well, you could use the related posts plugin for that, can’t we?

      No mention and thanks for adding value through your awesome comment, Harleena!

  12. Great video – I just redesigned my blog and have been playing around with my side bar. Very informative with good ideas. Thanks for sharing! Not sure if my theme would allow me to remove sidebars from posts but that’s an interesting concept. I may de-clutter mine at the very least.

  13. That’s some great advice. Mine are a bit cluttered – I think I’ll have to revisit them. I’m fairly new to this however so I really appreciate the free resources you provide. Thank you. -Trev

  14. Removing sidebar might result in high bounce rate, as many times I have found clicking links on the sidebar and thus increasing the pageviews of our site. You can also have your some of the best contents in that page.

    • Hey Bishwajeet,

      Yes, of course. I do understand your points, Bishwajeet. But you could have a recommended reads widget in your post footer area – right before comments.

      Thanks for adding value!

  15. The sidebar on my blog is pretty average. Just has an email subscribe widget, a google plus widget, recent posts, and a recent comments widget. Since my posts are usually pretty long, there is a lot of white space in my sidebar so there isn’t much to distract my readers.

    As a suggestion for your next video make sure the reduce the length of the introduction. Your video was cool, but the intro was “painfully” long.

    – Josh

  16. This is a great post. As a reader of blogs, the more white space a page has (within reason of course) the better. A crowded page, in my opinion, is a confusing page and that isn’t what you want when you’re just trying to get on with reading the facts!

  17. I really like the idea of removing the sidebar completely… But slimming them down is a fantastic idea as well.

    I’m going to watch the video later tonight but I like this. Good stuff Jeevan!!!

    Ryan H.

    • I am glad that you like them (by the way, your sidebar looks cool, especially with the Genesis theme. Also glad to see you have a left sidebar).

      I am glad you like it, Ryan.

      Thanks for adding value!

  18. This is an interesting topic. I often avoid ads that move for this same reason but if you’re using Adsense or something like that you often have no choice. But as you point out, you can control this by manipulating your WP or site design.

  19. Change is inevitable thing in the world. Good video on sidebars. If we remove all customer distraction factors, we will be successful in our field and this post is mile stone to win the audience.

  20. Hey Great post! I really been thinking hard on how can I come up with a better side bar for I can increase my sales from the traffic thats coming to my sites. I think a good video, make some pictures and banners ads may convert better. thanks for the tips that you gave..

    To The Top

  21. Site with one simple sidebar is good. It you increase the space between the two columns formed, the site will look a bit better. Just put one ad in the sidebar and add as many ads in between the posts will really make the revenue better.

    • I wouldn’t recommend adding ads in the post, because it can turn off people (or annoy them). But, if your content is really great, they will stay no matter what.

      Thanks for adding value!

  22. Somtime those sidebars distract readers. I experience it before when searching for good content, i can not concentrate reading what i did is leave the site.

    • I am glad that you can relate back, Becca. Yes, but if your content is “really good” and useful for the reader, they may stay. But, that may not be the case for all your readers. We need a vast percentage – like 80% – of your readers to like your content and come back. We need them to have a good site experience with us.

      Thanks for adding value!

  23. I am going to desg my theme soon so this article will be helpful for me to balanced my sidebar .
    I already got some good tips from Ilean mam :).
    Thanks for this article Jeevan.

  24. Hello Jeevan,

    Of course, it was a very informative post. But more, I’d like to appreciate for your video. I’m going to start working with videos (I’ve a plan to do so, don’t know when I’ll start). For now, I’m just learning about the tools which I can use to make good video.

    Your video was REALLY AWESOME, seriously. How did you make that animation at the start? And how did you make the whole video? It was a WOW video for me.

    I hope to learn from you.

    • Hey Abhi,

      Thanks :) I wish you all the best with videos.

      Thanks. Oh, I hired a designer from Fiverr to do that, you just have to look for the right person and hire them ;)

      I used Camtasia Video Recording/Editing/Screen-capturing tool to capture the videos along with sound, used Audacity to optimize my voice.

      :) Thanks for adding value through your comment, Abhi! Appreciate it.

  25. Above the fold (in sidebars) can be a good place to place converting banners. Also, taking help from Google Analytics click tool will help to place them correctly (where the clicks are high).

    btw, nice video animations man..liked it :)

  26. Hi Jeevan,

    First off, thank you for the mention at the start of your video and for linking to the video blog challenge at the end of your post, it’s very much appreciated Jeevan.

    Again you’ve raised an excellent point Jeevan. I’m not sure whether I can remove the sidebar from the posts but I will certainly be looking into it.

    I do have a few widgets that appear on the home page but not on post pages and it is for the same reason you mention here: Distracting our readers. We work hard to get people to our blogs so the last thing we should do once they land is interrupt their reading. For the same reason I hate pop ups on blogs (they’re a pet hate of mine).

    You’ve made some excellent points here that I will have a good look into on my theme.

    Thanks for joining the video blog challenge, both of your videos have been added to the challenge page now.

    Oh and I have to say your intro on the video is excellent :)

    Thanks again Jeevan,
    Barry

    • Hi Barry,

      No, thank you for the video challenge, Barry :D

      I am glad that you agree, Barry. Yes, I can understand your point about Pop-ups. I did use them, thought it would be a distraction, so I removed it (But, I will try it out in the future, just to see how it goes).

      Thanks.

      Yeah, I hired a Fiverr designer to do that :)

      No problem. Thanks for adding value through your comment, Barry!

  27. You are so in my head! I was just wondering how I could make my sidebar better and more effective, and then I get this message. Very timely.

  28. Aw man I am constantly waiting for Ms. Ileane to give up her tips, but she has no time for me. But you always seem to come through giving away all the secrets I am looking for. Okay you know I am just kidding around(again).
    Your dedication to your readers and your content is absolutely amazing Jeevan! Maybe this should be in an email or something, but I truly believe you bring a NEW and Different style to blogging that needs to be recognized.
    Despite the fact I am no REAL blogger, I have read many many bloggers blogs. And you seem to come up with fresh ideas and points of view that inspires me to read more. Sidebars is not new, but somehow you make it seem like this discussion has not been introduced before. This is a true talent, which we all can learn from(especially me). You are heading to the top my man, keep it up!

    • :) She is probably busy. But, you know, when she writes a post, you can guarantee that it is really useful.

      Thanks, Bryan! I am glad that you feel so. Thanks for all your compliments, Bryan:) Also thanks for your support!

  29. Thank you very much for excellent do-follow blog site list. This is really useful blogger and website developer.Please continue posting such useful post.

  30. I guess removing sidebars from the post pages would do less good than bad. At least for me, I have my social networking options installed in the sidebars. So this will not work for me. I will definitely give a thought on the others.

  31. Jeevan, Great Post!

    I love looking at old things with “new eyes”. No need to conform to what everyone else is doing. I’ve really been thinking of whittling down my sidebar widgets lately, so this post really got my interest. Everything you say makes sense.

    In some blogs, however, if you get rid of the sidebar, the content spans the whole page, of course, and becomes too difficult to read. That’s why newspaper columns are so thin or narrow.

    So my suggestion for post pages would be to keep the sidebar , to maintain easy-to-read width of the content, and then either put nothing in that sidebar or perhaps, just ONE THING in the sidebar, Like, perhaps, the email Opt-In box. Not too distracting, but at the same time that’s one Major call to action you do want to encourage on every page.

    Well, you got us all thinking and I’m definitely gonna make some changes to my sidebars soon using this blog post as a motivation!

    Thanks,

    Jupiter Jim

    • Jim,

      Thanks!

      Yes, I can understand that. It also depends upon the niche of the blog.

      That’s a great suggestion, Jim. I am sure it will make a difference (but, I am going to stick with no sidebars for now :D).

      Thanks for adding value through your comment!

  32. I hate those blogs that have sidebars crammed with stuff. I personally have a total of SIX things in my sidebar:

    – 2 sets of ads
    – Mailing list sign-up box
    – Social media subscribe buttons
    – List of popular posts
    – Facebook Fan box

    I think I have a good balance. :)

    • Dean,

      That’s a lot of stuff. But, if it works for you, stick with it. But, I still think it is kind of distracting to have all those in your sidebar.

      Anyways, thanks for the comment!

  33. Jeevan,

    Wow! Thanks for the mention! That is the one thing a blogger wants to hear is that they influenced or helped another blogger! I am so happy and honored that you mentioned me!! I am so glad you decided to do videos, you are very good at it.

    This video was well made, very clear and has amazing content!

    You showed me, and I should have known this from writing content with goals, that our sidebar and widgets should have goals. They do. Usually they are there so the readers can take more action like buy something or opt-in. But like you said if there is too much there the readers will be overloaded and probably do nothing.

    This video couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I am in the process of streamlining my blog to make it faster and get more newsletter opt ins. You know, it never occurred to me that my sidebar has goals. What do I want to accomplish with my widgets? Definitely not overload my readers. I will be taking a more minimalistic stance soon.

    And, I can say I like your new minimal blog. It looks very clear and nice. Less distractions.

    Thanks again. And you are rocking the content here, on BE and your blog! I’ll be sure to share all.

    ~Allie

    • Allie,

      No mention :)

      Thank you, Allie! I am glad that my article have evoked thoughts in your mind, Allie.

      Glad that you like it. Yes, I am focusing more on providing the content rather than on displaying unnecessary things.

      Thanks, Allie!

      Jeevan Jacob John

  34. Jim

    This is the third time in a short period I’ve seen talk of minimilistic approaches, especially on blogs. Joseph Archibald is another blog I visit a lot and he recently did the same thing! However you have links to your other content on the side which I think is very reader friendly.
    Putting the focus on the optin and then content is a really good move :) “Widgets have goals”… very well said.

  35. On my online shopping blog I removed the sidebars quite some time ago which is a bit easier nowadays as many themes have built in options to choose a post page without sidebars BUT for those that do not as it was back then I wrote a post providing detailed instructions on how to remove them: http://marketsecrets.biz/removing-sidebars-wordpress

    btw,
    Nice advice near the end concerning the gurus as they often tell you to do things that are completely opposite of what they do themselves :roll:

  36. I’m styling by following others. I want to figure out which is the most common using on the blog and finally, I decided and I know exactly what I have to use.

    For example: about 70% of blogger is placing sidebar on the left but come to the 30% with sidebar on the right would change the look of reader and help readers eyes find harder to be focused on content.

    The result, I love the 70% to increase same look for readers to have a better looking at the content and save their time.

  37. Its also worth considering for other pages of non specific content that humans will entertain distraction if you are providing your customer as a one stop shop ie adsense and affiliate products.

  38. Interesting idea. Hadn’t thought of trying a post without the sidebars. Might be interesting to do a couple of posts that way to see what sort of response they get.

    On my own sidebar, I mainly have links to other content on my site, a place to opt into my email list, and one ad. The ad I have set up with a rotator that randomly picks an ad based on the category of the post. For example, my site’s main focus success in personal, health, wealth, and relationships. So the ad on a relationship post should promote a relationship product, but a health post would have a health related product. I have a couple that I promote that are useful in all 4 areas, but outside of those, my ad is specific to that topic. I don’t have lots of ads that look spammy. Just one simple ad.

    Still, your video does give me some things to think about, and I need to decide what I want to do going forward.

    Thanks for sharing!

  39. Hey JJ. I totally agree with you about keeping it simple. It is much better, trust me. I’d rather prefer having pages without sidebars that focus more on the content compared to the ones who emphasize on junk stuff and unimportant ads. Thank you buddy.

  40. One thing that really bothers me whenever I visit other blogs is a misconfigured side bar. By misconfigured, I mean it when it blocks a part of the blog I would want to read and is not tweaked to automatically hide itself for a better view. I believe this is a trademark sign of someone who fiercely want to have his visitors converted but doesn’t take into consideration what his visitors would think at the cold welcome of ads and subscription boxes popping out everywhere

  41. Sidebars need to be need as possible and be extremely to the point.

    I never try to even stuff “matter” into my sidebar. Just ways to make your visitors enjoy the content you have.