Blogging trends come and go. I like to say, it all depends, when it comes to trends.
The Dreaded Sidebars
Sidebars are good. Sidebars are bad. Sidebars distract. Sidebars serve a purpose.
I have been part of many of these conversations and have talked a lot about this before here on the site. Mostly my observations have been about what I am doing and why I am doing it.
For the sake of this post, I don’t want to talk about sidebars in general, but more from a monetizing aspect.
The Long and Winding Road of Sidebar Monetization
Here at BobWP, from time to time, have we had some ads in our sidebars. And affiliate partners as well.
And at one point, we removed them and used our sidebars for other stuff.
Then we removed the sidebars completely, This for a couple of reasons:
- We didn’t need sidebars. We were more focused on our services and wanted the content to be stand-alone.
- We had sponsored content where we promised our sponsors that they would not be competing with links from companies in the sidebars. This could also be done with widget logic and some planning, which we also tried.
Watching Where Readers and Visitors Interact
Anytime I did have sidebars, I tracked the made sure interactions to count see clicks on the links. I used heat maps to find out where people were mostly clicking—all that good analytics stuff.
Overall, there wasn’t a ton of action taking place in those sidebars. In fact, I found that most people agreed: sidebars didn’t make that much of a positive difference on their sites.
So What Should You Do?
I don’t like to make blanket recommendations about whether to use your sidebar to monetize your site. No one site is the same, nor are the needs and goals the same from one person to the next.
In fact, this is one of the biggest mistakes some ‘experts’ make. It’s their way or the highway.
You will probably land on sites that have ads or affiliate links in the sidebar. You may decide to click on one, grumble from the distraction or totally ignore it. Of course, it all depends on the attractiveness of the offer and whether it’s something you need right at that instant.
As a blogger, you will test, remove and/or add, until you find that sweet spot.
UPDATED: July 29, 2018. Awhile back we added sidebars to our site using the Content Aware Sidebars plugin. They were affiliate partners for products we know and trust. We tested them over a period of 6 months and for various reasons, specifically regarding our goals, we have removed sidebars again. This doesn’t mean they won’t work for you. We found they didn’t work for us.
An audio option for this post.