Blogger pondering on whether to remove or not the sidebar

Should You Ditch the Sidebar of Your Blog or Not?

Blogger pondering on whether to remove or not the sidebar

During the last years, removing blog sidebars has become almost a trend. For several good reasons.

Copying other people’s ideas without pondering too much whether such ideas are applicable to your unique case or not isn’t the smartest strategy though.

So more and more bloggers ask themselves whether it is good or not to remove their sidebars.

I’ll skip the double sidebar case. Very few bloggers still use them anyway. No offense, but every time I visit a double sidebar blog, I feel like a bunch of kiddos turned the house into a playground. Various random things everywhere. Even if each individual item may not be questionable, the big picture is. That’s a big NO from me.

That was easy :) Now let’s move to one sidebar blogs and analyze the most common cases that influence the decision of removing or not the sidebar …

The Significant Influence of the Mobile Traffic

The rise of the mobile devices has had a remarkable impact on the blogosphere. Mobile-friendly themes are a must these days.

One of the major changes introduced by the mobile-friendly themes is that on mobile the layout of your blog is different from the layout of the same blog seen on desktop.

On mobile, the sidebar isn’t actually a side bar anymore. It goes to the bottom, after the article and the comments area.

The consequence? Most visitors won’t get to the sidebar. The sidebar is not in front of visitors’ eyes anymore. It’s way too far. Most of the times there’s no strong reason to spend the time in order to reach the place where the sidebar is located.

So who sees the sidebar on mobiles? I cannot say that no one sees it. But it’s safe to say that most of your mobile visitors won’t see it. So…

Check your blog stats. If most of your traffic comes from smartphones, remove the sidebar. Usually using a sidebar has advantages and disadvantages. But in this particular case, there’s no advantage in keeping the sidebar.

Increasing the Conversion Rate for Your Main Objective

Some visitors will click some banners. Some visitors will sign up for your newsletter. Some visitors will buy your services. And other visitors will even perform two or three of these activities.

But don’t expect your blog visitors to click all your banners, sign up for your newsletter, and also buy your services. That’s unrealistic. No one gets a conversion rate of 100%.

Actually, the more options the visitors have, the lower the conversion rate for each (or almost each) individual option.

One sure theoretical way to increase the conversion rates of certain options is to diminish the total number of options the visitors have.

The extreme version of this solution is to keep only one main objective/option. For example, you can remove the sidebar together with all the options from it, and focus only on building your mailing list.

However, be very careful if you choose this extreme solution. You put all your eggs in one basket. It works, but only if you know very well what you’re doing. For example, if you’re a very good email marketer and you focus only on list building, for sure your results will improve.

In practice, I’ve seen an extremer version on certain business blogs: removing all the options, or a very similar variant: removing the sidebar, keeping links only in the menu, and also keeping one or two options in obscure places where almost no one sees them – such as the bottom of the page, after tons of comments.

That’s an unfortunate way of applying the marketing principle mentioned in this section: without understanding it. When you remove all the objectives, it’s obvious that you cannot increase any conversion rate.

Successfully Selling Sidebar Ads

As we speak, Matthew Woodward’s space for sidebar ads is sold out. There’s also a waiting list.

And he’s not the only one who successfully sells ads located on the sidebar of his blog.

If this kind of blog monetization works fine and everyone is happy – the customers, the blogger himself – then there’s no good reason to remove the sidebar, right?

Side-note: A picky voice from the background doesn’t let me continue the article … “Everyone’s happy? How about the readers? Wouldn’t they be happier without those ads?

Sure, but why remove only the ads from blogs? Why not ban all sources of online and offline income? When everything becomes free (making everyone happier, not only certain blog readers!) and no one has a reason to work, we’ll close the Internet and everything, go back to caves and start hunting. Is it actually a good result?

Selling Your Services on Your Blog Pages

The more distractions on your salesletters, the more prospects will leave these pages without buying your products or services. That’s copywriting 101.

That sucks, doesn’t it? So… no shiny side objects (exit links) should be found on your salesletters.

Remove the sidebar from the salesletters or use a special sidebar and make it 100% part of your salesletter.

(Example of sidebar that is 100% part of your salesletter: a sidebar that displays testimonials of customers who bought the product or service that you sell on that page.)

How to remove the sidebar only from one page?

Go to “Edit Page.” Look on the right side for the box titled “Page Attributes.” Under the sub-headline “Template” you’ll see the option “Default.” Change it to “Full Width.”

If you don’t see the option “Full Width,” thank the developer of your theme ;) If you have some minimum tech skills, you’ll need to remove the sidebar manually. Search on Google for this topic and you’ll find solutions.

Sidebar on the Home Page of a Business Blog

If you have a business blog and the homepage of that blog is the homepage of your site, I don’t recommend a sidebar on that page.

For the same reasons I don’t recommend sidebars on blog pages that are salesletters.

Actually the homepage of your site should be kind of a salesletter. You don’t sell a certain product or service right on that page, but you display your services or products – example. You don’t need other shiny objects there. Your products and services should be the shiny objects.

Exception: If you sell sidebar ads and remove the sidebar from the homepage, such a removal decreases the value of your service. You may not want to remove it in this particular case ;)

Side-note: Don’t get fooled by the fact that I use a sidebar on the home page of this blog. There’s only one reason for it being there… too many things to do, too little time.

Conclusion – Should You Remove the Sidebar or Not?

The internet marketer I admire the most wears eyeglasses. What do you think? Do I have to get a pair for myself even if I don’t need it? Me neither!

There’s no straight answer valid for all blogs. Each blog is unique and it should be treated accordingly. Don’t be that blogger who said, “All the blogs I love have (no) sidebars. So I decided to keep (remove) the sidebar for my blog.”

As you have seen throughout this article, there are cases when keeping the sidebar is bad, there are other cases when keeping the sidebar is good, and there are cases when a partial removal may be the most appropriate.

To Your Blogging Success!
Adrian Jock

P.S. Does your blog still have a sidebar (or two), or have you removed it? Why?

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22 thoughts on “Should You Ditch the Sidebar of Your Blog or Not?

  1. :) I gave up using sidebars back in the days when I blogged on Blogger. I eventually found out that my blog loaded faster as a result of the sidebar removal (And, I got rid of a lot of the unneeded widgets too).

    Today, I still do not use sidebars because I want that clean, distraction-free look.

    Also, mobile devices do not show sidebars of blogs.

    If you are into business, those sidebars will come in very hand (They are ideal for ad placement).
    Renard Moreau recently posted: WordPress Is In A Class By Itself

    1. Thank you for your comment, Renard.

      If you don’t blog for money but for fun, I guess the only goal is to get as many readers as possible. In that case, removing the sidebar is a good option. Similar to the business case described under my sub-headline “Increasing the Conversion Rate for Your Main Objective” :)

  2. Hi Adrian, nice to see you back writing here :) I did ditch mine a while back but I have sliding one if one wants to use it. I agree they take away from the eyes and are distracting. Even more so on mobile. Just like some share buttons can be too.
    I don’t have an issue with folks having some ads as long as they are not everywhere and you can’t find the content – in that case I’m gone.
    Great stuff Adrian, thanks and have a good rest of the week.
    Lisa Sicard recently posted: 10 Ways to Make Your Team More Productive and Accomplished Today

    1. Hi Lisa, thank you for your comment.

      1) I knew you ditched your sidebar. After all, your blog is given as an example somewhere in my article, isn’t it? :) (here: “Sidebar on the Home Page of a Business Blog”)

      2) What I didn’t know was that your blog has a sliding sidebar. Even if I visited your blog many times. I discovered it now, after reading your comment and visiting again your blog. I guess the only persons who are aware of that sidebar are you, the bloggers who use the same theme and the people who are very curious and asked themselves what that menu-like button from upper-right corner is for :)

      Enjoy your weekend, Lisa!

  3. Hey Adrian, nice post!
    Maybe I’m old fashion, but I like websites that have a sidebar. In some cases (landing pages) it is good to remove it, so it does not distract the user. If you are running ads on your website, removing the sidebar is just dumping half of your income into the void.
    Web design trends are not always functional, so I rather use layouts that have proven over the years, instead following latest trends.
    Best, David!
    David Cross recently posted: The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Michael. Yep, almost everyone gives you a different opinion. That’s because many bloggers write from their limited perspective and refer to their own specific situation, but then extend the conclusions to all the surrounding world – as if what’s valid for them and their blog should also be valid for you and your blog, even if they actually don’t know anything about your blog, your goals, your skills, etc.

  4. Blogs are used for different purposes, so of course there is no single answer for everyone. For example, I know of many podcasters and YouTubers who ask the question – why do I need a blog? As you can imagine I try to explain that no matter what kind of content you create, you still need to have your own blog. Whew! Got that out of the way. Next they want to know how to encourage people to subscribe! Sidebars are great for doing that. In fact I just added a new widget to my sidebar to promote an upcoming event and another one to help people find my podcast on Google podcast. Thanks for article Adrian. It’s great for us to have these conversations.
    Ileane Smith recently posted: Top 5 Myths About Hosting Your Podcast on Anchor

    1. Thank you for your comment, Ileane. Till seeing your comment, I had the same feeling as the YouTubers you referred to. Easier to make a video than writing an article, increased productivity, increased impact on the visitor. So why messing with a blog? But when it comes to video marketing I have an excuse: I’m two or three levels under the noob level :)

        1. Thank you for your offer, but I’m happy with that level. Half kidding.

          I know that creating video content is easier – that’s quite obvious – but for several reasons that don’t include shyness or other common reasons I don’t want to get involved in video marketing ;)

    1. Hi Joe. If you run an ad that you like very much, but that ad doesn’t get good results, would you still keep running it?

      The same for sidebars. Whether you like your own sidebar or not, that’s not very relevant.

      For a biz blog, the assessment of a certain marketing tool, technique or strategy should focus on evaluating the results you got by using that tool, technique or strategy.

      Conclusion: Forget about liking or not a certain tool. Focus on whether you like or not the results you got by using that tool.

  5. I’ve tried blogs with and without sidebars. Personally, I like them. I like the ability to put congruent offers in front of my viewers. However, I never really thought about the mobile friendly issue. Most of my views are from mobile, so now I’m going to have to rethink my options. Thanks for bringing that to my attention!
    Michelle Eaves recently posted: How To Find Happiness Within Yourself

  6. Sidebar or no sidebar? Now that’s an interesting question. Yes, you will load faster if you have no sidebar but I just like the look and feel of a sidebar as long as I can adapt it to how I want it to look.
    Great place for related articles, banners, ads and anything that you really want to push forward.
    Regards Dexter
    Dexter Roona recently posted: What is data analytics and data analysis?

  7. This is a good question Adrian. Especially since sidebars are not sidebars on mobile; just an extension of the post. I kept mine but stripped it to 2 widgets; my eBook and smiling face with greeting. All about minimalism these days. Cool post.

  8. Interesting to read. I have one and like it but more and more people are viewing on mobile which takes away its need. Do you have similar discussion on whether to have a landing page or most frequent posts – that is another dilemma?

    1. Thank you for your comment, Hazel. I guess that instead of “most frequent posts” you actually referred to “Recent Posts,” but anyway, no, I didn’t publish yet such articles. Good idea though. Maybe I’ll do it. Enjoy your weekend!

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