Are you properly utilizing your WordPress website sidebar? It’s a valuable real estate.
Apart from SEO and link building efforts, how much attention are you paying to your website’s sidebar? Do you know it has the potential to help you gain more engagement and conversion?
Not sure whether you are properly utilizing it or not? Don’t worry, this six points article will help you decide. If in case you are not using the sidebar on your website it will help you understand what to keep inside the sidebar.
The increased bounce ratio on your website suggests that the website is failing to get traction of visitors in first 2-3 seconds. There are various factors like the content, design, and experience plays an important role in engagement.
If you think you have the right website design in place and there something else contributing to the bounce ratio. It might be worth considering the website sidebar seriously. When we design our WordPress Themes we always pay special attention to the sidebar also. It’s a bit different with Themes as we want to present as many options as possible so we always include Popular and Recent posts, Text Widget, Newsletter, Instagram Feed, Facebook Feed, Tag Cloud, Search, Advertising banners, Categories, etc. Properly utilizing several widgets on your website can be of great benefit to your readers.
The sole purpose of this article is to help you get more engagement with smart and minimal changes on your website. The changes that help you produce a measurable outcome with the definite time frame.
Before we start moving please make sure you already have setup the Google analytics on your website. And you have at least a quarter year of traffic into your Google Analytics account.
The changes we’ll be making are based on the true statistic of your website. And when it comes to website traffic statistics, Google Analytics is our best friend!
In order to track the traffic, bounce, and engagement ratios, we may need to dig a little deeper into your website’s analytics.
Open your website analytics, the first ever thing by default what you will see is the statistics of your monthly visitors, average session durations and bounce ratio.
Visitors coming to your website and surfing three or more pages is a decent engagement. If we can somehow do this we would be able to reduce your bounce ratio by a decent margin.
The clear goal of this article is to bring existing visitors to different pages of your website. And to do this, we may need to give our user a direction of what to do next.
The Google search engine looks at various parameters while ranking a website which includes the user engagement and the user experience of a website.
There is a clear correlation between engagement and bounce rate. Better engagement lowers the bounce rate. And provides a higher position in the search engine in the long run!
The most important aspect of improving user engagement is to focus on the above the fold area. This might be an unfamiliar term for many.
Above the fold is the area of any page on your website, which is visible without having to perform the vertical scroll. I am very much interested in discussing proper utilization of the sidebars for user engagement improvement. If you have any suggestions of your own please leave a comment and we can further discuss the improvements of your/ours sidebar.
Properly utilizing the sidebars
Before moving any further I would strongly suggest you produce well researched and quality articles on your website. The articles that match the product/services you are offering to your customers.
Why produce good quality posts? 2017 is the year of content and content marketing. You need to show search engines that your website/domain is all about XYZ topics or subjects.
Having a blog will help you achieve that in the long run and also shows your visitors you are professional about what you do. It will help search engines to come to your website and regularly index it. In a long run, it may increase a scope of your website pages ranking higher and better.
Being in the web development industry for over six years, I have seen many websites utilizing the years old default sidebar pattern.
The majority of the WordPress websites seem to have the old sidebar layout containing a mixture of the search, categories, tags, latest posts, latest comments, and archives.
In a lot of cases, it’s a waste of really important real estate of your website. You can not afford to show just the static about us section or the categories/tags list. If you want to attract your readers eyes you have to pay more attention to the widgets.
Because if you consider the psychology of your visitors, they are in a rush to find the answers to their query. If they find the correct answer from your blog, than they would definitely have look at what else you are offering. And that is very important.
Showing them the best related posts that you have already written on the sidebar makes perfect sense. And it might motivate them to press the link you presented on the sidebar and visit another post! And that is how you can increase engagment.
Utilizing sidebar in pages
In my personal experience as a WordPress developer, I have found only 20% of the websites properly utilize the sidebar on the product/service pages.
Meaning the blog posts have the default sidebar which serves no real purpose or the service/product pages have no sidebar at all. In the majority of cases, those product pages have full-width content.
Having a full-width page is not an issue if your website and content design is smart enough to pitch other services/product you are offering to your visitors. Or you have the proper call to action elements in place.
Creating a minimalistic, UX fine tuned, and high converting design is not easy. It takes time and many iterations to reach the final destination. As discussed earlier we are not into redoing any stuff. We are interested in making your existing design work.
So, let’s not get into the complete website re-design, instead, let’s properly utilize the sidebar with meaningful data that helps us make your existing design and content work!
Most themes do, but if your theme does not support the page with sidebar template, you can ask your template author to provide it. For instance, all our Themes are carefully designed to provide a useful sidebar with as many widgets as possible. Or you can hire a WordPress developer to customize the functionality and Theme.
Now that you have a sidebar on your product/service pages. What should you put in the sidebar? Well, as we are talking about the product/service pages I highly recommend you to pitch other products/services in the sidebar.
There is a simple strategy, a chance of a user clicking the product displayed along side of the product that is currently being read, instead of finding the product name from header navigation menu (more time consuming).
You know the direction(call to action), relativity, and ease of putting related items on sidebar makes the thing work. You may see the engagement happening.
Adding Call To Action on sidebars
Let’s suppose the products/services you are offering are unique to your targeted market. Which obviously means anyone looking for those products would end up visiting your website.
I would highly recommend you to add a short and sweet inquiry form on the sidebar. It can be named as the quick inquiry. And it would ask for just three things an i.e name, email, and message.
Try following this pattern and you may see an improved number of inquiries coming in from your website.
The underlying philosophy is that you are presenting your unique services in the best possible way on the left side of the page. While on the right you are giving them an easy way to inquire about them.
While conversion optimization is not really our point or the goal here. But having a good call to action section on your pages, blogs, and sidebar would definitely help you increase your sales or email sign ups. I wrote two step conversion optimization for any WordPress website, it might help you out so please check it out for more extensive information.
It would be great if you can show the most relevant information a user is looking for and asking for an email/contact detail in return. You know that’s how you would build a list of prospect clients or cold leads.
Most of the sidebars on the WordPress website are more or less static. That means you are showing the same set of information on sidebar across the website.
You can customize the sidebar to display the relative information based on what your individual blog post is about.
Showing the best possible and matching related content would help you increase the engagement significantly.
Visually speaking it would be great if you can show the featured image of your page/posts on the sidebar.
The best example I observed is the Amazon’s you may also like section. Based on the product you are currently viewing they will present you the list of similar products. This way they keep you on their website for a longer period of time. And that means better conversion and more sales.
If you are showing the sidebar on the products pages, I would highly recommend you to include customer testimonials in your sidebar.
Trust is everything. You can maximize your sales by showing the testimonials of your previous customers.
Consider a case where you are about to buy a wireless speaker. You’ve shortlisted two products. The first product has over 1K rating with over 500 positive feedbacks. And the other product looks just as good but has no rating or feedbacks. Which product would you consider buying?
This simple rule applies to your website as well. Let your website’s visitors know that you have served many real clients. And here is what they have to say about your offers. A positive testimonial of your product will help you win your visitor’s confidence.
There are many plugins available that can help you make the testimonial carousel. Include at least three testimonials from your customers.
If your client is fine with it, also include the photo of your customer along with his/her company name followed by the testimonial texts. That makes the testimonial more believable and has proven to be one of the best motivators to increase conversions.
I have tested all of the suggestions above on my website. I have created a dynamic sidebar which shows relevant blog posts.
I also tested the dynamic sidebar out on iOS push notifications. The results were outstanding, the article in question is an article with high traffic and it helped us engage visitors with other iOS related articles tremendously. As a result four of our articles got better search ranking and the overall website engagement ratio was uplifted and bounce ratio decreased. And that is a win-win situation.
The article was brought to you by Darshan Joshi, the founder, and director of AlphansoTech. He is a WordPress and web design enthusiast. If you are a designer looking to convert your prototypes to a responsive website, please have a look at his PSD to Bootstrap conversion service. An affordable service Exclusive to designers.