Customize Your Blog Sidebar

If you new to blogging, you may be puzzled by all the links that are displayed on the sidebar of your blog.
Well, you don’t need them all and you can also customize the sidebar to suit your own purposes.

Here is the sidebar order of my Web Design Blog and why I arranged it this way:

1. About the author.
I chose to have my photo displayed at the top with a link to more information about myself so visitors can immediately establish a rapport with the author. It also helps build trust as people want to know who is behind the site. If I visit a site where I can’t find the author, I’m out of there in a second….I do the same on the phone:-)

2. Search.
This is prominently displayed at the top of the sidebar as visitors can enter their main keyword into the search box and immediately find what they are looking for. I haven’t checked into substituting this with Google Search but you may consider this
as it means you can make money from it (with your AdSense account) plus it also allows people to search the Web should they not find the topic on your blog.

3. Recent Posts.
I chose to display ‘recent posts’ next since that is what I like to read when I visit other blogs, particularly whenthe author has a number of posts that all relate to the same topic. It’s easier to follow and learn from rather than jumping between different categories to find related posts.

If you author a blog write posts sequentially if they cover the same topic so the visitor can easily read, learn from and supply feedback.

4. Categories.
This enables the visitor to quickly choose their topic of interest instead of searching your blog to find it. It also helps the author to keep his blog orderly instead of just writing a jumbled mess that doesn’t offer any value to others.

5. Monthly archives.
If your blog is several months or years old visitors may be interested in looking through your archived material. Personally I haven’t discovered the significance of this link when I have just created my blog.

6. Links.
This was originally named “blogroll”. I changed it to “links” as I wanted it to mean something to my readers. You can edit it in your sidebar.php file. You may want to change it to “Important Links” or “Resources”.

7. Meta.
This link is primarily for administration purposes, however I discovered a couple of juicy morsels here:

A) Keep the XHTML validation link. Every time you make a post to your front page click on this link to make sure the page validates. I’ve already discovered that the editor that comes with Word Press does not always write XHTML compliant code. This may cause your page to appear incorrectly in some browsers ie FireFox, slow the loading of your site plus slow the spidering of your site by the search engines.

B) The Site Admin link allows the author to edit posts on any page once he is logged in. This saves you
logging in to your administration panel every time you post or edit your message…a great time saver.

The link will only display itself to the author and not appear to people visiting your blog.

8. Feeds
RSS feeds allow visitors to read your posts and comments with an RSS reader. They can then scan your blog posts and decide for themselves if they want to read the entire post and possibly add a comment. Clicking on the Entries (RSS) or Comments (RSS)
links at the bottom of allows them to read your messages with their RSS reader.

What is RSS?

You may wish to move or create a feeds link on the sidebar then add icons from other RSS readers so visitors can quickly subscribe to your RSS feeds.

Other recommendations
Mail Subscription Form. You can build a mailing list then send them articles, promotions or even automatic email notification
every time there is a new post to your blog.

E-books. You can promote your e-book by displaying it in the sidebar of every page.

Customize Your Sidebar – Resource.

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