How to fill the sidebar of your website with relevant topics and content


A website is subject to constant change. Elements are added, reviewed and removed again. Colors are changed and content is adapted, refreshed or modified. The goal is to achieve the best possible user experience. Visitors should feel comfortable and come back.

In classic blog design, but now also on news and corporate sites, a sidebar is often used. Likewise on “normal” websites. However, it is surprising how rarely sidebars are used efficiently and sensibly. Very often the sidebar is more like a large advertising space. Meaningful content or even user guidance is rarely found. The worst case scenario would be that the sidebar of your website scares away your visitors.

In this article you will find tips and suggestions on how to develop your sidebar into a meaningful element of your website.

Use your sidebar effectively – or don’t use it at all!

It applies to all elements of your website, so also to the sidebar: The use can have positive or negative effects on your visitors. That’s why it’s enormously important to question all elements on your website, including the sidebar, of course. You can ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Do I have a sidebar? If no, maybe a sidebar makes sense?

  2. What content do my visitors expect to see in the sidebar?

  3. What content do my competitors display in their sidebar?

  4. What are my goals with the content in my sidebar?

  5. What kind of content will I use to achieve these goals?

These are just a few questions to help you actively use your sidebar rather than letting it go to waste.

Even if you probably hear this term far too often in the field of marketing – here it actually hits the nail on the head: added value. Try to provide your visitors with real added value through your sidebar!

Practical example of good content in a sidebar

The following contents have proven themselves in the sidebar and lead to the fact that users can orient themselves better and/or receive a better insight into the website.


Making navigation easier for visitors is always a good idea. You can use the sidebar of your website wonderfully for this. One option is to display a superordinate navigation. In this case, you link the main areas of your website in the sidebar.

You could even go one step further and link to further subsections within the main areas. However, one sidebar is no longer sufficient for this. In this case, you should use several sidebars that are individually adapted to each topic area of your website. In WordPress, this can be implemented very easily with the plugin “Content Aware Sidebars“.

On, for example, there is a fold-out sidebar that offers the user navigation.

Further information/presentation

Bloggers use the sidebar comparatively often to introduce themselves or to offer further information. Zielbar does this similarly. Here, the author of the article is briefly introduced in the sidebar.

If you write about more complicated topics on your website, you could, for example, explain certain terms in the sidebar or offer links to glossary-like pages (of course, you need a corresponding glossary on your website!). This way you create added value for the user. Zielbar provides a link to a subpage on which the Zielbar team is introduced. Also a very good idea!


Very often the sidebar is used for advertising purposes. This is very easy to implement in content management systems like WordPress. Through widgets, you can include content such as images or advertising blocks in the sidebar without much effort. Here, however, you should carefully consider what ratio of advertising to real information makes sense.

If you use the sidebar exclusively for advertising purposes, users will sooner or later hide it completely. It’s best to offer much more real information than advertising.

Often the sidebar is also used to generate leads for newsletters. Certainly a good idea, although this also falls under “advertising” – even if it is advertising for your own site.

Own content

Presenting your own content in the sidebar is a very good way to offer the reader further information.

Bloggers often showcase the most read blogposts in the sidebar. You could even go one step further and present the articles that convert best. This kills two birds with one stone: On the one hand, you offer added value, on the other hand, you provide additional revenue, if your blog is monetized accordingly.

Content that generates trust

Certificates or awards can also be linked in the sidebar. Elements of this kind inspire trust in the user. So if your website has been awarded or you use Trusted Shops or similar service providers, then including such a certificate in the sidebar is certainly a good idea.

This has no place in your sidebar

Unfortunately, the sidebar is often “abused”. If you are on the web a lot, then pay attention to the content in sidebars. It is frightening how many well-known companies simply “pump” content into the sidebar. Below is some sidebar content that you should at least think about very carefully before you include it.

  • Tag or keyword clouds: If the tags on your website are really exclusively maintained and assigned according to a fixed system, an integration may even be advantageous. Randomly assigned tags, however, mislead the user and destroy the browsing experience on your website.

  • Archive Content: Honestly, when was the last time you were browsing a blog and randomly clicked on an archive link in the sidebar? This is exactly why archive links in the sidebar are a total waste of space.

  • Flashing ads/overloaded ad units: Nothing distracts from your content more than flashing banner ads. You should also think very carefully about how much advertising appears in your sidebar.

  • Blogrolls: They used to be cool – today they are rather annoying. If you want to link blogger friends or topic-relevant pages, it’s best to use a separate page for this. Blogrolls can also be disastrous for search engine optimization, as the same link is used on countless pages. Matt Cutts, the former head of the Google Webspam team, has commented on links in widgets. 

  • Pictures from Flickr or Instagram: Opinions are probably divided here. If it’s an exclusive channel that publishes images related to the website’s theme, it could be useful. However, the pictures from the last vacation have nothing to do in your sidebar.

Conclusion: Topic relevance and user guidance are important

The sidebar is an important part of your website. So important that it’s worth thinking about what content is relevant.

Ideally, you assign a separate sidebar to each topic. In WordPress, you can use the plugin “Content Aware Sidebars” for example. With the plugin, you can populate several sidebars individually and then assign them to categories or individual pages. This way you can provide your visitors with exactly the information that is important to them.

Guide your users with the sidebar of your website. Show them your best content. Engage your readers by presenting them your social media channels or by giving them the possibility to receive new articles by email.

Or to sum it up in one sentence: Use your sidebar wisely!




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