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Sidebar Blindness

http://donnamerrilltribe.comAs a blogger, I’m sure you are busy reading many blogs. 

My question to you is do you have sidebar blindness?  Or…do you read everything on a person’s sidebar when you visit their blog?  Do you actually go to them?  Sign in for newsletters?  OR…have you developed a blindness when it comes to all those things on the sidebar.

Clearly, the only way something will work on your sidebar is to have a call to action to it.  If you are writing a post to something congruent to an opt-in, mention it by saying “you can click the (Blank) image on the sidebar“.   You can also put your option offer in your author box.

Even if you do all these things, though, people really are developing sidebar blindness, even if you reinforce it in your post and in your author box.

What happens when you see too many things on someone’s sidebar?

Confusion, I can say that much.  Especially those links that blink as you fight your way to read the post without distraction.

Clutter, too.  It looks like you want to sell every plugin, new book and shiny object there is on the planet.

It causes people to be blind to it all.

So what to do?  

Well the first thing is to use some good old common sense.  

If you have many things on your sidebar, take a look at how many conversions you have made in the last month.  If you haven’t made much or anything at all, toss it!  

If you really want to sell that sidebar smash, then do something about it.  Write a post and give a call to action.  Review it, don’t just advertise it!  Then, if it is not working, redo it or toss it away.

If you have an affiliate link to a product or service on your sidebar, how many people are opting in?  

Maybe the bigger question here is did you ever tell them about it?  

Did you draw attention to it in a blog post, or in an email or Facebook update?  

Moreover, have you ever advertised?   I know some bloggers that will put a link up on their sidebar and think people will go right to it and they will make a sale or convert an option to their list….NOT!

Of course, we do want to put something on our sidebar.  But make it something that will work.  Social Media “connect with me” buttons can work wonders if your blog visitors are so impressed with your posts, that they do want to connect with you on some or all of the major social media platforms.

If you have a product, let them see your face with a picture or video display, with some kind of call to action alongside your option box or link to your sales page.

If you want them to subscribe to your Newsletter, put a little “Join my newsletter to receive ________.”  Fill in the blank and make the offer worthwhile for a person to join in.  

MAKE THE SIDEBAR ABOUT YOU

Yes you heard me… whatever is on your sidebar should be about you for branding purposes.  Even if you have the best affiliate product in the universe, make it all about you and how you enjoy being part of this, why you recommend it, etc.  It’s not about the thing you’re promoting, it’s about YOU and why you are recommending it.  

When people see YOU in your sidebar, their interest will be piqued, and your personal brand will be reinforced.  When they just see “stuff”… they’ll subconsciously default to sidebar blindness.

I would suggest a video.  Not a company or promo video someone gives you.  Your readers have seen that one a zillion times and will click away immediately.  Introduce your offer, opportunity or whatever, with a short video.  Make it full of excitement from your heart, and you will have a much better chance for a conversion.

The biggest mistake I find bloggers making is this.  

They install an offer on their side bar.  It goes directly to someone else’s sales page.  

Those bloggers just lost their branding opportunity, and possibly their credibility (depending on what they’re promoting, and what their readers’ preconditioned perception of it is).  
 
If your visitors want to check out your opportunity, they are doing it because they are interested in working with YOU.  They care more about working with you than they do about your opportunity or product.

So please, do your part to steer them clear of their sidebar blindness.

Take a little time to shoot a very short video of you, telling them why you’d like them to take action on what you’ve got for them.  

Then, you can link your video to a squeeze page, opportunity or sales page.  Nothing shady please because you don’t want to lose your prospective subscriber, customer, lead or prospect.  They’re checking out what you promote because they’ve come to trust you.  Don’t violate that trust on your sidebar!

LESS IS MORE

One of the best ways to keep your visitors from defaulting to sidebar blindness, is to give them less to look at.

The less “stuff” you have on your sidebar, the more people will pay attention to it.  

Don’t believe me?  

Well think of this:  You walk into someones home.  The person is a pack rat.  There is clutter all around and you have to move stuff out of the way just to sit down.  Is that comfortable?  I don’t think so!

You go to someone’s home, everything is clean and neat.  It is spacious and airy.  Plenty of seating room.  

Will that make you feel comfortable?  Probably so.

Are you likely to spend more time in the neat, well organized friend’s home, or the pack rat’s?

The answer is clear.

YOUR BLOG IS YOUR HOME

I know I’ve said that a million times!  But, when someone visits your home, don’t you want it to look clean and neat?  Associate that with your blog.  Clean up that sidebar and make people feel welcome.  Give them some sidebar vision, not sidebar blindness.

Now if you really want to increase your conversion rates, there are far better ways to do it than with your sidebar.  I teach people these methods in the “Whirlwind Success VIP Club” regularly, and am working on a more definitive outline of these methods for an upcoming webinar.

Check out the many benefits of becoming a member of the “VIP Club”.

In the meantime, look over your blog’s sidebar.

How can you simplify it?

How can you make it more appealing?

How can you make it reflect more of YOU and less of “stuff”?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below, and please share this article with your social media friends.

Blessings,

Donna

Donna Merrill
Donna is a well known blogger and creator of "Blogging Magic" - an intensive guide to blogging. "Blogging Magic" is for beginners who are trying to figure out how to bring their blogs to life with tons of visits, comments and social media interaction. It's even for advanced bloggers looking to reach new levels of authority and engagement with their audience.

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102 Responses to Sidebar Blindness

  1. Susan Cooper
    Twitter:
    July 6, 2014 at 9:28 pm #

    Sidebars can be very distracting for many readers. I agree with you that your sidebar should showcase your brand. Branding takes every ounce of our effort and whenever there is a chance to spread your brand I say do it!!! 🙂
    Susan Cooper recently posted..Story Winery Chenin Blanc: #WinesMy Profile

  2. Glenn Shepherd
    Twitter:
    July 7, 2014 at 11:30 am #

    Hi Donna,

    I’m someone who actually does notice what’s going on in people’s sidebars. But here’s the thing – if there’s nothing that immediately grabs my interest then they’ve lost me. As you say, you must give people a reason to pay attention, whether that be by means of a video, an incentive or a call-to-action. Unless you’re some kind of super-guru whose reputation precedes you, it’s very unlikely that simply putting up an opt-in form that says “Subscribe to my newsletter” is going to be a big enough incentive. And if your opt-in form is in the sidebar then having it above the fold is an absolute must.

    With regards to how busy it should/shouldn’t be I think the key factor is to test, test, test and see what works/doesn’t work. More often than not, what we think should or shouldn’t work is quite different to what’s demonstrated by our visitors’ actions, even if they actually say otherwise at times. Ultimately, it can be a case of “horse for courses” and can vary from blog to blog, from blogger to blogger, from audience to audience. I’ve known some blogs that, to me, look insanely busy and cluttered do amazingly well with regards to clicks on their ads. There are actually some marketing experts who suggest that more is good and that you should pack those sidebars up with stuff. My personal feeling is 100% with yours and I’m not convinced by the ‘clutter’ strategy, but there are so many factors involved in these things that we must always test and test again to see how things perform to know what’s best for our own sites, offers and audience.

    Thanks for the great post as always, Donna. I hope you’re keeping well. 🙂

    »Glenn«
    Glenn Shepherd recently posted..Live Events Can Be Life-Changing EventsMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 7, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

      Hi Glenn,

      Yes, we need to have that call to action to anything we put on our sidebar. It can even be in our blog posts at the end.

      I also agree that there must always be testing going on. I don’t like clutter, but as long as one has things working on their sidebar, goodie for them!

      I rather see plain and simple things, but that’s just me. It all comes down to who the blogger is, and who his/her audience is about.

      We have to keep our eye on the ROI. What works and doesn’t work is up to the blogger.

      Thanks for your awesome input,

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  3. Liz McGee
    Twitter:
    July 7, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

    Donna you hit the nail on the head with this excellent points.

    I like the idea that your sidebar should be about you. We have a tendency to put ads there and things that drive visitors away. Ads have their place but filling your sidebar with them doesn’t necessarily offer you any benefit unless perhaps it’s in direct relation to what your blog is about, but even then ads should be limited, or at least tested.

    I would also say that if you have an ad in the sidebar have it open a new page. You don’t want your visitor to necessarily leave your blog.

    Good post Donna and lots of food for thought 🙂

    Blessings,
    Liz

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 7, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

      Hi Liz,

      Yes, good point! Never have your visitor leave your page! When I run into this, I just shake my head and think to myself…wow..they just may have lost their reader.

      It all comes down to who our audience is, and if the stuff on our sidebar is congruent to our niche.

      Sometimes I see blogs that have so many things on the sidebar that has nothing to do with their blog….I just wonder….Do they ever check and see if it is working or not?

      Thanks!

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  4. Adrienne
    Twitter:
    July 7, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

    Hey Donna,

    If I’ve never been to their blogs before I do check them out rather thoroughly. I like to see what they’re about and hopefully I can figure it out rather quickly. We both know if they have too much stuff in the side bar than that’s a total turnoff.

    I think so many people just add things once again upon the recommendation of whoever they’re learning from at the moment. I revamped mine earlier this year after going through B-School and realizing that although I would love for people to purchase things from me, my goal was to get more consulting clients. By taking them to someone elses site then I was building their list and not mine.

    As always we should test things out to see if they’re working for us so that’s always really great advice. Some people even suggest not having social sharing accounts in your sidebar too but I like to make it a little easier for them to connect with me. I still get emails asking me how they can connect with me which just goes to show me that they aren’t paying attention to my sidebar.

    Most people do have sidebar blindness though but I wish they would at least check it out the first time they land on someone’s blog.

    Great share young lady an thanks for pointing this out to us.

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted..Please Tell Me You Date Your Blog PostsMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 7, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

      Hi Adrienne!

      Yes we both know if there is too many things on the sidebar it is a total turn off. Oh boy…I have seen them and this is what got me to write this post. It’s a big shout out to say STOP! No one is buying the stuff you are peddling….unless….they have a marketing structure behind it!

      The point you bring out of marketing other people’s stuff is so true. If, one is an affiliate of something, there is nothing wrong with it on the sidebar if it is tested and has a decent ROI.

      But even in that situation, I learned early (thank goodness) to have my own branding done on my sidebar. It was a free tutorial of how to stop procrastination so I can build my email list. That went well, but now, that I have my own product and services, the ROI is higher as long as I write a call to action.

      OMG…as for social share buttons..I keep them! It is so easy for the reader to get in touch with us that way. Otherwise, we get bogged down with emails. So yes…keep them there by all means.

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  5. Kumar Gauraw
    Twitter:
    July 7, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

    Hi Donna,

    What an interesting topic and great insights. Thank you for bringing this up!

    I usually check out sidebars on every new blog I visit and sometimes on my regular visits to known blogs as well. However, I do agree with you that having too many things in sidebars is really not very useful for any blogger.

    Less is more! No question about that! It is very important as a blogger that I keep things about me and about my highlighted stuff on my sidebars and therefore I usually keep my sidebars as clean as possible. No advertisements, no AdSense or thinks that can cause people to move away from me.

    I wasn’t like that from before, but I learnt through experiment and experience. Now, here you are confirming a my theory and I thank you for that.

    Have a wonderful day and a successful new week!

    Regards,
    Kumar
    Kumar Gauraw recently posted..How Do You Work With An Unaccountable Leader?My Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 7, 2014 at 6:15 pm #

      Hi Kumar,

      I sure glad I confirmed your theory. But its simple math when it comes down to it all. Just check the opt ins every week. If no one is opting in…change it up or toss it.

      Less is more is my motto too. There is no reason for adverts to be there unless one is writing about it constantly or puts a call to action to it on the end of each post.

      When I see too many things on a side bar, my immediate reaction is to think that this person is really struggling and trying to sell just about anything to get by.

      To me, it ruins your branding.

      Thanks for your amazing input,

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  6. Carol Amato
    Twitter:
    July 7, 2014 at 4:53 pm #

    Hi Donna,

    Love this topic as it’s in the forefront of my mind each week as I change up my blog. 🙂

    FIRST of all, even if it’s a little off topic, Congratulations on having a unique image for your post and sidebar, one that doesn’t exist on hundreds and thousands of other blogs… Well done! 🙂

    Sidebar Blindness, and do I have it? No, I don’t. I do check out people’s side bar as it tells A LOT about them as a person and a marketer.

    I agree with your point of making the sidebar element have a call to action and about making it about you. I have all of my side bar items linking to products and services of my own, as well as inner pages of my blog, yet still have one affiliate product (my all time fave) and one Amazon product, which will cookie people even if they do not buy the one particular thing on my side bar, and I’ll still get credit.

    Weekly change ups are part of my to do list, with regard to colors and background for my opt in forms, and interchanging side bar elements…Taking some off, replacing with others, re-designing others… I spend about 1-1.5 hours per week on this.

    I see what works by using a heat map service, CrazyEgg, so I am able to determine what isn’t working and what is, thankfully.

    I used to have only 2-3 things on my side bar, but found that if well designed, and clean and simple, professional looking pictures were getting lots of clicks…

    So, I decided to test a very simple navigational menu (fewer options) and increase the options on my side bar, and it’s done well. I’m sure it’s different for every blog/person though.

    I do check out the things on people’s side bar, but rarely sign up for newsletters.

    I send a welcome video to each person who signs up to my list, and have a page dedicated to this as well.

    You really hit the bullseye when you said CONFUSION when someone sees too many things.

    For me, I can’t stand when bloggers use a 3-COLUMN layout…It’s just too busy for my eyes.

    And blinking, moving gif graphics? Yikes! Don’t like them one bit! It’s lacking in taste, and screams amateur, in my opinion.

    Anyway, love the layout of your blog, and the font is awesome! Not too small and not too big, just right!

    I tested an opt in form on my side bar, and I’m getting much better conversions having it permanently placed above my content, just below my header. The free report widget is linked to a light box, that is converting better than the traditional opt in form I used to have, so I’m thankful for that.

    There is always room for improvement in all areas and especially in conversions, so you’ve given me a lot of food for thought, and I thank you!

    Have a blessed day.
    – Carol Amato
    Carol Amato recently posted..Why You Shouldn’t Work Too Hard (and What to Do Instead) – VIDEOMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 7, 2014 at 9:11 pm #

      Wow Carol,

      Thank you so much for adding such great content on this subject. You are doing it correctly checking if things are working well on your sidebar.

      Testing conversions is a must do! I love the idea you have of a heat map CrazyEgg. I will look into that one myself.

      You spend time on what is and what is not working each week on your side bar and that’s what we need to do. Unfortunately, many just put a newsletter opt-in form there, and a bunch of affiliates that go straight to someone else’s page. Big mistake! Whenever we have anything linking out of our blog we have to make sure it is a video of us talking about the product and/or service. Need to keep that branding up.

      Yes, we can tell so much about someone from their sidebar. This has come to my attention lately and sometimes I just want to scream especially those blinking ones! Worse than the pop ups the have with those hidden x on it lol.

      It is just all about professionalism and also keeping things simple for the reader to follow.

      As far as my images I use: about 2 years ago I noticed what was going on in the image industry. Even purchasing images were dangerous. The “Terms and conditions” were ever-changing and there were some law suits going around. That’s when I took my own. I have several different programs I use. They are mine and I’m safe 🙂

      Thanks once again for your input…you are amazing!

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  7. sherman smith July 7, 2014 at 6:46 pm #

    Hey Donna,

    This is a post that is well needed by me and a lot of bloggers. I know when I go to other blogs, I rarely look at the side bar. The content of the blog has to be really intriguing for me to do so. So yes I have the sidebar blindness about 90% of the time LOL

    It also brings me to question myself when it comes to having the optin box on the side. I haven’t gotten as many optins as i wanted, so I have been looking for other solutions. I really don’t want to use a pop up since I myself get irritated when one comes up when i’m reading an interested blog post.

    I have found one solution that I plan on checking out as soon as the upgrade comes out on the 8th…It’s called OptinLinks and you can put a message within your content so your visitors will more than likely take a look at it. They can either click on the image link or come back to it.

    I will also make some changes to the side bar too. I thought about making a video for the optin. I’m not really a video person, but if it helps then why not, right!

    Thanks for sharing and I hope you have a great week ahead!
    sherman smith recently posted..Why Your Free Blog Theme Can Give You ProblemsMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 7, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

      Hi Sherman,

      I too have sidebar blindness. I guess it is because I read so many blogs that I am focused on the content.

      I think doing a video for your opt-in box is a good idea. Even if you are not a “video person” as you say, people need to see you. Take it from me, I had the hardest time with videos until I did a 30 day challenge and now I can get in front of the camera easily.

      Once you know it helps with business..I’m sure you will be fantastic on a short video.

      Thanks,

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  8. nick catricala
    Twitter:
    July 7, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

    Donna,
    ok,. ok, I got the message, you are talking to me, correct?

    I had no idea to what to do or not to do about the sidebar.. after reading your article.. reading all the tps and know how.. I say to my self.. wow, this is more than I can do in just one sitting ahhah 🙂

    I only start lately to add stuff on my blog sidebar.. I keep tweaking to figure out what fells best.. but with your info on the article I will be a pro once I get to it again haha 🙂

    Thanks so much fro sharing so much knowledge of what you learned the hard way for so many years.. it is a treat coming to your site here and enjoy reading so much knowledge that you wrote from the heart… for only one purpose and that is to help others who are not aware of what you know…

    Thanks so much my friend.
    _nickc
    nick catricala recently posted..A Lifetime Commitment -Part 4 of 5My Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 8, 2014 at 11:01 am #

      Hi Nick,

      Good to know you are tweaking what you put on your sidebar. Always teak Nick! I know what you mean by what “feels” best. And I say go with it, but with a marketer’s eye!

      Sometimes what feels good to us, doesn’t appeal to others. Not saying that you are wrong, but as long as you keep testing once a week and see how many people are or are not opting in, you will be O.K.

      I’m sure, with your loving heart and main goal to help others, you will do well.

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

      • nick catricala
        Twitter:
        July 14, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

        Donna,
        yes, I always tick and tick hahah 🙂 There is no end to it because we all know if you do not tick tick you are gone.. correct?

        Thanks for taking time to reply to my last comment.. it truly helped me at this tine since I am almost ready to launch my new found way to present what I do and what I offer…

        Today I had a meeting where it was pointed out the same thing so in my mind I thought.. well, this is a coincidence and so for certain I go for it… meaning, find out what it feels good for my self.. test for a couple fo weeks or so and then change and tweak some more when necessary.. as the saying go.. no matter how many times you change, there is another change that you can change again… and since I love change… we go hand in hand haha 🙂

        Thanks again Donna
        nick catricala recently posted..A Lifetime Commitment -Part 5 of 6My Profile

        • Donna Merrill
          Twitter:
          July 15, 2014 at 10:18 pm #

          Hi again Nick.

          I don’t believe in coincidences! He He He…If you heard it twice..try it and see. Always remember that a blog is always in motion.

          We tweak it and never stop.

          I cannot wait to see the changes coming up!

          -Donna
          Donna Merrill recently posted..Guest Blog Post | Lesly FedericiMy Profile

  9. Barbara Charles
    Twitter:
    July 7, 2014 at 9:16 pm #

    Hi Donna,

    I’ve always been worried about the sidebars. I was told right from the start not to do many of the things you mentioned. You’ve just re-inforced this. How cool is that? It’s good to know that what I’ve learned makes sense and that you agree with it.

    Great article. I think I need to change my sidebar!

    Thanks Donna.
    Barbara

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 8, 2014 at 11:02 am #

      Hi Barbara,

      Yes, less is more. And what we deem important for people to contact us needs to have a call to action.

      Sometimes sidebar stuff is too passive and not marketed. So, rule of thumb is to have your marketing hat on at all times.

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  10. Ravi Chahar
    Twitter:
    July 8, 2014 at 1:20 am #

    Hi Donna,

    Sidebars are the most confusing thing in an blog. As you have mentioned in your post that many bloggers put the sales banner which directly sends users to other website.
    We need to make our brand using sidebar. Bloggers need to promote their product via connecting with people, writing post about them. On;y placing it at the sidebar is not enough.

    There are many bloggers who place affiliate links to the sidebar of their website but they should take some essential steps to get more engagement.

    Great Post.:)

    Enjoy the weekend.:)

    ~Ravi
    Ravi Chahar recently posted..Simple Steps To Install WordPress Plugins For BeginnersMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 8, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

      Hi Ravi,

      You said it! When bloggers place affiliate links on their sidebar, they do have to take some steps to engagement.

      I’ve noticed on some blogs that there are so many affiliate links, and there is no relevance to what their niche is and that is a huge turn of for me.

      And if I’m turned off by it, others may feel the same. So this is why I’m shouting this one out.

      Keep things clean and simple. If there is something on the sidebar, then talk about it. But most of all, it needs to be checked quite often for ROI.

      Thank you for stopping by,

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  11. Enstine Muki
    Twitter:
    July 8, 2014 at 2:06 am #

    Hey Donna,
    It’s about 6:30 am here in Cameroon as I read this post after Lisa’s and you got me running to my sidebar 😉 I have to redo a lot of touches following these tips you shared here. Beautiful! Beautiful!

    You mentioned sidebar conversion and I think that’s the heart of it. If we track conversion, we will be able to make the most out of it. I remember generating some good earnings from a banner on my sidebar. I didn’t know about it until recently when I checked my affiliate account for that product. The issue I had with it was that the affiliate system does not send alerts each time a sale is made. So for about 30 days, I didn’t get any sales notification from the product. I thought well, this one doesn’t work so I took it down. Surprisingly on the 3rd of this month, I had payments to my Paypal from the product. That showed me the conversion of that banner on the sidebar was good. So I’ll be bringing it back 😉

    Now I’m going to do some cleaning and thanks for your recommendation
    Enstine Muki recently posted..Increase search engine traffic Guaranteed! Little known trick exposed!My Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 8, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

      Hi Enstine,

      Thanks so much for sharing what happened to you with your banner ad. This is why we need to check our conversions all the time. Whatever we put up on our sidebar, we always need to track our conversion rate.

      As long as we are keeping it up, it’s fine. Sometimes too banners will cause “sidebar blindness” to the reader.

      I do find that when putting anything up, especially an affiliate link on the sidebar, we need to personalize it. A short video will work to show the reader you are personally involved with this product and/or service.

      Thanks for sharing your experience, to add flavor to this post.

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  12. Nanda Rahmanius
    Twitter:
    July 8, 2014 at 3:53 am #

    Hi Donna,

    Yes, I agree with you. I also don’t pay much attention to the sidebar of a blog. As you suggest, if bloggers want their sidebar noticed by visitors, then they should give a call to action on their sidebar. That way, visitors will be able to easily discover our sidebar. 🙂

    I think, giving a little brighter shades on the sidebar can also be an option. If that is done, sidebar blindness will not happen anymore. Like it or not we have to pay attention to their sidebar.

    Thanks for sharing this with us, Donna.
    Nice topic and nice share as well. 🙂

    Nanda
    Nanda Rahmanius recently posted..6 Simple Ways To Lose Your ReadershipMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 8, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

      Hi Nanda,

      Good point…when you mentioned that giving a little brighter shade on the sidebar can be an option. It does stick out to the reader.

      As long as we carefully select what we want the reader to do and have a call to action, we will get more conversions.

      Too many banners on sidebars will usually cause “blindness” and not paying attention to what is converting or not is another no no!

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  13. Sylviane Nuccio
    Twitter:
    July 8, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    Hi Donna,

    Excellent post, and I don’t think I’ve read a blog post about the sidebar in a while.

    In the past I used to have plenty of affiliate links linked to small images in my sidebar, but frankly it was going nowhere, so eventually I got rid of them all. Now all I really have is my opt-in product forms and my own links to my services. Well, on my writing blog I’ve got your blogging product as you know  because it fits well, but that’s about it.

    It’s very true that people do develop sidebar blindness, there’s no doubt about that, but I can only speak for me, when I see an interesting product I usually opt-in. I actually like to check people sidebars to see what they’re up to.

    Thank you for this great info and have a great rest of the week.
    Sylviane Nuccio recently posted..If Content Is King Do You Need To Worry About Anything Else?My Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 8, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

      Hi Sylviane,

      First a big thank you for having my product on your sidebar! I just had to write this because I have been visiting some blogs that were filled with affiliate links that were not congruent to the blogger’s niche.

      As you mentioned, my banner is on your blog because it is congruent to what you are writing about.

      I love your sidebar because it is clear and simple and it is linked to your services. It’s branding YOU and that is a fine example of a great sidebar.

      Thanks for coming by and sharing,

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  14. Neamat Tawadrous
    Twitter:
    July 8, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    Hi Donna,

    Great Post and a topic we need to be reminded of.

    I admit that I have sidebar blindness and I don’t check the side bar of the blogs I regularly visit but when I visit a new blog I do check them out especially their free offer to see what they are about.

    I like your suggestion that if bloggers want their sidebar to be noticed by visitors, to give a call to action on a post. It is a great suggestion and I will apply it myself.

    Thanks Donna for the reminder and for a great share. Have a great week ahead.

    Be Blessed,

    Neamat
    Neamat Tawadrous recently posted..5 Benefits To The Power Of Humility In Leadership!My Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 8, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

      Hi Neamat,

      When we read so many blogs, we tend to develop sidebar blindness sometimes. If we are interested in something, we may click the link.

      But…when the sidebar is full of “stuff” it is difficult to distinguish what is on there, especially if it is blinking away!

      Whenever we put something up on our sidebar, we need to track it and see if it is working or not.

      It is also a good idea to write a blog about it, or even put it at the end of a blog post “Don’t forget to check out _____” That little call to action can get some mileage.

      Thank you so much,

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  15. Monna Ellithorpe
    Twitter:
    July 8, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    Hi Donna,

    Great post and yes, I do have “sidebar blindness” but never realized what it was called. You have share a LOT of great points here. I will be looking at my sidebar in a different light this time.

    Have a wonderful day. Monna
    Monna Ellithorpe recently posted..Google+ – 6 Part Social Media Series -Cross Posting #5My Profile

  16. Mi Muba
    Twitter:
    July 8, 2014 at 7:59 pm #

    Hi Donna
    A much needed topic indeed with an impressive headline.
    Your first point itself is a complete post. Many bloggers very innocently put several offers at the top of their side bar. And visitors instead of staying there move to the place of offer. It not only distract their readers but also increase their bounce rate.
    Yes this is another widely followed bad habit that people take sidebar a free place where everything can be stuffed because there is not rent to do this. It not only creates bad impression aesthetically but it also shows the over excitement of a blog how he is getting made to display everything at his blog.
    Thanks a lot for sharing a wonderful post that is not frequently covered by many and it does have value and worthy of bookmarking.
    Mi Muba recently posted..10 ways to make money blogging by selling benefitsMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 9, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

      Hi Mi Muba,

      So true, if a blogger stuffs too many things on their sidebar it can attribute to an increased bounce rate. Thank you for that thought!

      Because some bloggers think that the side bar is free advertising and stuff it with all kinds of things, it certainly causes a bad first impression. It reflects that the blogger doesn’t have a good education of marketing.

      Thanks for you input,

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  17. Chery Schmidt
    Twitter:
    July 8, 2014 at 10:22 pm #

    Hello Donna, Sidebar Blindness! Now I know I dont have it, I was just on a blog the other day and there was this annoying blinking banner and it went down the page a si was reading, Wow I could get a way from it, So NO Blindness here,, I actually like to see what others are doing,..

    I put a list of testimonies on my sidebar, I am not sure why, other then it was offered with my theme so I thought what the heck. It is different and Yes, like you have stated it is about me Right?

    You ahev seen it them Right Donna? I would be curious to know what you think? Perhaps you could let me know OK??

    This was a great post it really does make one think about what to put on the sidebar..

    Thanks for sharing Chery :))
    Chery Schmidt recently posted..Your Daily Method Of Operation Is Your Guide To SuccessMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 9, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

      Hi Chery,

      Oh I know what you mean about those blinking things that distract us from reading a post! It drives me crazy.

      As for your blog…your sidebar is great because it is pertinent of what you do. Testimonials are fine too.

      You don’t have 10 banners that say “buy me” so you are doing just fabulous my friend.

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  18. Sue Price
    Twitter:
    July 9, 2014 at 4:50 am #

    hi Donna

    Oh yes I have sidebar blindness and even to my own! Just recently I realized I had an affiliate link on there to something I have not been part of for a year or so.

    I seldom look at sidebars unless they have their own video and I will watch that. So there you go I am going with the personal branding part 🙂

    It is interesting as having been in business for most of my life I am someone who reads ads. I read ads on FB sidebar, I read ads on google, on anywhere really. I love to get ideas as I am a marketer before I am a blogger – if that makes sense.

    Thanks for the great points and timely reminder for me to clean up my home. I like your point especially that even if we are doing an affiliate offer we should brand ourselves with it.

    Great advice thanks Donna

    Sue
    Sue Price recently posted..Belief : Believe in YourselfMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 9, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

      Hi Sue,

      As a marketer I do read ads all the time also. I advertise and want to keep up with the latest trends and also see what others are doing.

      On sidebars, I do get blindness if there are too many ads there. It screams to me the blogger is not sticking to his/her brand. Rather, more of a hack. Now that’s just my opinion 🙂

      As a marketer, I rather see a more focused brand based option on someone’s sidebar. It will peek my curiosity because it is their brand.

      And yes, if we are doing an affiliate the best practice is to put up a 60 second video to introduce the product. This way you are still keeping your brand and people will rather purchase from YOU because they know you. If it goes directly to a product sales page, the bounce rates will be high because that person does not know who the heck the other guy is 🙂

      Thanks so much for your input,

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  19. Lorraine Reguly
    Twitter:
    July 9, 2014 at 8:08 am #

    I find that I look at sidebars only when I have not been to a person’s site before. Once I check out what’s there, I basically ignore it. (Don’t we all?)

    Yet, I have a bunch of things going on in my sidebars of my blogs. Why shouldn’t I? Everyone else does!

    I’d like to have something with a cleaner look, though. If you could make some recommendations to me, I’d be happy to listen. Thanks.
    Lorraine Reguly recently posted..“RISKY ISSUES” IS OUT!!! (+ I have a new site!)My Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 9, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

      Hi Lorraine,

      Clean looking blogs are the rage! If you want to draw attention to your sidebar offer, I would suggest having a plain background and a colorful opt-in on your sidebar. Preferably with a short video introducing your product.

      There can be things going on on the side bar, but the best practice I’ve learned is to first have your opt-in to brand yourself …in your case…Your New Book!

      Then connect with me buttons so it will be easy for people to connect with you on the social sites.

      After that, anything that is pertinent to your brand. A newsletter opt in, anything but a bunch of banners that have nothing to do with you. And if you wanted to add a banner to an affiliate, please do a little video introducing the product/service so people know it is YOU that is doing this.

      As long as you don’t fill it up with too many things, it looks fresh and clean! I would suggest that at the end of every post, or in your author box put a call to action to your opt in on your sidebar.

      Hope that helped!

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  20. Sue Bride
    Twitter:
    July 9, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

    I’ve been meaning to clean up my sidebar for a while because my banners have had little success and does make the sidebar cluttered. Those little 125 banners must go. Fewer larger boxes stand out much more.

    Before I’d even started reading this post what jumped out at me was your bright Blogging Fever box and video, because it’s right at the top of the sidebar. After that I was too busy reading to notice anything else in there. However I’m a regular visitor here so know what you promote and know that you wouldn’t add anything there without giving more detail in a post. I know I won’t miss out on your recommendations.

    When I visit a blog for the first time I’m much more likely to have a good look at the sidebar to find out what the blog’s trying to flog (sell). The quality of what they promote can give you an insight into the person.

    If I like what I’m reading I’ll always look for social media follow buttons so I agree that they are a must.

    My solution is going to be to have one text banner leading to a page of the tools and resources I recommend, which will include links to posts I have written about them. What do you think of that idea?

    Viewing on mobile devices removes your sidebar and puts it right at the bottom so they’re less useful for anything. That’s why I’m recommending using your header or an area underneath it for branding and drawing attention to anything important.
    Sue Bride recently posted..Brand Your Head – It’s Quite PainlessMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 10, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

      Hi Sue,

      Thanks for that feedback. I do want people to pay attention to that “blogging fever” box lol.

      And yes, It is so important to have social share buttons on that side bar. When reading a new blog, and I like it, I do make sure to connect on all social levels also.

      I think that’s a good idea of having one text banner leading to a page of the tools and resources you use and recommend and to link to posts to reinforce that.

      I so appreciate you mentioning how things show up on mobile devices because many people use it. I am taking your recommendation Sue. That is something I need to fix. When I set up this new blog, I asked several people how it looked on their mobile phones. Guess I forgot the most important of all! Time to switch things up and I’m sure glad you mentioned that.

      Thanks for the help I so appreciate it. You are the BEST!

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  21. Mary Austin
    Twitter:
    July 10, 2014 at 10:22 am #

    I agree with you, but I would say that many bloggers have too much clutter everywhere on their blogs. Sometimes I find it hard to even read blogs that have bunches of lines between every sentence, and an ad of some sort between every paragraph.

    Google did a study that showed where people look on a search results page and its interesting that they pretty much ignore the right column. I am guessing that more people do see stuff in the right column of a blog than they do on a search results page, but still interesting to know. You can see it by searching for “Google eye map”
    Mary Austin recently posted..Create Related Articles Using Zemanta Editorial AssistantMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 10, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

      Hi Mary,

      Thank you so much for adding value to this discussion. Yes, Google seems to agree about that “sidebar blindness” on the right column. If one is reading many blogs a day, we sure do start to ignore that right column.

      Very interesting ….Will do a “Google eye map” search to see it.

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  22. Mark
    Twitter:
    July 10, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

    Great article!

    So that’s the name of my condition!LOL! Hopefully, it can be cured! Seriously, I really love your analogy about comparing your blog to someone’s home or car for that matter!

    Is there anything worse than riding in a messy car! And yes those sidebars if you’re not careful can and will turn into a promo for ebay! LOL!

    Because you’ve got so much non personal branding promoting going on!

    Not realizing all the time, how you are proverbially shooting yourself in the wallet! Thanks for pointin out the obvious.

    Were it not for my current sidebar blindness condition!LOL!

    I would have discovered this sooner!
    Mark recently posted..Just Because There’s An Economic Recession That’s No Excuse Not To Make Money!My Profile

  23. Donna Merrill
    Twitter:
    July 10, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

    Hi Mark,

    Yes, that’s the name of your condition and most of us have it lol. There is nothing worse than going to a blog and having a long list of banner ads…especially those blinking ones that distract you from the content.

    Plus, if there are too many affiliate banners, you are not promoting yourself at all. So branding becomes an issue.

    Another thing is that it can increase a bounce rate on your blog if people are hitting those sidebars and not reading your content. 🙁

    Thanks for stopping by,

    -Donna
    Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  24. Angela McCall
    Twitter:
    July 10, 2014 at 10:55 pm #

    Hi Donna,

    What an excellent post!! 😀

    You know I had my social media SHARE on my Widget, but after reading your post today, I changed it to a FOLLOW ME share buttons instead. Also, I deleted my affiliate product (GENESIS) there and will probably promote this on a post instead on my widget. Thank you very much my friend. <3

    You’re the very FIRST one who said make your widget ALL ABOUT YOU. And so that makes sense pretty much. I’ve notice that on my sidebar…though I do send a lot of traffic to those affiliates, whoever I put in this widget, I don’t get anything back. So I’m with you on this. It should be “all about you”.

    So you recommend a video on the side? TERRIFIC!!!!! I just put the video that would tell more about me on my widget just now. Thank you!!!!

    I have never knew this till I read your post. Thanks a million!!!! You are terrific. And may you have a wonderful and blessed weekend.

    Cheers,
    Angela
    Angela McCall recently posted..Video Blogging Challenge 16 | How to Do a Cheap PodcastMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 10, 2014 at 11:21 pm #

      Hi Angela,

      Wow…talk about taking action! Girl, I just came off your blog and it looks wonderful! I never noticed your photography. It tells so much about who you are and I enjoyed watching it.

      The problem with affiliate products on the side bar is they don’t get good conversion rates UNLESS you talk about it in a post. Or..advertise it. Nothing wrong with a few, but as long as you check it once a week and see if anything is converting that’s fine.

      Some people put up so many affiliate banners on the sidebar that it is overwhelming. And what is worse is that they forget to personalize it. If you are selling an affiliate product, make a short video about it and have a landing page that is YOURS for them to sign into.

      Thanks so much,

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  25. Liz Delaney
    Twitter:
    July 11, 2014 at 3:35 am #

    Wow. Such helpful stuff here, Donna. I know I hate it when there are too many bells and whistles on a sidebar. I am currently creating a new site so will take your suggestions into consideration.
    Thanks again
    Liz
    Liz Delaney recently posted..Friday Findings – Fantastic FlipSnackMy Profile

  26. Mayura
    Twitter:
    July 11, 2014 at 5:53 am #

    Hi Donna,

    Obviously, you know what you are talking about and your sidebar speak to us about it. Fabulous advice for bloggers and love the creative juice flowing here for those who wanna increase their marketing effectiveness.

    I believe I have the sidebar blindness too 😉 Well, the first time I land on a blog I do scan through their sidebar but then may never again, unless something new could catch my eyes or if I’ve been redirected to sidebar due to a special reason.

    I’m not a person who rushes into newsletters and hardly click on any offers, dear. Yet those nagging flash banners and vivid colors on sidebars didn’t want me to come back to their blogs again. Hence I’m with you about the suggested changes, ’cause readers should be top of their list as I believe too. On top of all, I couldn’t agree with you more about your statement ~ Less is More. It definitely is 🙂

    You have a wonderful weekend ahead, Donna 🙂

    Cheers…
    Mayura recently posted..Show Related Posts on Blogger with LinkWithinMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 11, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

      Hi Mayura,

      It is great to see you here my friend. Yes, when first visiting a new blog, we tend to scan through the side bar. First impressions count! So if it is very busy and flashing things in you eyes that distract you from the content, it is annoying.

      However, if there is something there that points to an offer that may help us and the message is clear and concise, it will get our attention.

      Yes, less is more when it comes to sidebars.

      Thanks so much for coming by…I miss you!

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  27. NT Izuchi
    Twitter:
    July 11, 2014 at 10:59 am #

    Awesome post Donna! I have HUGE sidebar blindbess, particularly if I’m new to a blog or website. If the value isn’t up to par I’m not looking. I think too many banner ads and widgets give it a facebook or youtube distraction affect if you ask me. I try and keep it as minimal as possible! You nailed this one! 😀
    NT Izuchi recently posted..Internet Marketing Strategies For Beginners | What You Need Right Now!My Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 11, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

      Hi NT,

      Thanks for your input. The sidebar does reflect value. And I too agree that too many ads and widget does give it a facebook or youtube distraction effect!

      We want our blogs clean and our offers to be noticed. That’s the game plan!

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  28. Arleen
    Twitter:
    July 11, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

    Donna- I have to agree with you that I usually don’t look at the sidebar as I see it as clutter. The sidebar that we have put on our site, was done after a hired someone. I guess everyone has an opinion what should or should not be there. Hard to remove it after I spent money for the information but I will give it some thought.

  29. Donna Merrill
    Twitter:
    July 11, 2014 at 11:26 pm #

    Hi Arleen,

    As long as things on your sidebar have a good conversion rate, it’s fine. It’s good to check them out and see what is working and what is not.

    -Donna
    Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  30. James
    Twitter:
    July 12, 2014 at 2:21 am #

    Hi Donna,

    Its’ been a long time that I’ve been on your blog ( been busy and attending to my new born baby); anyway, its been a great hiatus, and I must congratulate you on the new look of your blog.

    Back to the main discussion, I for one rarely clicks and check on the sidebar of most blogs ( 90%). And if I do, I’m simply attracted by the pictorial/image links on the sidebar that shares much information about the author or blogger in question.

    I think, this is a trend that most bloggers are guilty of.

    Thanks for sharing and do have a nice weekend.

    Regards,

    James
    James recently posted..Responsive best Google Adsense ready wordpress themesMy Profile

  31. Donna Merrill
    Twitter:
    July 12, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

    Hi James,

    Congratulations on your new born baby! That sure keeps one busy. Of course you had to take a hiatus because that’s the most import thing in your life.

    Wow…thanks for liking the new look of the blog James. It was long overdue!

    I feel similar to you. I only will click a sidebar if there is something that attracts me, especially a good picture and of course a branded picture of the blogger.

    -Donna
    Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  32. Marquita Herald
    Twitter:
    July 12, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

    Great topic Donna! I track everything on my blog and have been treated to some fascinating surprises when it comes to the sidebar. I am a very visual person and my blog reflects that and apparently my audience has grown to expect it. Outside of social connect buttons and a tag cloud at the very bottom everything in my sidebar is an image of some kind. Right now there’s only one that has an actual call to action and yet I get hundreds of clicks on each of those images! I know it defies logic but that’s the way it’s worked for me.

    I also don’t have the standard opt-in form in my sidebar and the reason for that is in 4 years of blogging 70% of my subscribers have come through the subscribe link at the end of each article with a small number showing up from my welcome and about pages. I tested till I was blue in the face with my last blog and no matter how much action I got with everything else, the opt-in in the sidebar never pulled people in so I finally decided there are better ways to use that valuable real estate. You’ve also given me some great ideas with your article so thanks for the inspiring read!
    Marquita Herald recently posted..Healing Broken Hearts One Lick at a TimeMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 12, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

      Hi Marquita,

      Your sidebar is a fine example of what people need to be doing. It is all of YOUR books, opt-ins etc. It is all you and not trying to get a few cents by advertizing.

      Your blogs also give a call to action to your sidebar. You are doing such a fine job on your blog.

      Plus your images of your books are fantastic. They pull the reader in.

      I love the post you just did and am behind you all the way!

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  33. Andy Lockhart
    Twitter:
    July 12, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

    Hey Donna

    This is a great article, I am going to go look at my sidebar.

    You right about sidebar blindness, it has to be something to attract people’s attention and give them a reason to look at your offers.

    I think anyone with a blog should be reading your article.

    Thanks for the great advice.

    Andy
    Andy Lockhart recently posted..The 6 Steps to growing your Sales Funnel using Social MediaMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 13, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

      Hi Andy,

      Thanks so much! We have to keep a close eye on what’s going on with our sidebars. Sometimes folks put a bunch of affiliate products and never tell their readers to check it out.

      A call to action must be applied, otherwise they just lay stagnant.

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  34. Sarupa Shah
    Twitter:
    July 13, 2014 at 8:29 am #

    Hmmm I think So much depends on the quality of the images or copy – like your Blogging Magic – totally – got my attention – too often people use homemade (nothing wrong with that) – and low quality and unprofessional looking sidebar – also it is about speaking to your ideal client… that said everything advertises on the LEFT and FB does which has made more people turn off – so maybe it is about mixing it up and having side bars on the right – novel…I know 🙂
    Sarupa Shah recently posted..How to find the uniqueness of your business [video]My Profile

  35. Donna Merrill
    Twitter:
    July 13, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    Hi Sarupa,

    I see some people changing things up and putting their sidebar on the right. I have heard they are doing quite well.

    Your blog is a great example to all because it is about YOU and what you have to offer. It is completely branded in a wise way.

    -Donna
    Donna Merrill recently posted..Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

  36. Jacs Henderson
    Twitter:
    July 13, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    What whoopie advice Donna!! You talk much sense here – and I feel a few tweaks coming on as you nudge my conscience – which I haven’t got around to yet..

    I very much like the thought that your sidebar is about one’s own branding, and a video is cool, I love other peoples so should get my own done!

    I do have some affiliate banners, but change these around and use them when I have done a post about them… but I ‘get’ your point about these…and have an idea in my head to work with these

    I am having a blog re-vamp soon, so will be heeding your advice… and saving you on my blogging Pinterest board for easy access

    Back to your Sidebar Blindness question… I do check people out and it’s interesting how one forms an internal impression without actually thinking …. often confirmed by the blog content.
    I almost hadn’t realised I did that!

    Thanks so much lovely lady for your wise words 🙂

    Jacs
    Jacs Henderson recently posted..Doing Video Like The Big Boys Has Never Been Easier! (Using Video Marketing Publisher)My Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 15, 2014 at 9:56 pm #

      Hi Jacs,

      So happy that you got some tips here on this post. When branding ourselves, it has to be about us. Even when we have an affiliate…have a two part step. One step of YOU doing a short video, then send it to the sales page.

      You know the old saying…People buy people…it is so true in this informational age on the internet.

      Oh those sidebar banners…checking them periodically is a MUST! Otherwise it does no good.

      So put your marketer’s hat on girl and go!

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Guest Blog Post | Lesly FedericiMy Profile

  37. Sharon Smoot
    Twitter:
    July 13, 2014 at 6:39 pm #

    Another great post, Donna. I’ve never thought of it as “sidebar blindness”, but that really is a good name for it. I think that I’ve become conditioned to usually ignore anything on the side of my computer screen because whether I’m in one of my email accounts, Facebook or a blog, the right side of the screen is filled with ads. Your tips for improving the sidebar of a blog are excellent and should be taken to heart by anyone with a blog.

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 15, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

      Hi Sharon,

      Thanks so much! Yes, there is a saying in the marketing place that is called just that: Sidebar Blindness!

      As bloggers, we are so used to reading so many other blogs, that we do become conditioned to ignore things that don’t pertain to us, and just stick with the content.

      Thanks for coming by,

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Guest Blog Post | Lesly FedericiMy Profile

  38. Elise Cohen Ho
    Twitter:
    July 13, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

    Donna, you make terrific points in this post. In the rush to sell everything many times people sell nothing as they are completely overwhelmed with images and data.
    Elise Cohen Ho recently posted..Editorial Calendar for Blogging SuccessMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 15, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

      Hi Elise,

      So true! When people are in a rush to sell just about anything, what is the first thing we think?

      Will they stand behind us if we purchase something from them? Is it something they actually use? Hmmmm That always makes me wonder!

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Guest Blog Post | Lesly FedericiMy Profile

  39. LeslieZ
    Twitter:
    July 13, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

    Donna,
    What a great post!

    And yes I am side bar blind, but I did look at yours today 🙂

    I love your idea of shooting a short video to introduce the offer you have. That is pure genius and makes so much sense.

    I’ll be using that idea. I think I need a little sidebar revamping.

    Thanks again,
    LeslieZ
    LeslieZ recently posted..Get In Your Raft & PaddleMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 15, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

      Hi Leslie,

      Yes, by all means, whatever you are selling, do a little video so people will know, like and trust you. They will opt-in at a better rate than throwing up sidebar stuff on the side and it going straight to some guy with a brand new car, big house and a gorgeous girlfriend lol.

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Guest Blog Post | Lesly FedericiMy Profile

  40. Maxwell Ivey
    Twitter:
    July 13, 2014 at 10:27 pm #

    Hi Donna; as a blind computer user I want to thank you especially for this post. When using a screen reader all that stuff in the side bar is stuff i just have to tab through until I can find the blog post or site link I want. In general the fewer links per page the better for us screen reader users. I only have my social media buttons in my side bar that I know of. 🙂 I like the idea of creating short videos and then adding them there. You are so right we don’t want our visitors being sent to another person’s site when they came here wanting to work with us. I’m looking forward to your webinar. thanks and take care, max
    Maxwell Ivey recently posted..using click to tweet adding google business pages and finding a pinterest work aroundMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 15, 2014 at 10:04 pm #

      Hi Max,

      Wow, it must be very difficult to zone in on a blog content and trying to ignore all that stuff o the side with a screen reader.

      Tabbing through until you find the blog post link you want must take a lot of time. Less is more is my motto!

      Yes…adding short videos keeps your readers with you, rather than going to another site.

      Glad to be of help.

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Guest Blog Post | Lesly FedericiMy Profile

      • Maxwell Ivey
        Twitter:
        July 19, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

        Hi Donna; This is one of the reasons why i subscribe to so many blogs. when i get the email alert it includes part or all of the post title. I can click a link and go directly to the right page. Then I can search for a text string and usually get right to the blog text. However, a lot of people are starting to learn how to change the url manually so their title meets the supposed google guide lines and the title in the email and the one i need to search for aren’t very similar. so, its a constant game of hide and seek. 🙂 thanks for the kind reply, Max
        Maxwell Ivey recently posted..First listings first big sale and first hard lessonsMy Profile

  41. Atish Ranjan July 14, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    That’s a great topic Donna. Loved reading this. recently I have take out many of things fro sidebar to increase my site’s loading speed and it worked well.

    I don’t notice whats on the sidebar of a blog rather I focus on content and comments (the text part).

    Glad you wrote on this. really nice!
    Atish Ranjan recently posted..10 SEO Resources Which You Must Check OutMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 15, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

      Hi Atish,

      Aha..that’s another thing I forgot to mention…Loading time, which is so important especial with many using mobile devices.

      I’m sure you will increase your speed.

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Guest Blog Post | Lesly FedericiMy Profile

  42. Rachel Lavern
    Twitter:
    July 14, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

    Hi Donna,

    One of the first things I did when I started by blog was to create a worksheet. On this worksheet, I wrote down the things I saw in several website layouts–things on the home page and the sidebar, primarily–that made it easy for me to decide where to start (and what I might want to explore later).

    Basically, anything that helped me take the mess of potential options to explore and made it less messy. I did not have to like it for MY site, but it was useful for me to write down why (and how) it worked, so I could learn by example.

    Since I observed that I had ‘sidebar blindness’, I decided not to include much in my sidebar. In fact, I never look over in anyone’s sidebar unless I found the blog via a particular search term
    Rachel Lavern recently posted..What to Do When You Need to Find MoneyMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 15, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

      Hi Rachel.

      I just love the layout of your blog. It is so easy to navigate. It is so true, we read so many blogs that we don’t usually look at someone’s sidebar unless there is a blog about it.

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Guest Blog Post | Lesly FedericiMy Profile

  43. Nile July 15, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

    Less is more. If you’re not familiar with website conversion, then the sidebar is something you may neglect in your calls to action. Sidebars may contain calls to action to minor areas of the site or even social handles, like groups. I’ve been re-working my site… but finally taking in what I’ve been implementing to my clients’ websites.

    There’s really a lot of useless things people don’t care about and surprisingly, even though they are there and seem a good idea, aren’t being designed to catch the eye. Example- Most recent posts or most recent comments. In some cases, they are enticing for personal sites, but are useless in others. If you are trying to direct people to those places, then you can’t just plop the widget up and be done with it…. CSS is your friend. 🙂

    Heatmaps are your friend too… you can quickly find out if people are going to your sidebar.
    Nile recently posted..Blog Ideas for Photography BloggersMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 15, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

      Hi Nile,

      Thanks for stopping by. Oh yes, I am so familiar with website conversion! This is part of the reason why I wrote this post As long as there is a conversion rate to something on our sidebar, we are doing great.

      Yes, I do have the most popular posts on my sidebar and that is one thing I’m planning to get rid of.

      Heatmaps are another thing I’m learning to use and apply.

      Thanks so much for adding value to this post!

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Guest Blog Post | Lesly FedericiMy Profile

  44. Steven J Wilson
    Twitter:
    July 17, 2014 at 1:47 am #

    Hi Donna,

    I def have sidebar blindness. I can tell you one thing for sure, this post made me focus on everything on your sidebar to see if I was missing everything 🙂

    I completely agree with all your points. I am actually going to make my sidebar more about me. i planned to do it a couple weeks ago but haven’t got to it just yet.

    Your point on less is more is one thing I think many miss. I believe that this is actually what created my sidebar blindness!

    Thanks for this Donna! Have a good one…
    Steven J Wilson recently posted..3 Best Choices For Building a Website With No ExperienceMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 24, 2014 at 7:13 pm #

      Sorry for the late reply Steven,

      I’ve been out of town and catching up.

      Making your sidebar more about yourself is a great idea. I know all about that planning issue! I have so many to do’s also, but get wrapped up in immediate things that need my attention.

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Why Is Google Like My Ex?My Profile

  45. Brenda
    Twitter:
    July 18, 2014 at 7:46 am #

    It depends on the page I go to. Some pages I read everything on the page – it depends on how I resonate with the article being highlighted. I enjoyed reading your post and thanks for your thoughts
    Brenda recently posted..What Creates or Destroys Happiness?My Profile

  46. Rosemary O'Shaughnessy
    Twitter:
    July 20, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    Hi Donna,

    You have made some excellent points in this article .Especially saying less is more . One needs a clear precise message to get attention online .

    Many thanks for sharing your tips.

    Roseemary
    Rosemary O’Shaughnessy recently posted..Trust An Important Study !My Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 24, 2014 at 7:18 pm #

      Hi Rosemary,

      I do always say less is more! When we want to have a call to action and the sidebar is full of unrelated “stuff” we are less likely to get anyone to opt-in.

      Thanks for stopping by,

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Why Is Google Like My Ex?My Profile

  47. Lisa
    Twitter:
    July 21, 2014 at 5:41 am #

    Donna, an overcluttered side bar is definately a pet peeve of mine. I don’t always look at them. I may glance but if I see a lot of stuff I will not pay any attention. It’s like a cluttered desk or house. Less is best! I’ve got to review mine but I did a major cleanup a few months back. Thanks for sharing these points with us and have a great new week Donna.
    Lisa recently posted..When Lyme Gets in the Way of Blogging and Much MoreMy Profile

  48. Andrew M. Warner
    Twitter:
    July 24, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    Hi Donna,

    Great post.

    I’ll be completely honest here, when I go to a blog spot, I just tune out the sidebar. I’m honestly there for the content pretty much and those sidebars can be very distracting … also many bloggers do fill them with clutter.

    Like a pack rat or a hoarder of widgets or something.

    How you have your sidebar, I think is perfect. Not too much there and it doesn’t distract you that much. But some people … wow. They go all out and include nonsense like calendars and the whole nine.

    Hopefully those sidebar hoarders read this blog post to make the necessary changes to their blogs because I don’t think anybody likes a sidebar that’s cluttered. I certainly don’t.

    Great post again, Donna.

    Have a great day.

    – Andrew
    Andrew M. Warner recently posted..How To Write Blog Comments That Affects The Success Of Your BlogMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      July 24, 2014 at 7:37 pm #

      Hi Andrew,

      I like the way you call them “sidebar hoarders” because it is just like going into someone’s home that is a hoarder. You cannot find your way around. Stuff is all over the place and distracts you. It even boggles your mind!!!

      When I go to a blog and things are blinking on the side, pop ups never stop, a whole bunch of different colors are attracting my eyes to it, I did develop sidebar blindness.

      There is no CTA…so what’s the point? I wonder how much money – if any – do they make at this feeble attempt to place a bizillion ads there?

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Why Is Google Like My Ex?My Profile

  49. Leanne Chesser
    Twitter:
    July 27, 2014 at 11:58 am #

    I totally agree with you about keeping your sidebar simple and clean. I greatly dislike cluttered sites and sidebars. I used to have a few more things in my sidebar than I do now . . . but I also agree that there’s sidebar blindness, so I’ve reduced it. Right now, I have my quiz and social network boxes for Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. I think most people do ignore sidebars, for the reasons you’ve stated.
    Leanne Chesser recently posted..Be Yourself: It’s Sexy as FuckMy Profile

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      August 6, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

      Hi Leanne,

      whoops…how did I miss this comment? Sorry for the late reply.

      What you have on your sidebar pertains to you and that’s a great thing. It is when people have all those cluttered banners that probably don’t make any money at all, is when I get turned off.

      Good going!

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Create Your Awesome AuthorityMy Profile

  50. David Bennett
    Twitter:
    August 29, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

    Hi Donna,
    I get it and I agree with it. By chance I watched a video today by someone argued that every link on a homepage is fighting with every other link. And that any that are stressing the keywords are fighting the keywords.
    He favoured just a few tabs in the navigation menu and menu names that included the keywords. And no social media buttons in the sidebar and no other stuff. In other words – keeping it focussed. I can see how that might make a site look a bit bare – but that can be worked on with design.

    So I have to ask, after you say that people have sidebar blindness, would it be better if you just had your signup and left out the other stuff? Just asking – and I recognise that you must be doing it right because you have a good readership.
    David Bennett recently posted..So What Camera Do You Use?My Profile

    • donna merrill
      Twitter:
      August 31, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

      Hi David,

      As for social media buttons on the sidebar, sometimes it will effect the content if it is a floating one, especially on a smart phone.

      As for having too many things on the sidebar, I would suggest that you only have a few….less is more. If you have one to sign up and it is your own product great! But if you have an affiliate product to sell, I would suggest that you make your own video for branding purposes….a very short one 1 to 2 minutes to invite your visitors to the product.

      I should be the first thing that sticks out on the right sidebar because that’s where people are used to buying stuff.

      In your author box, or at the end of a blog post, you can give your readers a reminder to check it out!

      If you have too many things on your sidebar, it is less likely that people will opt in. If I was to put something else on my sidebar, I would do a blog post about it and also market the product/service that was on my blog.

      Hope that helps!

      -Donna
      donna merrill recently posted..Building TrustMy Profile

  51. Kathleen McCormick
    Twitter:
    October 12, 2014 at 11:29 pm #

    Thanks, Donna, for this article about the often-overlooked sidebar. For me, a great blog with great content can be tarnished by a too busy sidebar. The suggestion to have a video there is a good one. hmmmm…Always good to read you!

    • Donna Merrill
      Twitter:
      October 14, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

      Hi Kathleen,

      A great blog with good content sure can be tarnished with too many things on a sidebar!

      Less is more and a good call to action will work best. When I see a like of things on a sidebar I immediately think that this person is either new or is desperate to make a few dollars on an affiliate product.

      -Donna
      Donna Merrill recently posted..Joint VenturesMy Profile

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