Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Should You Feature Recent/Popular Posts in Your Sidebar?


While typing up a previous post (it was 7 things I dislike about your blog, because I know you would have been nosey and asked anyway) I had a moment of flection on sidebars and it through me for a curveball. There are many different pieces of advice that people give you when it comes to your sidebar, but there's one that I see everywhere that I don't think makes much sense.

"Feature Your Most Recent Posts!" ..But, Why?


I'm all for featuring posts in your sidebar, it's a great space to use that helps advertise your blog a little more, and I say go for it, but don't feature your recent posts. Why? Because they're already visible the moment someone enters your blog. Whether or not your have jump links or not, if people are interested, they're going to be checking out your most recent posts anyway, because they're the first ones available, which begs the question, why feature them again? They're already featured!

There's a constant drive in this day and age to get what's new out there and say goodbye to the past, and I totally understand what it means - why spend time focusing on the past when tomorrow is almost here, but when it comes to your blog, the past, and your past content is extremely important. You shouldn't forget about your old content and not do anything to show it off, so replacing this opportunity with that of sharing your recent posts next to your recent posts seems counter productive.

If you're going to use space in your sidebar to promote your content, make it content that matters, content that your followers and readers will find interesting or can relate to. Make it content you want to drive more attention too. Make it content that follows the subject(s) of your blog so people know straight away what you're all about. Make it your most popular content, but god forbid, do not make it your most recent posts. People don't need to see it, and you're just wasting good sidebar space.

Do You Feature Any Posts in Your Sidebar?



More From Nellie and Co. On: Blogging & Content


5 Signs Your Blog Direction has Changed

How To Revamp Your Old Blog Content

Celebrate Your Blog Milestones | Promote and..

It's Natural For You and Your Blog To Change Over..

4 Things That Make Click To Read Your Content

16 comments:

  1. I completely agree. I honestly see that everywhere and I don't understand it for the same reason as you. I know what your recent posts are, I saw them when I clicked on this current post I'm reading! I think popular posts or most commented posts would be a good idea, or even a random list. I don't feature any, but I think that space can be leveraged really well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kate! I think concentrating on posts you think other people will find the most appealing is the best way, but of course, its what you find works best for you! Using blog space in the best way possible is the only way things can work for your blog, so do be careful Kate! :)

      Delete
  2. See I want to do something like this, but not with my recent post. Like I want one of those graphics at the bottom for similar posts they might like. But I have no clue how. I am going to try and go through a few tutorials to see if I can work it out. But I always think it's better to promote older posts, as people can see your recent ones by just going on your main page usually.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like a Linkwithin gadget that shows 4-5 posts you may like? There are LOADS of tutorials online for that kind of thing, and I confess, I used to use one on Bookish Butterflies - I'm not sure about using one here or not, merely for fear of a redesign, but I guess it's something I could consider, and there's nothing wrong with you doing it either, so hopefully you crack it! :)

      Delete
  3. I always have recent posts in the sidebar for a few important reasons. Sometimes I recycle old content on social media. Therefore people are coming to my website and going directly into an old post. This way they can see that there's newer content available to them. Not every link to my website goes directly to my blog nor does it go to recent content. It's important to keep the latest posts on the side, also, so people can see what they've missed if they haven't come by recently. I often will happen upon a person's blog and look at what they've spoken of recently and click through.

    What you really need are good analytics tools to see how people use your website. I have heat mapping engaged on my website and can tell that people use and click on those links. If they are engaged users, why would I want to get rid of them? Always use hard data to back up your assertions. After 15 years in the web design and programming business, I make no decisions without data. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. And honestly, if you think they'll just go to your main page, you're mistaken. Internet users are LAZY. People do not click unless they have to. Take a look at your bounce rate. If your site is sticky, (more than a minute) then you're doing a good job and you can afford to experiment with doing things differently. If you bounce people at less than a minute, they are not sticking around to click through and find stuff you have moved from obvious places on your website. Don't make it hard on them to find your content.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've got to say, you've really opened my eyes to some of the reasons people will prefer recent posts, wow. I guess because I usually just go a visit the homepage once I've liked something and bounced a little, I assume others will too, but of course, I could be 100% wrong on that judgement, and I confess to that completely.

      I know personally, my bounce rate is in the 60% mark, and my bounce time tends to be above the one minute thirty mark, which I consider a good thing (I might be wrong, please, it'd be great to know whether I'm right or wrong there!) but obviously, that's personal to me, and it's probably very wrong to assume other peoples blogs are that way too.

      Thank you though lovely - I admit, I was definitely narrow minded when it came to writing this post, and that's not a good thing, I was passionate and maybe that passion was misplaced. I definitely could have done with some more evidence as to why for me it works better without. I could do with some advice though - my blog archive, would you recommend me keep it as it is, or create a drop down version that has my recent posts in it? Would that make it better to cover all basis you think? :)

      Thank you for being 100% honest with me, means a lot!

      Delete
    2. I'll take a look at your archives and let you know! Don't worry about being "wrong." You expressed an opinion about what you liked and you opened it for discussion. I just have a lot of experience in this area because I've been doing it for so long. I used to watch user testing where we'd have people using computers behind a one-way mirror and I got the chance to see for my own eyes how lazy internet users really are. You have to decide what are the barriers you're willing to put up and which you can do without. A good commenting system that discourages spam and has social features, but requires a separate login is a YES for me. Taking down helpful sidebar links is a NO especially when they're so easy to implement. Everything is a decision. But it's best to analyze data and be prepared to adjust if you're original assessment is wrong.

      Delete
    3. I never realised you had so much knowledge in things like user experience, web development and design, it's really interesting to know. I might feel brave enough to ask for a guest post off you one day, get some your knowledge for my own and for Nellie.. I confess, I'm weighing up the commenting system, but on Blogger, I know it's difficult, so it need serious research me thinks :)

      Delete
    4. Case in point, I'm never notified when people reply to my comments on Blogger blogs. And I have looked and looked and cannot figure out how to turn this feature on. So I didn't even know you had replied to me! I saw your latest post in my RSS feed, came over to check it out, and thought, "Maybe I should see if she replied to my comment." Sigh. I hate Blogger. I leave comments and if I don't think to come back, I'll never know if anyone replied.

      I learned how to code in 1997-98, my final year of college. I worked for dot coms and media companies from 1998 to 2007. After that, I freelanced and ran an online knitting magazine that I built from the ground up (content management system and my own HTML and PHP code). I know HTML, CSS, Javascript, Perl, PHP, and some MySQL. I worked for HBO.com for 6 years and that's where we did a lot of UX, and I wrote fiction on the side until recently. :) I'd be happy to guest blog for you anytime!

      Delete
    5. Ok, your blog archives. I think the drop down on the side works fine if you want to browse by month. If you could add categories too, that would be cool. This way people can see all reviews, discussions, etc. Your Archives page seems fine to me too, how you have it separated into categories, as long as your posts always fall into those categories. You could also include the last 10-20 post under that, but I don't think it's necessary.

      Delete
  5. I don't even HAVE a sidebar. XD I don't like them, mostly! But for me, it works because I have all my recent posts on my main page. I probably should have a "similar post" widget or something, but for now, eh. I know what you mean too: people want NEW not old, so do they even click on recent posts??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think your blog works without one though interestingly. I never realised yours was a single column until I started checking out others like it and realised the style. I think single column works best if you have one focus. I think it's up to you what works best for you, only you know that :)

      Delete
  6. Tbh, I actually prefer it if a blog has the most recent posts featured in the sidebar. This helps me a lot when I go on commenting sprees or comment back. If I visit a blog for the first time, and the first two or three blog posts don't interest me, I quickly look at the sidebar and select one from the most recent posts and comment on it. Otherwise, I have to go searching into the blog to finally find a post to comment back on. It's a hassle, especially in some blogger blogs where navigation is super hard!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it does benefit some people, and the comments have really enabled me to see that. I do navigation is a big thing and a lot of blogs fail on that aspect, which is a shame, but I see your point! :)

      Delete
  7. Nice post, you provided a valuable information, keep going.

    Prestashop ecommerce development company chennai

    ReplyDelete