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Boost Your Blog #6: Optimize Menus and Sidebars

Posted By Darren Rowse 4th of September 2011 Blog Design, Blogging for Dollars 0 Comments

Continuing our discussion of things you should be doing right now to improve your blog, today’s tip is:

6. Optimize your menus, navigation, and sidebars

One task that I think many of us could benefit from on a periodic basis is a critical review of menus and navigation areas on our blogs.

I include myself in this—recently it hit me that on my photography blog I wasn’t promoting my ebooks in my menus. I just had one menu item pointing to a very dated page that was no longer relevant. I swapped the photography ebook sales page link in and again saw an increase of traffic to that landing page.

Ultimately, it’s about working out what actions you want readers to take when they visit your blog and then making sure that you’re calling your readers to those actions in prominent places on your blog.

Are you doing this? Can you optimize your menus and sidebars further?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Great tip. Sometimes we often missed out some key elements that we always take for granted in our blog.

    • That’s a very important tip. Editing of the blog’s layout could do a lot of good for a site when it comes to traffic.

      I would also like to add that the use of keywords in the bog posts or articles could make a lot of difference as the browsers are usually looking for a very specific keyword to decide if the article is worth a second of their time or not.

  • Yes after reading your inspirational post, i think that its time for me to change my website`s sidebar too. It really has importance to be optimized from time to time!

    what do you think which ads work better 125X125 above fold or 300X250 below fold?
    by your experience tell me which one will earn more?

  • Great tips, just starting up my blog and menu’s are defiantly important!

  • Interesting. Something to be checked out! I will do that right away.

  • pretty agree that a good menu structure and a nice layout for it, should be made on any blog.

    Another question, your Blog uses the Genesis Framework, do you know any Free Frameworks, which one could use for WP?

    Thx for great Post :)

  • But i think that all depending the test that you make in your blog, sometime one is ok, other times no. I am testing differents styles on my navigation menu.

  • I always change my menu item to increase clicks. One thing which I have learned from my experience is it’s not very effective to use your Service/product image on sidebar as people tend to ignore it thinking it’s another ad.

  • I also found that the wording we use in our navigation menu can make quite a difference. I think that this is one of the hardest things to get right because we have to get people interested with just one or two words.

  • Hey Darren,
    I tweak my site at least once a month to experiment and see what works. I don’t do anything too drastic just little changes here and there.

  • Sidebars is very important for a good navigation. The good words and the good widgets images are very important to optimize.
    Let’s start the job. ;)

  • With blogspot’s new layout I myself ended up changing around my blog.

  • Great tips. I have a blog and I recently played around with the sidebar by adding some gadgets. I did have an increase in my earnings through affiliates post addition of these gadgets/shifting of gadgets. So, there seems to be a good reason to keep experimenting with your site layout!! Left sidebar works better than right – I think this is common knowledge, but I can affirm to that as well having tried out both!!

  • Recently I added a second side bar to my Woodworkers Guide blog with a gadget to show recent blog posts of top woodworkers blogs. The result was in a near doubling if my traffic!

    I think the gadget has made my blog more useful to my readers, who are bookmarking, also referring to me and linking back more often.

    I also have some below the fold ad units that get very few clicks, I think I should drop these and replace them with content that grows my traffic.

  • Hi Darren,

    Super tip here.

    Keep these words in mind: “Call To Action.” Throughout your blog, whether it’s a menu or sidebar. We want to share value, then we want our readers to take action. Reading without acting means less subscribers and less business.

    Make it easy for your readers to act in the way you want them to act. Be clear and direct. Boldness counts for we can’t miss someone who is bold and clear in stating what they want us to do next.

    Thanks for sharing your insight Darren!


  • I’ll try doing that… i don’t understand what products to promote on a tech blog.

  • These are fundamental points that you have listed here, Darren, and I thank you!
    I also believe that constant testing needs to be done with a close look at the numbers to monitor results.
    This is an on-going effort, so I’m glad you covered it!

  • Interesting tip Darren, hope to implement that technique too..

  • Completely true
    Website navigation is one of the most important to keep visitors on blog, and decrease bounce rate

  • Great tip as usual Darren, will implement this straight away. Thanks