Top 5 Widgets for Blogs

Author: Nicole Thomas, Community Manager at Boom Video

boom nicoleIn the world of blogging there is almost too much to take in when looking for ways to improve your blog; there are heaps of tips to help improve your relationship with your audience and to smooth out the posting process but that is generally the extent of the advise that is out there.

One important thing that is rarely discussed is what basic widgets should be included on all blogs – after all they help shape your presence online and who you are as a blogger. These suggestions might seem obvious to some, but as someone who works with bloggers I have seen a lot of blogs that haven’t got some of these vital widgets in their blog layout. I hope you find this helpful.

#1 – Social Pages
One mistake a lot of bloggers make is that they forget to link to their social pages somewhere on their blog. Why is it important? A lot of bloggers claim that a majority of their return visits come from their social accounts and it’s understandable why that is as when you update you blog you generally also share the post to your top social accounts to update your readers; and where do you spend your time when you are on the internet? On Facebook or Twitter probably ;)

By having the widgets or links to your pages in highly visible positions on your blog you are encouraging them to subscribe to those channels and therefore be alerted to your updates as soon as possible. Here is a great example from Octavia and Vicky showing how you can link to your social pages via images if you can’t find a widget that suits your needs:

#2 – Search Bar
To help make your blog easy to navigate it helps to think about that features you regularly use on large websites one major one being a search bar. Having a search bar on your website should help to not only make it easier for the reader to find areas of interest but it should also theoretically increase your overall dwell time as they can find what they are after with ease rather than giving up and leaving the blog sooner than they planned.

This widget is called “Search” in WordPress.com (free) & “Search Box” widget in Blogger.

#3 – Top Posts
Featuring your top posts in the sidebar is something that I rarely see done – which is surprising; I personally think of this feature as a “best of the best” widget for your blog. It showcases what has worked best with your audience, and to advertisers out there it shows them your potential and how you communicate with your audience. You can see a great example on Wengie.com.

This widget is called “Top Posts and Pages” in WordPress.com (free) & “Popular Posts” widget in Blogger.

 #4 – RSS Feed
Implementing a RSS Subscription button on your website or blog. This is a sure way to receive more returning & new visitors. RSS reader checks the user’s subscribed feeds regularly for new content and downloads any updates that it finds. This allows users to view any new content when it becomes available. You can read more about the benefits of RSS in this article by Problogger.

This widget is called “RSS” in WordPress.com (free) & “Subscription Links” widget in Blogger.

rss-buttons

#5 – Bio or Profile Widget
Be sure to take the time to list your pen name or real name somewhere on your front page along with a nice welcome statement and photo. It will help your audience identify the man/woman behind the blog and make it a more personal statement.

You can use a widget is called “Gravatar Profile” in WordPress.com (free) & “Profile” widget in blogger. Alternatively you could use the “text” widget in WordPress.com (free) or the HTML/Javascript widget in Blogger and embed the images you wish make the bio more creatively – You would need to upload your images to a website such as Image Shack and use the embed code it provides to generate the image.

Here is a great example by Tina Gray {dot} Me:

 

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