There are a lot of things that annoy me about various sites out there. Jumbled layouts, bad fonts, stolen graphics, bad writing. Well, here's another one: that Twitter feed on the sidebar.
I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. You've probably seen them on just about every blog you've ever gone to. Maybe it's even on your blog. But I'm telling you right now, it needs to go.
And no: I'm not a Twitter-hater. I love Twitter. It's one of my favorite social channels. I actually wish I had more time to spend on Twitter. But I will never have a Twitter feed taking up room on my site.
For one thing, you need the space!
We all know how important that sidebar is. The sidebar highlights what you want it to highlight. Want people to sign up for your newsletter? Put the sign up form onto that sidebar. Want them to read a certain blog post?
Highlight it on that sidebar.
Want people to leave your site and go to Twitter? Put it on the sidebar!
People Do What You Ask Them to Do
Now, I know a lot of us like to think of those sidebars as kind of the junk drawer of a website. Anything that isn't main content just gets thrown over there... But they are actually prime real estate, and should not be taken for granted.
It may not always feel like it, but it really isn't hard to ask people to do something and see them do it. Whether it's signing up for a newsletter, downloading a free book, or checking out that other article. The easier you make it for people to do these things, the more likely they will do them.
And with changes coming to Google's algorithms, popups and other features that make it difficult for robots to crawl your site are probably going bye-bye pretty soon. Which means that sidebar is going to be even more important than before. So why waste the space on your sidebar with a Twitter feed that does nothing for your site instead of putting something up there that will work for you?
People Don't Want to See Your Twitter Feed on the Sidebar of your site.
No one in the history of the Internet has ever said "I wonder what Naomi does on Twitter. I know, I'll go check out her website and take a look at her feed."
People will either find you on Twitter first, and then follow you back to your website (rendering that feed even more useless), or they will find you somewhere else (Facebook or Pinterest), follow you back to your website, and then see that handy little Twitter Bird on the side and realize they can also follow you there.
Then, if they want to see what you're tweeting, they'll be all over it.
You didn't come here to see my Twitter feed, right? Of course you didn't! You came here to see if I could answer some of your questions. Guess what -- none of the answers you're looking for are in my feed.
Plus, Who Needs the Anxiety
If you're like me, you're busy. I don't mean a little busy - I mean crazy busy. And you know what? Sometimes when you're crazy busy, things start to fall through the cracks a little bit. Some days I'm not able to make it onto Twitter even to check the people who have followed me to see if I want to follow them back.
Some of my favorite days on Twitter (which, for the record, include #smechat and #bookmarketingchat on Wednesdays, #goalchat on Sundays, and #MondayBlogs) I end up missing. Heck, sometimes I don't even realize that I missed #smechat until it's already Friday!
Imagine if you came to my site and saw a Twitter feed that hadn't been updated in a few days or even a week? How lazy does that look? Okay, maybe lazy isn't the right term -- but it definitely looks sloppy. Which means now there's even more pressure on you to get out there and Tweet your little heart out. Because you never know when someone is going to be checking your blog -- and that Twitter feed has to look fresh.
No thank you.
Just cut the feed right off your site. You don't need it. You don't want it. Use that area for things that will benefit you instead: feature a blog post, put up a webinar, or even interview another author. If you're going to ask people to do something - ask them to do it right there on your site. Don't send them away.
What to Place in your Sidebar Instead:
Instead of a Twitter feed, use your sidebar to highlight some of these other elements:
- An opt-in or subscription form. Have a lead magnet you want people to sign up for? The sidebar is the perfect place to put it. Hook up a widget to your favorite email marketing service.
- Ads to your own products. Have a course or book that you think will help people solve a problem? Highlight it on your sidebar and make it easier for your readers to find and purchase them.
- Highlight an important blog post or a collection of blog posts. Keep people on your site longer by showing them more resources and value.
- A short bio. Hopefully your keyword research and SEO is on point. And if it is, then that means you will be getting traffic from search engines and places where people don't know you. So have a short bio over on the sidebar that introduces them to you.
Your sidebar is the perfect opportunity to add value to your page - not distract your readers. And I love Twitter but you know what...the last thing I want someone to read while they're on my site is Twitter.
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