I’ve selected 21 WordPress widgets that you can use specifically for your sidebar. You can do a lot to take advantage of your Website Sidebar area: add a call-to-action, display top posts, add banner images, display testimonials…. lots can be done! Also (happy dance) all (except one) of the widgets in my list are free plugins!
If you aren’t familiar with plugins or widgets, then check out this Widget explainer video then come back to list 🙂
On with the show…
1. Top Posts & Pages
Direct visitors to your best content in your Sidebar by activating the Top Posts module in the JetPack plugin. Also try JetPack Popular Posts in addition to this plugin with works on top of the JetPack but gives extra options to set a range for when popular posts are calculated.
2. Popular Widget
Another way to highlight content in your Sidebar is with with the Popular Widget plugin that allows you to display popular content by posts views, tag views, most commented and also allows you to set the date range. You can also display several at one time with tabs!
3. Posts by Tag
Another way to grab eyeballs: highlight posts with selected tags on your sidebar. Cool features include showing the post thumbnail and ability to exclude the current post.
4. Google Events Calendar
Have some events to share? Conferences, twitter chats, launch dates? Well use your Google Calendar then use this widget to display your Calendar in your sidebar!
5. Search Meter
By default, WordPress gives you a search widget and with the Search Meter plugin, you can keep track of what people are searching for! I have not yet tried this plugin out myself but I’ve been looking for something like this for a while!!!
6. Black Studio Tiny MCE Widget
If you want to more control over the text you add to your widget then try out this plugin – it gives you a full WSYWIG. Tuns of possibilities after that: Maybe add an author bio box (photo, paragraph and links) or perhaps combine it with shortcodes like the WC Canvas Shortcodes plugin to add buttons for a Call-to-Action in your Sidebar… or use the columns feature to add two columns of banner images…
7. Widget Visibility
This module in the JetPack plugin lets you set visibility options for your widget – restricting display by: page type, category, tag, date, and author. There are actually a few other alternatives to this plugin: Widget Context and Dynamic Widgets
8. Testimonials Widget
Why not use your sidebar to display some of your glowing testimonials? You can display the testimonials as a carousel, fade in/out or slider. Also included are ways to organize your testimonials with tags and categories. Also try out the Quotes Collection, if this widget isn’t doing it for you! AND! Perhaps use the Widget Visibility plugin and display different categories of testimonials on different pages?
9. Widgets Reloaded
This plugin allows you to set more sophisticated controls on the default WordPress widgets. ie: Set the tag cloud’s largest and smallest sizes, Control order of display for list of authors, exclude categories from listed, etc. Here’s another plugin that ads more control settings just for your categories: Category Posts
10. Image Slider Widget
This WordPress plugin comes with a Widget so you easily create a slideshow of images in your sidebar. The free version allows you to customize: size, autoplay, add a lightbox, control speed, hide/show control display and hide/show titles.
11. AdPlugg WordPress Ad Plugin
For this plugin to work, you need to create Ads on the AddPlugg site (you must signup for a free account – they guarantee it to always be free). A basic image ad and analytics (impressions and clicks) if free. If you want to create text ads, animations and generate reports, then you will need to upgrade your account.
12. Optin Monster
For more functionality, this premium plugin collects data, allows A/B testing, more control over design and a lot of other features starting at $49/year
13. MailPoet Newsletters
If you want to start growing your email list right now then I recommend MailPoet. It’s actually a complete newsletter solution right in WordPress. You can easily drag and drop them via Widget into your sidebar. It’s free to begin with but note that most shared hosting will disallow sending email for a large list of recipients so take a look at your options (ie: Switch or use MailPoet Premium services)
Mailmuch is another WordPress plugin to collect email subscribers by adding a signup form in your Sidebar. Features include A/B tests to see which form works better. This plugin has man integrations: MailChimp, Constant Contact, AWeber, Campaign Monitor, GetResponse, InfusionSoft or any other email marketing service
16. Lightweight Social Icons
Display your social media links with ability to choose order, icon size, border-radius, background color, icon color and hover color.
17. Social Media and Share Icons (Ultimate Social Media)
Show your social media icons in the sidebar and select from 16 different designs. Options to change size, spacing, counts and row settings. You can also choose to make the social icons “sticky” so they stay visible when you scroll.
Social Media Feeds
19. Alpine Photo Tile for Pinterest
This WordPress plugin creates a widget so you can add Pinterest pins to your sidebar. Now, on Pinterest, you can also create widgets and copy and paste code into your sidebar but I like this plugin because it only displays images (without borders, space, etc) which is much cleaner and utilizes your sidebar space a little better
20. YouTube Channel Gallery
If you have a fairly active YouTube channel, then you’ll definitely want to check out this WordPress plugin for you sidebar. Admittedly, it took a a few steps to get an API key but, once activate, the plugin works like a charm! TUNS of options to display your youtube videos (order, playlist, player display, etc).
21. Instagram Feed
One of the most popular instagram widgets out there right now because it gives you so much control over look and feel. Once you install this plugin, you have to go to a new “Instagram Feed” menu item to setup your api info (but they give you a dead simple button to press to collect that info). Then, once you have customized your look and feel, simply copy and paste the shortcode into your text widget area.
Multiple Sidebars and Content Aware Sidebars
Since we are already talking about sidebars I thought I’d also mention these two handy plugins that let you create NEW sidebars and choose where to display them!