How to Decide Where to Put Widgets on Your Blog

How to Decide Where to Put Widgets on Your Blog

I have been looking at the layout on my blog for a little while now, calculating what I wanted to change about it. But I didn't make the changes right away. I just noted them and went on with other things. There was a lot of changes I wanted to do and a little more research needed to be done before I did any of them.

I signed up as a sponsor of the MoneyBites contest a couple of weeks ago. One of the things I gave away was ad space, which gave me a deadline for redoing my site a little. Well, that deadline was two days ago.

There is only a couple of changes that still remain to be done and I will cover those last. So here are the changes and the reasons I did them. I figure I need a technical post in here, every once and while. Disclaimer: my reasons may be total rationalizations, but it's better than having none.

  1. I shortened the length of the text box for my email subscribe form so it would fit on one line with the button. Reason: pure aesthetics.
  2. I moved the Top Posts widget from the header section to the sidebar. This widget is the Wordpress Reports Most Active Widget which uses the Wordpress Reports plugin. Reason: A lot of people come my for my lists of sites and reload the page constantly to submit their site. This may throw off the numbers a little. It does show other popular pages, but there are a few posts that I think cover a lot of ground and I would like to emphasize them. So the Top Posts widget is still there but has less emphasis now.
  3. I replaced that widget with a Featured Posts widget, which it really isn't. It's a category in my Blogroll. I spent a lot of time hunting for a featured post widget that would do what I like then I realized if I just used a blogroll category, I could use a browse to the post an use a bookmarklet. It's running inside the Executable PHP Widget, which is using this code:
    <?php get_links('1358', '<li>', '</li>', '<br />', FALSE, 'rand',
    FALSE, FALSE, 30, TRUE); ?>
    where '1358' is the category of the links. My other blogroll uses the same type code, listing only one category of links. Reason: Simplicity. This was easy to do. I can set the anchor text for SEO reasons and keep the title at a length that will fit on one line. I can also set the description for more SEO magic.
  4. I removed the DoFollow image and added a link on the blank nav bar that links to the post where I write about DoFollow. Reason: It adds a link to my post about DoFollow, not only telling readers that I will follow their links, but that I also use the Comment Luv plugin.
  5. I added the Accordian Widget to my sidebar. Reason: I wanted to free up some room. When I  was creating the theme for this site, I was actually going to put two sidebars on the right so that I could put more there. This widget helps out. The tabs hidden when you initially land on the page are really unimportant visually. They do not need emphasis. But someone may want to browse my categories, tags, and submission site lists every once in a while. They also help with the search engines. I opted to put excerpts of posts on my duplicate content pages instead of making links to those pages nofollow. This menu is on every page and effectively increases the amount of link juice I invest back into my site and the link juice sent out as a whole is lower.
  6. I added the bigger Entrecard widget and removed it from the GotBanners widget Reason: The Entrecard widget is bigger than 125 x 125 banners. It made the banner layout look funky. Plus, for some reason, if I ran the Entrecard widget inside of Got Banners, it did not show it Internet Explorer. Don't know the reason but I found what fixed the problem.
  7. I added two Profilactic widgets. Reason: I wanted a widget to aggregate all of my communities. Others offered less options. If all else fails, you can add a standard link to your Profilactic profile widget or add any feed. This widget is at the bottom. On the sidebar, I have a LifeStream widget which lists by bookmarks, blog posts, etc. as they happen.
  8. I moved the Top Commenters and my other Blogroll category widget to the sidebar. Reason: The footer was half of my hole page. There was too much down there.
  9. I activated the HeadSpace2 plugin just to see what it looks like. Reason: It looks like it will be fun to play with. I have yet to see if it plays well with the All-In-One SEO Pack.

This all took about an hour because I had everything lined up in row for me. All the research was done and I had a list.

What is left?

  1. I am going to decide on either a service to deal with my private ads or OIO Publisher. Update: DealDotCom deal of the day today was OIOPublisher for $15. For that much I can give it a try. They have a marketplace on the site to advertise your listing and the plugin itself will support banner ads, text ads, paid posts and even affiliates. It was too much not to pass up for $15. I will cover more of that later, as I get used to using the plugin.
  2. I am going to investigate this. This is something I have been chasing for a while. I like the LifeStream concept, but I also like clustering. I want related delicious links in a block within my post like my related posts.

So that's it for now. No visual changes. Just a little spring cleaning.

Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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