It is a million dollar debate whether to have a sidebar or not in a WordPress site. With Core Web Vitals, AMP and other speed improvements, sidebar is losing the fame unlike earlier days. Default WordPress themes like twenty-twenty-one and twenty-twenty-two do not even come with sidebar option. However, sidebar widgets are most powerful way to use as a call to action. In addition, making the last widget as sticky and fixed can skyrocket your click through rate. In this article, we will explain how to add sticky fixed sidebar widget in WordPress.
Full Site Editing and Widgets
Before you try to completely rely on the sidebar widgets, be aware of the latest trend in WordPress development. Full site editing is already here which completely changes the way you use sidebars and widgets. Currently, you can see the widgets section under “Appearance” menu to use blocks similar to Gutenberg block editor interface.
If you tried twenty-twenty-two WordPress theme, there will be no widgets area. All you can do is to create pages from template parts without sidebar. If you still sticking to the old Classic editor or any other page builder plugins, it’s high time you switch to Gutenberg and get ready for this change. However, many commercial themes still offer sidebar layout as one of the options and you can continue using sidebar widgets with these themes.
How Sticky Widget Can Help You?
Sticky widget will show as a fixed area when user continue scrolling down the page. Since the sticky widget is visible during most of the reading time, you can make use of it in the following ways:
- Showcase popular content on your site to drive traffic.
- Display advertisement so that you can earn more money. Remember, some advertising programs like Google AdSense does not allow you to use sticky widget. If you are an AdSense publisher, you can use the anchor ads on mobile and desktop devices which is available part of auto ads setup.
- Show affiliate coupon or deal so that users can purchase through your link and you can make money from affiliate commission.
- Sell a popular eBook from your own store or from Amazon and try to convert the clicks in to potential earning.
- Display a countdown timer to push users to take an action like purchasing a product on limited time offer.
The possibilities are endless and you will clearly see the impact when using stick fixed widget compared to normal widget.
Add Sticky Fixed Sidebar Widget in WordPress
There are multiple ways to add sticky fixed widget to your WordPress sidebar. If you are super geeky, you can try out your own CSS with sticky position for the last widget on your sidebar. However, let us focus on the readymade solutions that normal users will be looking for.
1. Fixed Widgets and Sticky Elements for WordPress
This is the most popular option available for WordPress bloggers as it is super easy to implement. Earlier, it was known as Q2W3 Fixed Widget which was subsequently taken over by Advanced Ads and actively maintained in the plugin repository. Go to “Plugins > Add New” section in your WordPress admin panel and search for “fixed widget”. You can find the “Fixed Widgets and Sticky Elements for WordPress” plugin and install it on your site.
After activating the plugin, go to “Appearance > Fixed Widget Options” section. Here, you can adjust the settings of the plugin like margins and where do you want to stop the floating by providing the stop ID. In general, you do not need any changes here and leave the settings as they are. If you find the widget is hitting the top or bottom of the screen when scrolling then increase the margin top/bottom size to provide sufficient gap.
Now, go to “Appearance > Widgets” section and you can see an additional checkbox option below each widget. If you are using classic widgets area, you can enable the “Fixed Widget” check box for the item you want to show as sticky floating.
Save the widget and check your live site that the widget is sticky when scrolling the content. For example, we add a search widget as a first item and make it as fixed widget. It will look like below when you scroll the page content on your published site (check the search box on top of the sidebar).
We recommend using sticky fixed widget for the last item in the sidebar so that it will not affect user experience by avoiding overlapping of elements. If you are using the Gutenberg widget blocks, all added blocks in the widget area will have a “Fixed Widget” option like below.
2. Themes with Fixed Floating Widget
Many magazine themes on the WordPress marketplaces like themeforest offers in-built option for adding sticky widgets. For example, you can make the widget fixed in most popular Newspaper theme. You can choose the option in theme’s panel without installing additional plugin. However, you will have problem when switching a theme and again you will end up searching for a plugin for this purpose. Therefore, the lightweight Q2F3 widget is a good option unless you are planning to use a magazine style theme for long term.
3. AdSense and Other Advertisement Partners
As mentioned, Google AdSense does not allow showing sticky fixed widgets in the sidebar. Anchor ads will show the floating banner on top or bottom of mobile and desktop devices. If your primary focus is making money with online content, then you need to try any other display advertising program that allow sticky sidebar ads. Check out the AdSense alternative programs and apply for the one that suits your traffic and layout.
You can also apply for programs from Google certified ad partners like AdThrive, Mediavine or Ezoic. These ad agencies can help to get approval for Google AdX and allow you to use fixed sidebar ads. Similarly, you can try marketplaces like BuySellAds to get easy approval and use sticky ad on the sidebar. If you are a member of any such program, demand them to create a stick floating widget for you. They can create an ad unit that will only show fixed on the desktop port views. This can multifold your earnings with other ad technologies like ad rotation and anti-adblocking.
As you can see, there are multiple options to add sticky floating widget in WordPress sidebar. However, the solution depends on your purpose and the current setup you use. The easiest way is to use fixed widget WordPress plugin which will work seamlessly with any theme. You can test how the sticky widget works for you and measure the performance of call to actions to decide continuing the sticky option or not.