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8 Best WordPress Widgets to Use on Your Blog

updated on Apr 07, 2017
8 Best WordPress Widgets to Use on Your Blog WordPress widgets are powerful little things that enable you to add almost any function to your website. Due to the flexibility in the function and placement, widgets are getting more useful and interesting ways to be implemented.

The WordPress core features already include some widgets, such as a search form, a category list, monthly post archives, a post calendar, and a tag cloud. Some of these built-in widgets are popular and great to use, but they are not enough for making the most use of your widgetized areas.

Depending on your own needs, you may want to display an author list on your site, share your social media links, collect email addresses, etc. Different types of websites will also affect the use of widgets. If you are confused and don't have good ideas about optimizing the widgets, you can consider the following ones which are helpful for most websites.

Targeting different goals, for example, displaying advertisements, promoting events, showcasing your products, or displaying the best content, these widgets can help increase the traffic, engagement, and the sales.

1. A Popular/Recent Posts Widget

On most websites you have visited, you should be able to find a "Popular Posts" list or a "Recent Posts" part. Popular posts are the content with the most views, and the recent posts are the fresh content you have just published. These contents come with the best potential for views and conversions.

Display Popular/Recent Posts

Both the popular posts and recent posts can be easily displayed in the sidebar, footer area or any other widgetized area. If you would like to list the recent posts, there is a built-in widget ready for use so that you don't need to rely on a third-party plugin. Just go to Appearance > Widgets, find the "Recent Posts" widget and drag it to the sidebar. You can give the widget a custom title, and choose how many posts to be displayed in the list.

Recent Posts Widget

If you want to show the popular posts, you can use the WordPress Popular Posts plugin. Upon activation, you will find a widget named "WordPress Popular Posts". This widget allows you to choose the post sorting method as well as the filter rules. It is easy to set up, and no coding is needed.

Popular Posts Widget

2. Related Posts Widget

The related posts widget is also among the most popular WordPress widgets that are adopted on millions of websites. Showing quality related content not only helps with the traffic growth, but also reduces the bounce rate, and improves the user experience because readers can easily find more content that they are interested

Jetpack comes with a related posts module, so if you are using this plugin, you can enable the module easily to showcase the related posts with their thumbnails. Or in the case that you want another solution, refer to this tutorial.

Display Related Posts

3. Social Media Links

With the increasing importance of social media marketing, it is already a necessity to integrate any website with social media, and the easiest way to do this is to display social media icons and links on your site. It is good no matter you add social media links in the sidebar or the footer area. Just make sure that all readers can find the links easily. If you have a lot of followers, you can also display the social followers count to show your popularity and value so as to encourage others to follow you.

Below is a good example from ShoutMeLoud.

Social Icons Widget

Jetpack Social Media Icons and Simple Social Icons are good options that add a simple widget. They support 10+ popular social networks including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. The setup is super easy.

4. Event Calendar Widget

Many websites host online or offline events to carry out promotion campaigns and engage the audience. These events could be offline gatherings, a webinar, the release of new products, or even the publishing of some important or valuable content.

If you have events to promote, we'd suggest you add an event calendar widget to the sidebar so that your readers can be well informed and then participate on time. Google Calendar is a helpful tool for embedding event calendars to WordPress sites. The creation of calendars and events, and the embedding are quite easy, without needing any technical skill. To display an event calendar in the sidebar area, simply add a text widget and paste the embed code to it.

Google Event Calendar

5. Contact Form Widget

Reliable contact information makes your website credible. Surely you need to offer the contact details on a contact page, but if you want to provide a quick way for your visitors to reach you or your team, you can display a contact form in the footer or the sidebar.

Contact Form 7, with over 3 million installs, helps you create and manage various contact forms with the least efforts. After making a contact form and customizing it, you can copy the shortcode and paste it into a text widget in the sidebar area, then the contact form will be displayed properly. If you want a tutorial for using Contact Form 7, read this post.

Contact Form Widget

6. An Image/Slider Widget for Product Showcase or Advertisements

Images are an important part of the post content. So are they for the sidebar area. Most websites use images to display ads so as to make money from their blog. You can adopt the same method, too, because advertising has been the largest source for the income of many websites. But if you run a photo site or a portfolio site, you can also embed a slider to the sidebar area to showcase your best works.

By default, WordPress doesn't support images in widgets, but you can rely on plugins like Image Widget to show images in the sidebar. Such plugins usually allow you to add links to the images.

Image Widget

If you want to add a slider to the sidebar, you can make use of the Soliloquy plugin which includes multiple sliders each of which comes with a widget that you can use in any widgetized area.

7. Testimonials Widget

Testimonials and user reviews play an important role in encouraging the potential customers to complete the purchase. So if you run an online store or sell any service/product on your website, you can collect user feedback and then display those good testimonials from the satisfied customers on the homepage or in the sidebar.

Testimonials Widget is a lightweight widget choice that enables you to show slides of quotes, reviews, videos and more randomly or with a specific ordering. It is easy-to-use and feature rich.

Testimonials Widget

8. A Google Map Widget

If you run a business with a storefront or any physical address that the public can access, you can add a map to the sidebar to show visitors clearly where you are, and how they can get to you. It is easy to integrate a Google Map with your website, but for the extended features like directions, you can use Google Maps Widget which comes with a lightbox for the display of the map and many additional features.

Google Map Widget

Special Recommendation – Sidebar & Widget Manager

Widgets are powerful and simple-to-use. However, you may need more control over the widgets you use, especially their visibility, in the case that you want to display different widgets based on the post type or other requirements.

If you are bothered by the control over sidebars and widgets, you can purchase a plugin named Sidebar & Widget Manager, a great helper that enables you to widgetize pages, display or hide any widget on any page, change the widget alignment, make widget sticky, etc. The features included in the plugin are indeed worth the money.

Sidebar & Widget Manager