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8-Free-Must-haves-for-WebsiteHere’s 8 Free must-haves for your website, or any website for that matter. Whether you have a blog or a corporate website, an online portfolio or a micro-site, you will need to have these 8 things in order to take advantage of your online presence and to make life easier for you in the long run.

Now first of all, I would like to say that if you are planning on having a WordPress website or already have one, then these 8 things I’m about to go over will be easier for you to acquire and utilize. The reason is that WordPress has a healthy eco-system where developers have created “plug-ins” or “widgets” to add to your website in an instant. [ Related Article: What is WordPress – Full Explanation? ] Most of these plugins are totally free, and there are some premium plugins that I want to mention where you need to pay (if you choose to go the premium route).

If you do not have a WordPress website, and don’t plan on having one anytime soon, then this podcast is still useful to you and you can still achieve everything I mention. Not only will I provide the WordPress solution, but also alternatives that you can take a look at as well.

8 Must haves for Website

1) Google Analytics:

Every website owner should have some type of analytics to track how their website is doing. No matter how small your website is, or think it is, you still need analytics. According to Dan Myer of DMAI: Decision-Making, Analytics and Intelligence, “Analytics is the discovery of data. It’s looking at data to solve problems to help business owners and decision makers make decisions because of that data.

Basically, you want to know how people are using your website. For large companies, they want to know exactly what the visitor is doing, when, and why. With Analytics, you can learn that. By improving your knowledge on how people use your website, you are building the path to success by catering to your visitors’ needs. For smaller websites, it still helps to know how many people are visiting each day, and what pages they are viewing. This can give you a glimpse on how effective your website is.

A great example of how I use analytics is by checking how many unique visitors I get on a daily basis. I use Google Analytics, which is a free service by Google, and you can sign up and add tracking to your website within minutes. When I first started, I barely got any visitors and after a month I am now getting 100 unique visitors daily. This is mainly due to a blog post I made, called “100 Creative Ideas For A Website“, where I give out cool ideas on what kind of website to start!

Also, I found that most traffic was coming from Google, and people searching the term “Website Ideas”. And, most of them were from the United States of America, and viewed that page at an average of 5:28 (roughly). That seems pretty long, and I will do some more investigating, but that’s what my stats tell me! I am viewing all of my analytics from an iOS app called “Analytics Pro“.

You can have Google Analytics for your WordPress website, by adding a plugin called “Google Analytics for WordPress“, and this will allow you to add tracking to your website. You will have to already have created a Google Analytics account though, and you will need your tracking code. In conjunction with this plugin, you may want to add another plugin called “Google Analytics Dashboard“, and what this will allow you to do is see a brief summary of your analytics, right on your WordPress dashboard.

If you don’t have WordPress, you would want to install your tracking code at the bottom of each of your web pages, and this is usually done by your “web guy”, and they usually would add this code once, on a template page (so that they don’t have to add this code for every single page, every time).

Clicky is an alternative to Google Analytics, but costs monthly after it’s free trial. But I’ve heard some people prefer this because it is easier to read and understand.

2) CMS System or Content Management System

The reason I made this 2nd on the must-have list is because unless you are the only person touching your website, and you know how to code, you will need some sort of CMS in place so that you can easily edit your website. If you don’t  know if you have a CMS in place, then you may want to figure that out with your web guy or whatever company is helping you with your website. Back in the day, it was normal to have to ask your web guy to update a link and pay them for their time, but nowadays if you’re a solopreneur or someone doing everything themselves, then you may not have the budget to pay for a web person all the time. That is why WordPress is so popular because it’s easy to work with once you get it up and running in the beginning.

You can install WordPress within minutes, by following my tutorial on YouTube, or check out my “How to Get a Website” Tutorial at http://markammay.com/howtomakeawebsite

Other types of CMS systems other than WordPress are Joomla and Drupal (which are also free), but unless you are a web developer yourself or know someone, then I would recommend you stick with WordPress.

If you don’t use a CMS system in your company, then I would definitely recommend incorporating it somehow. It doesn’t have to be WordPress or anything I’ve mentioned so far, but your company should have some way of updating at least the text or copy, at anytime without having to rely on someone who knows code. For example, many companies use proprietary CMS systems where employees can update certain parts of the website on the fly.

I personally am converting all my current and past clients to WordPress, to save them money and save both of us time and effort. If they want to add a page, they should be able to do it themselves. Unless they need something custom, or need help on something specific, I always encourage people to learn how to do it themselves, for the better. Or, they can pay me a lot of money, and I can do it.

3) SEO Friendly or Search Engine Optimization

I would encourage all websites to be SEO friendly by doing a few simple things. My first tip is to use text as much as possible, instead of images with text. The reason is that search engines can locate and archive text, but it can’t read your image (as of this moment at least). For example it is better to have an image with text over it saying something, than an image with text embedded in it already. Sometimes this is not possible, but overall, do this. Also, do simple things like use headers. If you write the title of something, use the h1, h2 and h3 tags to show how important your title is. If you need help understanding what that means, just know that you usually will know by seeing if your title is bigger than the rest of your text. If you write a blog post in WordPress, your title will automatically be using h1 tags or header tags.

Another simple SEO tip is to name your images before you upload them to your website. If it’s your logo, name your logo for people who may search your company through Google Images.

There are obviously more SEO tips and tricks to mention, but the main idea is to be aware of what SEO means, and it is Search Engine Optimization.

Now if you are ready for this, and have WordPress, add the plugin called “All in One SEO Pack“, and this will help you optimize each of your pages. But this plugin and it’s settings can be a little overwhelming at first, but if you’re serious and ready to learn, then you’ll definitely want this plugin.

4) Mobile Friendly Website

Having your site looking good for mobile is essential because more and more people are using their iPhone and Androids to view the world wide web. To make your website mobile friendly, you can do a few things. First of all, if you are using WordPress, you can purchase a premium theme that will for sure be mobile friendly by going to http://markammay.com/themeforest

Anyways, what Mobile friendly really means is that your website not only can be viewed on a mobile phone, but it can also be viewed nicely as well. This means the text is the correct size (and not so tiny), and all the extra “fluff” is gone or pushed to the bottom of your screen. If you want an example of a responsive and mobile friendly website, just view this website on your iPhone or Android, and note the difference between your view and viewing it on your PC or Mac.

You can buy Premium WordPress themes that are responsive and mobile ready, or you can even buy normal website templates that you could use yourself if you are not using WordPress. Again, you’d need to know how to do that, or have someone do it for you, but I always promote WordPress as a great website that uses a CMS system.

If you buy a Premium WordPress theme, you should double-check and make sure it says it has a “responsive layout” or is “mobile friendly”. Otherwise, there’s a plugin called “WPtouch” that you can add that will format your site for mobile phones.

If you own a website and don’t know, ask your web developer about this, and if they are current they should be able to answer all your mobile questions.

5) Backup System

Now although you may be thinking that it wouldn’t happen to you, one day your website will crash due to reasons you may not even know, and you will hate yourself for not backing up your website! Now there’s a few ways to backup your own website in case of those emergencies, and if you have WordPress, you could “look” up some plugins to back up your site. One plugin is called “Online Backup for WordPress“. A great premium backup plugin for WordPress is called “Backup Buddy“, and this is something I am looking into buying myself. I’ve heard quite a few blogger and website owners out there using this, and you may want to consider this especially down the road when your site becomes bigger and bigger.

Now, if you don’t have WordPress, you could look up other backup systems or services such as “SiteVault“, “DropMySite” and “Carbonite“, but most cost money and usually annually.

What you want to do is look for a way to have auto-backups to your website so that you don’t have to do it manually, everyday. A good suggestion is to actually have hourly backups, if you have a high traffic website where you create content more than once a day.

The very least you can do is ask your web hosting service for backup services, but I wouldn’t only rely on them. Their backups are usually daily, and for more information on web hosting plans and backing up data, check out IX Webhosting at http://markammay.com/ixwebhosting

6) Email Capture System

It’s very important to be capturing emails from your visitors because how else would you contact them? It is said that the money is in the email list, and you will be able to communicate with people even when they’re not looking on your website.

A free email campaign service is called “MailChimp“, and you can use them to create an email list, forms to capture people’s emails, and even send out campaign driven emails to people on your list.

A paid email campaign service is called Aweber, and they are similar to Mailchimp. You can check them out at http://markammay.com/aweber

The bare minimum is to just have a contact form or your email out there so that people can contact you. But nothing is more powerful than a living and growing email list, managed by Mailchimp or another 3rd party service to help you in your email campaigns.

Why do people use email lists? To communicate with their fans as well as announce things they are selling!

7) Social Bookmarking

Many successful companies and businesses out there have some sort of social network presence, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or even LinkedIn. It’s important to reach out to these communities and allow people to share your website easily. That is why putting social bookmarking features on your web pages is essential, so that people can easily “like”, “tweet” or “share” your content with their social networks. This will help you spread the word about your website and company.

To add social bookmarking to your WordPress website, I recommend searching for social bookmarking plugins such as “WP Socializer“, and this will allow you to add buttons on your blog posts or pages, so that people can share it with their friends.

The bare minimum is to at least have links to your social networking sites on your website.

8) Anti-Spam System

We all hate SPAM and basically it’s those fake messages you get from bots that appear to be legit but then you realize it’s either full of non-sense and links. Now-a-days spam is getting harder and harder to detect and sometimes can even come off as real. But we want to minimize spam comments on our website by taking a few extra precautions.

First off, if you’re using some sort of contact form you may want to consider adding some sort of CAPTCHA. I know we all hate those as well, you know those weird letters that you have to guess when creating an account everywhere, or when you’re trying to reset your password somewhere. But it’s a trade off.

If you have WordPress, you can use a plugin for your contact forms called “Fast Secure Contact Form“, which will allow you create multiple forms and either use CAPTCHA or not. This plugin does have a learning curve to it, and it took me sometime to understand what to do with it.

Akismet” is a great plugin that’s built into your WordPress install, and I think all you need to do is activate it and put in a unique code to identify your website. It’s free, and you can read the instructions for that plugin. This plugin helps fight spam from your comments on your blog post, and other places as well.

1) Google Analytics:
2) CMS System or Content Management System
3) SEO Friendly or Search Engine Optimization
4) Mobile Friendly Website
5) Backup System
6) Email Capture System
7) Social Bookmarking
8) Anti-Spam System

BONUS TIP: Have a clear call-to action

Make sure to really tell your visitors what you want them to do, or what they can do. The worst thing is to have a nice looking website showcasing your products, but don’t clearly let people know that you sell these products. Or if you’re goal is to gather an email list, let it be known! You know what they say, “Ask and you shall receive”, and with that in mind, if you liked this episode please give me a rating and a review on iTunes to help this podcast!