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May 21, 2009

11 Things Every Successful Website Need

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So you’ve put together a spectacular website, and you’re ready to go live on the Internet for the whole world to see. Not so fast there Bucky. In case you didn’t know, there are a few essential requirements that every site needs to include in order to be successful.

Let’s review, shall we:

1. Privacy Policy/Disclaimer:

Now, I’m not a Lawyer and don’t claim to be one, but these two documents should be standard issue for every site you have. People want to know how you’re going to use their personal information, and a “privacy policy” does just that.

In today’s litigious society you’ll also need to include a disclaimer/terms of use page. This protects you and spells out to your visitors what they’re agreeing to by using your website. If you don’t know where to start in generating these documents, you’ll find plenty of help online.

  • DMA Privacy Policy Generator http://www.dmaresponsibility.org/PPG/
  • OECD Privacy Statement Generator http://tinyurl.com/5plgpc
  • Google Adsense & other Ad Networks Privacy Policy Generator http://www.serprank.com/privacy-policy-generator/index.php
  • Privacy Policy Generator http://www.freeprivacypolicy.com/
  • Free Site Disclaimer http://www.easyriver.com/free_disclaimer.htm

This is not legal advice, and if you need help in this department, consult with a local attorney.

2. Contact Us Information:

I can’t tell you how many sites I’ve been to that fail to include a way to contact the owner. If you can’t include a phone number, at the very least have an email address or a “contact us” form. By providing this information, you’ll make your visitors feel more comfortable knowing there’s a way to reach you should the need arise.

If you need a form and don’t know how to create your own, try one of these free form services.

  • Bravenet: http://www.bravenet.com/webtools/emailfwd/
  • Freedback: http://freedback.com/
  • Email Me: http://www.emailmeform.com/

3. Search Box/Site Map:

If your site is rather large, you’ll also want to include a way to search, or have what is called a “site map”. There are many ways to add a search function to your site, the easiest being to use Google’s free service at- http://www.google.com/sitesearch/

or try PicoSearch: http://www.picosearch.com/

A site map sounds technical, but it’s just one web page that contains links to every page of your site, usually broken down by category. Another resource – FreeFind: http://www.freefind.com/

4. Google Analytics/Tracking System:

Once your site is up and running you’ll want to keep your eye on traffic. Who’s visiting your website, what pages are the most popular, where is the traffic coming from. All of these questions and more can be answered by using a good analytics program.

There are several ways to add a thorough tracking system to your site, but the easiest and one that won’t cost you a dime is Google Analytics http://www.google.com/analytics/ Once registered, you can add as many sites as you like all under one user ID and password. You’ll be given some code to copy and paste on your pages. Simple, easy, and you’re done.

5. Newsletter Sign Up/RSS Feed:

There’s an old saying that people won’t buy from you the very first time they come to your website, so you need a way to stay in touch with them to bring them back again and again. By offering a newsletter, also known as an ezine, you’ll be building a list of possible prospects which is invaluable to any site owner.

You’ll find a multitude of free and low cost newsletter services online. It’s up to you, depending on your needs and what you can afford. If you don’t want to pay anything, my favorite free services are:

FreeAutoBot: http://www.FreeAutoBot.com Yahoo Groups: http://www.yahoo.com/groups

You can also offer an RSS feed for your newsletter, or updates to your blog or site. This makes it easy for others to keep up with your most recent posts. The best service for this is… FeedBurner: http://www.feedburner.com/fb/a/home

6. Consistent Navigation:

This might sound like a no brainer, but many folks get it wrong. No matter what type of menu system you decide upon, make sure it stays the same across the board on all pages of your site.

Your job is to guide your visitors through your website, making sure they always know where they are and how to get to where they need to go.

For more see:

  • Eye on Web: http://tinyurl.com/dyh9fm
  • Web Page Mistakes: http://www.webpagemistakes.ca/website-navigation/

7. Search Engine Optimized Copy:

At first glance you might not think this is so important, but trust me it is. You want your pages to rank well with the search engines and there are a few steps you can take to ensure this happens.

Each page of your website should be optimized for 2, or at the most 3 keywords/phrases. Weave the keywords into your titles and into the body of each page. You can also include them in your image titles, alt tags, even in the names you give your pages. Look at each page individually and decide what it’s about, then optimize accordingly.

For help see:

  • MarketLeap: http://tinyurl.com/ce8ffd
  • CopyBlogger: http://www.copyblogger.com/seo-copywriting/

8. Social Media Share Button:

With the popularity of social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace, you’d be foolish not to include an easy way for your content to be shared with others.

You’ll find many free services that will give you the code you need to instantly add a “share button” to your web pages so that visitors can instantly share them with their friends.

To generate your own buttons see:

  • AddThis: http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php
  • TwitThis: http://www.TwitThis.com

9. Meta Tags:

Some may tell you that meta tags are dead. Don’t listen. Meta tags should be included in your HTML code at the top of every page. Many search engines will read them to pull a description to include in their search results.

Again, each page should be optimized separately and have a unique title, keywords, and description tags.

For help see:

  • Submit Express: http://www.submitexpress.com/metatag.html
  • Submit Corner: http://www.submitcorner.com/Tools/Meta/

10. Copyright Notice:

Sounds simple but forgotten by many. All pages should include a copyright notice. If you don’t want to have to update it manually every year, find a simple Javascript that will automatically do it for you. You’ll find one such script at:

  • Uncle Jims: http://jdstiles.com/java/copyright.html

11. Trust Seals/Testimonials:

I grouped these two items together as they both instil trust and confidence in your visitors. Remember, when someone comes to your website, they don’t know who you are and if you’re selling something, they may not feel comfortable giving out their credit card information. To help them feel more “warm and fuzzy”, include trust seals for any organizations you belong to:

For example:

  • iCop: http://i-cop.org/
  • BBB: http://www.bbb.org/us/Business-Accreditation/
  • Honest E Online: http://www.honesteonline.com/index.html

Also, if you have testimonials from happy customers, or ezine subscribers, weave them into your site copy. People always love to hear that others have had a happy experience with your products/services. Make sure you get permission first from the testimonial writers before placing them on your website.

So there you have it -my short list of what every site needs to succeed online. Now that you’re armed with this information, get out the magnifying glasses and take a close look at your own website to see what may be missing.


It’s not hard to create a website, but for one that stands out head and shoulders above the rest, you need to include these important elements. When you launch your next site you want it to be successful, not average. So what are you waiting for? You’ve got a lot of work to do, so get busy.

“Blah…Blah…Blog..Rantings by Merle“- The blog that’s loaded with online marketing techniques and strategies that will help you increase your website traffic and make more money online. Tips and tricks for online entrepreneurs, and marketers to grow your net biz. Visit today- http://mcpromotions.blogspot.com/

33 Responses to “11 Things Every Successful Website Need

    avatar Jeff D says:

    Hi Merle-
    I have a quick tip I wanted to share in relation to site maps. It doesn’t hurt every now and then to briefly set your homepage to the site map. From here track which pages on your site people go to, and then be sure that these pages are easily found via the regular homepage.

    Cheers,
    Jeff
    MSFT Office Live Outreach
    http://smallbusiness.officelive.com/

    avatar Justin Thorp says:

    Hi, my name is Justin Thorp. I’m the Community Manager for AddThis. Thanks so much for recommending our button. Let us know if there is anything we can do to make it even better. – justin@addthis.com

    avatar wasim Ismail says:

    great article, best practice for web sites.

    avatar Mike A says:

    Thanks. A very useful checklist. I just did a site for someone and completely forgot about the Google Analytics. Of course I’ll remedy that oversight. And I’ll keep this list to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

    Hello there I thought this to be a great and well thought out article resuming in one what many other articles have said between them, certainly one for saving for future use.
    Thank you.

    avatar Mark Ramsey says:

    Thanks for the simple to follow advice. I’ve been working hard to make my site the most user friendly Real Estate site possible. These ideas will make it even better! THANKS… I’ll be implementing them today!!

    avatar Jaroslav says:

    I like this ideas, used them to build web site, important information to build good site.

    avatar Darryl Payne says:

    This is really great advice for every website. The only thing I don’t agree with is the keyword meta tag. It is used by a few small search engines, but it is a clear sign to Google that the site has been SEO’d. Thanks for a great article.

    avatar Jay Philips says:

    Great tips. Another thing sites should take into perspective is the end users and colors. You may have the best content but if your site is hard to read/navigate users aren’t going to want to use it.

    avatar M. Sonntag says:

    Good article! This link is broken:
    iCop: http://www.icop.net

    Thinks that this is a great tool. Listen and act or you will be left behind!

    avatar Pabitra Dangol says:

    It’s great ideas for search engine optimization. I think that it will help many of the webmasters/web promotioners for promoting their websites.

    avatar Bill Beavers says:

    Great article and I especially liked the inclusion of all the links. They will be very helpful I’m sure.

    avatar Kamal says:

    A Great list and easy for any web developer to follow.
    Thanks.

    avatar Dev The Web says:

    Thanks for the good list of advices. Now, I really how many things I missed in my sites :(

    avatar Lanna says:

    Very useful tips here. I am going to apply some of them.

    By the way http://www.copyblogger.com/seo-copywriting/ leads to an Error – Server cannot be found page.

    Agree with many of the comments thus far. Great list, one that highlighted what a site map is and why I need one for my site. Jay Phillips made a valuable comment, too… perhaps this may be another topic you might cover: Navigation and the elements of user-friendliness of a website.
    There are many sites out there that have poor navigation, such that buttons are not easily found, return-home links are not available, just little things that can make the visitor feel lost and frustrated and give them reason to click out…
    Cheers,
    Terri

    avatar ErikElsea says:

    Thank you. These are very good tips for our website. For someone who is new to building, maintaing, and optimizing websites this information was very helpful to me.

    avatar Isaac Yassar says:

    Nice collection. Meta tags is indeed vital in SEO, not meta tags = no traffic.

    avatar Qurat says:

    Great list…. I tried compiling it, but I missed one or two each time… this is one comprehensive list!

    avatar Merle says:

    I’m sorry but the link for icop was incorrect..the correct link to that site is http://i-cop.org/
    My bad.

    Thanks for all of your comments….I really do appreciate them.

    Nice article with good tips…thanks..

    avatar Ask A Doctor says:

    thanks for such great tips

    avatar Pabitra Dangol says:

    I have been taking references from SiteProNews a long time ago. It’s really a great for promoting websites.

    Rath Nepal Tours & Travels,
    Nepal.

    I have been implemented these ideas on the site below and showing positive results gradually.
    http://www.magical-nepal.com

    Thanks for sharing such insightful information. These are good tips to keep in mind. pls keep them coming! cheers!

    avatar Josh says:

    That’s a handy list. I didn’t think there was ways to generate the privacy disclaimers like that though. Would it be wise to consult with the local attorney on what to make use of when generating the disclaimers first?

    avatar Tiff says:

    Tried, tested and true….This is fantastic advice!

    avatar Jennifer says:

    Thanks for the great tips here.

    avatar Macsys - Improve upon your online presence says:

    Good Article. I find it easy to follow for the web designers.

    avatar Ian Springham says:

    Thanks for putting all these in one place, it saved me a lot of head-scratching whilst checking I had done everything needed when redesigning a site!

    avatar Anuj A says:

    Very good article, I too need to put up few things on my website, and still have not put analytics so far. Thanks for the tips and a reminder for me.

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