13 Things Every Website MUST Have (Unless You Like Having A Crappy Site)
Personal Website Tools

13 Things Every Personal Website MUST Have

    If you've read my post explaining how to set up your personal brand, you now know how to get your website up and running.

    Today I wanted to cover what you should start incorporating into your site once you do actually have it set up.

    Specifically, there are 13 things every personal branding website must have.

    Email Capture Pop-Up

    (1) Email Capture Pop-Up

    You've seen them.

    You've been annoyed by them.

    But you've also probably typed your email address into them. Because they work.

    These pop-ups appear on visitor's screens after a particular set of criteria has been met.

    For example, as soon as they show intent to leave your site by moving their mouse towards the top of their browser. Alternatively, it could appear after a pre-determined amount of time passes since they arrived on your page.

    They prompt the visitor to enter their email address, typically in exchange for access to your lead magnet or newsletter.

    As mentioned in my personal branding post, I use Thrive Themes on my website, so below is a video tutorial demonstrating how you can go about setting up a pop-up within Thrive Themes:

    (2) Facebook Pixel & Adwords

    If you plan on doing any sort of paid advertising, one of the very first things you'll want to take care of once you have your site up and running is installing your Facebook and Adwords retargeting pixels.

    Your pixels are what allow you to retarget people who have already been to your site by showing them additional ads.

    This is incredibly powerful for two reasons:

    1. Retargeting Is Cheap
    2. You Build Your Brand
      • Because the same people end up seeing your brand over and over again, you're actually able to build up your brand. It takes more than seven points of contact before you're typically able to make a sale, so you really need to play the long game with your advertising.

    Setting up your Facebook pixel will be slightly more involved because you have to set up a Facebook Page and an ad account if you haven't done so yet.

    The video that follows is from Miles Beckler, one of the single most helpful internet marketers you'll come across. He's responsible for me knowing how to do half of everything I know when it comes to internet marketing, so I'd really encourage you to check out his content.

    Anyways, this is a video tutorial Miles put together showing how to install the Facebook Pixel on your site if you're using Thrive Themes. Even if you're not using Thrive, the process is going to be almost identical for your theme.

    It's essentially the same process with your Google Analytics Pixel:

    The other important piece to note here is that you want to set this up early.

    In fact, even if you don't plan on doing any paid advertising right now, I would still go ahead and set this up.

    Reason being, in order to operate correctly, these pixels need as much data as possible on your site. Installing them early allows them to start “seasoning,” so that when you do start running retargeting ads, you'll be doing so from a good starting point.

    Get More Social Media Shares

    (3) Social Share Buttons

    As I mentioned in my personal branding post, one of the most important components of your online strategy is your social media.

    Probably the single best thing you can do when it comes to your social media is to encourage your visitors to share your content. That's because sharing leverages the credibility of others to spread your message.

    When somebody shares your content, they're essentially vouching for you. Therefore, when that content appears on their friend's timelines, it holds more weight than it otherwise would.

    This begs the question, “How do I get more shares?”

    One of the best ways to do this is to flat out ask your followers to share your content (by the way, know anybody who could benefit from this post? <img draggable=” />). You'd be amazed how well this works.

    The next best way is to, a little more passively, nudge your readers to share your content by providing them with convenient share buttons.

    Enter, Social Warfare.

    Social Warfare is a plugin that makes the process of incorporating these buttons onto your site incredibly easy.

    It creates “sticky” share buttons that remain in the same place on your viewer's screen as they scroll down your post. This makes it as easy as the click of a button for your viewers to share your content.

    Not only that, you can even control the way your content appears when a visitor shares it. This removes one more piece of friction from the process of your visitor actually sharing your content because it's already formatted for them.

    SSL Certificate

    (4) SSL Certificate

    This one isn't quite mission critical, but it is something I would encourage you to at least investigate.

    SSL Certificates are badges issued to you by a Certificate Authority that signify that your visitor has a secure connection to the server on which your site is hosted.

    This is what allows you to have the green “https://” and a lock icon appear before your domain in the URL bar of your visitor's browser when they arrive on your site.

    SSL Certificate

    SSL Certificates are 100% necessary if you're going to be selling products on your site, but you may want to set one up even if you don't intend on accepting credit card transactions.

    Reason being, SSL Certificates help both with search engine rankings and with user experience. Search engines will boost sites that have SSL Certificates because they know it's a more secure site.

    It also assures your visitors that they're browsing a safe website, so people may be more inclined to actually hang around.

    You can purchase an certificate directly through your hosting provider in most cases.

    Since I purchased my hosting through GoDaddy, I simply bought my certificate right through them. This also made it a lot easier to set it up since everything was within their ecosystem.

    You can definitely go about setting this up another way, but that's just how I went about mine.

    Privacy Policy

    (5) Privacy Policy

    Again, this one is not exactly mission critical, but I would encourage you to set this up because it's simply good form and it's also incredibly easy.

    Your Privacy Policy essentially just lays out how you handle your visitors' information.

    You typically place the link for this in the footer of your site so it's out of the way, but still accessible.

    There's two ways to go about actually generating your privacy policy:

    1. Grab a template off Google and edit it to fit your site.
      • Use this option at your own discretion. I didn't want to go this route simply because I wanted to know it was done correctly, but there definitely are some good templates out there.
    2. Buy one off https://privacypolicies.com
      • This is how I did mine. It only costs $30 so to me that was worth it to know it's done the right way. You simply answer a couple of basic questions about your site and within seconds you have a full privacy policy.

    Affiliate Marketing

    (6) Affiliate Disclosure

    This one is mission critical if you're doing any sort of Affiliate Marketing on your site.

    The Federal Trade Commission has stated that Affiliate Marketers need to disclose to their viewers/readers when they are an affiliate of the product they're recommending.

    That means you need some form of disclosure on your website explaining that you are in fact an affiliate of some of the products you recommend. More specifically, there's actually two types of disclosures you may need.

    The first is a general disclosure that will apply to almost all of the affiliate programs you take part in.

    The other one you may need to incorporate is a disclosure specific to a particular merchant.

    For example, Amazon's affiliate program requires that you use very specific language that you literally need to copy and paste on your site verbatim, otherwise they can terminate your affiliate accounts.

    So with each particular merchant or affiliate network, do your homework to ensure you understand if you need a specific disclosure for them.

    Much like your privacy policy, this is something you typically place either in the footer or sidebar of your site so that it's accessible, but not obstructing a visitor's experience on your site.

    You cannot try to hide this, though, as the whole point is to actually inform your visitors.

    Site Navigation

    (7) Navigation

    It's unfortunate, but the bounce rate of most websites suck – big time.

    You spend all this time slaving over your content, only to have people get to your site and barely engage with it.

    This is in large part due to our Goldfish-like attention spans, but it also may be because most of us need to improve our site navigation.

    When a visitor comes to your site, you need to do everything in your power to keep them there as long as possible. The longer they're on your site, the more likely they are to become an email subscriber, share your content, or simply engage with your content.

    One of the best ways to do this is to show the right content to the right people via recommended posts.

    For example, if I have somebody on my site reading a post about real estate, I want to make sure I recommend another post about real estate, not one covering personal branding (bonus tip: one of the other great ways to boost time on site is via internal linking, like the spree I just went on right there).

    The best way to improve your recommended posts is to properly categorize your posts within WordPress.

    Categorize Posts WordPress

    From there, you'll need to incorporate a recommended posts plugin, or, if you're using Thrive Themes, as I recommend, you can simply turn on the Related Posts option in the Theme Options.

    Related Posts WordPress Every Site Must Have

    (8) Cache Plugin

    You're website is probably working too hard.

    Give it a break by using a cache plugin.

    Every time your site loads for a visitor, Word Press calls on your server to load every image and every piece of text required for that page.

    It can be a lot of data.

    But I'm here to tell you about a brighter future. A future where Word Press can catch a breather. A future where visitors to your site are completely beside themselves with how blazing fast your site loads to the point where they build monuments of you.

    Okay, maybe I'm getting a little carried away.

    Cache plugins speed up your site by storing static parts of it (static meaning they don't change from day to day, i.e. your menu) in RAM instead of on the server. That way, when Word Press goes to access it, it's much easier to do so, resulting in quicker page loads.

    Page speed is incredibly important because not only does it improve user experience, it's also a ranking factor for search engines.

    There's a number of different cache plugins out there, but here's a post covering the top ones.

    Content Delivery Network

    (9) CDN (Content Delivery Network)

    Again, you want to do everything in your power to improve page speed.

    That's part of the reason I use Thrive Themes – everything they do has page speed in mind.

    After choosing the right theme and setting up your cache plugin, one of the best things you can do to improve your site speed is to use a Content Delivery Network.

    A CDN essentially multiplies the number of servers you have working for you. It uses cloud computing and copies the content on your site to multiple different servers around the world so that when somebody visits your site, instead of Word Press only being able to load the page from one server, it can have multiple servers work on it.

    This ends up resulting in significantly improved site speed.

    There are countless CDN providers out there, but I chose to set mine up directly through GoDaddy, again because I've just done everything through them so it keeps it all in the same ecosystem. I also really love their customer support.

    By the way, if you're interested you can test your site speed here.

    Website Security

    (10) Security

    Hackers….they're everywhere.

    No, I really mean that. This is something you need to take incredibly seriously.

    Because Word Press is so damn popular, hackers spend most of their time trying to infiltrate Word Press based sites.

    Why would hackers want to mess with your brand new website? There's actually a variety of reasons, but they typically want to install spyware or malware so that whoever comes to your site ends up with it on their computer.

    This begs the question, how do I prevent this from happening?

    As I mentioned in my personal branding video series, one system you can get up and running right from the start is WordFence.

    Since I do everything through GoDaddy, I purchased a suite through them that offered me a CDN, site security and site backup (which is our next topic) all in one package. Check with your hosting provider as they will likely offer some form of security.

    Site Backup

    (11) Site Backup

    IMPLORE you to set this up.

    If you've gotten started with putting out content, you know how much of a grind it is.

    Putting together posts that are truly helpful to people takes a ton of work. There's lots of research involved, tons of writing, filming or recording, and endless trial and error.

    Now imagine doing this for months or even years, and then all in a flash, everything you've worked towards evaporates into thin air.

    Website crash

    This can actually happen more often than you'd think.

    Maybe a hacker somehow got past your defenses. Maybe you were messing with the code on your site and royally screwed something up by mistake.

    Whatever the cause, having reliable site backup can truly be a lifesaver in these scenarios.

    Site backup is essentially where you have a backup version of your site and all its data stored somewhere separate from the server your site is running on.

    As I mentioned in the last post, I use GoDaddy for this. The way their system works is that at the end of every day, they make a new copy of my site.

    That way, god forbid a hacker does get past my defenses, or, god forbid I (being the technical wizard I am) accidentally crash my site all on my own, I can literally call up GoDaddy and ask them to make my site go back to exactly the way it was the day before.

    You have to be clinically insane to not set this up.

    It's typically incredibly cost-effective and I literally didn't have to do anything extra to set it up other than give GoDaddy the go-ahead.

    It's almost inevitable that your site will at some point crash. When it happens, you will sincerely than yourself for having set this up.

    Comment Spam Blocker Akismet

    (12) Akismet

    I promise, this is the last one related to hacking.

    One of the first things you'll notice once you get your site up and running is comment spam.

    These are typically people wanting more backlinks to their site.

    Akismet is the best plugin to put an end to this. It's powerful enough that it's actually one of the only plugins that comes pre-installed on WordPress, so you won't have to go download it.

    What you will have to do, though, is simply head over to Akismet's website and purchase a plan so you can get a license key. Once you have this, you just need to input it into the plugin so it gets upgraded to the paid version.

    At the time of this writing, I've only had my site up for a few months and Akismet has already blocked multiple spam comments for me.

    XML Sitemap

    (13) XML Sitemap

    You probably already understand the power of SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

    One of the best things you can do to jump-start your SEO is to ensure Google is indexing your site.

    The best way to do this is to take matters into your own hands and literally feed Google exactly the information it needs to do this.

    This is where an XML Sitemap comes in.

    An XML Sitemap is essentially a layout of your site that Google can interpret.

    You can create one of these right within the Yoast SEO plugin, which is one of the best plugins out there.

    I'm going to once again turn things over to Miles Beckler since he just recently put out a tutorial showing you how to do this.

    As Miles said, once you have this set up, just let it run in the background. It's not worth any additional time invested.


    Your website will always be evolving and the only constant will truly be change.

    Having said that, these are some great fundamentals to get in place early on.

    I hope you were able to get some value out of this post. If so, please consider subscribing to my newsletter below so you're notified whenever we post new content.

    Also, if you have a friend or colleague who's building their site (or maybe they already built a site but it just needs to be updated), please share this with them.

    That's all for today! See you around soon!


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    About the Author Alex Owens

    Alex is a serial entrepreneur, coach, and active investor who drives growth and scale for his portfolio companies.

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