This guest post is provided by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), the organization that manages the .CA domain name registry in Canada. CIRA helps small businesses, entrepreneurs and startups get their businesses online.
Creating a website for your business has never been easier. With an abundance of information on developing websites and several website builder tools and templates available, you don't need to be a coder to create an impressive website.
But what comes after taking care of the technical side of your website?
You may now find yourself getting stuck figuring out what content to include on your website. No one can tell you exactly what is – or isn't – important to include on your site, as this depends on the industry you're in and your business' brand and differentiation. However, we've put together a list of a few basic things any Canadian small business should consider putting on its website to help you get started.
When launching your new business website, it's important to keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with a simple, basic website. In fact, often simpler is better. Think of the first iteration of your website as a minimum viable product – just enough to get something up to start building your brand online. You can worry about more complex features — like adding a blog or store — later on.
1. Your story
It's very common for business websites to have an "About Us" or "History" page. This background information is especially important when your business is brand new because you can start building trust with customers who are hearing about you for the first time. This is a great opportunity to be authentic, show off your business' brand and values and share the story behind what motivated you to start your business.
2. Product and service information
It's pretty straightforward: even if you aren't creating an e-store, by describing and showing what products and services you offer, you can pique your visitors' interest to learn more.
3. Location and hours of operation
You might be surprised at how many people are just visiting your website with the objective of finding the simplest piece of information, such as your store location. Basic business information like your hours of operation and location should be easy to find on your site, perhaps even in the menu so that it appears no matter which page a visitor is on.
If your website has a .CA domain, it automatically tells visitors that your business is Canadian. It will also help your results rank better in local searches. Including information about what markets you serve can set expectations as well. Let's say you run a bakery that delivers cakes – there are obvious geographic limitations to who you can accept as a customer. You will probably want to indicate on your website that you can only accept orders within a certain area.
In addition to providing this information on your website, you should also review and add information to your Google My Business profile.
4. Contact information
As a growing business, you don't want to turn away potential prospects by making it difficult to get in touch with you. You never know who might find you — through someone sharing a link or finding you by searching keywords — and what opportunities your website can offer to your business.
With most website builders, adding in a simple form can help you field and organize your contact requests. This will give you more structure than just publishing a contact email address and phone number.
A picture can say a thousand words, but not all images are created equal. Investing in your own custom imagery of your products, office, and staff can do a lot to humanize your business.
If you don't go the custom imagery route, there are plenty of free or inexpensive stock image resources out there — just be sure to adhere to any copyright rules they have.
6. Social media accounts
You don't have to be present on all platforms, but building a social media presence can give you a competitive edge and almost be a necessity in many industries. If you have a company Facebook Page, Twitter profile, or other social media account, don't keep them as silos — integrate them into your website by including links and asking your web visitors to connect with you.
7. Testimonials / reviews
Reaching out to a few key customers to ask for a testimonial can go a long way in building a brand reputation. Often asking for a quote and the permission to publish it is all you need.
8. A call to action
Once you successfully get visitors to land on your site, you should include a call to action that helps you connect with customers and grow your business such as a newsletter sign up form, or to follow your business on social media.
It's a good investment of your time to publish basic information on your website as you get your business up and running. It will help you spread awareness of your business and products/services and could lead to new opportunities. As your business grows, your website can too, both in the complexity of its features and the amount of content you put on it.