Six Crucial Ways to Take Your Local Business to the Web

By Robert Hake, CEO and Founder of

Are you making the jump from local business to E-commerce site? It’s not as hard as you might think, although it’s by no means an easy process. When I took my business –Outdoor Innovations, a local custom gear shop – to the web, I went through many careful considerations, consulting friends, business partners and customers alike.

Finally, I decided on setting up E-shop at, where customers can now design their very own custom gear and apparel, and order from anywhere across the country. E-commerce helped launch us from a suburban office into our fantastic downtown Detroit warehouse space, and we couldn’t be happier with our online success.

These days, it’s strange for a business to lack a solid web presence. If you have a beautiful brick-and-mortar storefront but don’t have a website or even a Google My Business page, you can miss valuable customers. Here are a few things I considered when taking my local business to the web.

Strong domain name

How strong will your business’ URL be? Make sure your domain name is short, reflects your business and is easy to remember. Do your due research and conduct a quick Google search. Does any other company have a similar branding or name? Are the search results something you would feel comfortable populating side-by-side with your business’ site?

Before you commit to building your site on that domain name, make sure it is user-friendly, evokes the right image, and fits your branding.

Target SEO keywords

What keywords are relevant to your business? Compile a list of the keywords you want to target and be sure that they appear in your site’s title tags, H1 and body text. By optimizing your site for SEO, you can help users find their way to your site.

Targeting your SEO keywords will also help you stay on track with your messaging so your text will be as relevant and useful as possible.

Design site graphics

Now that you have your content planned out, work out your site’s design and graphic layout. You want to make your site visually engaging and appealing to the user, so choose a few colors to build a theme, and stick to a simplistic look.

When your site’s design is visually appealing, this will encourage users to stay on the site for longer and explore more pages. Use meaningful visuals and insert personality into your site while aligning with your brand image.

Spread the word

Once your site is up and running, it’s time to tell the world about it. Let your business partners know, send an email notification out to previous customers and advertise across the web. When I took business to, I spread the word among people who had bought Outdoor Innovations gear before.

Customer loyalty can go a long way – my customers were excited to share the MyLocker site with their friends and family who lived a few states away. Now they too could buy customized gear, right from their laptops.

Enhance social media presence

Social media is the most popular and efficient way to enhance your online presence. Whether you already have a social media account or if you are just getting started, connecting to your users is one of the best ways to create brand loyalty and engagement.

Stay relevant online, and use sincere content marketing to generate interest among your followers. If you can accumulate a large social following, you can draw more traffic to your site and help users to understand your business better.

Keep up

This is an extremely crucial step to taking your business to the web, yet when people do it right, it goes unnoticed. Have you ever browsed a website and scrolled all the way down, only to see ‘Copyright 2013’ at the bottom? Neglecting to update your site or letting fresh technology pass you by are grave mistakes.

Seeing an outdated and archaic site may deter the user, so it’s best to keep your site looking modern and user-friendly. Give your site a makeover every two years or so, and make sure it looks as engaging today as it did in 2013.  You put all that hard work into bringing your local store to the web – don’t let all that effort go to waste!

Robert Hake is the Founder and CEO of, an E-commerce store for custom gear and apparel. Robert is a proud Michigan native and entrepreneur, and a winner of the Entrepreneur of the Year awards for the Michigan and Ohio region.

Categories: Best Practices Guest contributors Media PR/MARKETING Technology


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