Can A Storefront Business Rank Outside Its Physical Location?

Can A Storefront Business Rank Outside Its Physical Location?

Can A Storefront Business Rank Outside Its Physical Location?

As a local digital marketer, I get a lot of questions from businesses on how to expand their reach across the web. How can they increase their traffic to their store to increase overall business success? For many storefront businesses like dentists, doctors, grocery stores, etc. they (like you) have already reached success in their location and you want to target other areas outside their city.

Is this possible? Can a storefront business find success at targeting locations outside its own? In short the answer is…YES! Now I know, you are excited but approach with caution. To have success, you need to consider the following about your customers.

Customers are only willing to travel so far for a given service

Customers are typically willing to travel further for more specialized services

Customers are only willing to travel so far for a given service

With the millions of local based searches and clicks on Google each day, you can guess that Google knows a lot about searcher behavior. One of the aspects Google understands is how far a searcher (potential customer) is willing to travel for a given service. Twitter bird icon Not only can Google judge how far customers are willing to travel to your location, but they will adjust the ranking of websites by ranking businesses that are closer to the customer first.

Understanding this is very important. For storefront businesses, it is the case that you cannot rank for any area you want…only those areas that are appropriate for your users. Let’s look at a dentist located in Orem Utah. As you can see, even the competition in Orem is pretty tough. There are quite a few dentists located here.

Dentist_in_Orem

This dentist would like to target a different city outside it’s physical location. They would like to target Lehi, a city in Utah only 10 miles away. One might think that searchers in Lehi looking for a dentist might be willing to travel 10 minutes to a dentist right? Not in this case. As you can see in the map below, a searcher in Lehi would pass dozens of dentists to travel to our friend in Orem. Users are not typically willing to travel past several competing businesses.

Dintsist_targeting_Lehi_but_located_in_Orem

This doesn’t mean that our Orem dentist can’t target Lehi. It just means that our strategy for targeting will have to be a bit different. That is what the second point to remember comes in handy.

Customers are typically willing to travel further for more specialized services.

You are a store front business. Your only limitation is your customer’s willingness to travel to your location. The distance users are willing to travel to your business is mostly due to the number of businesses that do that service.

My wife and I experienced this only a couple months ago. Brecken and I have been working with a doctor on Infertility. To find a doctor we wanted one that would work with our insurance but is also conveniently close. In doing a Google search, we found a doctor in the same city we lived in. Upon visiting our doctor, he told us to get an MRI. We found ourselves at a computer again, and the Google search results found a hospital in the next city over that provided MRI services.

After getting results from the MRI, the doctor was concerned that Brecken might have cancer. He advised that we get a biopsy. At this point, we were not concerned with the location of the clinic as we were about getting our biopsy results quick. We found a clinic that did biopsy’s but was nearly 20 miles away. Regardless of the distance we went ahead and got a biopsy.

The good news from this story is that Brecken doesn’t have cancer. Another note to this is that we were willing to travel further for the more specialized services. That concept is the same for any store front business. So the question is, how can you be found and deemed as a specialist and get traffic from areas outside your physical location. What can you do to get traffic from other areas?

The answer is simple. Specialize. You need to specialize your current services to get customers to be willing to travel further for your business. Twitter bird icon Take our Orem dentist example. One area of specialty this customer could have is a specialty with children. If you modify the search from general dentistry to “kid dentists” the # of competitors changes dramatically.

Kids_Dentist_targeting_Lehi_but_located_in_Orem

Because kids dentistry is a more specialized service, there are fewer competitors meaning that customers (out of necessity) need to travel further and are more likely to travel to your location.

Here are a couple ideas to on how a business can specialize:

  • Offer something for FREE. Whether it is a free physical exam for a doctor’s office, free consultation or anything. By offering something for FREE, you can attract users from surrounding cities. People are willing to travel to services that are saving them some money. Twitter bird icon
  • Specialize within your Current Services. If you are an auto repair shop can you work on certain vehicles that are more rare or specialized?

 

Once you have found those areas that you can expand and specialize the last step is to make sure that information can be clearly identified on your website. Putting it on your website will allow all other viewers of the web to find you.

I hope you found this useful and not discouraging. I have implemented the above strategy on several local store front businesses and have seen huge success. You can find the same success if you follow the steps I outlined.

Andrew Eagar
[email protected]

The Director of SEO Strategies for Boostability, Andrew is an internet marketing enthusiast with several years of SEO Experience. Helping small businesses find success online is passion of his, as is spending time with his family and watching Parks & Recreation reruns.