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 search

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.


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.


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.
  • 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.



  • Norm Hinderliter, August 19, 2015 @ 10:08 am

    If ONLY these articles were written for the understanding, of the “average” person, that would be fantastic. At present, though, these “articles” are use-LESS, to anyone without a computer programming degree, or a Ph.d. Sad, but TRUE.

  • Nicole Black, August 20, 2015 @ 9:28 am

    Great article Andrew! One question though. At what point would it be useful to target a broader location for a storefront business, or would it be useful at all? Say for a business in Orem targeting the Orem/Provo area or even all of Utah County. Would the need for very specialized services be the biggest driving factor here?

  • Jamison Michael Furr, August 20, 2015 @ 1:20 pm

    Maybe I can help, @normhinderliter:disqus. What specific things from this article are confusing to you? I’ll try to help explain them 🙂

  • Norm Hinderliter, August 21, 2015 @ 9:49 am

    Jamison Michael Furr: The problem, that I have, with these articles, is that NONE of the content is written for regular people. I can NEVER find ANY directions which say “Press Here”, “Enter site name”, “enter site content”, “enter owners information”, and so on.

    All that these articles ever show is “Enter inter-spacial configurations”, “multi-lateral conversion symetrics”, and other terms, which ONLY computer programmers, and Ph.d’s understand.

    What the general public needs is instructions, which are simplified, to:

    Step 1) Enter site name
    Step 2) Enter owners information
    Step 3) Enter site content
    Step 4) Presss ENTER, to place site on-line.

    But, ofcourse, programmers have NO INTENTION of making directions this simple. I really think that programmers ENJOY making the rest of us feel like mental retards.

    I need directions, which someone, with just a high school education, can understand. Not the post-doctorate stuff, which is, currently, on-line.

    I hope this explains the matter, more clearly, to you.

  • Jamison Michael Furr, August 21, 2015 @ 4:19 pm

    I definitely understand what your concerns are. We do have some articles that are more specific “how to” articles, but some articles, like this one, area little more top level. We are currently working on a lot of “how to” videos and tutorials that we will be releasing which should prove more useful to you.

    If you ever have specific questions, you can simply ask in the comments and we can give specific instructions on anything you’re wondering about. Was there anything specific from this article that you would like specific instructions on how to do?

    The main point of this article is that on your website you could try including more text that talks about what you specialize in. For instance, if you have a landscaping website, be sure to include some specific things you do as well – like fertilizing or weed whacking. By doing this, if someone goes to Google and searches for “weed whacking business” you would have a chance to show up in the search results for that search because you have included that kind of text on your website.

  • Norm Hinderliter, August 22, 2015 @ 9:53 am

    Well, sir, atleast I understood the END, of your answer, for which I am grateful. But I remain confused about the reason WHY these web-sites do not post ALL information, in the same text, which you used in your “For Instance”.

    Why do web-sites INSIST upon using only techno-babble, which ONLY computer programmers can understand? Why do web-sites REFUSE to write ALL materials, in the same form as you wrote your “For instance”, in?

    My own “For Instance” would be the “set up” directions, for such sites as A site, which claims to be “So simple, anyone can use it”, when, in fact, this advertising SHOULD say “So simple to use, anyone, with a Ph.d, in Computer Technology, can use it”

    By the way, Wix, and others, are NO better, at all. All that these sites keep asking is “What is your “platform”? “What is your “tag-line”?, what is your URL?

    For those, of us, who ONLY speak ENGLISH, these terms might was well be in Russian. Yet web-sites have, REPEATEDLY R-E-F-U-S-E-D to translate directions into plain, simple, English. The kind of English, I am using, here.

    Still, I THANK YOU for an answer, which is written in plain, simple, basic, English. If you can, ever, figure out the reason WHY web-sites REFUSE to use this exact same English, for their directions, let me know.

    I would LOVE to find a site, to set up a web-site, but with directions, which a high schooler, NOT a post-doctorate, in Computer Technology, can understand.

  • Caz*, August 23, 2015 @ 10:15 pm

    Great reply Jamison!

    Norm, we can definitely assist in pointing you to any details about questions you have. We’re happy to help walk our readers through anything they want to understand. We certainly have blog posts that are little higher-level for developers, such as our GoogleBot fix. Unfortunately, to fix an issue like that you have to have development experience and we would hope that any small business owner has a developer to lean on during those times. If they do not, we are happy to help fill that role. Many of our topics are basic business topics and discussions on online marketing. Again, if you have any specific questions we are happy to help!

  • Caz*, August 23, 2015 @ 10:19 pm

    Are you wanting to implement this article in a particular way that you’re not sure how to do? Such as, do you want to know how to update your website? Or, do you want to know how to apply for a Google Local Maps listing to list your storefront? We are happy to help if we understand what your underlying question is so we can point you to or create for you some more specific directions.

  • Norm Hinderliter, August 24, 2015 @ 9:32 am

    Caz, What annoys me, most, about these “articles” is that NONE of the content is in simple, basic, plain, everyday, ENGLISH. Everything is in “computer gibberish”, which ONLY computer programmers understand. For example: NO WHERE, on ANY of these sites, are the web-site creation tools listed in this way:

    Step 1) Enter site name
    Step 2) Enter owners personal/billing information
    Step 3) Enter site content
    Step 4) Press Enter/Submit

    And the web-site goes on line.

    Instead, all that these sites offer is some “foreign gibberish”, about “drag-and-drop”, “Interfacing protocols”, and a slew, of other terms, which NO one, except computer programmers, can understand.

    This is my problem, with these articles. NONE of the contents is written so that any one, with less than a Ph.d, can understand the contents.

    All I am asking for is a reason WHY these web-site creation tools REFUSE to post directions/instruction in the same English, which I am using, here.

    Dont worry, though, I know you wont answer this, since I have posted this same question, to dozens, of other people, and all have REFUSED to answer this question.

    Still, thanks for writing.

  • M Andrew Eagar, August 25, 2015 @ 10:07 am

    Nicole, great question. The simple answer to your question is yes, the biggest driving factor for a business targeting a larger area is specialty of service. The point in which a storefront business would target a more broad area should only occur after they have received the highest levels of success in their current area. There are usually many opportunities within the businesses current location that are missed and should be addressed first before targeting a larger area.

  • Drew Whitmill, August 25, 2015 @ 11:05 am

    One thing we find is clients being ok to target the more specific keywords but not wanting their website/page to also be specific with the service to that area. I would say for a website to see success they also need to optimize for relevancy (always the case but sometimes forgotten on niche local keywords)

  • Reliable Carpet & Upholstery C, September 4, 2015 @ 9:43 am

    I don’t disagree with your blog’s contents, but you don’t really address those store-front businesses that also provide a service at the customer’s residence or place of business. We are such a business, as might be a pizza company, a firm that sells and installs flooring or drapery, a realtor, etc. In such cases, a physical location can be optional from a customer perspective but necessary in order to have an office for the real estate records, store and display the drapery, prepare the pizza, or whatever. We, too, want to expand into new areas, and this is often quite a challenge.

  • Caz*, September 12, 2015 @ 10:34 pm

    Thank you for your feedback. That gives me some insight into the kind of information that should be provided. We are actually creating a very simple point-and-click version of creating your own website that will simplify it right down to those exact details you mentioned 1) site name, 2) address and billing, 3) content, 4) publish. Until then, the details of creating a site are unfortunately rather complicated, but that is what we are here to help you with!

  • Norm Hinderliter, September 15, 2015 @ 10:40 am

    I am happy to supply this information. As you can, obviously, tell, I am NO computer programmer. This is why my past seven attempts, at setting up a web-site, FAILED, disastrously. I simply do NOT understand this “language”, which programmers insist upon using. I do, however, wish you all the success, possible, in making your web-site more “friendly”, to those of us, without computer programming backgrounds. Have A nice day.

  • Maria Williams, September 17, 2015 @ 5:00 pm

    Wow Andrea this is a great Blog ! I feel that most of the time I come across some clients that want to rank outsite their own location but I think it is really important to remember and to ask the client if they have an specific service that they provide that make them special and people will be willing to travel.

  • Becca Watters (Vaughn), October 12, 2015 @ 11:48 am

    Andrew, I always love these articles about local listings! I know I am a bit late to this conversation, however I still love it! I often send my clients who want to know more about WHY we target local listings and SEO like we do over to the Booster Seat Halloween edition from last year. It really goes into some detail that is easy to follow, and very important. You put together this info so well, I am glad that I have another resource to send them to that will make it easy to understand.

    All in all, it is up to Google how they rank, however a good SEO agent will look into the value of the attempt, and find the very best approach/strategy. I think the way you have laid it out here is perfect for anyone, educated in SEO or not, to look over and learn more. Thanks, Andrew!

  • Kelly Shelton, October 30, 2015 @ 2:52 pm

    Great information Andrew. Would a business want to create a new website for their specialized services or just add a page to their current website to rank outside their local area? Do you recommend city pages as a potential SEO strategy?

  • TJ Mitchell, December 17, 2015 @ 12:13 pm

    Andrew I like this article a lot! The most important thing is being very honest with yourself about your business. If someone can find a comparable service much closer why would they travel to you? Focusing on what makes you different is going to give you the greatest chance of success to perform well outside of your local town.

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