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Google Changes and Your Self-Storage Facility’s Mobile Website

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By Sam Hook

For years, experts have stressed the importance of having a mobile-optimized website for your self-storage business. Updating your website to ensure it performs well on mobile devices as well as desktop computers is significant. But we’ve finally reached the tipping point on this issue. How your site displays and performs on mobile devices is now more important than how it does on desktops. You can no longer think of your website as a desktop platform that works on mobile. Rather, you should consider it a mobile website that also works well on a desktop.

Google has always been at the forefront of understanding how users interact with the Web. In this article, we’re going to cover some of the search engine’s major changes over the past couple of years that demonstrate the shift from desktop to mobile and how they could affect your business moving forward.

An Increase in Mobile Searches

Google announced in 2015 that it tallies more searches by people using mobile devices than desktop. A more recent study from intelligence-gathering platform Hitwise puts the figure at 58 percent. It seems likely from trend data that the figure has increased.

Searches from mobile devices are even more important for self-storage companies than many other industries because a third of mobile searches have local intent, according to Search Engine Land, a source of search engine industry news and trends. “Local intent” means a person is searching for something related to a location, e.g., “storage near me,” or “storage in Phoenix.”

Google’s Changes

Google is as a critical source of traffic to your website, so you need to pay attention to any changes it makes. The company has been trying to get business website owners to move toward mobile optimization for years. Here are some of the things it’s done to encourage the transition:

Accelerated mobile pages (AMP). This is a Google-backed project that provides a way for website owners to create pages that load quickly on mobile. How? By limiting the page content to little other than the main subject. The aim of AMP is to make browsing more pleasant for people who are using data on their phone. If you’ve started to implement AMP and want to know that you have everything set up correctly, you can use Google’s AMP Test.

Mobile-friendly update. In April 2015, Google released the first version of its mobile-friendly update. This was a simple pass-fail test. Google looks over your site and checks whether it’s mobile friendly per certain factors. If your website doesn’t pass, Google won’t rank it as highly in the search results when someone is searching on a mobile device. Google updated this again in May 2016 to boost the effect.

My company recently completed a study to determine approximately how many self-storage companies passed this test. About 18.3 percent of U.S. and 31 percent of U.K. storage websites failed. It’s likely this is an underestimate, and a higher portion of all storage sites would fail. If you want to check how your own site performs, you can use Google's Mobile-Friendly Test. However, it’s been brought up recently that you can pass the test yet still be labeled as not mobile-friendly if your site takes too long to load.

Mobile-first index. This is the most important change, though it hasn’t yet been released at the time of this writing. With this change, Google is going to look at your site as if it’s being searched by a mobile user. This is essentially Google saying your mobile site is more important to it than your desktop site. Why make this change? Companies sometimes show users different content depending on the device they’re using. Considering most searches are now done via mobile, Google wants to know its serving the best results for this majority.

These changes demonstrate how mobile is now more important than desktop for your storage company’s website. That means making sure your website displays correctly on mobile devices but also optimizing it for users and search engines. If you don’t keep up to date with the way things are progressing, you’re going to get left behind!

Sam Hook and his brother, Ben, co-founded The Storage Agency, a digital-marketing agency that helps self-storage companies maximize their online exposure. The company provides website design, public relations, online marketing and link-building. For more information, visit https://storage.agency.

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