The Basics of Paid Search for Self-Storage Operators
By Scott Dodge
There’s no doubt paid search is a popular tactic to generate interest in your business. According to a recent study by eMarketer, the amount spent on paid search is expected to grow 27 percent from 2011 to 2012, representing a shift from $15.36 billion to $19.51 billion. By 2016, paid search is estimated to hit $30 billion.
Needless to say, if you haven’t considered using paid search for your self-storage facility, it may be time to give it a look. Our client, EZ Storage, sees quite a good deal of competition in the paid-search realm, especially in larger metro areas.
If the concept of paid search confuses you, worry not as you’re not alone. Between the various providers, cold calls, display methods and bid models, making an informed decision on where to focus your hard-earned advertising budget can be quite a daunting task. It’s important for you to know the facts about your options for paid search. Let’s go in depth a bit more on the various providers, as well as the tactic itself.
An Overview of Paid Search
Generally speaking, paid search is an umbrella term for most forms of Internet advertising. Specifically, paid search refers to a method of presenting you, the searcher, with an ad based on the content or intent of your search.
As the advertiser, you’re able to select in which keywords you’d like your ad to show. Within this umbrella, though, are many different players in the market, which differ in many key elements, such as their:
- Market share. How many potential eyeballs are out there? How do they compare to the competition?
- Business model. Are you, the advertiser, charged for placement, or are you charged per click?
- Display method. How do these providers determine whether or not to show your ad?
These are all key elements you need to know before you begin to plan your advertising budget.
In addition, there are several major players from which to choose. As always, Google dominates this arena. The search giant’s Adwords product has a stunning 74.4 percent market share. Who has the next largest market share? That would be Bing, at 7 percent, followed by Yahoo! At 6.7 percent. Bringing up the rear is AOL, with a 1.5 percent share. Other various advertisers make up the remaining 10.4 percent.
Typical Business and Display Methods
The majority of paid-search providers work off of a “cost-per-click” model. This means you, the advertiser, are charged a certain rate only when a user clicks on your advertisement. This rate is determined by a relatively complex bid model.
A good deal of Yellow Pages websites use a similar model, but many also use a paid-placement model. As searches on Yellow Pages websites are generally of local intent, you’ll usually pay for your ad to be shown for certain keywords in certain local areas. For example, if you searched YellowPages for “Self-Storage in Philadelphia, PA,” you’d generally be shown a few advertisements for self-storage facilities in the Philadelphia area.
As these two models differ greatly in how they deliver your message and how you’re charged, it’s important to know the difference between them.
Determining What’s Best for Your Facility
There’s no right—or wrong—answer for which site or model is the best, but it’s generally accepted that Google’s Adwords product is the place to be. They have the market cornered and offer a relatively affordable advertising solution for the self-storage market.
Yellow Pages advertising is generally on the decline, despite what many of networks say. It’s a fact that costs have risen and market share has dropped significantly. If you’re currently focusing the majority of your advertising budget on Yellow Pages advertising, now may be a good time to start looking at other options.
As most local markets in the self-storage industry vary in competition, it’s important to take a look at your competitors and see where they advertise. By comparing your strategy against your competitors, you’ll be able to determine the right strategy for your facility.
Scott Dodge is a search-engine marketer for EZ Storage, which operates 14 locations nationwide. His expertise spans search-engine optimization, paid search and social media. His experience within the self-storage industry has helped him create unique marketing approaches to other clients in niche industries. For more information, visit www.ezmini.com .
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