By Katelyn Murray
As a self-storage operator, there are a number of free and critical ways for you to increase your facility's local exposure online. Using some very basic search tactics, your local presence and brand identity can grow online and attract more business. Here are five basics you should be employing to improve your presence in local searches.
Local Level 1: Local SEO
SEO is short for search-engine optimization. A traditional approach to SEO uses keywords in a natural way to increase a websites visibility for search indexing by Google and Bing.
Using local keywords on your website helps search engines associate your business with a certain area, which in turn helps your customers find your service in their local vicinity.
For example, if you operate a self-storage facility in Amityville, N.Y., youll want to incorporate the words self-storage in Amityville, New York on your website, in addition to the surrounding cities you serve. Now lets dig a little deeper.
Local Level 2: Google+ Local
Even if you dont have a Gmail account, your business should probably have a Google+ Local account. Google+ Local allows you to list your business, get reviews from loyal customers and friends, and is returned in local mobile searches.
In addition, Google+ Local allows you to see a candid down version of what your customers really think when they're leaving reviews about their experience with your self-storage facility. You can also interact with them, respond to their concerns, and make your business that much better in the long run.
Local Level 2.5: Google+
Much like Google+ Local, Google+ is another important social-media profile to claim. Google+ is very much like other social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. The big difference, however, is Google+ signals are slowly impacting Googles search results.
For example, your potential customers likely search for products and services when signed into Google. When a user searches for self-storage in Amityville, Google returns active Google+ pages matching that criteria in its search results.
This means the more you do there, the better. So, if you use any social media to market your business at all, make it Google+. This is currently the only social network that has any bearing on your search-engine ranking over time.
Local Level 3: Claim Your Business on Free Review Sites
Claiming your business on review sites such as Yelp, Angies List, City Search and more is something every local business owner should do. Not only do customers regularly use these tools to find services in their local area, these sites allow them to leave reviews about their experiences with local businesses. This is another golden opportunity to publicly respond to reviews about your facility, good or bad. In fact, youll want to monitor these regularly.
At the same time, you should encourage fans of your business to log onto consumer review sites like Yelp and Angies List so they can spread positive reviews about your business. This lends you credibility and helps you connect with new customers.
Local Level 4: Social Media
Managing a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Linkedin can be a time-consuming task. However, these are necessary platforms your business must take an active local role in at some point. Getting your local search up to snuff demands that you be at least semi-active in social-media circles.
Not only does social media provide another channel for search engines and your customers to find you, it allows you to engage on a personal level with your existing and potential customers and build credibility by sharing content and your story. Now, heres where things get really great for your local visibility.
Local Level 5: Mobile-Friendly Website
Fifty percent of all local searches are done via a mobile device. If youre a local business, your website should follow the best practices in mobile Web design, which includes making your core info such as hours and address, easily accessible and dialing back your use of video and large images on your homepage. Some businesses even go as far as creating a mobile version of their website to cater to smartphones and tablets.
There are more opportunities for your business to arrive and thrive in local search. However, try and make the basics work for you, then adopt some higher level approaches into your marketing strategy. Youll soon be on your way to gaining more local visibility for your business online.
Katelyn Murray is a marketing manager with EZ Storage, a self-storage facility with three locations in the Boston-metro area including Framingham, Natick and Newton. For more information, visit www.ezstoragenow.com.