5 Tips to Help Self-Storage Operators Better Understand and Use SEO

Understanding search engine optimization takes practice and patience. Learn how to tackle this valuable marketing tool and attain the best results for your self-storage business with these five tips.

Recently, I’ve been focused on rebuilding my company’s website and digital presence. When I began this journey, the term “search engine optimization (SEO)” was just some abstract concept to me. I enrolled in college classes, read articles and engaged with vendors until I felt I had a good understanding of what it meant.

While I still think Google’s algorithms are part Magic 8 Ball, part black magic and some math, there are key points self-storage operators need to understand about SEO. I co-wrote this article with my associate, Julia Grignon, who’s an expert in the field of digital marketing, so we could combine my experience as a relative rookie with hers as an experienced account manager. We’ll try to give you a better picture of how to tackle SEO and attain the best results for your business.

SEO Tip 1: Practice Patience

Let’s say you recently opened an investment account. You completed your research, picked the right stocks and invested your money. Is it fair to say you’re not going to withdraw that money and retire off it the very next day? The same goes with SEO. There are mitigating and contributing factors, but overall, it can take months before you start to see significant changes in certain aspects of your program.

As with any financial investment, you need to actively monitor your efforts and make sure nothing changes for the negative. For it to truly grow over time, you also need to make regular contributions. The same concept applies to SEO. Regular website updates are required to meet the ever-changing algorithms of search engines and keep it running smoothly.

SEO Tip 2: Avoid Keyword Stuffing

Focusing primarily on keywords when it comes to website content is like Michael Bay directing another “Transformers” film. He concentrates on just one thing: the robots. He leaves out other important facets of a successful film such as plot, good acting and creativity.

Keyword volume will never be a substitute for good editorial content. You don’t want to pack your website with words that aren’t meaningful to the user. Keywords should be naturally peppered throughout your site, but they should also matter when Google starts to index your pages.

When writing website content, consider your audience. I wish Bay would understand this! Focus on the customer’s experience, both on Google and your website. Search engines will reward companies with increased brand visibility when they write for the user and focus on his experience. Senselessly loading your website with keywords won’t move the needle in your direction.

Keywords aren’t going away anytime soon. However, there may come a time when SEO as we know and understand it changes drastically. It’s entirely possible the power of the user experience will overshadow what most business owners currently understand as SEO.

SEO Tip 3: Use a Variety of Tools

A Swiss Army pocket knife is the ultimate survival tool because it contains a variety of blades, files, can openers and even a toothpick, all in a single self-contained unit. It’s been a favorite of mine for years. At first it was because of the TV character MacGyver (my adolescent hero), but later it was for its all-encompassing abilities.

Your SEO strategy should be multi-faceted like a Swiss Army knife. It’s essential to have a variety of tools at your disposal. Start with a good plan and extend it over a period of months, testing along the way. Focus on content and quality links to other websites. As you continue to build your arsenal, incorporate other aspects of SEO such as social media and paid search campaigns. You’ll soon discover, as I did, that this is just the beginning of what needs to be done.

SEO Tip 4: Jumpstart Your Strategy

Do you want to gain better visibility on Google Maps? Are you interested in buying the top spot on a search engine? There are simple things you can do to jumpstart your SEO.

Begin by claiming your Google My Business listing. Local search has become a pivotal factor to creating a successful online strategy, as most customers want to store within a few miles of their home or business.

Next, build trust with your audience. You can’t expect a prospect to believe your facility is the right choice without validation from current and past customers. This is where reputation management plays a role in connection with Google My Business. Positive reviews from tenants will add a competitive edge to your SEO strategy. Google factors your review rating into Maps placement. This is especially true if your goal is to appear in the premiums spots dubbed “three pack” or “snack pack” on the first page of search results.

SEO Tip 5: Think Like Your Customer

Shopping for storage has changed drastically in the age of mobile. Gone are the days of relying on Yellow Pages and drive-by traffic. Now the user is presented with a myriad of prices, specials and locations based on a single keyword search. As prospects sift through paid advertising, Google Maps listings and organic links, they’re thought process has a pathway. It’s your job to lead them to your facility.

Being that location, price and positive reviews play a key role in a user’s decision to store with you, what area do you need to work on the most? SEO is a delicate ecosystem. One decision could have a ripple effect that will ultimately affect your customer’s online experience. Ensuring that experience is positive is why it’s vital to measure and monitor your investment.

Rick Beal is the district manager and part owner of Cubes Self Storage in Salt Lake City. His goal is to help a historically slow-changing industry embrace new, innovative ideas. His professional motto is “Storage is a business of inches not miles.” He can be reached at [email protected] Connect with him on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/storagerick.

Julia Grignon is the marketing accounts manager at Automatit Inc., a provider of Web design and marketing services. With a background in creative writing and digital marketing, she works with customers to communicate online performance and educate on best practices. For more information, call 520.293.4608; visit www.automatit.net.

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