Staying on top of search engine optimization (SEO) best practices ensures your self-storage website has a better chance at being served up to a potential renter on a search engine results page (SERP). Here’s the trick: What a search engine algorithm looks for in a website changes over time. It’s up to you to ensure your website stays up to date and relevant.
Earlier this year, Google rolled out its page-experience update. Let’s go over why this matters and how to align your website with the new release.
Change Is Inevitable
If you want to connect with today’s instant-everything consumers, your self-storage business needs to be where they are: online. That means having a smooth, intuitive website that serves up the most requested information when potential customers need it.
Search engines like Google use algorithms to understand which websites they should recommend to searchers. If you tailor your website to align with the qualities they look for, it sends them a message that your business is trustworthy. You’ll have a higher chance of meeting user needs.
Unfortunately, tailoring your self-storage website—that is, making sure it’s built with SEO in mind—isn’t a “one and done” deal. As technology evolves, so do best practices for creating a frictionless user experience. Algorithm changes are inevitable and important. Imagine if Google hadn’t moved past the practice of keyword stuffing? Think how unhelpful that would be to online searchers today!
The foundational ethos behind the updated Google algorithm isn’t necessarily new. The search giant has worked for many years to provide searchers with the most relevant information. It gives the top SERP slots to websites that are known to answer user questions, as it finds them to be the most trustworthy.
While this focus on user experience isn’t off-brand for Google, the new algorithm changes the factors a search engine deems important and worthy in your self-storage website. The company claims its page-experience signal will “measure aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. Optimizing for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. We believe this will contribute to business success on the web as users grow more engaged and can transact with less friction.”
That is about as clear as mud. So, let’s dive into which parts of the “old” algorithm are sticking around and review details of the “new” one.
Here to Stay
Google’s previous algorithm prioritized SERP ranking based on characteristics called Core Web Vitals (CWV). These are user-centric metrics Google used to measure the quality of a web experience. Specifically, they are:
Loading. The amount of time it takes for the largest elements of a web page to load, signaling to the user that the site is working. Speed is often a tradeoff between beautiful branding and the ability to show off all the features of your self-storage properties and presenting the visuals quickly enough to meet people’s ever-shrinking attention spans.
Interactivity. This relates to how quickly a user can engage with your website content. It differs from loading because it considers the time it takes users to click or interact with a piece of information. Both loading and interactivity share Google’s focus on the value of making a good first impression to online visitors by being quick and responsive.
Visual stability. Have you ever opened a website and accidentally clicked on an annoying pop-up because the content shifted? What a maddening experience! This is why Google measures visual stability, putting websites with fewer surprises and a more stable user interface in higher SERP rankings.
The bottom line is Google prioritizes it’s high SERP recommendations for websites with excellent user experience and trustworthy information. The accompanying diagram offers a visual reference of all the search signals Google considers with its new page-experience algorithm. As you can see, loading, interactivity and visual stability make up the CWV component. Keep reading to learn about the new search signals Google will consider moving forward.
In With the New
In addition to CWV, the new Google algorithm will look for website qualities including mobile-friendliness, browsing safety, HTTPS and lack of interstitials (pop-ups). Let’s address each, particularly how to ensure your self-storage website is following best practices.
Mobile-friendliness. It seems obvious, but having a truly mobile-first website is key to connecting with on-the-go, on-the-scroll customers. What does this mean? The structure and navigation should be adapted for mobile devices. For example, a video might be used for desktop browsing, but a smaller (thus lighter!) static image is presented to searchers using their phones. This allows for faster loading and a better user interaction.
Browsing safety. Cybercrime and malicious websites are real, and Google doesn’t want to recommend them. So, in the new algorithm, for a website to earn a high SERP ranking, its content can’t be considered malicious, misleading or virus-ridden.
HTTPS. This lets users know they’re safe to visit a website and the information entered during a form fill is protected. When someone is deciding where to store their belongings, they want to know their stuff will be safe. This includes material stuff, like their sofa, as well as the information they type into your form. Having a secure website is one way to communicate that you take their online safety seriously.
No intrusive interstitials. This is a fancy way of saying “no pop-ups.” This ranking factor examines your website to see if it’s clear of annoying ads and other elements that make for a poor user experience.
So, what’s the big-picture takeaway here? First, Google will continue to examine its algorithm by user experience moving forward and make updates as necessary. Rather than revising your self-storage website with a few checklist items, it’s important to think of SEO through the lens of the customer. Your site needs to be intuitive and build trust with prospects. Here are a few broad qualities to think about:
- Be clear and useful. If your website’s calls to action are clear, visitors can easily understand how to navigate and find information. A “rent now” button that leads to your online leasing tool is useful for someone looking to rent a 10-by-10 unit during a short lunch break.
- Be localized. Follow local SEO keyword strategies to connect with customers.
- Be accessible. It’s vital that your website is accessible to searchers of all abilities, regardless of how they access it and what assistive technology they use.
- Be trustworthy and valuable. When searchers visit your website, you’re taking up their most limited resource—time and attention. They want a return on their investment. In other words, they expect your website will answer their questions and provide accurate information.
Change is inevitable, especially when it comes to digital marketing. Staying on top of it is vital to your self-storage website performance and ability to rank high in online searches.
Megan Geiss is the director of digital strategy for G5, a provider of digital marketing solutions to the self-storage industry. It’s a predictive marketing software-as-a-service company that uses artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies to help marketers amplify their impact. With more than 25 years of marketing experience, Megan leads the company’s team of organic and paid-search experts. For more information, call 800.554.1965 or email [email protected].