Remember before the internet when customers had to use their local phone book to find a business? Things are much different now. Online listings have almost completely replaced those paperback books and become a critical part of the self-storage digital-marketing strategy.
Based on recent statistics, 75% of online self-storage rentals and 77% of online reservations are driven through Google My Business (GMB). With 93% of consumers using the web to find local businesses and an average of 76% of self-storage consumers converting via local listings, it should be very clear that if you aren’t promoting your facilities online, you’re losing potential tenants.
If you’ve claimed your business listings, terrific! But it’s also critical to maintain them. When it comes to your online presence, it’s important to users that your information is up to date and accurate. Let’s take a look at five important ways to optimize your self-storage facility’s local business listings.
1. Be Accurate and Thorough
Have you ever searched Google or another search engine to see if a business is open, then arrived there only to find it closed? This can be extremely frustrating to potential customers. Trust is the No. 1 factor when it comes to retaining and growing your self-storage clientele, so review the location page on your website to ensure it matches what appears in your online business listings. Keep in mind that you can also schedule in advance any special hours or holiday adjustments within your listing account.
Attributes (amenities, useful tidbits, etc.) and categories are also ways to keep your listings up to date. There are hundreds of categories to from which to choose, and you can leverage this feature to distinguish your self-storage business from competitors. Attributes inform users about your operation. For example, you can share whether you offer free Wi-Fi, if your business is woman-led, or you have accessibility features. Not all attributes are available for every listing, but it’s a good idea to stay on top of any updates in case there are useful ones to add.
Pro tip: In Google My Business, you can distinguish between store hours and access hours.
2. Create a Keyword-Focused Description
Keywords aren’t going away as a factor in influencing search rank or click-through rate, which means it’s still crucial not to “keyword stuff” your self-storage business description. There are two areas in your listing where a description is displayed. You control what appears in the “from the business” section (the long description), but the short description under the business name is generated automatically by a Google algorithm based on your chosen category and the city in which your facility is located.
Pro tip: If the city that appears in the short description is incorrect, you’ll need to contact Google support to have it updated, as it can’t be manually edited.
3. Use Updated, Clear Images
According to Google, business listings that include images receive 42% more requests for directions than those that don’t. Including your logo helps users understand who you are and grows brand awareness. In self-storage, prices play a huge factor in consumer buying decisions; however, facility photos also play a critical role in that process.
Pro tip: To properly showcase your facilities and drive audience interest, include interior and exterior photos.
4. Leverage Google Posts and Products
Leveraging the “Posts” feature in your GMB listing is a great way to engage with customers and prospects. It’s easy to use and can be an effective communication tool. For example, during the pandemic, self-storage operators used posts to provide COVID-19 updates. Another way to use posts effectively is to include promotions or seasonal offerings.
“Products” is another useful feature that can help flesh out your listing and provide users a preview of available offerings prior to entering your website.
Pro tip: Upload unit sizes as “products” in your listings to allow users to immediately see a range of spaces available.
5. Monitor and Respond to Reviews
Last but certainly not least, let’s talk reviews, which remain a top factor in influencing self-storage customer buying decisions. According to BrightLocal’s 2020 Local Consumer Review Survey, 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020, up from 81% in 2019. The most important review factors include star rating, legitimacy, recency, sentiment and quantity. Only 48% of consumers would consider using a business with fewer than four stars.
Only reviews are an important aspect to your online listings because they help:
- Build trust with search engines
- Increase consumer engagement and return on investment
- Improve search engine optimization
- Teach customers about your business-to-consumer relationship
Leaving and responding to reviews is free! While positive posts are great for your business, it’s also important to have a strategy for negative reviews. GMB recently updated its flagged-review feature, which is currently available only to small-business operators but may be rolled out to larger ones as well.
There are many ways to encourage reviews, such as emailing your current customer list; but designate a person or a team who’ll be responsible for responding. Engaging the audience is just as important, if not more so, than simply receiving the reviews.
Pro tip: Encourage your facility staff to ask tenants for reviews.
Maximize the Opportunity!
Your online listings serve as the first impression many consumers have of your self-storage business. Beyond displaying your facility name, address and phone number, they offer many tools that can help you stand out from competition. Take some time to explore your listing platforms and use the tips and tricks above. You should discover new opportunities to improve the way your self-storage operation appears on a search engine results page.
Kim Greiner is the manager of search engine optimization (SEO) and local listings at Go Local Interactive, a digital-marketing agency specializing in customer-acquisition strategies. She leads a team that helps self-storage operators implement, manage and track marketing efforts down to the local level through SEO and local-listings management. For more information, call 913.689.3170.