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Boosting Your Self-Storage Business SEO: Website Performance and User Experience

People love to shop online, and they loved it even more during the pandemic, thus raising the stakes for business online search rankings. As a self-storage operator, you should be invested in your search engine optimization. Here are some ways to give it a boost.

Al Harris

October 7, 2022

7 Min Read
Boosting Your Self-Storage Business SEO

Having a website for your self-storage business is one thing; getting people to find it is another. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in. As consumers increasingly go online to search for self-storage units and other things they need, it’s more important than ever to get your SEO right.

During the pandemic, people increasingly turned to the internet for shopping and entertainment, which caused a mass expansion in e-commerce. People want to do business online, even in self-storage. Over the past two years, the number of customers leads that come from web sources has grown, while walk-ins have declined. This trend has put a renewed emphasis on industry websites and ways to outrank competitors. The goal is to land at the top of a search-engine results page (SERP), since the first and second positions command more than 50% of total click-throughs.

The traditional tactics of mastering title tags, meta descriptions and keyword-rich content remain key components of any effective SEO strategy. However, there’s another factor often overlooked in self-storage that’s emerged as a major differentiator: the online user experience (UX). Customers now expect more from your website than hours of operation and contact information. They want to check your unit inventory, rent a space, sign a lease and make payments. They even expect to be able to do this using their mobile device. If your website can’t support these functions, prospects will move on to a competing website that can.

If you want to boost your SEO, this article will help. We’ll look at critical factors to evaluate and how to improve both your self-storage website performance and UX.

The Impact of UX

When it comes to determining organic rankings in the current search environment, UX has become an important consideration. Put simply, when a user visits your self-storage website and finds what they’re looking for, Google understands that your website should rank higher in search and that it should send more visitors to you. However, if that web user wants to reserve a storage unit online and can’t, they’ll “bounce back” to the SERP and continue their quest.

Though bounce rate isn’t a direct ranking factor, a high rate is an indicator that your website isn’t serving the needs of its visitors. It’s often accompanied by other issues Google examines to determine rankings, many of which are discussed below. Bottom line: A better user experience will boost your SEO. Here are a few areas on which to focus:

Page speed. This is the amount of time it takes to load all of the content on a web page. It’s also known as “time to first byte,” or how long it takes for a web browser to receive the first byte of data from your host service.

Among all UX factors, page-load speed is perhaps the most impactful when it comes to improving SEO. Web developers widely believe that Google uses this metric to rank your website. Slow loading is “painful” for users, while a fast-loading site wins major brownie points with the search engine. You can check your page-speed statistics by using the Google PageSpeed Insights tool.

Fixing page speed often requires some degree of technical expertise. However, one simple thing you can do is make sure any photos you use on your website aren’t larger than necessary.

An image width between 500 and 1,000 pixels is ideal. In addition, make sure images are in the proper format. Use PNG files for graphics and JPG files for photographs.

User-friendly design. Having a well-designed self-storage website with easy-to-read text and straightforward navigation is essential if you want to land in the top tier of search results. The better designed your site is, the longer users will stay. Similar to bounce rate, time on site is a good indicator of the quality of your UX.

Mobile optimization. Approximately 50% of all web traffic comes from mobile devices. If your website is designed solely with desktop users in mind, half of your visitors are likely having a terrible experience. Use a mobile-responsive design, so no matter what device a visitor uses to access your website, it’ll display properly.

Page stability. Have you ever visited a website and noticed some of the page elements move around before you can click on what you want? Frustrating, isn’t it? Google measures how frequently these unexpected shifts occur using a measure called cumulative layout shift. These and other types of glitches are usually the result of improper coding or outdated plug-ins. Ensuring your pages are up-to-date and routinely checked for these types of errors will help you provide the best UX.

Online rentals. When it comes to evaluating your website, Google wants to see high levels of engagement. The main indicators are time on page, bounce rate and click-through rate (a measure of how many users click on the link to your website from the SERP compared to how many see the link but don’t click on it). When potential tenants are using Google to search for self-storage, most are expecting to complete their transaction online. Google will likely show a preference to websites that offer online rentals because those are more likely to have better user-engagement scores.

Checking Your Page Experience Report

So, how do you know if your self-storage website is good or bad, and how can you make a good experience even better? Since Google has put great emphasis on UX to determine rankings, it also rolled out tools to help website owners evaluate performance. One of those is the Page Experience report, found in the Google Search Console, which provides insight to the technical factors Google uses to rate UX. They include:

  • Largest contentful paint: This is the amount of time it takes for a site to completely load the largest content element, such as a hero image.

  • Cumulative layout shift: I touched on this above. It’s a measure of unexpected movement among page elements.

  • First input delay: This measures the time between the moment a user clicks on an element (such as a “Reserve Now” button) and the time it takes to complete the response.

  • HTTPS security: HTTPS is a secure communication protocol you should be using for all of your web pages. You can check on your security through Google Chrome Help.

  • Absence of intrusive interstitials: Some pop-up dialogs are necessary, but annoying promotional ones that hinder navigation of your site can ding your search performance.

Putting It All Together

There are many aspects to a quality UX that can have a positive impact on your SEO. While some are easy for a novice to understand and accomplish, getting everything just right typically requires the aid of a competent web developer or team. Another option is to use a website platform with turnkey solutions for self-storage businesses. There are options that allow you to create a fully optimized website right out of the box, one with a tried-and-true UX that won’t hinder SEO performance.

Choosing a website provider that’ll fully integrate with your facility-management software can also provide enormous benefits. For example, integration enables you to provide up-to-date and accurate inventory information online without having to input it manually. This guarantees an excellent UX for site visitors and business operators.

Al Harris is the editor of Storage Beat and content manager at Storable, an Austin, Texas-based supplier of cloud-based access control as well as management software, marketing services, payment processing, website development and other services. He obtained his degree in journalism from Virginia Commonwealth University. He loves reading Elmore Leonard novels and listening to classic country music. For more information, call 888.403.0665; email [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Al Harris

Content Manager, Storable

Al Harris is the editor of the "Storage Beat" and content manager at Storable. Based in Austin, Texas, Storable is a provider of self-storage technology, delivering a full suite of products including management software, websites, access control, insurance, payment processing and an marketplace for renting self-storage units.

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