Google’s local pack, also known as the map pack or 3-pack, includes the top three listings and map that appear at the top of most location-based searches. It’s an important but often underutilized feature for self-storage businesses.
While most companies would love to be featured in the pack, getting there can be confusing and difficult depending on the level of competition in your area. After all, there are only three spots up for grabs! In this article, I’ll cover three strategies you can use to maximize your chances of landing in this group and drive more customers to your website.
1. Optimize Your GMB Profile
By far, the most important thing you can do to improve your position in search rankings and get you closer to the local pack is optimize your Google My Business (GMB) profile. A complete profile with all the correct information in the right places will lead to better rankings and improve customer perception of your business.
Review your current listing to ensure you’ve provided as much information as possible. This includes selecting the correct category for your storage business, providing current office hours, adding photos, and using the “more hours” feature to set your facility-access hours. You should also respond to any questions from online users about your operation.
It’s worth noting that companies that have keywords in their name tend to see a rank boost. For example, “Alabama Self Storage” will have a better chance of ranking than a nondescript name such as “MoreSpace.” However, this doesn’t mean you should force keywords into your name on GMB, as it might result in confusion, especially if you don’t use them consistently across all Web platforms. It could also violate Google’s terms and conditions.
2. Get More Reviews
Over the past few years, Google has increased the importance of reviews as a ranking factor for sites in the local pack. It’s more important than ever that you have a proper review-collection strategy in place. If you don’t ask your self-storage customers for reviews, you won’t get very many. Only a small percentage of customers will leave one without any prompting.
What to do. A good way to solicit reviews is to set up a short URL through GMB and share it with your customers. When they click on it, they can rate you and leave comments. You can also use this link in many other places, such as company emails and newsletters. Send a review request to customers once they’ve been with your self-storage facility for a few weeks. You can also print this short URL onto cards staff can hand out to new tenants.
What not to do. There are many ways to get reviews that can do more harm than good. Buying fake reviews is the most obvious, but there are others you might not have realized are against Google’s terms, such as:
- Review gating: This is when you check in with new customers and ask if they’re happy with your product or service, then only request a review from those who reply positively. This is against the rules. If you’re asking for reviews, you need to ask everyone, even if they aren’t fully satisfied.
- Incentives: You can’t pay someone to leave a review or offer them a discount to do so. Similarly, you can’t enter people into a competition if they leave a review.
- Review swaps: You can’t ask someone for a review with the understanding that you’ll review them in return.
3. Improve Your Website
There are three main components to this strategy:
Focus on keywords. The better your self-storage website targets your desired keyword terms, the better your chances for a good Google ranking. Ensuring you have good keywords in vital places on your website, such as in your title tags, content and internal navigation, will help Google understand what your page is about.
For consistency, it’s also important to ensure that your company name, address and phone number appear on your website in the same format used on your GMB listing. If you’ve undertaken a search engine optimization campaign, then most of these things will be covered already. If you haven't, take some actionable steps in this area.
Build more quality links. The links that point to your website from external websites can influence how well you perform in search rankings. Work on building more high-quality links to your website and facility-location pages. There are many ways to accomplish this, but start with any businesses, organizations, local directories or news publications with which you already enjoy a relationship. For example, if you sponsor a local sports team or support a local charity, ask for a link on its website.
Build key citations. Citations are listings on directory sites like Facebook and Yelp. They usually include a link to your website as well as your business name, address and phone number. (Again, be consistent!) Google will use this data to improve its confidence in the information you provided on your GMB. Citations are less important now than they were a few years ago, so it’s no longer worth it to scour the Internet for every directory out there. Instead, focus on the main directories as well as storage-specific ones, and you should be fine.
By using each of these three strategies, you should be much better positioned to break into the Google local pack and drive more traffic to your self-storage website. The higher the level of competition in your area, the more work you’ll need to do on each. Stick with it and the results should come.
Ben Hook is a marketing strategist at Storist, a digital marketing agency providing services exclusively to the self-storage industry. His website provides storage marketing advice and updates designed to help increase online visibility and occupancy rates. You can reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.