Self-storage has changed a lot in the last five years. With so many new facilities popping up, it can be difficult for older businesses grow without an effective digital-marketing strategy. The competition is fresh and knows exactly how to influence the online market by leveraging technology, particularly Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) and search engine optimization (SEO).
Search-engine rankings are a crucial pain point that needs to be addressed to remain competitive in a saturating market. When a potential tenant searches for self-storage in your area, does your facility show up on the first page of Google results? Now that nearly 80 percent of Internet sessions take place on mobile devices, it’s important to have an in-depth understanding of evolving marketing strategies and website development. From improving the tenant experience with high-end, user-friendly software to helping search engines find and rank your website, the decisions you make today will affect how your business will perform tomorrow.
The key going forward is to continually improve your SEO performance and adopt innovative solutions like PWAs. Let’s take a closer look at both to see how—together—they can help you compete in an increasingly competitive market.
SEO and Outsourcing
SEO is the process that determines where your facility appears on Google and other search engines when someone looks for self-storage in your area. Think of it like your credit score. You may not understand every tiny detail of how it’s determined, but you can stay up-to-date on the best practices that keep your score high.
SEO practices are constantly changing, and without due diligence, it can be easy to fall behind the larger operators in your neighborhood. Some practices have been in use for years and are well-adopted by the industry’s reputable SEO specialists. With most operations already leveraging the basics, the trick to finding an edge lies in staying current with the latest Google updates. With market saturation at high and competition fierce, leveraging Google, which maintains nearly 90 percent of the search engine market, is a surefire way to ensure prospects will find you online.
For self-storage operators, it’s more important than ever to fully maximize SEO. Though every market is different, you can begin to set up your operation for increased growth and brand awareness by encouraging tenants to leave positive reviews on Google, Yelp and other websites. In addition, claim your facility’s Google My Business page. This allows you to take full control of the hours, contact information and company description that displays on Google or within Google Maps. Many industry SEO providers offer services that can enhance and optimize your profile, but claiming it and keeping it factually correct is the first crucial step.
When selecting an SEO provider, be wary of any company that promises specific ranking growth. No one can guarantee you’ll land in the first spot or even on the first page of results, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make every effort to improve your rank.
The Future of Online Rentals
PWAs are Google-developed applications that work similarly to traditional mobile apps but don’t require a user download from an app store or ongoing updates. In fact, they bypass built-in device app stores and are available to a much wider range of potential users. They’re also SEO-indexable, meaning they show up on Google and other search engines. This is a crucial feature that sets them apart from traditional mobile apps, which don’t show up on search engines.
Even if you don’t know the term “Progressive Web Apps,” that doesn’t mean you haven’t used one. A PWA looks and feels like a normal website when used on a desktop computer, so you may not have even noticed. Twitter, Uber and even “Forbes” magazine all use PWA software to increase engagement and conversions. In fact, when “Forbes” switched to a PWA, its impressions went up 10 percent and overall engagement rate doubled!
Another advantage of PWAs is they use up to 25 times less device storage than mobile apps and are, on average, 15 times faster to load. This makes them an appealing option for users who may be worried about space or data use on their devices.
In self-storage, PWAs are the future of online rentals. When combined with a successful online rental tool, they provide an all-in-one solution. Still, despite their accessibility and search-engine advantages, PWAs are only as effective as the rental tool you offer on your facility website. So, before you upgrade, you need to ensure that tool meets your needs and provides tenants with a great experience.
Power in Combo
When a PWA is combined with expert SEO, search rankings can flourish. A well-built PWA should be fast and easy to navigate, which are two critical functions Google looks for and values when determining search rankings. To be clear, there isn’t a direct link between PWAs and improved SEO. Rather, the technology on which PWAs are built incorporates many of the features Google favors when determining rankings.
Other features PWAs use to improve SEO are high-end security, responsive design for a seamless experience across devices and compatibility with all browsers. These are vital pieces to your SEO success. If a traditional mobile app isn’t compatible with a device, the user won’t be able to access any of its features or complete the self-storage rental process. The ability to work across all devices means PWAs appeal to a larger audience than traditional mobile apps, which are only compatible with mobile devices and are often dependent on the specific app store through which they are downloaded.
Combining a PWA with a comprehensive SEO plan can help drive revenue growth by making it easier for prospects to find your self-storage facility and rent a unit. It’s estimated that more than half of all Web traffic originates from organic search results. If your operation isn’t shining on search-engine results pages, it’s safe to assume potential leads are finding other facilities instead of yours.
Take the Leap
If your website isn’t already a PWA, make that the first step to improve your customer experience, software and online presence. Once you’ve got an expert-built PWA design, hand off the SEO functions to experts. While you can perform SEO on your own, a professional is more likely to drive clear, positive results. Select a provider that specializes in self-storage and doesn’t outsource its services. Ensuring the company performs its own work allows you to directly talk to and learn from those who are maintaining and updating your website. In many cases, your SEO provider and website developer can be the same company, which helps create a cohesive digital presence.
Adopting a PWA strategy and improving SEO are great first steps to protect against market saturation. Together, they can help increase self-storage occupancy rates and overall revenue. When it comes to successfully leveraging technology, staying ahead of the curve is the key to success in 2020 and beyond.
Laura Gattis is a marketing specialist for The Storage Group, a provider of self-storage marketing and technology services including website design, search marketing and industry Progressive Web Apps. She earned a master’s degree in media innovation from the University of Nevada. Her expertise lies in social media management, digital marketing and strategic communications. For more information, visit www.storageinternetmarketing.com.