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The Self-Storage Operator’s Guide to SEM, SEO and Online Visibility

Search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) are changing the way self-storage operators gain traction on the Web; and in a digital world, Internet presence is everything. Learn how these two strategies help you maximize your search-engine ranking and online exposure.

When you’re trying to obtain online exposure for your self-storage operation, maximizing your Internet presence is key. Over the next decade, the importance of Web visibility will only continue to increase.

Search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) are changing the way self-storage operators gain traction on the Web. In fact, SEO has become the main component to online presence, regardless of business size. It’s important that you understand these strategies and the reasons behind them. Let’s take a closer look at both and why they matter for the growth of your business.

Understanding SEM

SEM is Internet-based marketing that promotes websites and increases their online visibility with paid or organic traffic referrals from search engines. You’ve probably heard of and are somewhat familiar with SEO? Well, SEO is simply one component of SEM. Other components include paid search, such as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and social media marketing.

Many companies use SEM to meet marketing goals, understand their customer base and increase website traffic. By effectively using all the components of SEM, it’s possible for a growing business to get ahead of the competition.

Understanding SEO

SEO is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website by way of organic search results. While that sounds basic, it isn’t. Everything hinges on your website. Without a decent one, the rest of your efforts will be less effective. For starters, it’s critical to understand that mobile devices are driving online traffic. This means your website had better be mobile-friendly.

Layout, image tags and even the code your website uses will also affect how Google ranks your website. This should be left to professionals, as incorrectly editing your website can have a negative impact on search rankings. Something you can do yourself, though, is ensure you have high-quality, relevant content.

Have you ever landed on a website only to realize it was completely different from what you were looking for, so you left and found a better website on the search engine results page? Google tracks these “bounces” and uses them to refine its results over time. If your website contains content that’s irrelevant, outdated or inaccurate, it’ll damage your online reputation and hurt your rankings.

An easy way to make sure your website doesn’t fall into this trap is to blog or update content regularly with accurate information about your self-storage facility. Content is a great way to build Web traffic, increase brand awareness and help with customer acquisition. Blogging not only improves your SEO but educates potential tenants! You can brand your company as the local experts in storage, packing and moving while also helping your Internet rankings.

When you’re composing a blog post, include keywords for which you want to rank in search results. Include those keywords in your page’s title tag as well as other places within the blog. This is important! Writing a smart title that captures searchers’ attention and entices clicks is a great way to get traffic. In fact, better content can attract traffic to a blog by up to 2,000 percent, according to SEO Tribunal, a website dedicated to helping businesses find professional SEO companies.

Keeping Up With Google

Google can shake things up in the SEO world in a heartbeat! From announcing big changes to implementing new rules, the search engine has us all at its mercy. As of April 2019, Google continued to dominate the search engine market, commanding 88.47 percent of traffic. It isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

As much as keeping up with algorithm updates is a must, keeping up with Google trends is equally important. While there have been many recent trends in SEO, here are the three most impactful:

  • Invest in technical SEO. This includes website speed, compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act and the implementation of Progressive Web Apps.
  • Be ready for voice search. This is the year of mobile, and though you may not talk to your phone, 82 percent of users do, so be prepared.
  • Create exceptional content. As previously noted, content is king. Keep it the main priority.

Outsource vs. DIY

So, now we know that SEM and SEO are crucial to success in the digital age. Whether your self-storage facility is seeking more tenants or greater brand awareness, ranking higher on Google is a springboard for success. While Bing, Yahoo and other search engines also carry significance, Google is the overwhelming end-user favorite, so it demands your attention.

To maximize your efforts, find a provider that really understands the self-storage industry. Some will try to upsell their services and then secretly pass off the work to cheaper third parties. This often results in a lower-quality product and poor results, so make sure your provider is actually performing the work.

Similarly, some providers make false promises, claiming they can “guarantee” the top-ranking spot on Google. Nobody can promise this outcome. While hard work greatly increases the chance your facility may take the top spot, a guarantee of such success should be acknowledged as a red flag.

Now, you may be wondering if SEM and SEO are strategies you can handle on your own. You can, but it isn’t advisable. It’s like designing a modern website. Sure, you can do it yourself, but the quality, results and effectiveness can be greatly enhanced when you hire a trained professional. Knowing if your SEM/SEO tactics are working is the key to quantifying success and justifying the service. A professional can show you increases in traffic stemming from these tactics. The proof will be in the results.

Whether you’re blogging or optimizing your website for keywords, content should be at the forefront of your Internet-marketing strategy. Remember, SEM is mainly used to convert visitors into customers, which increases your return on investment. Tailoring content for the audience you’re trying to capture will help immensely.

The Internet has more than 4.33 billion active users. This encompasses more than 56 percent of the global population, and that number is expected to grow! However you drive traffic to your self-storage facility, be sure you have an effective online presence to maximize results.

Lauren Mannarelli is a marketing manager for The Storage Group, a provider of website development, search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, reputation management, software development and more. She specializes in identifying target audiences and devising digital campaigns that engage, inform and motivate. For more information, call 888.465.6247; visit

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