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SEO for Self-Storage Operators: The Good, the Bad and the Google

As Google and other search engines continue to evolve, so do the tools and strategies self-storage operators use to optimize their search engine presence. Learn how to use search engine optimization correctly to rank higher in search results and attract more customers.

April 9, 2015

5 Min Read
SEO for Self-Storage Operators: The Good, the Bad and the Google

By Jared Davidson

Every other week, a post appears on major news sites eulogizing search engine optimization (SEO). “SEO Is Dead!” the headline reads—a bold statement, but one that’s not entirely without truth. SEO is changing rapidly. What makes for good SEO now will almost certainly be obsolete in a few years. In fact, it’s changed so much in the past few years that things that were once mainstays are now considered dangerous and detrimental.

As Google and other search engines continue to evolve, so do the tools and strategies self-storage operators use to optimize their search engine presence. Indeed, it seems that as long as there are search engines to optimize, there will be something called SEO (although what the SEO of the future will look like we can only guess). In other words: SEO is dead; long live SEO.

What Does SEO Even Mean?

SEO is a concept that some self-storage operators misunderstand—and to their peril. When people think of SEO, they most often think of keywords. Many imagine it to be similar to that universal childhood pastime: grape-stuffing. Like the child who stuffs his mouth full of grapes, the operator stuffs a website full of keywords. These days, you might actually be better off sticking with the grapes.

Keyword-stuffing, link-farming, spamming—these are relics of past SEO strategies. They exist now on the fringes of the industry, the so-called black-hat SEO. There was once a time when these tactics worked well, but as Google has developed ways of filtering for sites that engage in these activities, they’ve been far less useful.

How Bad SEO Can Hurt You

As the self-storage industry continues to delve deeper into the world of SEO, some confusion may arise. There’s simply so much conflicting information out there that it’s easy to get it wrong; and getting it wrong can mean disastrous consequences.

For example, a website can be hit by a manual penalty, which is Google’s term for “we caught you doing something bad, and now you’ll be punished.” The result can be an overnight complete drop-off in search engine traffic.

Let’s just think about that for a second. If you mess up the SEO of your site, you may risk losing all traffic from Google and other search engines. For self-storage companies, this can be particularly problematic because so much of our clientele finds us through our listings.

And if you think you’ll be able to simply apologize to Google and have the issue taken care of, think again. Manual penalties are very difficult to remove. Google is renowned as one of the world’s least communicative companies, and getting its attention will be frustrating, to say the least. When it finally does respond to your begging, it’s likely to give you some vague advice on what to do to, and then disappear again into the void of the Internet.

What Is Good SEO?

Now that I’ve scared you, it’s time for the happy ending. If you’re thinking about doing some SEO for your site, I do hope I haven’t put you off of it. The truth is, done right, SEO can really help self-storage businesses in the long run. These days, it primarily involves knowing what Google and other search engines want and giving them lots of it. Remember, a search engine’s primary goal is to give searchers the info they’re looking for quickly. If those users are looking for something like you, you want to make sure they get through every time.

The best way to do this is to ensure search engines have the right information. Give your pages clear, descriptive titles. Your goal is to give search engines all the tools they need to recommend you to their users. As long as you’re selling something people want, these search engines will recommend you.

Good SEO is about crafting a website that Google, Bing and others search engines are likely to serve to its users. That means having a website that’s usable and has the features people want. Blogging is a great way to encourage people to visit your site, which, in turn, helps search engines trust you. Content marketing has become one of the best ways to grow your level of trust online.  

Getting links is a good idea, but you want to make sure they’re from reputable sources. Don’t look for links from link-farming websites that host hundreds of links. Instead, encourage your customers and partners to link to you. Write guest blogs, post actively in forums, and just generally be visible on the Internet.

Social media is becoming increasingly important in SEO. More industry experts are finding links between social media activity and search engine rankings. If you aren’t already, now’s the time to get into this space.

You Can Do It!

It may seem like a daunting and confusing SEO world out there, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With an increasing plethora of tools and guides, it’s becoming more manageable for small to mid-sized companies. But if SEO is simple, it’s also easy to mess up.

First, be careful. Get information and advice from sources you trust, especially those who’ve tested their methods and can show you results. Stay away from anyone who offers quick, easy fixes. These rarely pan out in the long term.

Finally, be patient. Unlike Rome, a website can be built in a day, but it takes a lot longer for people to show up. In the beginning, you’ll be doing things without seeing much in the way of results. As long as you stay away from bad SEO, you’ll be rewarded. It just takes time.

Jared Davidson is the communications manager for Cassidy’s Transfer & Storage Ltd. in Ottawa, Canada. He writes about communications, marketing and SEO for the self-storage industry.

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