Reprinted with permission from Storable.
While the Internet disrupted most traditional methods of marketing, it also created several new ones. Arguably, search engine optimization (SEO) ranks at the top of the list. It’s a term self-storage operators have heard over and over again, and rightfully so. Pound for pound, SEO is the most cost-effective marketing strategy you can deploy.
Nearly all purchasing decisions made by consumers today, including were to rent a storage unit, begin with an online search, most likely on Google. Making sure your business appears above competitors is critical to your long-term success. To say SEO is important is an understatement. If you’re still struggling to understand why and how it works, here are some basics to master.
Three Key Elements
There are three main elements of a Google search result, and it’s important to understand each of them as context for SEO. They are:
- Google paid ads: This section at the very top of the page is where people pay to have their business listed. It’s called pay-per-click advertising, and it’s an effective way to market your storage facility.
- Google Map Pack: This appears immediately beneath the paid ads. The section is partially fueled by Google My Business (GMB). If you haven’t created a listing for your facility using GMB, I highly recommend it, as it’s another great way to get online visibility.
- Organic search results: This is the list of results determined by the algorithm to best meet the criteria of a particular search. When people talk about ranking high in organic search, this is what they mean. Your approach to SEO plays a major role in getting you to the top.
Each of these elements plays an important part in any SEO plan, so you shouldn’t rely on one more than the others. Taking advantage of each will result in a successful overall program, and your website will be discovered more often by people searching for your products and services. This means more leads for your self-storage business and, therefore, more revenue.
Generally, organic traffic produces higher quality leads than those captured through an ad. But while it’s absolutely critical to rank high on those organic search results, it’s also important to have a presence in the maps section and possibly even the paid ads.
It’s important for your self-storage business to rank high in online search for one central reason: The average user wants answers fast and accurate. He doesn’t want to go through pages of results to find what he needs. In fact, most searchers rarely go beyond the first page, which is why these positions are coveted by every business owner.
The data behind the top five listings on a search make it clear why. Here’s a breakdown of total clicks by rank:
- Position 1: 27 percent to 35 percent
- Position 2: About 15 percent
- Position 3: About 10 percent
- Position 4: About 5 percent
- Position 5: Less than 5 percent
As you can see, it pays to rank high. Unfortunately, even ranking within positions four and five doesn’t drive a lot of volume compared to being in the top three.
Now, you aren’t going to achieve these high rankings overnight. Honestly, scaling the ranks isn’t easy, so it’s important to celebrate those small wins along the way. For example, going from position 100 to 20 for a competitive keyword phrase is a strong sign of progress. However, at the end of the day, traffic results won’t really start to take off until you’re on the first page.
Set it, Again and Again
If SEO had its own catchy tagline, it’d be something like, “Set it. Again. And again. One more time. OK, again.” You get the point.
SEO is by no means a “set it and forget it” process. Strong performance requires you to constantly optimize and re-optimize your website and other digital assets. Google is constantly changing its ranking algorithm, your competitors are doing different things, and there’s almost always a way you can further tweak and improve something. It’s important you’re able to respond to those factors as soon as possible when they require your attention. Otherwise, you risk losing some of your search visibility.
If you’re like me, your grandmother or even your mom harped on the importance of having patience while you were growing up, probably around your birthday or the holidays, while you were eagerly waiting to open your gifts. Well, patience is definitely a virtue when it comes to mastering your SEO! It’s vital that you persevere in your journey. SEO takes time and effort. It requires you to constantly re-evaluate your digital assets and stay current on updates to search algorithms.
It’s crucial to remember that, pound for pound, SEO is the most cost-effective marketing tool you can use for your business. Identifying and addressing any SEO weaknesses you have is a gigantic step in the right direction. Many self-storage operators think they can still rely on other tactics to drive sales, but in an increasingly digital world, if consumers can’t find you online, you don’t stand a chance at converting them into tenants.
Trace Hughes is a senior copywriter at Storable, a supplier of cloud-based access control, management software, marketing, payment processing, website development and other services for the self-storage industry. He has nearly a decade of marketing and communications experience, having worked with several advertising agencies prior to joining Storable. He believes clear, compelling communication is the cornerstone to any successful business. For more information, e-mail [email protected].