Internet Hijacking: Will it Ever Stop?

When blogger Gina Six Kudo Googles her own self-storage facility, she finds there are many self-storage companies practicing unethical website placement.

Amy Campbell, Senior Editor

August 6, 2009

2 Min Read
Internet Hijacking: Will it Ever Stop?

If you’re like me, you occasionally Google your own facility to see how your website shows up in an organic search. Pretending to be a potential customer, you input "self-storage X city" and see what comes up. You may try different variations and see how your site appears—or doesn't.

Most likely you'll see search results such as Yelp, Merchant Circle, Yellow Pages and so many more. The most tacky of results show your company name under another facility’s website. Or you click on a link that ranks high and learn you must "claim your listing," and there's usually a fee involved.

These types of hijacking websites are frustrating. I know, I claimed many of the listings, put up our correct telephone number (beware of RCF numbers in advertising, they turn up like a bad penny), store hours and more. This is so time-consuming, but if that's the way the search engines  work, combating these issues inherent with the searches is something we must do to retain Web presence and higher visibility.

The hijacking of website presence that annoys me the most are some of the chains. They list EVERY storage facility anywhere within 30 miles or so of one of their locations. Some are blatant enough to list competing facilities twice, and even place the competitor’s name along with its location in an entirely different city. This is guerilla Internet warfare at its lowest point.

I don’t mind competing with our customer service skills, amenities, or the facility we have to offer. But I really don't appreciate having to respond repetitively that we do not have a second location in another city due to another facility’s underhanded business practices.

Nor do I appreciate having to constantly combat the latest and greatest “Find Self Storage Near You” website of the day. If you haven’t noticed, everyone and their brother is producing a self-storage search website. It’s getting quite ridiculous.  

I’m not ready to succumb to the mindset of “if everyone else is doing it, I guess I’ll jump off the bridge also” mentality and use competitor’s names to boost our rankings. I’d like to challenge every owner/operator in our industry to check your own website and ask, are you really proud of the way you’re conducting business? Can you honestly state you consider this fair practice?

The Self Storage Association provides a Code of Ethics, and I encourage everyone to read it, specifically section B. “Engage in practices that promote the integrity of the Association and the self-storage industry by adhering to a standard of excellence in customer service, promotion and marketing.”    

Do you have a varying viewpoint as to why this is a good business practice? Please share your thoughts here or voice your opinion on Self-Storage Talk, the industry's best online forum.

About the Author(s)

Amy Campbell

Senior Editor, Inside Self Storage

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