By Nick Bilava
Marketing is on the minds of most self-storage operators these days, and by this point, nearly everyone has the ability to acquire new tenants through online methods. But in such a fast-paced world, it can be difficult to know where to start. The best place to focus is your business website. Here’s sound advice to improve your facility’s website and lure more customers.
Make It Mobile-Friendly
More than likely, you do a lot of your Web browsing on a smartphone or tablet. If you don’t, you’re in the minority. In 2014, websites that were easy to use on mobile devices ranked better in search-engine results than those that weren’t. That’s because search engines want to give searchers the best possible results, and a more positive experience for mobile users helps. If you want your website to be more visible in search engines, it must be mobile-friendly.
If you haven’t already, now’s the time to make your website responsive to mobile devices. Unless you have a Web developer on staff, your best option is to hire an agency to assist with this transition. A lot of storage operators try to avoid this because they fear the cost. However, not having a mobile-friendly website will cost you more—specifically in new customers.
Improve the Customer Experience
Take a moment to evaluate your website. Pretend you’re someone who’s never rented a storage unit before. What kind of business is going to get your rental? The one that looks trustworthy and provides enough information to help you make an informed decision, right?
Consumers are becoming more selective about the websites they use. If you don’t provide a good experience, they’ll leave and possibly never come back. A good experience doesn’t just mean customer service, though; it’s about having a clean, easy-to-navigate design and useful content that provides information about your product and service.
How can you build or fix your website with consumers in mind? Start with the design. Outdated websites drive people away before they read a single word of your content. Again, turn to a Web designer or developer for help if you don’t have the skills or someone on staff. He can clean up your Web pages and make them work better for consumers.
The next place to make some changes is your Web content. You can’t just write an “About Us” page and call it a day. You need to create pages or blog posts containing helpful information for people who know nothing about our industry. How can people use self-storage? How much can each unit size hold? What type of storage is best for vehicles? These are all topics you can talk about on your website to prove to visitors that you know what you’re talking about—and they should trust you above others.
Include Storage-Related Keywords
Optimizing a website for search-engine results is pretty complicated, especially if you’re already struggling to manage the site. Fortunately, there’s a very basic optimization technique you can use to improve your visibility in results for storage searches. Whenever you write content for your website, whether it’s a page or a blog post, include storage-related keywords. Some to consider include:
- General: self-storage, mini-storage, storage facility, storage unit, storage locker, storage-unit size
- Features: climate-controlled storage, storage security, drive-up access storage, indoor storage, outdoor storage, vehicle storage, auto storage, motorcycle storage, RV storage, boat storage
- Other: business storage, commercial storage, military storage, college storage, moving
When you include these keywords (and variations that include your business or city name) in text, it helps search engines understand what you’re talking about. Then, when someone searches for “RV storage in [city name]” on a search engine like Google, your website is more likely to show up.
Be careful with keywords, though. If you include too many, it’s viewed as a spam tactic called “keyword stuffing,” which can actually keep your website from appearing in search-engine results. A good rule is to use keywords naturally, as they’d appear in conversation, for example, “If you’re looking for RV storage in Omaha, we can help.” If you want a concrete guideline, keywords should be around 1.5 percent of your word count. For example, a 500-word blog post should only include around six or seven keywords.
List With Local Online Directories
Local listings are simple to use and usually free. By listing your website on these directories, you not only send signals to search engines that help them identify when your website should be shown for local search terms, you make it easier for potential customers to find you.
Start by identifying the NAP (name, address and phone number) you’ll use for all references to your business. This sounds like common sense, but many owner/operators can be inconsistent with their company name and how they write out their address. Keep these things identical wherever your business exists online.
More important, sign up for Google My Business, Yahoo! and Bing. This will ensure your business shows up in search-engine maps, and it means each search engine will display your NAP in search results. It’s also a good idea to sign up for other directories, such as Yelp and MerchantCircle.com. These websites see high traffic from local consumers and they’re useful for business reviews.
Effective online marketing takes more balance today than in past years. To be successful, think about your website’s visibility in search engines and usability for site visitors. Ignoring either aspect won’t help you get the desired results.
Nick Bilava is the director of sales and marketing for Storage.com. He’s been an active member of the storage community for more than seven years and can be found at various industry events. His goal is to help storage operators market their business more efficiently and effectively. For more information, visit www.storage.com.