A Manager's Guide to SEO
This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Mini Storage Messenger Magazine.
There are several complex aspects of search engine optimization, many that involve your facility owner’s budget, vision, and resources. But as a self storage manager, there are many steps you can take to better reach your customers and improve your website’s SEO.
Here are four simple things you can do for your website that require nothing more than a bit of your expertise and a bit of your effort.
#1: Provide accurate location information
One of the most valuable pieces of knowledge you have is an insider’s perspective of your area. You know your town’s quirks and which neighborhood hotspots are near your property. For instance, is your facility one mile away from the Walmart that’s always packed with customers? Just off the I-35 exit with all the good restaurants? If you include information like this in the content on your website, you frame your business in a way that helps potential customers find you. Google will also crawl these key locations and use them in your local SEO.
If you don’t already, one great thing you can do for your website is provide driving directions. It saves a step for your leads and it’s extremely useful for search engines trying to pinpoint your specific location.
Start by looking at a map and choosing cities/neighborhoods no more than 15 miles to the north, south, east, and west of your facility.
Use Google Maps (or your preferred website) to type out driving directions.
Include helpful hints for your customers, like, “Our facility is on the left with the bright blue doors!”
What’s the purpose behind this strategy from an SEO perspective? Self storage renters are typically willing to drive up to 15 miles for the right facility. When you include nearby cities in your content, you can potentially attract leads from these neighborhoods. Throughout your directions you’ll also reference local highways and main streets, serving as a map for search engines as they crawl your site and place you within the context of their map of your city.
What you can do: Add references to local businesses, streets, and neighborhoods into the content on your website. Write driving directions to your property from 3-4 nearby cities, including main streets and area-specific landmarks.
#2: Build and strengthen local relationships
Partnering with businesses in your area has several benefits offline, but it can also enhance your online presence. After all, link building — or the act of earning links to your website — is a matter of fostering relationships.
So where can you start? Internet marketing and link building companies will probably aim for one or more of the following. These are important targets because a link from them would provide a lot of value when a search engine crawls your site:
Better Business Bureau
Chamber of Commerce
University resource pages
City resource pages
If you were to hire a professional, he would likely reach out via email to at least one of these organizations. As a manager you can do more than send an email asking for a link. You can walk in, shake hands, and introduce yourself. You can make yourself available to other business owners in your area and even work out partnerships with related organizations like moving companies and house cleaners. No matter what method of connection works best between you and another business, the relationships you build in your community can manifest themselves online and help your website.
Another important area to hone in on is online reviews. These have always been valuable and recent changes to Google’s algorithm are only strengthening their importance. Oftentimes your leads will visit a website with high reviews even if it isn’t ranked the highest in search results. While there’s potential in social media campaigns or mass emails sent to your customers, there’s nothing quite as powerful as looking your tenants in the eyes after a great customer service experience and asking them to leave an online review.
What you can do: Pursue relationships with local businesses by setting up partnerships, making yourself available, and specifically asking for a link to your website. Request that your current customers leave online reviews of your facility, whether that’s on your website or a third party like Google+ or Yelp.
#3: Present high-quality visual content
Content doesn’t always come in the form of writing. In fact, users tend to be more drawn to visuals than to reading, while search engines can use visual content to learn more about your business. Pictures and videos also provide a better feel for your property and can even connect with your leads on a more personal level. You have the best chance of reaching a wider audience by delivering high-quality content in a variety of forms. Not to mention that bright, high resolution photos can make your web design more visually appealing to the user and ultimately win you more trust and business.
The key here is that you improve your company’s website without asking your facility owner to dish out the big bucks to do it. If you don’t know your way around a camera too well, consider recruiting the help of a friend or even a local photography student. Work with them to snap clean, well-lit photos of your office, units, security features, landscaping, and anything you’d show a lead on a property tour.
You can also consider making a welcome video or a virtual tour of your property. This will allow potential customers to see for themselves what your facility is like without making the drive. It also lets them see you and your team, making their decision to rent storage a more personal one. If you do choose to make a video, you may also want to consider writing a transcript that you can place on the page with it, giving Google even more information to crawl from your website.
What you can do: Enlist the help of a photographer to capture beautiful photos of your property. Put them on your website to improve its design and conversion rates. Make a welcome video or virtual tour of your property to connect with users and provide everything they need to choose you for their storage needs.
#4: Gear content toward your specific client base
You know your clients and target market best. As a manager, you likely live in the area, shopping at the same stores and dining at the same restaurants as your leads. Use your knowledge to craft content that’s geared specifically toward the needs of your neighbors.
What matters most to the people in your community?
Secure vehicle parking?
Lowest prices on storage?
Short-term and month-to-month flexibility?
Are there more families or more professionals?
What about students?
Along with tweaking your general approach to marketing based on the answers to these questions, your insight should also influence your website’s content. This opportunity goes hand-in-hand with SEO since Google continues to reward sites that anticipate the needs of customers by providing specialized information and resources.
For your website, these can come in the form of storage tips, packing advice, or a moving guide. You could provide advice based on the climate of your area, like vehicle winterization tips and a guide for preventing moisture build-up during the humid months. One of the simplest steps you can take is to track the questions your leads most often ask during that first phone call and address them an on FAQ page. When you become the helpful authority in storage both online and off, you’ll begin to reap the benefits of your effort.
What you can do: Pay attention to the specialized needs of your community and address them in the content on your website. Look for opportunities for extra pages, like step-by-step guides, how tos, and frequently asked questions.
Overall, utilize existing opportunities
You may not be an expert with technology or search engine optimization, and you may not have the capacity to choose how to spend your company’s budget, but you do have a few unquestionable advantages by being a manager within your community. By looking at these strengths through an SEO perspective, you can improve the effectiveness of your website and convince more renters that your facility is the best in the area.