Building a Successful Website
Tom Cox |March 27, 2013
You should know by now that you need a website to compete in the new digital age of marketing. In the beginning, just having a website was enough. It put you ahead of the curve and at the top of Google’s search results. But the game has changed—web marketing has gotten more competitive and now there are two new factors in building and maintaining a website. The first is Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is the process of getting your website to show up in search results. The second is lead conversion. It is great to get traffic to your website, but once users are on your site, you need to convert them to a lead, whether it is an email, printing a coupon, making a reservation or calling the facility.
To accomplish the two goals of ranking well in search results and converting visitors to leads, you have to spend time building your website correctly. You can’t really fix a poorly built website, but you can always build a new one. Most people are probably not building their own websites, but contracting with a web developer. If you are contracting with a web developer, this guide will be even more useful to you. Think of this as a guide to make sure your web developers are doing their jobs right. Use it as a check list when reviewing their work. This may seem like a daunting task, but it will be beneficial and provide you with the peace of mind that your website has been built correctly.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the first priority. If your site isn’t showing up well in search results, how are visitors going to find you? If they don’t find you first, they will find your competitor. Let’s start with the most important and basic components of SEO.
Keywords : Keywords are the words that people are searching to find you. Usually it involves the words self storage, storage, mini storage or public storage with the addition of the city or zip code they are searching in. Example: self storage Austin. Keywords are the cornerstone of SEO.
Content: You need good, rich content on your site for search engines to read. There are too many websites that are all images. They look pretty, but when Google looks at that, they see an empty website. You need paragraphs talking about the facility, its features, location, etc. It is important that this text includes your keywords. For example, “Tom’s Storage is the best self storage in Austin, TX.” The more content, the better—as long as it is unique. Google is smart and not fooled by duplicate content throughout the website.
URL Structure: The URL is the web address (e.g. www.lockaway-storage.com). People often overlook the URL structure for others pages on their website. Below are examples of bad, better & best URL structures. Notice the best one includes the keywords self storage, the city name and zip code. It is basically telling Google, “Hey, this webpage is about self storage in Austin, TX.”
Now that your website is showing up well in search results and you are getting web traffic, what do you need to do to get those visitors to make a call-to-action? You might be surprised about how simple it is, and yet how often people get it wrong.
Site Navigation: You need to make sure your website is easy to navigate. If people are struggling to find what they want, they leave. Internet users generally have a very short attention span, so you have a matter of seconds before they are gone. Make sure your non-facility pages clearly navigate to the facility pages. The focus on your home page should be helping them finding the best facility for them.
Page Layout: Make sure your important call-to-action prompts are the most visible on every page. On your facility pages, the focus should be contact info (phone number, address and email), followed by unit sizes/prices, amenities of that location, and finally, a coupon if you have one. These should all be “above the fold” which means the visitor doesn’t need to scroll down to see any of them.
Photos: This might surprise you, but photos make a big difference on whether potential customers want to take that next step to call or email. You should have four standard pictures: front of the facility or what they will see driving up to it, your facility office (include the manager or staff members in this photo), a photo of your security features such as access gate or cameras, and a picture of a row of units (outdoor and indoor if you offer both). Potential renters want to see that your facility looks nice, friendly, clean and safe.
Unit Sizes/Prices: People are coming to your site looking for storage and they want to know what sizes you have and how much they will cost. You might think, “If I don’t list them, they will call.” Most consumers will just move to the next site that does list the prices. For better conversion, include a “web price” on the website encouraging them to make that call-to-action right then with a phone call or an online reservation to get the reduced rate. Often you can show the standard rate crossed out with the web rate below.
Online marketing is constantly changing and evolving. There is a lot more you can do for your website to continue increasing your site’s ranking and conversions. This beginning guide will give you a solid idea of where to start. If you have all of the above nailed down, you’re ahead of the curve and doing it right.