This post was originally written by Carrie Royce.
If Santa were dedicated to the self storage industry, he would probably deliver lots of hygienic, paying renters to facilities all over the world. Alas, that kind of haul would require an army of elves with ever-evolving proficiency in SEO—a learning curve that’s more exhausting than knowing the latest in extreme graphic chipset processors. (It’s Christmas… I had to get an Elf quote in here somewhere.)
SEO methods have transformed significantly over the past year, and they’ll continue to do so in ways that no one can predict—not even Santa. That’s why it’s so important for self storage owners to enhance their websites, online/mobile marketing, and localized tactics alongside search engines’ ongoing modifications. Search results are one of the few remaining marketing tools that bring renters through the doors.
As 2012 winds down, I hope you’ll enjoy this holiday video along with some tips to get your SEO on the right track for 2013… Including adding video to your content-mix like I just did.
Look up the Google 2012 SEO Start Guide for the latest advice from the king of search. There are dozens of tactics to keep in mind even for basic SEO, but used as a checklist, it’s not that difficult to cover the bases.
Optimized mobile pages provide a great user experience for self storage seekers on-the-go. In fact, shoppers expect to find them when searching on their mobile devices. And with billboards remaining a popular advertising tool of self storage owners, mobile is critical. A passer-by will go straight to his phone for more info. At Storage Ahead, our data indicates that mobile searches for self storage are reaching 30%.
In addition to the most basic local business information (in SEO circles this is now being referred to as NAP: address, phone number), search engines strive to acquire as much “enhanced data” on local business as possible. The more enhanced your local business data is, the more value it has for display to searching consumers. Include stuff like business categories, operating hours, images and logos, and service descriptions.
Local maps include Google + Local, Yahoo! Local, and Bing Business Portal. Make sure the basic local information (NAP) in these map listings is consistent with your local pages, then enhance where possible with video, images, local descriptions, categories, social media links, and hours. Remember to check, manage and update regularly. Data consistency across landing pages, local listings and maps, reinforces credibility with search engines, so be careful not to let “industry aggregators” hijack your listings, especially with varied NAP information.
Keep in mind that local search ranking algorithms are heavily dependent upon consistent data across the web. Even Yellow Pages, Citysearch, Yelp and similar “local business aggregators” factor in to some extent. Take extra care toward information consistency by overwriting incorrect local business data.
User-generated content on social sites like Google +, Facebook and Twitter is increasingly attracting search engine attention. It is considered higher quality content than website text because (a) it’s tough for spammers to manipulate, and (b) local purchasing decisions are heavily influenced by recommendations from friends as well as strangers. Google + social in particular is now tightly connected to Google + Local pages and Maps. If you haven’t opened accounts and populated them with basic information and images, add it to your 2013 agenda.
Likewise, user reviews qualify as user-generated content that appeal to search engines and shoppers alike. In 2013, encourage your renters to leave reviews online in places like Google + and Yelp.
Why are pictures and video meaningful to search engine visibility? It does seem odd given that these types of media can’t be “read” by bots (they must rely on alt tags, which can be spammy). Nonetheless, media content should be a party of your content strategy if it isn’t already. People really like it (thanks to shortening attention spans), tend to share and link it three times more than written content, and it can be easier to rank video and image content for competitive keywords when incorporated with other strategies.
Search engines drive 90% of self storage leads. With half of that traffic coming from localized search and upwards of 30% coming from mobile users, you’ll have a lot more tactics to tackle in 2013 than in recent years. In short, it’s time to go mobile, localize info, embrace social, and broaden your content-mix.