This blog post was originally written by Carrie Royce. 

The other day we tweeted a fast fact via @StorageFront: “Craigslist generates approximately 4 billion views per month. Your potential audience, in theory, is huge.”

Craigslist has a vast following of local deal-seekers nationwide – in fact, it’s the 11th most popular website in the U.S. as of this post. So, even though it doesn’t hold any linkbuilding value, it is certainly worth thinking about as a free advertising resource for self storage operators.

@MichaelTBishop, one of our attentive Twitter followers, quickly commented back with a valid point: “Potential is one thing, but what is the actual viewership of the storage section on Craigslist? I imagine it’s fairly small.” That’s true. Self storage is largely a need-based service, and potential renters are generally not going to browse around the local online classifieds looking for a super deal on 100 square feet of storage space.

What they are going to do when the need arises is visit Google. More than 90 percent of your prospective renters go straight to the most popular search engines – Google, Yahoo and Bing – and put in popular keyword phrases like “self storage Kansas City.” In doing so, I get back 1,950,000 results on Google including Public Storage, Extra Space, directories (including StorageFront, of course), Yellow Pages, Yellow Pages knock-offs, Yelp, a hundred self storage business names I wouldn’t recognize as a typical consumer, and thousands of pages from foreign content-generation websites (some of which make for quite entertaining reading when you’re bored). Which one are you?

These seemingly infinite results will continue to build up. In fact, some experts predict that content on the web will double every 72 hours in just a few years. That’s why we’re compelled to mention Craigslist as an online advertising option not to be ignored. As I mentioned before, Google ignores Craigslist links – so the site won’t help you build PageRank for your own website or web page – but what it will do is show up in Google results.

Have you ever noticed how well Craigslist ads fare in Google? Craigslist gets a lot of its traffic from search engines – more than 25 percent to be exact. The classified advertising website has very high PageRank…meaning that its pages are indexed (crawled and recorded) quickly and taken seriously by search engines; quality, informative ads placed on the site tend to rank fairly high in the page results.

Craigslist is built to be search engine friendly.

For one thing, Craigslist uses very simple HTML code, which means that even the shortest text ad will have a high content-to-code ratio – one of the fundamental principles of SEO copy writing. For another thing, virtually all ads on Craigslist are just two to three clicks away from the home page – another key requirement of efficient SEO.

There are many more SEO distinctions to Craigslist, but what it all amounts to is the fact that an optimized ad between 100 and 500 words is likely to appear pretty high on Google. That’s particularly good news for operators of small to medium self storage companies or new facilities with a relatively young web presence.

It’s a good idea to point your Craigslist ads to your page on a directory site like StorageFront rather than your facility’s website. The calls-to-action on the landing page are clear, and the premium tracking system behind StorageFront will help you quickly gauge your ads’ effectiveness.

With over 200 million results appearing in Google for the keyword phrase “self storage,” why not fall back on Craigslist when business is slow and try to generate a little more local web traffic? After all, Craigslist costs you nothing more than a bit of time every couple of weeks. Plus, it enables you to have another listing on Google’s organic search results (which garner greater than 90 percent click rate on page one).

Download our Craigslist guide here. For Craigslist’s own FAQs, click here.