Understanding how local search works is imperative in today's tech world. Join us June 13 for our local maps webinar presented by Alyssa Vanderpool, StorageAhead's director of operations. Alyssa will discuss the importance of keeping your NAP (name, address & phone number) consistent across your web marketing efforts, how rebranding affects your local listings, the new look of Google Maps and how to verify and claim your local maps listings correctly.
Ok, good morning everyone! Thank you for joining StorageAhead for our “Get on the Map – A Self Storage Local Search Webinar.” My name is Alyssa Vanderpool, and I’ll be your presenter today. Let’s go ahead and get started.
First of all, before I start, I want to let you know that I’m going to be talking about Google search results today, focusing just on Google, because Google right now has about 69% of the US market share for search. Bing is in 2nd place with 25%, but because of Google having the lion’s share for search results, I’m just going to be focusing on them today.
What is a local search? Let’s define that first. If I go to Google and enter in a search term, say “Self Storage” I’m going to get some search results from Google and some of those are going to be local search results. And how does Google know what local results to provide me?
Well first, take a look here on the upper right-hand portion of the screen; you can see that I am logged in. I have a Google account and that has a profile associated with it that tells Google some information about me. But more importantly when it comes to local search, in the upper right-hand corner of the Google search page, there is also a “gear” button you can click on and go into search settings and you can see that there is a location setting in there for all Google users that is set to your location. And you can change that. My location setting is Kansas City, KS. And you don’t have to be logged in, in order to have this location setting set up. So that’s where Google is getting information about local search results for you, it’s in that location setting.
So when I do a search for self storage from my computer, I get this page of results. Let’s break down this page into three categories of results. The first category is paid ads. Those are the top three in the upper left portion of this page, and they are labeled “Ads related to self storage.” And then on the right-hand side of the screen all of the listings are also ads. The second category is organic. Those listing are just websites that Google finds naturally. They are not paid; they just come up naturally based on the keywords I put in my search. And then the last group is the local search results. You can tell that they’re local because of the address that’s listed to the right of the listing, and also, they have a map pin that correlates to this map on the upper right portion of the screen. So these are our local results, and these are what I’m going to be focusing on today.
How do we get these local results? How do we influence the information that’s displayed in those local results? Well if I click next to this “C” result down here, still on this screen here, I’m just going to click next to the result. I get an expanded local result. If I were to click over here to the right of the organic result, what I would see is just the quick glimpse of the webpage, the publicstorage.com webpage. But if I click next to the local result, I get an expanded local result that includes a photo of the facility, a map with a pin just showing the Shamrock Self Storage location. It repeats the name, address, and phone number of the facility that you see down here, but also, it adds in the hours for the facility, and it adds in a link for Google review.
So how does Google know that information? How does it know the hours information? Where did they get the picture from? Let’s dive in deeper into this local result and find out where this local information comes from. So to do that, I’m going to click on this “C” bubble down here and when I click on the “C” bubble, I’m moved over to the Google maps listing. Before, I was in Google search. Now, I’ve moved over to the Google maps.
On the Google maps page, on the left-hand side, you can see that the listing is repeated again. You’ve got the name, address, phone number, and the website address. We get a little bit more information. We get the first few words of the review on the left. On the right-hand side of the page, we’ve got a larger version of the map that is just highlighting the Shamrock Storage location. And one new thing that we get here when we’re on this page is the “more information” button. If we click on that, then we can go over to Google Plus Local. So we started in Google search, and we got a local listing. We clicked on that local listing, moved over to Google maps, and now when we’re asking for more information from Google about this local listing, we are moved into G+. This is the full Google local listing. If you see at the top, it’s got the name, the address, the phone number, the website, and even the hours that we saw before. But now we’re seeing a category. We’ve got pictures added to this. Before we just had one picture, but now we can see a few more pictures about the facility. And down here, we’ve got a small paragraph from the owner of the business, letting us know a little bit more about the business.
So, where does all this information come from? How does Google know what to put on this page and know when to bring this result up in search results? Well it knows that through this “manage this page” button down in the right-hand corner of the page. If you are the business owner or authorized person from the business owner, you can click on that button and take ownership of this page. That’s what we’re gonna do. You can either click on this “manage this page” button or if you want to go directly to management of a Google local page, you can go to www.google.com/local/add. That’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna claim the listing and go directly to www.google.com/local/add. When I do that, Google will ask you to log in, if you aren’t already logged in. I’m still logged in as myself, so it brings me to this page where I can add a listing. You have to have a Google account in order to add a listing in Google Local. And it’s asking just for some basic information. What’s the facility’s name? What’s the address? What’s the phone number? Just some basic information about the business that you want to add to Google Local or that you want to manage in Google Local.
So, I’m going to go ahead and enter in a business name for 123 Self Storage in Kansas City with their phone number, and they’re a self storage facility. That’s the category that I chose for them. So when I add this information in and click on submit, the next thing that Google brings up is a choice for me to click on. If found a listing that matched somewhat the information that I gave in the previous page. So Google is letting us know that it has already found a listing that kind of matches what I entered in its database. So I can choose to use that listing and manage that listing or I can choose no, what you came up with is not what I’m looking for and just keep the information that I entered.
You always want to choose the listing that closely matches the information about your business. You don’t want to create new listings if you already see one in there that closely matches what you have, what the real information is for your business. If it’s off by a little bit like the address is off by a little bit like the address is off a little or the phone number is not quite right, that’s fine. You want to get the right information out there, so just go ahead and claim the listing that matches closely to what your business name and address info number is. So I’m going to go ahead and click on that “A” bubble there and claim that listing. When I do that, Google takes you directly to verify, and this is a recent change. Just this year, Google changed it so that the next stage in the process after you claim the listing is directly going to verify. You used to go to edit first and then verify. But Google has changed it around, because they want to put a little more emphasis on the verification stage, so they’re putting that right as the second step. You can skip this step if you want to by clicking “continue and verify later” but if you want to go ahead and get the verification done now, you are given two options. The first option is to verify by phone. If you choose that, once you click on that within about 10 seconds, you’re going to be getting an automated call directly to the number of your listing, and when you pick up the phone, on the other end of the line, you’re going to hear an automated message that says your pin number is and a 5 or 6 digit pin. Just enter that into the box and click on submit. And your listing is thereby verified.
If you choose the postcard verification, then you get a real piece of mail sent to you. It usually arrives in about 5 business days, and it looks like this. It kind of looks like junk mail, so whoever gets the mail at your business, you want to make sure that they know to be looking for this and not throw it away. I’ve had many, many of these thrown away that I’ve tried to get verified. Luckily, Google does let you send the postcard out multiple times if somebody accidentally throws away the first one. But once you get the postcard, just enter in the pin number that is listed on the postcard, just log back into your account and enter in pin number, and you’re set.
The next thing that will come up after you go through the verification process, or like I said, you could skip it if you want to, and just move directly to the next page, which that next stage is editing your Google listing. When you go through the edit page, you really want to pay attention to every single thing on this page. First of all, the business name. Don’t take for granted that the business name is spelled the right way or is even the right name of your business. There’s a lot of rebranding that goes on in the self storage industry. A lot of facilities are bought and sold, and so it may have the right address and phone number for you but the business name may be incorrect and you want to make sure that you have that business name updated and spelled correctly.
The second thing is the address. Make sure that you’re using your physical address. If you have a P.O. Box where you get mail, don’t enter that. You want to enter your physical address for your business. The next area is the Google map pin, and this is one that people often skip over. They just assume that Google has the right pin marker in the right place and really Google gets it right a lot of the time, but they get it wrong a lot of the time too. So you really want to click on that map, expand it and make it bigger and you can click and drag that pin to the right spot. You can use the satellite view, the Google earth view, when looking into that map area, and it will make it really easy for you to find the exact, right location for that pin. The next thing is your contact information. You always want to use the same phone number on your map listing that you used on your website. A lot of people these days have multiple phone numbers for their businesses. You want to make a decision which phone number you’re going to use, whether it’s a tracked phone number, a call center, or the real phone number. Make that decision and use that phone number on your website as well as in your map listing. You want to have consistency between your website and your map.
The next thing to enter in is your actual website address, your URL. Again, you only want to have one website. So make sure that you’re entering in your proper URL here. You can enter in an email address if you want, that’s not a required field. But if you have kind of a generic email address, you can put that in here.
Then the next section is categories. This is a really important section. The categories help Google know when to pull up your listing for a search result and when not to. Obviously for the self storage industry, if you’re claiming your map listing for your storage facility, then your first and primary category needs to be self storage facility. Then you want to choose from the other predefined categories that Google has to add in more detail about your facility if you have RV storage, car storage, or boat storage. Those are categories that you can add in as well. Also, if you sell boxes or moving supplies, you can add that as a category as well. But they’re all predefined categories. You can’t just enter in anything that you want here. But don’t skip over that section. The categories is really important to your ability to show up in search results.
The next section is the hours. And you can only enter in one set of hours, so enter in your office hours here and then if you have access hours that are different than your office hours, you want to enter those in the description field which is the very last field on the edit listing page. But before we get to the description field, there is a place for photos, and you don’t want to skip over the photos. It really adds an air of authenticity to your business to have a photo of the front of your building or your marquee, even some of your storage units, the grounds of your business. That really adds a lot of authenticity to the listing and these are local results. Maybe a potential renter has driven by your facility and they recognize it from the photo in here. It makes them feel real good about where you’re located and what type of business you are. They don’t have to be professionally done photos, just a nice photo that represents your business.
And then the last section is the description. Google used to limit this to 200 characters; this is another change for this year that you can add in a lot more information. I wouldn’t be too wordy here, just have maybe one or two paragraphs that describe your business and use the same type of description you would use when talking to a potential renter. Use some key words like self storage, climate controlled storage, things like that, because again, Google is going to be looking through this description as a way of knowing what type of business you have, what services you offer, so it can pull up your listing in search results when someone is searching for the same type of words that you used in your description. You don’t want to do a key word stuffing type of thing, as we call it. You don’t want to just use the word “self storage, self storage, self storage” over and over again. Just make it natural, but use some of those key words, sprinkle some in with your description.
Now, once you’ve got your editing done, if you haven’t gone through the verification step before, make sure you go back and get that verification done. Google is going to constantly remind you that you need to verify your listing, if you haven’t gotten it done. A couple notes about that, if you’ve gone through the editing process and changed the phone number, then the verify by phone option will not be available to you anymore. Google will remove that option if you change the phone number. You will only be able to verify by postcard.
And after that, once you get it verified, then you’re done. But some things to note: if you go to Google right away after you’ve got your listing edited and verified, and you search for it, it is not gonna show exactly what you just entered. It can take Google a couple weeks to have your edited listing published, and right now, that’s a long time. You expect Google to be more instantaneous than that, but they go through a review process and it does take them about one to two weeks to get your listing up. They’re working on this and they understand it’s a long time, and they’ve made some commitments this year to speed up that process, and right now, it’s looking like the end of summer that the listings will be published a lot more quickly than what they are today. But if you go through the claiming, editing, verifying process today, it’s going to take about one or two weeks before you see the information that you entered, posted on Google.
The second thing to note is if you set up your listing and you never touch it again, after a year, Google will let somebody else take that listing from you. Google is all about providing the freshest, best, most current information to its users, so if you are that business owner, and you enter that business information one time in Google Local, but you never go back and update it, even thought your address hasn’t changed and your phone number hasn’t changed, but your business is evolving and changing, and Google wants to know about that. And it wants you to update the listing, at least log on and click on edit and submit, just to let them know that you are still checking on this listing, and it still has the correct information. If you don’t do that like I said, after a year, Google is going to let someone else claim that listing.
And also, right now, Google is working on this. Your listing could be claimed and verified in someone else’s account, and it could also be claimed and verified in your account. Google, originally when they started this whole process, thought that just the verification step would be enough to deter unauthorized users from claiming different accounts. That’s true, you do have to go through the verification step in order to get your information published, but you can call a manager or call a facility and say “Hey, you’re going to get a call from Google with a pin number. Just write that down, and I’ll call you back and get that information from you.” And a lot of managers just go ahead and do that. All of a sudden, some unauthorized user has your listing in their account, so that can happen, and if you claim your listing today, it may already be claimed by somebody else’s account. But soon, Google is not going to allow that. They’re going to police it a little more and only let listings be in one account at a time.
The last thing to note is that Google takes the information for the Local listing from a variety of sources. It’s not just the information that you put in and verified that you’re the owner and know everything about the facility. They don’t just take your information and say, “Ok, that’s it. That’s all we’re going to post.” What they do is, back in that edit screen, there’s a little paragraph to the right of the name of the business, and what that paragraph says is that it’s letting you know your information will be used to help us understand more about your business. It says we may use your information to help relevant listings appear in search results. So, they’re letting you know that they’re not going to guarantee that the information you’re putting in is the information they’re going to display. And again, why do they do that? It’s because they want to have the most current, the right information about your listing.
David Mihm is a local search expert, and he put together this ecosystem to show you where Google gets its information from. So Google is right here in the center, and you can see all of these other business of all of these other web based businesses, they are also providing information to Google. So Yellowbook has a listing of a lot of businesses in the United States, www.yellowpages.com. Superpages, Dexknows, all of those businesses, they have information about your business, and they are providing it to Google as well. And so, if you’ve got information in one of those places that is different from what you’ve provided, then it’s confusing for Google.
So how do you make sure that Google is displaying the information that you want it to display? How do you influence those other businesses like Yellowbook and Yellow Pages to show what you want to show and to have Google show it what you want it to show? Well, you do that through having consistent. NAP. NAP is name, address, and phone number. So if you go to www.yellowpages.com and you see your listing, and say it’s Jones Self Storage, but your listing in Google Plus is showing up as Jones Storage Center. You want to make sure that you are using Jones Self Storage constantly in all of your listings, so that way you’ve got that consistent listing, all across the web. Jones Self Storage, Jones Storage Center, Jones Mini Storage, they’re all the same place, but the computers don’t know that. They look at that as three different names.
Your address. For your business address, you want to make sure that you’re using the same business address everyplace that you’re listing is on the web. Here in Kansas City, we’ve got Highway 24 that runs through the city, but it’s also named State Avenue. So we could have an address that’s listed as 315 US Hwy 24 or it could be listed as 315 State Ave. You just want to make sure that you’re using the same name no matter what it is, for your address. So in Kansas City, just like many larger cities, we’ve got little suburbs. So State Avenue is partly in Kansas City, Kansas, and it’s partly in Mission, Kansas, so you just want to make sure that you’re using the same city name everywhere that you have your business listed.
And then your phone number. Make sure, like we talked about a little earlier, use this same business phone number in your map listing as you’re using on your website. You want to have consistency there, and further to that, if you have your business listed in other places like Citysearch or Dexknows, or those other places, make sure you’re using the same phone number as well. If you’re using a tracked phone number that’s fine, or if you’re using a call center, that’s fine. Just make sure that you’re using consistent information on every site that you appear. And then there’s one more thing that I throw in. You want to make sure that you’re using the same business website everywhere. All of those places that I mentioned: Superpages, Yellowbook, yellowpages.com, they have a field for entering your business website, like Google Plus does or Google Local, and you want to make sure that you’re using that website everywhere, and you should really only have one website. Some people out there have more than one website, that doesn’t really help you at all, that actually hurts you. So you want to make sure that you’re using just the one, main business website.
So what happens when you don’t have consistent NAP? You get a lot of confusion. Your confusion isn’t just isolated to Google, your confusion leads over into your renters. Here’s an example: Store It All Storage in Phoenix, is listed here as the “A” bubble on this Google Maps listing for self storage in Phoenix, but it has the same address for Extra Space Storage for the “D” bubble. Now you and I probably couldn’t tell here that this was a rebranding issue. Extra Space either bought Store It All Storage or Store It All Storage separated from Extra Space, but the listing here is duplicated. It’s got an inconsistent name, inconsistent phone number, inconsistent URL. Only the address matches, but we know it’s not two businesses sharing this address, it’s one business that was rebranded. So as a renter, I don’t know what’s going on here. I don’t know who owns this business. I don’t know what the right name of the business is, so I’m probably just going to skip over the “A” and “D” and eliminate those as possible places for me to rent. And I’m going to Storage Direct or Sentinel Mini Storage.
How do you fix this problem if you see this with your listing? Say you’ve recently purchased a storage facility or just that there’s a problem with your listing not having the right information. If you click into the listing, in the lower right-hand corner, there is a “report a problem” button. And if you click on that “report a problem” button, it brings up a page where you can communicate with Google the issues that you’re finding with this listing. You can choose that the facility is permanently closed, it’s a duplicate of another place, it does not exist or it’s a private listing, private residence, or other things that don’t belong here. You can change the name, change the address, and things like that. Google takes these as suggested changes for this listing. Anytime you report a problem to Google, there’s actual people on the other end, receiving these reports, and they’re reviewing them, and they’re going to make sure that the information is correct and is not some unauthorized person making random changes to listings. They’re going to do some checking to make sure the suggested changes are appropriate before they make the change. But this is an option for you to report an issue with your Google Local listing and try and get it corrected.
If that report a problem doesn’t work, go to www.support.google.com/places and you can find a couple other options for fixing a problem. If you are unable to get your listing verified, back to that whole verification step, if the postcard keeps getting lost in the mail or keeps getting thrown away and the phone option is not available for you, you can click on this and Google will help you. Google will give you a call and you’ll enter in the phone number where Google can call you to talk to you about how you’re not able to get the listing verified. And it’s a real life person; they call within about 10 or 15 seconds of you entering in your phone number, and they’re very helpful. I’ve had great luck working with those people at Google who call me, and they’re really quite helpful in getting listings verified, because again, they want to have the best information out there, and when they’ve got business owners interacting with them and providing really good information, that helps Google. So they’re willing to help us.
If it’s not a verification issue, if your listing has incorrect information, you’ve gone through the report a problem process, but you’re still not getting information updated as quickly as you needed updated or it’s just not getting updated at all, if you click on that, then you can get into this other section here. Google asks you a couple questions like “what have you tried to do to fix the error” but again, down at the bottom, there’s a “call us” button. Where you can click on that, enter in your phone number, and again, Google will give you a call within about 10 or 15 seconds, and you can talk to a real life person at Google who has the power to make changes, and you can talk to them about why you need the information changed. And again, they’re going to do some verification; they don’t just automatically believe you, but they’ll verify some things, and you’ll have really good results, working with the Google support team.
I do want to point out, though, that Google recognizes the fact that two businesses can work out of the same location. So if you are the owner of American Store and Lock in North Carolina, you should already know that U-Haul also works out of your business, and Google is not going to mark this as a duplicate and remove this one of these listings because they have two different names, they have two different phone numbers. They’re two different businesses, but they just happen to share the same address. I wanted to point that out that that is not a duplicate that Google is going to remove.
So, some recommendations for you: first of all, make sure that as a business owner, you are claiming and verifying your Google listing. It really has so much power in search results to get that listing claimed and verified and to get the information that you want listed, and you will see a change in the number of calls that you’re getting and the number of visitors to your business.
Report problems to Google. You know, don’t just give up if you don’t see the listing isn’t showing the information that you want it to show. Understand that where Google is getting their information from other sources, and those other sources may be incorrect, and you may just need to let Google know through that report a problem process or contacting their support team, and they are very helpful in getting information updated and corrected.
Keep track of the user account name and password you used to claim the listing. This seems like an obvious thing to do, but a lot of people do lose track of that. And if you do, like I said before, if you’re not going back in and updating your listing, I update our listings at least three times a year. I would say that you need to be updating yours at least twice a year, because otherwise Google is going to let somebody else claim that listing, and the first part of updating the listing is making sure that you can get into the account, and you have that username and password handy. The fourth thing, if someone else is managing your Google listing, is to know who it is. We manage a lot of Google listings for our customers, and that’s fine. It’s a lot of work for business owners to keep track of all of these business listings, especially if you own more than one storage facility. And it’s difficult to get them all claimed and verified and edited, and updated regularly and also keeping up with all the changes that Google is constantly making to their systems and their platforms, so if you have somebody else, an SEO company, a web designer, even just a manager of your own facility within your own office, just make sure that you know who that person is or who that organization is because otherwise you’re going to get into situations where you’ve got more than one person or business managing your listing, and you’ve got listings in multiple accounts.
And lastly, you can check other web sources for your business listing and update it with your consistent NAP information. The way that you can do that, the first thing I would suggest is go to Getlisted. It’s www.getlisted.org. You can enter in your business name and address and phone number will pull up results for you, showing you where your business is listed and it provides links to those listings say the Yellowbook link or the Superpages link, and you can click on that link and edit your information and get that consistent NAP into those other businesses. Also InfoGroup and Localeze, those are two companies that are online companies, and that’s their job to provide other websites like Superpages like Dexknows with the information about your business. They get the information about your business and they spread it out to those other websites. That’s a service that they provide. And it’s a really good service so you don’t have to go to every single place where your business is listed online and correct it. That’s really time consuming. You can go to just a couple of these places like InfoGroup or Localeze and give them the right information, and they will spread that information out to all those other websites.
And the last thing I wanted to talk about is the new look for Google Maps. Google Maps has been pretty much the same for the past five or six years and coming out this summer is a new look. Here’s the current look. You’ve got a bunch of listings, listed out “A” through “E” here on the left-hand side of the screen and on the right-hand side you’ve just got kind of a plain looking map with pins on it. The new look of Google Maps is this. If I do a search in Google Maps for self storage in Kansas City, Kansas, I don’t see this list on the left-hand side anymore. What I see are the names of the businesses prominently displayed on the map. Down here, you can see Extra Space Storage is in purple, because it’s an ad. Extra space is paying Google to be placed here, and these other ones in red are just organic, natural, local listings. These businesses have gone in like Shamrock and claimed their local listing and populated the information that they know about their business and gotten it verified, and it’s showing up here on the map. And you can see on here, Shamrock Self Storage, when I click on it, before much less information and it was listed on the left-hand side and the map on the right-hand side. Now you still have this map here and you’ve got the listing up here with the main information and the photos and street view.
The changes that Google is making with the new maps look are that it’s reducing emphasis on ranking. Everybody wants to be the “A” bubble, and not everybody can be the “A” bubble. So Google is recognizing that. Instead of having this ranking list of businesses, it’s really just showing you a map and saying, “Here are all the businesses.” So it’s really just an increased emphasis on prominence. And then the other thing to remember is I’m logged in as myself. And I had clicked on Shamrock Self Storage at the beginning of the process, and Google remembered that. So it’s going to always show me or at least in the near future, keep showing me Shamrock Self Storage because I showed interest in that before. So it keeps track of my history of what I had searched before, and it also take into consideration recommendations from people in my circles. If you’re familiar with Google Plus, you know it’s similar to Facebook, and it’s got that social aspect of being online. You don’t have friends in Google Plus, you have people in your circles, and so if I’ve got somebody in my circle that has recommended a self storage facility to me, then that facility is going to show up prominently on the map as well. So that’s another new change that Google is making. So I just wanted to give you a sneak look at the new Google Maps.
And that ends the presentation. I’d be happy to take any questions that you have at this time. If you have any questions you can just enter those in to the go to meeting chat bar, and we can take a look at those and work with you to get it verified.
Q: What is the difference between Google Map listing and Google Plus? Do you need a separate Google account for each? A: Let me answer the second half of that first, no. You don’t need a separate Google account. One Google account will take care of everything for you. The difference between Google Maps and Google Plus is really just where you’re at on Google. Google has merged its maps and Google Plus together as you can see at the very beginning of the presentation. We started off in Google Search and then we were able to click from Google Search right into Google Maps, and Google Maps is just their database of all their businesses that have a physical address and people want to get directions to. So that’s what Google Maps is. It’s just a really large database of business locations. The Google Plus is the social aspect of it. Google Plus adds in more social pieces of it. You can like a page, or plus a page, and you can share that page within your circles. And last year, Google merged Google Plus, Local, with Google Maps. So they’re one and the same now. It’s really confusing, and I kinda wish that they wouldn’t have done that. But for the most part, they’re the same when it comes to a local business. Google Maps and Google Plus are the same.
Q: Where can you find the final recording of the slides?
A: Go to www.storedge.com/self-storage-webinars, and it will be up.
Q: I tried to verify a listing yesterday, now I think I need to delete it, because it looks like a duplicate listing. How do I go back and fix that?
A: If you are using Google Local, and your screen looked like what I was showing you today, where you were adding the information about your listing, you’re using the new updated dashboard for Google Plus Local, and that dashboard does not allow you to delete a listing. If you want to delete a listing, you have to contact Google Support for it through that support website that I showed you and they will help you get that listing deleted. If you have an older account that was created before this year, then what I showed you is not what you see in your account. They’ve kinda changed just the look of the dashboard and the way you manage your listings, just the look of that management, and you can go in and there’s a delete button in that version of it. But if you’re seeing the same thing that was in my presentation today, you don’t have the ability to delete, and you need to contact Google Support for that.
Q: We have tracking numbers for each advertising search. For example: one for Google, one for Yahoo, one for Yelp, one for our website, etc. Will that affect our Google listing?
A: Yeah, it’s going to affect it, because of that inconsistent NAP. I know that obviously the purpose of tracking numbers is to know how well your advertising is doing on those different platforms, so that’s the benefit of having a tracking number. But when it comes to online presence, Google really relies on that consistent name, address and phone number. So when you’ve got different phone numbers showing up in different places online, it can affect your listing. If you’ve got the same name, same address, and same URL, but the phone number is slightly different because of the tracking number, you’re probably going to be ok, but generally, it’s a good idea to have that phone number be the same across the web.
Q: Is there an advantage to paying Google to enhance your presence on the map?
A: Well, that’s a tough question. First of all, it depends on how much you want to pay. Google makes its money off of advertising. That’s pretty much where all of its income comes from, so they’re often sending out coupons. You can $100 or $150 dollars off your advertising after you spend your first $50. You can use that to come up within the first page results as long as you’re paying enough, but whether that really helps you or not…I usually don’t recommend it actually. I think that just managing your local listing properly and having a really great website, that should be enough. You shouldn’t really have to pay Google to show up in those paid advertisements, and you just want to think about it for yourself. How often, when you’re doing a search, do you click on the paid versions, the paid listings vs. the organic listing or the local listing? And you’ll probably find that you click on the organic and local listings much more often than you click on the paid ads. Because the paid ads, especially for self storage, are mostly for Public Storage or Extra Space, those big conglomerates, and for local businesses, it’s about the small business owner. And people understand that the budget is a huge issue for small businesses. I just wouldn’t recommend it. You can try it out for maybe two or three months and see if it helps you, see if you have an increase in calls to your facility, or an increase in rentals, but I bet that you probably won’t see much of an increase.
Alright, if you have any other questions, please forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org. And again, you can go to www.storedge.com/self-storage-webinars, and you’ll be able to find this whole presentation posted there.
Thank you so much for joining us today and good luck with your local search.