Top 10 Blogs That Will Help You Understand SEO
Amy Daniels |January 20, 2016
If you checked out our top ten blogs that will make you a better marketer, perhaps you’re well on your way to making 2016 the best year it can be for your storage facility. As you pick up your web marketing efforts, much of what you do will overlap with SEO, a daunting, yet important, topic for businesses.
Maybe you know a lot about SEO already, or perhaps you feel even more lost every time you try to learn more. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, the articles below can help you move forward. These are some of our most popular posts on the storEDGE blog, so I’m confident they’ll give you some helpful takeaways for marketing your facility online. Let’s dig in!
Every time Google rolls out an update to its search algorithm, experts all over the internet speculate and analyze what the update means for internet marketing. Google’s 2015 changes to mobile search were particularly interesting because Google seemed to be building up to them for a long time.
This post explains what these updates mean. More importantly, it examines what this could mean for self storage by comparing real data for 13 different companies in the storage industry.
Read this post if:
Visuals and data help you understand abstract or complex ideas.
You want to learn more about how Google handles mobile SEO (or you want to debunk myths you’ve heard about it).
You aren’t sure how your facility’s website ranks on a mobile device and want to attract more customers from mobile.
This update isn’t that surprising when you look at the timeline of mobile’s popularity. Distilled, an online marketing agency, did a study on worldwide mobile traffic compared to overall website traffic and found astounding results: in May 2013, 16% of all internet searches were conducted from mobile devices. Just five months later, in October 2013, that number jumped to 20%. August 2014 saw a leap up to 30%, and by December 2014, roughly 34% of all internet traffic was coming from mobile devices.
The numbers make it clear that internet mobile usage is only going to climb higher as time goes by, so it makes sense that Google would continue to cater to the mobile user. In November 2014, Google started labelling mobile-friendly sites in search results, and over time Google has been placing less emphasis on keywords and more emphasis on content that answers users’ questions.
Local search is one big part of the equation Google uses to determine your site’s rankings, and it comes with its own share of best practices. Google made several changes to local search in 2015, and our local search specialist was the perfect resource to turn to in order to better understand these changes.
Lydia Fuqua helps our customers claim and verify their maps listings, helping their facilities be more visible online. I sat down and asked her how Google’s changes are affecting the industry, what operators can do to be proactive, and what changes she predicts will happen in the future.
Read this post if:
You enjoy hearing concepts explained in plain terms by experts.
You like to know details about Google’s updates, and you like even more to read educated guesses on what updates are coming in the future.
You’re curious to know what you can do to improve your facility’s visibility in local search.
Lydia: I think it’s important for our clients to understand the relevance of local ranking, what it means to to be found in Google Maps, and how claiming their listing really does impact their business. It’s a way to be verified and recognized as a business that users want to utilize. It starts with something as simple as claiming a local listing.
I do whatever I can to make sure that process goes as smoothly as it can and as painlessly as possible for our clients, because it is tricky and Google isn’t exactly transparent. There are situations where it gets particularly hairy because self storage facilities change hands so often. Some of the practices that Google utilizes make it tough for local listings to be claimed and verified in this industry. But my number one goal is to get each client’s Maps listing claimed, verified, and updated so that they can start to generate traffic to their website. My top priority is the client and making sure their business is seen.
Ah, link building. One of the most misunderstood topics related to SEO. There’s a good chance you’ve heard this term before, and perhaps you’ve even tried link building for your facility’s website. But were your efforts successful? That answer can vary drastically from business to business.
Two of the most important factors that play into your search rankings are content and links. Writing content takes time and building links takes time. So before you jump into the work (or worse, pay someone to do it for you), this post can help you understand where your efforts are best spent.
Read this post if:
You know a little about Google penalizing spammy links and now you’d like to see some examples of best and worst practices.
Your site dropped drastically in rankings in 2012 and/or 2013 and you aren’t sure why.
You’ve considered paying for link building services and want to do your research before you commit to anything.
Link building, at its center, is really just relationship building. If it doesn’t feel like it is, then you’re probably violating the way Google wants you to approach the process. You ought to be building relationships, both with the potential customers you’re reaching out to and the organizations you’re trying to earn a link from.
The good part about the relational aspect of link building is that long-term efforts can pay off. You will likely find that it takes a lot of work to build relationships with sites and businesses that can provide the most valuable links. You’re trying to provide a solution to a problem, and that takes time, energy, knowledge, and, of course, people skills.
Before the Q&A session with Lydia Fuqua, we posted a blog detailing everything you need to know about Google’s recent changes to local search, which also affected Google+, reviews, and sponsored listings.
We went through each of these areas, explained the changes, and provided some takeaways for your business.
Read this post if:
You’ve considered Google+ as a viable social media platform for your business.
You want to make sure all aspects of your SEO efforts are covered, especially if your facility is located in a competitive market.
You’ve heard about the importance of online reviews but want to see tangible examples as to why they matter.
Now that Google has decreased the 7-Pack to a 3-Pack, many small businesses will have a more difficult time showing up in the Local Pack. While this change undoubtedly has many implications, it’s not necessarily bad news. Many SEO experts point out that Google is tailoring search results to show more geographically relevant results to their users, likely reducing the radius that they pull from to display results to the user. So, while it may seem that your chances of showing in the Local Pack just dropped by more than 50%, the theory is that you may still benefit from this update because you’ll have a higher chance of showing up to users who are extremely close to your facility.
Another point to consider is that Google probably wouldn’t have made such a drastic change if results 4 through 7 of the old Local Pack were producing large amounts of traffic. Mobile searches have only shown three results for a long time anyway, so this update shows one more way that Google is tweaking its desktop searches to mirror mobile searches (this fact isn’t surprising considering Google accounts for roughly 95% of total mobile searches).
A lot of the people who read our blog are self storage managers. Many of them interact with clients daily but don’t have control over the company’s resources. So when it comes to choosing a new website provider or paying for link building services, there isn’t a lot that managers can do without consulting their facility owner.
But SEO has a lot to do with your ongoing efforts to improve your facility’s website, and thankfully, many managers have the expertise it takes to improve their site’s ranking in search. This post provides four tasks that can have a bigger impact on your SEO than you may think.
Read this post if:
You’ve got access to your facility’s website and want to improve its SEO.
You’ve wondered how, as a manager, you can make all that much of a difference for your company’s online marketing.
You learn concepts best by testing them out for yourself.
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.
Though this post was published in 2014, there’s no reason its advice can’t still be applicable to your business today. After all, Google’s Hummingbird update was the foundation for many of the changes they made in 2015 and are likely to make in 2016.
Hummingbird was deemed “the biggest thing to happen to SEO since 2001” thanks to its shift from keywords to its almost human-like understanding of what users are searching for, and Google has placed less emphasis on keywords ever since.
Read this post if:
You’ve noticed how Google predicts your searches as you type them and wonder how that affects SEO marketing.
You tracked Google’s Penguin and Panda updates and want to learn what their next animal-named update brought.
You’ve been frustrated with Google and want to better understand the overarching reason behind the changes they make.
The good news is that Google has been an open book about its intentions moving forward. If you want to be on track to beat out the next algorithm instead of conducting frantic damage control, it’s time to shift your focus away from the search engine and toward your customers. Before you do anything online, whether it’s social media, link building, writing content, sharing images, marketing your brand, generating leads, or posting a blog, ask yourself what good your efforts will do for your consumers.
SEO is little more than good customer service – online. You and Google share the same goal: reach out to customers and make their online experience awesome. Answer their questions. Teach them something new. Make information easily accessible.
At first glance, this post may seem more relevant to social media than to SEO. But when you consider that Google+ has something unique about it thanks to the fact that it’s a Google product, it’s worth examining how you can actually affect your site’s rankings by using it.
Some of the advice in this post is great for 2014 but a little outdated for 2016. Still, it explains PageRank, local search, and reviews, all of which play just as much a role in modern day SEO as they did a few years ago.
Read this post if:
You’d like to see how much Google+ has changed over the years.
You don’t understand how Google+ can affect a business’ SEO.
You want to use your Google+ profile to get the reviews that make your website more visible to your target market.
Compared to the thriving social centers of Facebook and Twitter, Google+ may seem like a bit of a ghost town. The number of registered users has increased dramatically over the last year, but the percentage of active users has dropped. By forcing YouTube and Gmail users to sign up automatically, Google+ has essentially inflated its population without an equivalent increase in actual use.
You might think, then, that Google+ pays far fewer dividends than other social media sites with more active users. And this is true if you consider only social sharing and exposure. But Google+ offers a few incredible features that far outweigh its relative lack of active users. By integrating seamlessly with Google’s own search results, a Google+ page can allow you to improve your SEO in ways that you could only dream of with Facebook or Twitter.
Organic SEO is frustrating. It takes a lot of work to get the results you’re looking for, and even then there’s no guarantee it’ll work. Even when you are successful, thanks to the ever-changing nature of Google, you can’t be exactly sure what worked.
Enter pay-per-click. You buy an ad that’s placed on Google and only pay if someone clicks through to your website. Sounds simple, right? Well, there are a lot of different implications and many ways to look at them. We broke them down in this post to help you answer the question, “To PPC or not to PPC?”
Read this post if:
You’re not interested in buying PPC ads.
You’re on the fence about buying PPC ads.
You’re interested in buying PPC ads.
...basically, if you’ve ever thought about PPC.
Nearly half of your facility's website traffic is from existing customers; when an existing customer searches to, say, pay their monthly bill, chances are they'll type in the name of your facility into a search engine bar to find your website. If they end up clicking on an ad rather than your organic listing to reach your site, you're paying when they click, when all they're trying to do is give you the money you're already owed!
To avoid wasting money on marketing to existing customers who are just trying to pay rent, consider running a negative keywords campaign – this is a tactic where you WON'T show up for a certain keyword with a paid advertisement (like your facility name).
This post was the first one where we took a detailed look at one of Google’s latest algorithm changes. Penguin 2.0, released May 2013, was the second installment of Penguin, which targeted unnatural link building. While Penguin 1.0 analyzed site’s home pages, Penguin 2.0 analyzed every page of a website, searching for spammy and unnatural links.
While this update was relatively small compared to Hummingbird, it did have a huge effect on some business’ rankings. Some storage facilities dropped drastically after being penalized, opening the door for other facilities to take their place. We compared data for two real facilities to get an idea of how this update affected the storage industry.
Read this post if:
Your site drastically dropping in rankings in 2013 and you’re not sure why. In fact, you’re still trying to recover the spot your website once had.
You’d like to hear, straight from Google’s spokesperson, which link building practices are most detrimental to your business.
You want to see data that shows just how much this update affected sites.
Overall, remember that there are plenty of ways to try and outsmart or outrun Google and its efforts. But rather than spend your energy working on something that you know doesn’t benefit potential customers and may end up harming your rankings, why not take the time to develop an exceptional online experience for your users? We know that the most effective way to promote our brand is through organic strategies, and that may take some learning. Some great resources on the topic include the Beginners Guide to SEO and Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Naturally, the learning process may be filled with trial and error and Google understands that. There is, however, a large difference between responding to Google’s warnings responsibly than in deliberately counteracting search engine conventions.
SEO is such a complex topic that it wasn’t too surprising when I saw that this post is our most popular article about the issue. It takes two specific aspects of your website, title tags and alt tags, and runs through what they mean, what they do, and how you can make them better.
From the proper character length for these tags to how title tags appear in search to the best way you can utilize alt tags on your storage facility’s website, this post is packed with information that you can use to audit your title and alt tags.
Read this post if:
You’re never sure what alt text to write for images you put on your website.
You aren’t sure what a meta tag is or what purpose it accomplishes.
You want to do everything you can to draw users to your site, even if you don’t have the first spot in SERP.
There are two main purposes of title tags and they align with the purposes of a website: they improve the user’s experience and they improve your website’s visibility on search engine results pages (otherwise known as SEO). When you utilize title tags correctly, you can attract users to your site even if you haven’t yet achieved the position that you want. Title tags also tell users and search engines: “clear and concise, this is what my page is about.”
Apart from the site’s content, title tags are the second most important on-page SEO element. If you’re going through the effort to produce exceptional website content, it’s worth your time to write exceptional title tags. The more relevant they are to a user’s search, the more likely your site is to receive a boost in position (translation: more rentals).
Happy search engine optimization!
There’s sure to be a few nuggets of helpful information in one or more of these blog posts. But since SEO is always changing and is such a big topic, don’t hesitate to speak up! Is there a post you’d like to see? Is there a topic you’d like to better understand? We create our blog schedule every month and would be happy to add your recommendation to our next one!