We don’t have to tell you how intensely competitive the self-storage market is, especially when it comes down to the local level. If your storage facility is in a larger city, you’re competing against dozens of other storage facilities for top billing in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages.)
But trying to figure out all the intangibles that go into getting on the first page can be a real challenge. To give some insight into the factors that go into rank, the search engine optimization company, Moz, publishes a biennial Local Ranking Factors report. For those not familiar with Moz, they are arguably the best source of information on search engine optimization. The architect of this most recent effort, Darren Shaw, breaks down the factors that go into the results that Google (and to a lesser extent Bing and Yahoo) display.
While the survey is a bit complex, it can be broken down into the top 8 factors.
Factor #1: Google My Business Signals
When a potential customer does a search for storage in Google, they are served with local results at the top of the page in a box called the “Local Pack.” These results are driven primarily by proximity, meaning Google will try to provide the closest relevant results to where the searcher is located. Google gets businesses’ information from their Google My Business account. Google My Business (GMB), is a free listing tool that lets companies enter specific information about themselves – their name, address, phone number and their business category (i.e. self storage). Google then uses this information when displaying search results. For self storage facilities, it’s imperative that you get a GMB account established.
Factor #2: Link Signals
As you may know, links (also known as backlinks), are incoming links to your website from other sites. They are also known as “inbound links.” These are extremely valuable, especially if the linking site has what’s known as high “domain authority” or relevance for a specific subject or industry. So, the quality of the links back to your site are important, as is having your service (storage), and location (city) as keywords in the anchor text of that link. Another factor is the quantity of backlinks you have pointing to your site. The value of link as a ranking factor jumped up almost 17% in value between Moz’s last report and this year’s report.
Factor #3: On-Page Signals
On-Page signals refer to the contents of your site. The use of relevant keywords placed in strategic places on your site such as the page title, URL, and header tags, gives the search engines an idea of what your site is about. For local search, it’s also important to include your business name, address and phone number, collectively known as your NAP, on every page of your site. While this factor dropped between the last report and this one, it still accounted for almost 14% of the total ranking factors.
Factor #4: Citation Signals
Citations are listings of your company information on internet directory sites. There are a couple of different types of citations to mention here. First, there are what’s known as data aggregators. These are information clearinghouse sites that other directories use as source information. There are four main aggregators including Neustar/Localeze, Express Update, Acxiom, and Factual. It’s vital to get your storage business listed on these aggregators. Internet directories such as the Yellow Pages, Manta, CitySearch, Foursquare, Merchant Circle, and others, are the other type of citations. Getting listed on these sites—and making sure your information is the same across all these directories—is a factor in rank. This signal used to be the third-most important, but has gone down considerably since 2015 and is now essentially as important as our next signal—Reviews.
Factor #5: Review Signals
Self storage owners are very aware of the power of customer reviews. And the search engines continue to value them more and more. While good reviews are important for your business reputation, in terms of rank, there are other factors that matter more. The number of reviews you’ve received, the velocity or frequency of reviews you get, and number and quality of different sites that you have reviews on, such as Facebook, Yelp, and Google, all factor into the equation. Review signals jumped up over 21% in value since the last report.
Factor #6: Behavioral Signals
As Google and the other search engines evolve, they are looking for further evidence of searcher intent in order to provide relevant search results. That’s where behavioral signals come in. Behavioral signals include your website’s click-through rate (impressions divided by clicks), mobile clicks-to-call, and online check-ins.
Factor #7: Personalization
Personalization is the concept of delivering search engine results based on the location and browsing history of the searcher. If you’ve done much searching on Google lately, you can attest to the fact that they are continually personalizing the results. This factor also increased by almost 19% since the 2015 report. Self storage companies can’t do much to affect this factor, other than to make sure their company information (name, address, phone) is consistent on their site and others.
Factor #8: Social Signals
Social signals consist of engagement on social media—Facebook, Google+, Instagram, etc. While it only represents 3.53% of the total ranking factors, experts caution against eliminating your social media efforts. Searchmetrics came out with a report last year that showed a definite correlation between social signals and ranking position. Companies that held the top spot in SERPs had a strong history of social media engagement.
It can be a challenge to understand—and act on—all the factors that go into getting your self-storage business to rank well. But by doing so, you can stay a step ahead of your competitors in the crowded storage landscape.