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October 4, 2022
There are some important digital marketing steps you should take before any others to ensure the best lease-up possible.
Whether you’re a brand new self storage operator or a seasoned operator with a brand new website, it can be unnerving when you don’t see immediate results on search ranking.
Google results pages work slowly, and it takes time for them to decide whether or not they should show your website to their users. There are things you can do in the meantime, though, to be productive.
Everyone wants to show up on the first page—and especially in the coveted top organic result spot—but don’t be stressed when that doesn’t happen right when your new website launches.
Because Google takes time to properly rank a new domain. In this case, domain refers to the name of your website. It’s the part that comes after the “www” in your URL, or the link to your website. If you changed your domain name, have a brand new domain, or made significant changes to your website, it’s very likely that you won’t see an accurate ranking for a few months.
And when we’re talking on the topic of ranking, we’re usually referring to organic results. Search engine results pages (SERPs) display multiple results on a search. There are ads, local pack results from Google Business Profile, and then organic results that are listed as links and are what most people think of when they talk about search results.
For more information on that, you can read up on why you may not be showing up on the front page of Google.
For now, let’s focus on understanding what your first 90 days (or roughly 3 months) of having a new facility and website will look like, including some factors that come into play and what you can do to be productive in the meantime.
If your primary concerns are getting found online and leasing up your facility, we have good news for you:
You don’t need to show up on the first page of organic results to compete.
Local pack results—those associated with Google Business—see far more clicks for local searches than the actual organic results. There are usually seven to ten organic results, and all of those see less than 30% of clicks combined.
Compare that to the three local Google Business listings on the page that split a whopping 44% between only three choices. It doesn’t take a mathemetician to see that local results are way more valuable than organic results!
These stats also only account for people actually searching on a search engine page. If they search in maps or using other tools, the organic results will offer little to no benefit.
Instead of spending your time stressing out about ranking on page one, for now, focus your time on what really matters:
You did it. You opened your self storage business.
It was probably a harrowing journey with pushed construction deadlines, worries about the supply chain, and lots of big numbers with dollar signs in front of them. But you did it.
Now you’re trying to fill up your storage units, and you know that one of the key tools in succeeding during lease-up is your website.
The problem? It isn’t showing up on page one when you search, and that has you stressed out.
Don’t worry. The answer to this problem is your Google Business Profile.
Here are the steps you want to take immediately:
Trust in the process and focus on your GBP. Local Google Business listings work much faster than organic result rankings, and you won’t need to worry about competing with everyone across your city.
You’ll be able to focus on only the area that is relevant to your potential customers!
Pug Pro Tip: Be cautious when hiring marketing agencies! Since your website can take months to get properly indexed and ranked by Google, it’s best practice to figure out the baseline for where your site is actually ranking before paying someone to “fix it.” Watch out for any digital partner who claims they can give you results overnight.
This goes hand-in-hand with getting your Google Business Profile squared away.
Make sure to ask every customer for a review. Do it when they rent from you, and do it when they move out. Text them a link to where they can submit a Google review.
If you get a positive review? Respond to it! Thank them for being a cherished customer.
If you get a negative review? Respond to it! Thank them for their business, address their concerns if possible, make it clear you will improve if needed, or professionally explain what might have caused the issue if you think it’s a misunderstanding. Either way, respond to it.
Google likes seeing reviews, and it likes seeing that you’re responded to the reviews. It shows Google that you’re a legitimate business, that people are doing business with you, and that you are actively engaged with customers.
Because ultimately, Google’s customers in this scenario are the people performing a search. It wants to know they’re sending its users somewhere that will solve the customer’s problem and encourage them to keep using Google to find such places.
Customers also like to see such activity in reviews. The statistics prove it. So make sure you’re asking for Google reviews, and make sure to respond to every one of them!
In this case, citations are business listings across the internet. They’re on sites like Yelp, for example, but we can even lump Facebook pages, Bing profiles, and similar listings in with the category.
The great part about citations is that it’s generally free to claim and set up your listing.
The important part about doing this is that it puts you in front of whatever users might happen to rely on these sites to find businesses or to confirm their relevance and reliability.
Just make sure your information is accurate and consistent across all of these platforms. Other than that, the amount of work you need to put into them is very small.
You may not need Google Ads. Many facilities do not.
However, there are cases where your market may be incredibly competitive. In these scenarios, it’s important to at least consider this may need to be your move for lease-up.
You can check out our guide on determining if Google Ads are right for you to help make the decision!
Ads appear at the top of the first page of Google when the search engine determines they’re relevant to a search, and it’s a great way to push your site in front of likely customers.
If you do opt to rely on ads, make sure to closely track whether or not you’re getting a good return.
SEO means Search Engine Optimization, but there’s a lot more that goes into it.
It varies from industry to industry, and what works for some industries will absolutely not work for a local needs-based business like self storage. Even REITs will often not be featured on the first page of organic results in some markets due to how saturated the industry is with aggregators that have strong domain authority.
In this scenario, the important thing is to remember this: Google takes time to properly rank your site.
As a matter of fact, ranking too quickly and getting lots of traffic that doesn't convert can lead to Google punishing your site in the rankings long term.
Before you let stress take over, before you take costly advice from the internet or a salesperson, give Google time to figure you out. And in the meantime, focus on what actually matters because even if you were ranked #1 on Google, local results from Google Business still outperform.
If you do all of the work noted here and you’re even ranking well but still not leasing up as you like, it’s important to take a step back and objectively look at your facility versus your market.
How does your facility compare?
Did you build nothing but 5x5s while other facilities are only filling up 10x10s? Are you in an area where customers appreciate extra security and your facility is closer to the bare minimum compared to competitors? Perhaps your pricing is high, or your facility is hard to find and has poor signage.
In a needs-based industry where it’s about function over form and trendiness isn’t a factor, marketing can only do so much to secure your customers’ business.
Ideally, you’ve done a feasibility study prior to opening your business. If so, refer to the data and see if any of it paints a picture regarding your customers and their needs. If not, it might be time to investigate and see if there is some amenity, signage, or another factor that could be improved to secure rentals.
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