Local Search Ranking: How to be Found on Google
By James Appleton
MiniCo Insurance Agency, AZSA Board Member, GTG*
Local search optimization is paramount to the success of self-storage facilities in today’s fast-paced, mobile device driven world.
Before we dive into some of the most important factors, first thing’s first… let’s use Moz Local to check your local listings: https://moz.com/local/search. There is a paid option to address the results, but most of them can be tackled on your own.
And now, what Google wants:
There are a number of factors and signals Google looks at in Local Search (Maps) ranking. It is recommended that you monitor and take action as often as possible to keep content and engagement fresh.
Key factors include proximity of person searching and your location, the categories you’ve chosen for your Google Business listing, and whether there are relevant keywords in your business title. (Note: do NOT add keywords to your business title that are not a part of your official name… this goes against Google’s policies and could lead to a penalty).
Inbound links are still considered but are nowhere near what they used to be. Over the past few years, Google has identified link tactics and link farms it considers to be in violation and MANY people who utilized paid link strategies felt a major penalty. Though it may have stung some businesses, it helped legitimize local ranking factors, like proximity, and leveled the playing field.
On-Page / Website Signals
Continued emphasis should always be placed on NAP (Name, Address, Phone) presence on your website with proper schema/microformatting. Adding the proper schema to your website may be difficult if you don’t control the code, but your provider can assist you. Go to this website for the recommended self-storage schema/markup: http://schema.org/SelfStorage.
You can also use a number of schema generators to format and output the code for your website, such as https://technicalseo.com/seo-tools/schema-markup-generator/
Everything from the type of business, hours, products and pricing can be formatted to attract search engines. This code is not visible to the searching public, but rather it serves as a “road map” or menu for search engines to better understand what you offer.
Consistency is key. For instance, if your address is on a Boulevard and you abbreviate it on your website, external citations should mirror that. If you employ a tracking phone number that differs from your primary, make sure BOTH are listed in all sources as well.
This is a no-brainer… you need reviews: both ratings and good, unique review content. Both the public and search engines rely heavily on reviews and diversity. No business is perfect, so you’ll get some 1 and 2 stars, but a few is not harmful. In fact makes your business look human.
Some experts do not recommend addressing negative reviews. Granted, it’s never a good idea to engage an irate individual in an open forum. However, it is a good practice to address those that leave star ratings with NO content. Without being unprofessional, you need to let consumers know those reviews may not be legitimate.
Always thank those who give you good reviews. For those who drop a 1 star with no review, try something like this. I use it personally. “Hi [name], We don't have record of you as a current or past tenant or of doing business with you in general. We take reviews and ratings from our self-storage tenants very seriously and know that the public counts on honest reviews from those who do or have done business with us to make educated decisions. Can you please call or come by our office and let us know what unit number you have with us so we can address your concerns? Thank you so much!”
Nine times out of 10 you’ll get no response, but you will at least get it on the public record that their review is suspect and likely NOT from a current customer.
Google also looks at your click-through rate, mobile clicks to call, check-ins, etc. Such activity indicates that the facility and consumer are engaged. Make sure your message promotes the call-to-action you desire.
Google not only looks at Google engagement, but also at other social media platforms and signals. In other words, you have to communicate across many platforms to keep Google interested in you. This takes time and can be done internally but there excellent 3rd party services to handle this for a reasonable fee.
James Appleton, *General Tech Guru, is Director of Sales, Special Risk, at MiniCo Insurance Agency. He is also part of The Rudel Company, which owns and operates self-storage facilities in the Phoenix area, and has a web design firm called Barking Tuna Web Design. James is on the AZSA Board of Directors.