How To Dominate Search Results: A Guide To Self Storage SEO
In early 2022 we completed an SEO campaign for Storage HQ. Storage HQ is storage facility on Vancouver Island.
In a very short period of time (3 months) we were able to move Storage HQ from page two to page 1 for virtually every keyword including a top 3 position for their primary keyword “Duncan Storage”.
Storage HQ’s storage facility rapidly filled up* and they were satisfied with their rankings so we ended the campaign.
We are going to look at how we accomplished this and how you can also use SEO to fill up your self-storage facility. By the end of this article you will be able to put an SEO strategy together and if you done correctly search engines will love your storage facilities website.
*I am very proud of the self storage SEO campaign we ran but Josh is an astute operator. SEO was just one small part of the facility filling up.
This is a screenshot of the change in rankings between Feb. and July. Even though the campaign ended in May the SEO rankings continue to climb
Should Self Storage Facilities Invest in SEO?
When should self storage facilities invest in SEO?
When their storage CRM allows them to AND when the market is largely fragmented and/or when they have a large enough budget to compete.
Being on Twitter has given me some insight into how the self storage industry acquirers operate.
They buy a facility and look to improve 3 things:
The tech stack. This may be automatic gates, security or improved booking systems
The rents. Increasing rent is often the fastest way to improve the facilities NOI.
The occupancy. If the facility only has 60% occupancy that number has to be driven up.
SEO can help with the last two bullet points. Even if your facility is full, if you’re receiving phone calls daily for storage units you are going to feel more secure raising rates.
And of course, SEO can help improve the number of inquiries which in turn will increase the overall occupancy.
So knowing this why wouldn’t you invest in self storage SEO? For a couple of reasons
The competition is too great. Self storage was a very fragmented marketplace. However, in recent years there are more companies focused on rolling up these facilities. In some areas, the entire first page may be dominated by large brands.
How We Improved the SEO for a Self Storage Facility
Storage HQ is built on WordPress and uses storEDGE for its CRM. This checks the first box:
Is the storage website built on a platform that allows us to optimize for SEO?
Did we have enough resources to compete?
Storage HQ is in Duncan, BC. It’s a fragmented market with no large competitors.
Once we’ve determined that an SEO campaign would be a worthwhile investment we got to work.
All of our campaigns start with competitor analysis and keyword research. Specifically, we want to know:
How much search volume is there in a particular market?
How competitive are those search terms?
We use Mangools to determine search volume
We use Ahrefs and Surfer SEO to determine how competitive those terms are.
Keyword Research for Self Storage SEO
I cover keyword research for local businesses in that blog post but let’s walk through it again.
Step 1: What Services Do You Offer?
Yes I know, it’s a storage facility, they offer storage – duh. Which I would say to you – that’s lazy because guess what? They offer mobile storage, they offer RV storage, boat storage. and portable locker rentals. And do not forget about synonyms such storage space, public storage and mini storage.
You want to make a COMPLETE list.
Do you offer 24/7 access? Do you offer boxes and other packing supplies? Are some of your storage units heated or climate controlled? What sizes do you offer? You rent Uhauls at your self storage facility? Excellent that’s another service.
Step 2. What Areas Do You Service?
If you’re in a big city or town consider areas or communities that might be searched by a customer. For example, I live in Calgary our city is broken up into 4 distinct quadrants: NW, SW, NE, and SE. Every quadrant has plenty of search volume.
Having done enough work in Austin, TX I know that the city offers search volume for both North Austin and South Austin.
If you’re in a small city or town, like Storage HQ consider that surrounding areas may not actually have storage. Or in the case of RV storage, users search Vancouver Island RV storage. Proximity may be less important than availability or the facility itself.
Other terms to consider – storage near me, storage units near “x” university, cheap self storage etc.
I recognize that proximity is a huge contributor to selecting a storage facility so you may be stuck with one area.
Step 3: Compile Your List
Now that you’ve got your services and areas it’s time to start using Mangools to determine search volumes.
You want to check both implicit and explicit search volumes. You can find more detailed information on implicit vs explicit keywords but the short version.
Self storage is an implicit keyword. Even though I didn’t specifically tell the search engine what area I was looking at, the search engine will display search results based on geograpy.
Self storage Duncan BC is an explicit keyword. Even if I were searching from Calgary, I will be shown self storage facilities in Duncan BC.
So in order to check both I would use Mangools to first search for Self Storage Duncan “anywhere” and then I would search for self storage and add “Duncan BC” as my search location.
My excel sheet (make a copy) for keyword research.
Now lets take this data and perform competitor analysis.
Competitor Analysis for Self Storage SEO
Analyzing the competition is the most difficult part of building a successful local SEO campaign.
As I mentioned above we use Ahrefs and Surfer SEO to determine how competitive a keyword is. I always like to start with our largest keyword.
Compile a list of the top 10 websites in the search results for your primary keyword. Once we’ve done that we will determine the gap for site quality, link quality and content quality.
Determine The Quality Gap: Site Quality, Link Quality and Content Quality
Site Quality and Link Quality
We want to figure the gap between our site and the sites that we want to outrank. We use three metrics to determine that: site quality (domain rating), link quality and content quality.
Using Ahrefs put together a table with the following information for each competitor and your site
DR (Domain Rating) – Site quality
RD (Referring Domains) – How many domains link to their website
Ranking URL – Determine if the homepage ranks or if it’s a subpage.
Once you’ve done that create another table like this one:
Self Storage SEO Competitor Analysis template (make a copy).
Here is the video of how I made this competitor research sheet.
This part gets tricky. Click on backlinks and then click on “Do-Follow”and set the traffic to be a minimum of 100. We want to separate the good Do-Follow links from the spammy links. We are simply counting the number of good links in each DR range.
I walk through that process in this video.
On the first table we built add two more columns – Surfer SEO score and blog content.
The content column is a yes or a no answer. Do they have a high-quality blog. What do I mean by high quality?
Relevant, SEO’d content that contains information on the topic. This doesn’t need to be an industry-leading blog, just useful content that adds relevance to the website.
Surfer SEO score is another metric that grades the content quality. The higher the better.
This table is going to let me know:
How many links needs to be built
How much content needs to be added.
This will actually allow you to put a dollar amount on the amount of work needed. Our base local SEO package of $750/month we add 1000 words and 1 high-quality link per month.
Adding blog content, building citations and improving on-page SEO elements such as page speed, an optimized Google Business Listing (formerly Google My Business), reviews, optimized meta descriptions, SEO Titles, URLs and so on will also give us a bump but our foundation starts with domain quality, link quality and content quality.
Pitfalls of Competitor Analysis
Google has over 200 ranking factors and they are constantly tweaking and changing their algorithm to provide the best search engine results for users. This is what makes SEO for any business a challenge.
Some common issues that you may run into when analyzing competitors in the self storage industry.
Google’s crawler is world class. Tools like Ahrefs, while robust are not Google. Links can be missed.
DR can be manipulated. If you blast enough spammy links at a website you can often increase the DR rating.
User metrics are very difficult to track. If a site converts (ie: users do not bounce back to the search engine results page) unusually high that’s a strong ranking factor and we have no analytical method to account for it.
Determining which links will influence search engines is difficult.
Executing On An SEO Strategy for a Self Storage Business
Once we completed keyword research and we finished our local SEO competitor analysis we started our self storage SEO campaign.
Step 1: On-Page Search Engine Optimization Audit & Fixes
On-Page SEO is a relatively long topic so we won’t go into depth on each item – if you have questions I encourage you to DM me on Twitter. These are the elements we look at:
Page Speed. Typically we have three fixes
Use a better host with a CDN eg; (WPX)
Resize images so they are the proper size. Compress these images afterwards
Use WP Rocket
Update Meta Descriptions, SEO Titles, Header Tags and URLs
The Meta Description’s goal is to get the user to click. This is the meta description we used for the HQ Storage: The #1 choice for Storage in Duncan, BC on Vancouver Island. We offer self storage, mobile storage and RV Storage at our secure facility.
SEO Title: Service + Location + Brand. No need to overthink this.
Header Tags: Your H1 tag should contain the primary keyword. For example Innovative Storage Solutions in Duncan BC
URL: If you’re ranking a homepage this doesn’t apply. But you can either use /service-location or just /service. For example: https://storagehq.ca/rv-storage-vancouver-island/
Adding the location is more aggressive than just using /rv-storage.
Mobile responsive website. A mobile friendly site is table stakes.
Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP for business listings)
Your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP) need to match any local directories citations you build. You also want it to match your google my business page.
Step 2: Optimize Your Google My Business Page
The map pack displays local search results. Optimizing your business listing is quite straightforward.
Add your basic business details: business name, business address, business description, photos, the categories you service, the areas you serve, your phone number, hours of operation and if you post regularly post them on your Google Business listing as well.
Almost everyone gets this part right, it takes <1hr.
What actually moves the needle, to increase your business’s online visibility in the local pack?
Proximity. With self storage, proximity is overwhelming the largest ranking factor for the map pack and there is nothing you can do about where your self storage units are located.
If a user is beside your self storage unit and that user searches for self storage the odds of your facility showing up are VERY high.
Here is a screenshot from my current location – those are the three nearest storage facilities near me.
Reviews. Reviews make a big difference they impact your rankings and your conversion rate. Provide quality service and actively solicit reviews (I would recommend offering incentives).
Online web presence. Citations, backlinks, the quality of your website etc. Think about local seo as a whole. There are elements that are more important to search engines than others but it’s all connected.
Post blog posts you write, post images of the facility, post customer images. Keep the page active.
Step 3: Add Relevant Content & Page Audits
Storage HQ’s homepage already had the required amount of content according to Surfer SEO. We did add a separate page for boat storage and tweaked the content to bring up the Surfer SEO score.
The trick to a great service or location page is to include content that users find useful AND search engines love. Aside from the obvious – adding relevant information about your self-storage facility – here are two easy ways to beef up your word count.
User-generated content AKA reviews. Use reviews users have written on other platforms and include those on your website. This serves two purposes:first it adds social proof and second it’s an easy way to increase word count
FAQs. A few easy ways to generate FAQs. What questions have your customers asked you? Use Google – type in a question for example: is self storage climate controlled? Underneath the map pack it Google provides me with the following additional questions:
– What is the difference between heated and climate controlled self storage?
– Is climate controlled self storage necessary in BC?
– What should you not put in a self storage unit?
Admittedly if the campaign was longer we likely would’ve added more content to the homepage, RV storage page and boat storage pages.
Step 4: Off Page SEO: Build Quality Backlinks + Citations (Business Directories) + Online Reviews
Any SEO who tells you quality backlinks don’t matter is a muppet.
Can you rank content and businesses without links? Yes, it is possible but it’s very unusual. If you want to rank higher links are important to the ranking algorithm.
We built several links for Storage HQ. How do you build relevant links?
If you have an existing relationship with another local business swap links. acquire local community backlinks – sponsor a youth sports team that has a website, pay (gasp!) yes pay a local blogger to cover your business, sponsor a charity (we’ve gotten several because we give 1% to the planet [link]), sign up for local organizations such as local chamber of commerce, host a local event, sign up for a self storage association etc.
Citations for Local Businesses
Citations for local businesses are great. There are plenty of services that will help; you do this- we’ve used White Spark with good results in the past.
For most businesses generating online reviews for their Google My Business page is the best course of action. However, if business directories (for example, Yelp) rank for your primary keywords you may want to consider collecting reviews on both Google and the platforms that rank for your keywords.
Generating reviews should be top of mind for any local business. Self storage is no different.
Step 4: Adding Content
This step wasn’t actually necessary as we only wrote one piece of content and provided Storage HQ with 10 additional ideas as part of our contract.
However, if we were going to try and lock in number one spots I would write more content.
Content such as:
- How much does storage in Duncan cost
- What items shouldn’t you leave in storage,
- Sizes of storage units available in Duncan
- How much storage do I need?
- RV parks on Vancouver Island
- Boat launches on Vancouver Island.
- Packing a Storage Unit
- How does mobile storage work
Use Mangools to do keyword research and write every piece of content with the intention of ranking for those keywords.
Key Takeaways: Self Storage SEO Guide
Determine if your CRM is flexible enough to create a robust search engine optimization strategy.
Best-case scenario your self storage website is built on a platform like WordPress and uses a CRM like storEDGE. At a minimum, you need to be able to: add pages, add title tags, add content, optimize URLs and SEO titles.
Determine what keywords users search for. Focus on services and service areas to build out a robust list of keywords.
Analyze the other self storage companies in your market that rank in the top 10 search rankings.
Improve Your Website’s On-Page Search Engine Optimization
Add content to service pages where needed. Build new pages where needed
Collect online reviews
Create relevant content
Pay Per Click Ads for the Self Storage Industry
Digital marketing strategies can largely be put into two buckets: paid acquisition channels and organic acquisition channels.
Like self storage SEO, Pay Per Click Ads or Google Ads can be an effective way to reach your target audience and fill your facility up.
While there are many forms of paid advertising (facebook, IG, Tiktok, display ads, retargeting ads etc.) pay per click search ads often offer the best return on investment.
These ads show up at the top of search engines.
The goal of a PPC campaign is to generate high quality clicks that turn into leads that eventually turn into customers.
For example these may be the numbers:
$6 per click
10% conversion rate
$1500/month in ad spend
$1500 / $6 = 250 clicks. x 0.1 (conversion rate) = 25 leads per month.
Converting 40% of those leads into clients = 10 rentals per month
Over a long period of time, SEO can outperform PPC however there are a few distinct advantages to PPC.
The results are immediate. You don’t need to wait on search engine rankings.
You can adjust your spend depending on how many units you have available. If you need to fill up 20 units you can often do that just by increasing your PPC spend in any given month. Once the facility is running at a higher occupancy rate you can scale the ad spend down.
In some cases, PPC makes more sense than SEO and vice versa. Typically though, advertising through both channels will provide the best results for your storage business.
Retargeting Ads for Self Storage
Retargeting Ads (also known as remarketing ads) can be a fantastic way to re-engage with users who have previously engaged with your website. No matter how they got to your website, whether it was organically through great SEO or from PPC advertising such as Google Ads, re-engaging with those users ensures you have the best chance to convert those who were not quite ready to purchase.
Google Display Ads
One option is to use the Google Display Network for your retargeting ads. This is done though the Google Ads platform where you can either upload your own custom designed Google Ads or easily create responsive display ads within the platform (no designer required). We typically recommend doing both but if you’re working with a small budget, creating responsive ads within the platform will typically offer the best results.
I don’t love the display network in general, but it can be an effective place to run retargeting ads.
Facebook & Instagram Ads
Our preferred option is typically to create retargeting ads on Facebook & Instagram. The ad network within these platforms is typically more eye-catching which means there is a better chance your ads get noticed.
Within the self storage business, retargeting ads are most effective when you can offer a specific offer. Remember that this is a specific audience that has visited your website in the past so offering 1st month free or some other discount to this audience can be a fantastic strategy.
No matter the platform, we’ll typically start with a small retargeting budget of $100 – $300 for self storage businesses. Once we start accruing data, we’ll look for ad frequency statistics to determine if we need to increase or decrease the budget.
Are You a Storage Operator Interested In SEO or PPC for your Self Storage Facility?
We are digital marketing professionals with a track record of increasing inbound leads for small businesses generating between $250k – 5m/yr in revenue. We offer three core services: SEO to increase organic traffic, PPC to help customers find your business online and we build high quality websites.
We have a track record of working with self storage operators and helping them with improving their organic search results. If you’re interested in exploring SEO or PPC for your facility please a no-obligation discovery call.