A high-quality self-storage SEO plan targets potential tenants, uses localized strategies, leverages social media marketing, and complements PPC for soaring rankings and maximum occupancy.

If you’re in the self-storage business, you know success goes beyond having the largest number of storage units or the nicest self-storage facility. Your business’s online presence is just as pivotal.

The catch? Self-storage search engine optimization (SEO) is a different beast compared to traditional SEO tactics.

In this industry, it takes a distinct plan to secure the top spot in search engine results.

We tapped into the expertise of Matt Smith, associate director of SEO at HawkSEM, for his take on self-storage SEO.

We’ll walk you through the fundamentals and offer tips on how to craft a winning self-storage SEO plan.

Self-Storage SEO

(Image: Unsplash)

What is self-storage SEO?

Self-storage SEO uses organic search engine optimization marketing campaigns, like content marketing, website optimization, and local SEO, to make your business more visible to online browsers.

The goal? Drive better search engine rankings, amplify online visibility, and drive higher occupancy.

These strategies, which we’ll explore in more detail shortly, differ significantly from SEO in other sectors. Smith sheds light on key differences and unique challenges:

“Self-storage is a notoriously competitive industry to succeed in from an organic standpoint,” says Smith.

“It’s best to niche down and build topical authority in a highly specific, localized topical cluster. It’s also highly local, meaning local SEO strategies including citations, optimized local pages and GBP optimization will come into play.”

The self-storage industry boasts an impressive 92% success rate. To stand out and capitalize on this profitable niche, you need a robust SEO strategy to keep your online presence as strong as your business model.

How to create an effective SEO plan

  1. Set aside a self-storage SEO budget
  2. Understand your audience
  3. Perform a self-storage SEO audit
  4. Conduct keyword research
  5. Prioritize local SEO
  6. Refine your website architecture
  7. Optimize technical, on-page, and off-page SEO
  8. Amplify your social media presence
  9. Pair SEO with paid search
  10. Track competitors and industry trends

1. Set aside a self-storage SEO budget

First things first, what will a solid self-storage SEO plan cost you? It depends on:

  • The size and scope of your self-storage company: The smaller the company, the more modest the budget. Larger storage operators, however, can typically invest in more comprehensive strategies.
  • The current state of your online presence: If you start from scratch, you may need a higher budget for more foundational work, like website design and initial content creation. In contrast, a business with an established site and presence can focus on deeper optimization and refinement.
  • Market competition in your area: In this highly competitive market, advanced SEO tactics and continuous content creation can distinguish your business from competitors.
  • Whether you outsource or hire in-house: Local businesses, like self-storage solutions, will pay around $500 to $1,000 monthly for an SEO agency (or over $10K for more comprehensive SEO services). With in-house SEO, pricing varies according to the salaries of the team you hire or allocate to SEO tasks, along with any additional resources or tools needed.

Once you know where you land, you can estimate your SEO budget for an effective SEO strategy that best fits your needs.

2. Understand your audience

Next, it’s time to hone in on your target audience. That’s easy — anyone looking for storage solutions, right? Not quite.

The who

Your audience segments should be specific.

Here are a few examples:

  • Residential customers: Are you selling to homeowners who need extra space for seasonal decor, students who need somewhere to stow away their stuff during holiday breaks, or families looking to declutter during moves or life transitions?
  • Business customers: Maybe your audience includes businesses who need space for inventory, documents, overstock, or equipment during peak seasons or vice versa.
  • Specialized storage customers: Perhaps your ideal customers need safe storage for their cars, boats, RVs, or motorcycles. Or maybe they need climate-controlled units for collectibles like wine, art, or antiques.

The how

You should assess your potential customers’ needs, search behaviors, and keywords they use when looking for self-storage solutions. To do this, you can employ a few different tactics:

  • Market research: Run surveys, focus groups, or interviews with current and potential customers to gather insights about their storage needs and preferences.
  • Analyze customer data: Review your customer base to gauge common characteristics and behaviors. This can span age, location, reasons for needing storage, and how they found your business.
  • Monitor online activity: Use tools like Google Analytics to understand how visitors interact with your site and what content they engage with most.
  • Social media engagement: Talk to your audience on social media platforms to get direct feedback and observe their discussions and interests.
  • Peep the competition: Use competitive analysis to understand how competitors market to similar audiences and identify gaps or opportunities they might be missing.

Once you’ve got a clear picture of your target audience, you can fine-tune your SEO to speak directly to their needs.

3. Perform a self-storage SEO audit

Wondering where to kickstart your SEO efforts?

We always launch a comprehensive (and complimentary) SEO audit for our clients. This helps us determine what works and what needs improvement. Our audit covers technical, on-page, and off-page SEO (we’ll break these down further in a bit).

Then we get laser-focused on your SEO goals, target audience, and enhancing any other digital marketing strategies you’ve got in place.

And these audits are worth their weight in revenue. Take it from our client, New Century Financial, who saw six times more conversions after letting us take the reins.

4. Conduct keyword research

The best way to sharpen SEO? Conduct keyword research to learn what potential customers type into Google when they search for self-storage businesses just like yours.

These search queries translate to relevant keywords and phrases that drive audiences straight to your website.

Some of our favorite tools to help you research the right keywords include:

A couple more keyword tips to keep in mind?

Focus on both high-volume keywords and long-tail phrases

High-volume keywords have many searches per month and are often more general and competitive. For a self-storage business, this could include terms like “self-storage units” or “storage facilities near me.” Targeting these keywords increases visibility due to more searchers.

Long tail phrases, on the other hand, are longer and more specific, and tend to lean conversational. As a result, they boast a lower search volume, less competition, and are more targeted. For self-storage, examples could be “climate-controlled storage units in [Location]” or “affordable self-storage for students in [City].”

Analyze competitors’ keywords to spot opportunities

Smith breaks down the process. “You’d first want to identify your direct competitors from a business standpoint (business owner to identify) and digital standpoint (SEO strategist to identify),” he explains.

“You would then use a keyword gap analysis to identify what the storage businesses are ranking well in and areas that they’re weak.”

Smith adds that you can use Google Trends to identify which topics are increasing over time and consider seasonality. From there, find storage-related keywords relevant to your audience and lead them toward purchase.

Keywords locked in? Let’s get local.

5. Prioritize local SEO

Local SEO optimizes your website and Google Business Profile to boost visibility in local search results. This lets your business appear in the SERP whenever someone searches for self-storage solutions in your area.

For example, here’s what someone who lives in the 90020 zip code sees when they search “self-storage near me:”

Google screenshot

(Image: Google screenshot)

With 400% of searches tied to local intent, local SEO is a linchpin of online visibility for trade workers and brick-and-mortar businesses. The better your local SEO is, the more your self-storage business will show up for potential tenants in your community.

Here’s how to make it happen:

Claim and optimize your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) listing

This is like your virtual business card on Google, but even more comprehensive. It includes your company’s name, phone number, and address, as well as a Google Maps to your location, details about your self-storage offerings, Google reviews and ratings, and more.

List and optimize local citations

Local citations mention your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) on other sites, like local business directories, websites, and social platforms.

To optimize your citations, focus on popular sites with high search volume, keep details consistent across all sites, and avoid duplicates (plus, they can hurt your SEO efforts).

Target local keywords

Include your location in keywords such as “self-storage for boats in Long Beach” or “air-conditioned self-storage near Griffith Park.” Remember to do the same for your metadata, website content, and Google My Business profile.

Organic traffic from local search results? In the bag. Now, let’s polish your facility’s website.

6. Refine your website architecture

Even the best SEO can’t outmaneuver a slow, messy, and hard-to-navigate self-storage website.

Just ask the team at DILO, a HawkSEM client whose website and SEO left their rankings and conversions in the dumps. Once we sank our teeth into their site architecture and digital marketing, they garnered a 36% jump in organic clicks in less than a year.

We like to think of site architecture as your website’s blueprint, which encompasses:

  • Web design: Your site’s layout, visual elements, and overall aesthetics. This should be visually appealing and logically organized.
  • Site navigation: How visitors move through your site and find what they’re looking for.
  • URL structure: The format of your web addresses, ideally concise with relevant keywords.
  • Internal linking: How different pages in your site link to each other to distribute authority throughout your site. Just be careful with doorway pages (spammy, unhelpful pages created to manipulate rankings).
  • Page hierarchy: How you organize pages on your website, typically in a hierarchical format. For instance, there’s your homepage, then you might link categories like “climate-controlled storage units” and “open-air storage units.” Within those, you might link additional categories, perhaps by size, like “small storage spaces,” “medium storage spaces,” and “large storage spaces.”
  • Loading speed: How long it takes for your site to load; the faster the load time, the better the user experience and rankings.
  • Content organization: How you’ve laid out your content on your site, including the use of headings, subheadings, and distribution of text and multimedia.

7. Optimize technical, on-page, and off-page SEO

SEO is a broad term that covers a range of practices, including technical SEO, off-page SEO, and on-page SEO. Let’s touch on the differences:

Technical SEO

Technical SEO deals with the technical aspects of your self-storage website that affect search engine visibility.

This includes:

  • Website speed
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Indexing (how search engines collect, analyze, and store website information in their databases)
  • Crawlability (how well search engines can read and follow links in your site’s content)
  • Site architecture
  • Schema markup (a script in your site code for better crawlability)
  • XML sitemap (a structured list of all your web pages)
  • Security (HTTPS) (ensures secure communication)

This type of SEO ensures your facility’s website is structurally sound and accessible to search engines. It’s no surprise that many businesses leave it to the pros. Lucky for you, schema markup implementation is in our wheelhouse.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO covers everything on your actual web pages, like:

  • Content quality and relevance
  • Keyword optimization (in title tags, meta descriptions, headers, and content)
  • Image optimization
  • URL structure
  • Internal linking

As far as content strategy goes, it’s important to start local.

“[A] self-storage content strategy should cover local terms first, then expand into long-tail topic clusters,” Smith says.

“If the business is only in a small area, then your focus should be on maintaining rankings through keeping existing content updated and continued backlink acquisition. If you’re larger, you’ll need to spread resources to new topical pillars.”

Off-page SEO

Did you know SEO transcends your self-storage website, too? Off-page SEO refers to everything outside your site to boost your rankings on the SERPs. This includes:

  • Link-building
  • Social media marketing
  • Guest blogging
  • Influencer marketing
  • Brand mentions

Off-page SEO nurtures your site’s reputation and authority, signaling to search engines that others vouch for your content. But how do you acquire high-quality links for your facility’s website?

Smith emphasizes the importance of using natural approaches to securing backlinks:

  • Research your audience in social media groups and tools like the Content Explorer on Ahrefs
  • Identify key pain points like security concerns [and] environmental conditions
  • Examine competitor pages that have acquired a ton of links (not the homepage or news-related)
  • Build some kind of visual component to accompany your page copy and use a personable approach

(Image: Unsplash)

8. Amplify your social media presence

While 77% of businesses use social media to reach customers, it’s easy to see that self-storage operators aren’t the ones crowding your IG feed. But with 82% of people leveraging social media for search, it’s high time to integrate social SEO into your self-storage SEO plan.

So, where do you start? It depends on where your audience spends the most time.

For example, if you design storage units for industrial use or excess inventory for other businesses, LinkedIn might be the perfect kick-off point. However, if you’re aiming for students with dorm overflow, Instagram and TikTok are probably the better choices.

Once you’ve found your ideal platform, you can create quality content that speaks to your target audience.

Here are some ideas to get you going:

  • Before-and-after photos of a cluttered and uncluttered space
  • Tips on how to pack and organize items in a storage unit
  • Quotes and feedback from satisfied customers
  • Behind-the-scenes tours of your self-storage facility
  • Tips on how to choose your ideal storage unit
  • Interactive content like polls, quizzes, or re-creatable trends

9. Pair SEO with paid search

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising (or paid search) is a digital marketing strategy in which you create ads that appear on Google or Bing, and pay each time someone clicks on them.

SEO is powerful on its own, and the same goes for PPC. But we’re of the camp that paid search and SEO work best together.

This is because SEO is a long game. It takes months, even years, to build credibility and solidify your online presence. Your PPC efforts, on the other hand, can pay off within a few days or weeks.

To create self-storage PPC ads, you’ll apply many of the same self-storage SEO practices we’ve covered, plus a few more strategies, such as:

  • Negative keywords (terms you don’t want to target, like “air-conditioned” or “outside units”)
  • Ad extensions (additional context, like contact info or facility highlights, to drive more clicks)
  • Custom audiences (target your ads to specific demographics)
  • Remarketing (retargeting prospects who previously interacted with your site)
  • Display ads (those little visual ads that show up on the borders of other sites)
  • Detailed ad metrics (track your ad performance and continuously optimize based on ad data)

Think of it this way: while SEO brings your self-storage business into organic search results, PPC sort of buys its way in.

10. Track competitors and industry trends

As of 2023, there are over 50,000 self-storage facilities in the U.S. With so many vying for the same customers, you’ve got to stay abreast of SEO trends and your competitors’ strategies:

  • Know who they are and keep tabs on their site structure, content, keywords, and backlink profiles
  • Keep an eye on their presence in local directories and how they manage local SEO
  • Regularly comb through their customer reviews and ratings on platforms like Google My Business and Yelp
  • Peep their social media engagement, algorithms, and how they interact with your audience
  • Use the SEO tools we mentioned earlier to analyze their website traffic, rankings, and SEO campaign performance

As for keeping a finger on the pulse of what’s new with the self-storage industry, Smith suggests following trends on social media, especially in groups on Facebook or X.

Another great way to get in on breaking trends is to attend seminars in your vertical, according to Smith.

Measuring success in self-storage SEO

So, how do you know your self-storage SEO plan is dominating? You’ll need to gauge its performance with key metrics and KPIs.

“Calls and online submissions (top-funnel leads) are a good place to start,” Smith advises.

“From there, you can further define a qualified lead through the CRM, identifying MQLs [marketing qualified leads] and SQLs [sales qualified leads]. This is where we can evaluate all data points (top to bottom) with our ConversionIQ dashboard.”

When it comes to effective SEO and content marketing ROI, however, Smith focuses on tracking expenses and value across all efforts, from writers to strategists, and assets to advertising dollars.

But it’s no easy feat.

“The most difficult element of this is assigning value to your content marketing, especially when reviewing offline foot traffic to your storage facilities,” says Smith.

“You would probably want to attribute a partial value to content marketing to a segment of your customer basis depending on existing brand recognition.”

That’s why it’s vital to have trusted pros like the team at HawkSEM in your corner.

The takeaway

As you can see, self-storage SEO warrants its own unique category with its focus on local SEO and specific audience segments.

But if you find your SEO efforts don’t bring the occupancy boost you aim for? Let an SEO company like HawkSEM handle the heavy lifting.

As a top 3% SEO agency, HawkSEM’s experts bring a deep understanding of SEO dynamics and a track record of record-breaking ROI (a 4.5X average, to be exact).

Ready to get your self-storage biz on that coveted first page? Let’s talk.

Christina Lyon

Christina Lyon

Christina Lyon is an entrepreneur and writer from sunny SoCal. She leads Lyon Content, a tight-knit team of bold creatives, and crafts engaging written content that helps brands sparkle and scale.