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Winning Storage Customers with Local Internet Search

Jun 10, 2011

By guest blogger and 2011 convention speaker Michael David 
Tasty Placement

Internet search is changing: localized search now offers great free opportunities for low-cost advertising. Here's how to make the most of local search.

Self-storage can take advantage of a unique opportunity to market to new customers through local internet searches. In the world of search engine marketing, we look at local search as a subclass of internet searching generally. A local search is someone looking for a service or product that's available very near to them. Someone buying a book on the internet might go to a national site like Amazon.com or Alibris; this user doesn't care how far UPS has to go to deliver their product. But someone seeking a local service like auto repair, home repair or self-storage needs to find a service very near to their location.

Luckily, local businesses can benefit from the greatest change to search technologies in recent years: the rise of local search. Google, most notably, now integrates a map listing into their search results when they detect a user using keywords targeting localized service. Search queries like " San Antonio self storage" serve as a signal to Google that the user is looking for something in a particular location. The rise of localized search is not restricted to Google. Yahoo Local and Bing local are furiously working to expand their local offerings. Newer websites like Yelp.com and Merchant Circle have sprung up in recent years to focus entirely on local business. Here's the best part: you can include your business on most of these local search offerings for free.

We see self-storage as particularly well-suited to local advertising and local search. A self-storage customer will generally want a space near their home. They might be storing seasonal items that they'll need access to on short notice. Or, they'll park a boat or other vehicle. They simply won't want to drive across town to access their storage. Generally speaking, customers won't do as much shopping around once they find availability. We call it the "Locksmith-Heart Surgeon Continuum." When a user is seeking a heart surgeon, they'll spend days or weeks searching because their life depends on it. If locked out of their car, however, they just want the fastest service, period. Self storage is closer to locksmithing: the location is the benefit they are seeking.

So the key to winning in local search is to have your information present in local search. The process is simple. We recommend visiting Google Places (http://www.google.com/placesforbusiness) first to create your free listing. If Google Places has already created a listing for your business (using public records) then you should claim it and make sure the information is correct. This process can take several weeks and involve a mailed postcard that Google uses to verify that your business physically exists at the address you supplied in the listing.

From there, you should add your listing to as many local business directories as you can. For the most part this is a time consuming but not particularly challenging process of adding your business information to online forms. The important part to keep in mind is that the contact information you give these so-called "internet yellow pages" is consistent with the information you gave to Google Places. Give them all the same phone number, address, and website name!

The most important directories to work with are: local.yahoo.com, bing.com/local, Kudzu.com, MojoPages.com, SuperPages.com, InsiderPages.com, ExpressUpdateUSA.com, advertise.local.com, MerchantCircle.com, Hotfrog.com, Yellowbook.com, Foursquare.com, USYellowPages.com, manta.com, Yellowassistance.com, Myhuckleberry.com, brownbook.net, magicyellow.com, national.citysearch.com, and local.botw.org.

It's an intimidating and long list, but it's well worth the time and effort when you consider the local traffic it will drive to your business!

Catch Michael speaking at the 2011 convention and trade show this October!

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