Web marketing

What Google’s Top Web Vitals Mean for Your Self-Storage Operation

Last year, Google released a major algorithm update along with a clear guideline for businesses: Pay attention to your website visitor experience. In a nutshell, he advised that 1) your website loads quickly; 2) it should respond quickly to clicks and taps; and 3) it shouldn’t jump when it charges. These three measurable The principles of user experience – loading, interactivity and visual stability – are known as Core Web Vitals. In this article, we’ll look at each item in detail; but first let me explain why they are important to your self-storage business.

If you rely on your website to generate leads and customers, it is imperative to pay attention to the principles above. In fact, improving your user experience should pay dividends for years to come. First, you may see an increase in organic traffic as Google rewards sites optimized for Core Web Vitals. You’re also more likely to engage with the traffic you receive, whether it’s from advertising, search results, or partner sites.

Measure Basic Web Vitals

There are three main ways to get Core Web Vitals metrics, depending on how much traffic your self-storage website receives. The following tools can help you measure your results and diagnose any issues.

Chrome User Experience (CrUX). This pulls from a massive data set to provide “field” data – how your website is actually experienced by users as opposed to “lab” test data. If your site is in the database and reaches a certain traffic threshold, you will be able to use the CrUX report. Enter your URL, and if there is data, create a report.

Google Page Speed ​​Insights. If your website is not in the CrUX database, you can check out this tool instead. Some metrics are only measured “in the field” and therefore there may be data gaps. Still, there is a wealth of information available.

Google Search Console. Claiming your website in this tool provides detailed feedback, with Core Web Vitals now fully integrated. Scroll down to the Experience section and navigate to the available reports to view information on the three user experience metrics. Now, let’s look at these metrics individually.

Page load speed

To measure the initial load time of your self-storage website, we use a metric called “largest content painting” (LCP). This refers to the time it takes for the largest visible element “above the fold” to load. It can be an image, a slider, a title or even a large piece of code. In a “good” user experience, this element will load in less than 2.5 seconds for over 75% of your visitors, according to Google.

Websites can be configured to load the LCP element first, even if other content and code is still loading in the background, which creates the Perception of a fast loading website. These first seconds are decisive for any website.

Interactivity

Website interactivity is measured through “first input delay”, which is the time between when a user first clicks or taps and when the browser is able to respond to that activity. If your self-storage website responds to that first click or tap in less than 100 milliseconds for more than 75% of your visitors, you’re delivering a “good” user experience.

Suppose a customer walks by your property and sees your establishment’s signage. They then look up your business on their phone, go to your website, and either press the phone number or try to look up your rates, but the site doesn’t respond immediately. If there is latency, users are likely to get frustrated and give up. A website that loads quickly and responds to the first click or tap provides the user experience Google is looking for.

Visual stability

We measure the visual stability of a self-storage website using the cumulative layout shift (CLS) metric, which counts unexpected layout shifts while loading a web page. You know how a page jumps when it loads, causing you to click on something unexpected like an advertisement? It’s frustrating, isn’t it? This is what is measured by CLS. The metric itself is a product of impact and distance.

Any CLS metric that shows minimal lag (less than 0.1) for more than 75% of your visitors in a “good” user experience. It is often the easiest of the three metrics to solve. Simply setting the height and width of each element on your page allows the browser to load elements without the jitters.

Problem resolution

Initially, most websites have issues with Core Web Vitals. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your self-storage website is suffering in search results, or that fixing an issue will have a major positive impact. That said, a consistent approach to improving your website generally produces good, measurable results over time. Here are three main ways to troubleshoot potential issues:

Get professional insight. Have your web developer review a Core Web Vitals report and determine how to fix potential issues. Even some common website elements can cause problems, especially if your site is getting old. For example, the problem may be your home page slider. Instead, a single static image well optimized for the web can provide a better user experience while refining your message towards your most important selling point.

Revisit your platform. Again, older websites are more likely to have Core Web Vitals issues, as aging code may not reflect more modern considerations. For example, a WordPress site with outdated plugins and theme will tend to run slower and get flagged more frequently than a fully modern, well-optimized site. If you run a very old site, choosing a new platform like Squarespace or Wix might be a good option for your budget.

Upgrade your hosting. If you’re only paying $5 or $10 a month for your website hosting, your performance will likely suffer. Cheap hosting is penny-wise and pound-foolish, often costing you in terms of poor search results and user experience, as well as higher maintenance and development costs. Just upgrading your hosting could solve a multitude of problems for a modest investment.

Your website is the cornerstone of your self-storage business’s online presence. This often gives potential tenants their first impression of your business. Far from just being a busy job, taking the time to diagnose and fix Core Web Vitals issues can result in a faster, easier-to-use website that generates more business. However, this must be weighed against the cost of improvement with no guarantee of better results. Work with your web developer to find low-hanging fruit, implement what you can, measure impact, and implement within your budget.

Tyler Suchman is the founder of The Storage Agency, a web-based marketing agency exclusively focused on serving self-storage owners and operators with unbeatable performance and price. The Storage Agency is powered by Tribal Core, a boutique agency founded by Suchman in 2002. To reach him, email [email protected].