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Google Ranking Explained

Everything you need to know about Google search and website rankings

Product_Team avatar
Written by Product_Team
Updated over a week ago

If you’ve attended any SEO seminar or been contacted by a salesperson from a third-party marketing company, you’ve probably heard all about how you should be Rank 1 on Google (and how they can help you get there).

This article will take a look at what actually matters when it comes to ranking on Google.


Before we get into the details, here are the high-level highlights from this article:

  • It can take 3-6 months to see your ranking start to improve after big changes or for a fresh website

  • It can take over a year for your ranking and traffic to peak

  • Local Pack results (your Google Business Profile) bring in more clicks than organic rankings—even rank 1

  • Always keep your search queries and physical location when searching in mind when considering ranking

  • Ranking is a secondary metric compared to rentals

Google’s Search Engine Results Page Anatomy

Once you’ve entered a search into Google, you’re taken to what is called the Search Engine Results Page (or SERP, for short).

How high your website appears on this page is how it ranks.

There are actually three sections of the SERP where your website can appear:

  1. Ads

  2. Local Pack

  3. Organic

They typically appear in that exact order.

How Many Clicks Each Section of the Results Page Gets

As you can see in this image, the Local Pack gets the lion’s share of clicks on the search results page.

In many cases, each individual Local Pack result will get even more clicks on a local search than the #1 organic ranked website.

What Rank Really Means

Have you ever thought, “How do I rank better?”

If so, you’re asking an incomplete question that doesn’t have an answer.

Your self storage website’s rank on the search results page will depend on many factors, including:

  • The exact search query you enter

  • Where you’re searching from

  • SEO signals from your site and Google Business Profile

  • Your search history and habits

  • The competition for those queries in your area

Your facility’s website might rank #20 organically if you search “storage units near me” from a mile away, but it could be #1 in the local pack. These numbers can shift, too, once you search from five miles away or search “storage units in CITY NAME” instead.

When you talk about ranking, you should always keep in mind the context, such as queries and the search’s point of origin.

Note: The only purpose of ranking higher is to get more traffic, and the only purpose of getting more traffic is to get more rentals. If you’re doing well in rentals, your ranking should be considered a secondary metric.

What Rank Should You Be At?

Your Google Business Profile’s rank in the Local Pack is ultimately more important than your website’s organic ranking.

Why does Local Pack matter more?

Customers are more likely to find your facility via the local pack for a few reasons:

  1. It appears ABOVE organic results

  2. Users searching in Google Maps see it as well

  3. Customers know the Local Pack is a more reliable way to connect with local businesses

Organic ranking can still be valuable, but it relies on factors that favor national chains or aggregators (such as REITs, SpareFoot, RentCafe, and others).

The Local Pack prioritizes factors where you have an even playing field.

How Long Does it Take to Rank?

Whether you have a brand new site, are changing URLs, or are making big changes to your pages, it takes Google a long time to figure out how to rank your website for different queries.

As a general rule of thumb, it will take 3-6 months to start seeing notable changes.

It can also take a year or more to see where your website ultimately peaks.

Below are two examples of this trend. The first example is one of StoragePug’s own blog posts. The second is a self storage facility website.

Neither of these received edits once it went live. As you can see, it took about 6-7 months before their traffic began to climb, and longer for them to peak.

How to Audit a Website’s Ranking

Want to go more in-depth on how to audit your own website’s ranking?

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