Doing business online is no longer an option in today’s self-storage marketplace. Now, just when it seems that most self-storage businesses have embraced the Internet and launched their websites, the rules have changed.
How Google’s Changes May Affect Your Business
In April, Google began rolling out changes to its search algorithm for mobile searches to favor websites that are optimized to look good on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Sites that include small text and links as well as content that is too wide for mobile screens will be penalized by the algorithm.
Redesigning a website to convert a desktop-friendly interface to one that is designed for ease of use on mobile devices is a significant undertaking, and self-storage operators will need to plan ahead to implement such changes. The good news is that Google’s updated search criteria does not mean that sites that are not mobile-friendly will automatically be removed from search rankings; however, these sites may appear lower in the search rankings.
Mobile Device Ownership Is On The Rise
Rates of mobile device ownership and usage, particularly smartphones, have risen dramatically in the past several years. A report released by Pew Research Center in April 2015 indicates that two-thirds of American adults own a smartphone. Ownership rates increase with the level of education (78 percent for those with a college degree or higher) and annual income (72 percent for those above $50,000). Among smartphone owners, 57 percent use their devices for financial tasks such as online banking.
Whether you are actively working toward creating a mobile-friendly website or still investigating the possibilities, it is important to keep in mind some basic guidelines to help minimize your risk of cyber-liability exposures.
- When working with third-party vendors, such as facility management software providers and payment-processing companies, select companies that have achieved PCI-DSS certification and comply with the major objectives of the certification standards. PCI-DSS certification objectives include maintaining a secure network, protecting cardholder information wherever it is stored, providing protections against hacking, restricting and controlling access to system information and operations, and regularly monitoring and testing networks to ensure the effectiveness of security measures and processes.
- Research and gather references when selecting a website design and development company with special attention on the company’s expertise in integrating with third-party vendors.
- Review customer and vendor contracts with your attorney and independent insurance agent. It is critical that you understand the provisions of every contract including the risks you are assuming and the insurance you may be required to maintain.
- Obtain appropriate insurance coverage to address any potential cyber-liability exposures.
The Internet is a dynamic and multi-faceted tool for our business operations and marketing. Every online platform – traditional and mobile-friendly – carries with it certain cyber-liability exposures that must be identified and addressed through appropriate risk management strategies and insurance coverage. Your independent insurance agent and attorney are excellent resources as you navigate the online world.
President and CEO