If you own vacation properties, you know how inconsistent business can be. At certain times of the year, you can charge top dollar for a rental. At others, you have to practically give away the space. With the right marketing plan, though, your properties could be in demand all year long. SEO plays a big role in achieving that.
The majority of today’s vacationers rely on the Internet to help them find places to stay. However, studies show that 71% of search engine users don’t look past the first page of results. If your properties aren’t there when potential guests look for rentals online, you could be missing out on revenues and guests. So how can you improve your chances of achieving a first-page ranking and reaching more searchers?
This page will give you an overview of SEO for vacation rentals and offer a few tips to help you get started. If you'd rather speak to a specialist, you can reach us at 888-601-5359.
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What is SEO?
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a series of actions that helps a website rank higher in the results of search engines like Google. It’s an ongoing process because search engine algorithms change over time, meaning that rankings frequently shift.
When search engines first went mainstream, the trick to higher rankings was keywords. The more keywords in your copy, the better. However, this started to backfire as web searchers started to click on irrelevant sites just because they had more keywords than more relevant sites.
To combat the lack of quality and relevance, Google and other search engines started putting more emphasis on other elements. Keywords still matter, but they’re only one part of SEO success. Other elements include:
Above all, search engines’ main priority is to deliver useful results to their users. Because of this, they’ve taken great steps to ensure that the sites they rank well are full of interesting content. This means that if you want your properties to rank well, you’ll need to invest some time in providing the information that potential guests need.
When a search engine user clicks on a site in the results of their search, they have two options: stay on the site and browse the information, or click the “back” button and try to find a better option.
If they take the second option and immediately leave (which is referred to as a “bounce”), that’s a sign to Google that they didn’t have a good experience on your site. If your “bounce rate” becomes too high, your site’s rankings will suffer. Because of this, you should aim to make your site as user-friendly as possible.
Search engines essentially see links from high quality sites as “votes” for the quality of your site. If authoritative sites are willing to direct their readers your way, that means you probably have something useful to offer.
That’s why many site owners actively try to build links to their sites. It can be a great way to boost your site’s visibility—that being said, you should be careful when link building. Links from “spammy” sites will only harm your rankings, and site owners may become annoyed if you pester them for links.
Instead, your goal should be to build relationships with authorities in your industry. If they eventually link to you, that’s just a bonus.
Why do your properties need to rank higher?
The answer is simple—higher rankings lead to increased revenue. To start, higher rankings mean that more people will become aware of your business. As a result, your site will receive more traffic.
These high rankings also indicate trust and authority. Visitors and customers will feel comfortable sharing your site and content on social media, and possibly even linking to it on their own site. As your site is shared, it will receive even more traffic.
Although traffic does not always directly lead to revenue, as not every visitor to your site will be interested in renting a property, the exposure for your business will ultimately result in new leads. And the fact that search engines (and their friends) already consider your site a quality source of information, they’ll be more likely to trust you with their vacation needs.
We measure our success by how much we WOW our clients.
How can you do SEO for your vacation rentals?
Yours is not the only business offering vacation rentals in your area. However, you can stand out from the competition simply by ranking higher than them.
Your specific SEO strategy may change over time as search criteria change, but as long as you continue following the steps below, you can gradually build your site’s credibility with search engines.
1. Define your target audience
Are you trying to attract beach-goers or skiing enthusiasts? Would you rather rent your properties to families with young children or retired couples? Maybe you want to attract one market for one property and a different market for another. Once you identify your target audiences, you’ll gain a better understanding of how to reach them.
Whatever their age, income or family status, your target audience is determined largely by the kinds of properties you offer. A cabin in the woods will attract nature lovers, while a condo on the beach will attract surfers and sun worshipers. Understanding their needs will help you with the next step of your SEO plan.
2. Select relevant keywords
When searching for a vacation spot, people use a variety of criteria, including location, amenities, dining and entertainment, climate, and general atmosphere. The specific words or phrases they use, like “kid-friendly beach rentals,” or, “luxury villa rentals,” are known as keywords.
Take the time to do some keyword research, and include those keywords in relevant places on your site. Keep both your target audience and the specific location and amenities they search for in mind, and write your copy in a way that appeals to likely guests.
However, like we mentioned earlier, you shouldn’t rely too heavily on keywords. Including too many keywords, just for the sake of ranking well, is known as “keyword stuffing,” and can result in being penalized by Google.
3. Track and monitor your efforts
You can guess what potential guests are looking for, but you won’t really know unless you measure your efforts. Before putting a plan in place, have system in place for analyzing your strategy.
Many free analytics programs, like Google Analytics, allow you to see the details of almost every interaction on your site. Use these tools to see how well your site is performing, and regularly adjust your strategy accordingly.
Need some help?
Given that most people rely on the Internet to help them plan every aspect of their vacations (including rental properties), it’s important that you have an SEO strategy in place. However, if you’ve never optimized a site before, it can be a daunting challenge to take on alone.
If you need assistance creating and implementing a strategy, feel free to contact us! Our talented team of Internet marketers is more than happy to help you start boosting your rankings and attracting new customers today.