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7 Tips to Radically Improve the SEO of your Vacation Rental Website

You know that good SEO needs to be part of your vacation rental marketing strategy, especially if you’re aiming to increase your profits by getting direct bookings through your website.

But are you doing enough to stay competitive?

A 2020 study from SISTRIX found that:

  • The first search result in Google has an average click-through rate of 28.5%.
  • In contrast, only 2.5% of searchers will click on the tenth result.

Put simply, the lower you rank, the less chance that people will click through to your site.

We’ve talked about the importance of SEO in our article about how to market your villa rental. Now, it’s time to delve deeper. We’ll explain everything you need to know about SEO for vacation rentals so you can increase your search ranking, and get more bookings.

One way to get more bookings and revenue is having a diverse portfolio. Distributing your listings is a strategy, not a task. Take our free 5-day email course for property managers who want new, creative strategies for distributing their vacation rentals. 

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What is SEO and why is it so important for vacation rental property managers? 

Google’s mission is to help people find what they are looking for, fast. They use crawlers to analyze websites and decide how relevant they are for certain keywords. The algorithm ranks the most relevant and trustworthy sites highest for those keywords.

SEO, which stands for search engine optimization, is the process of doing everything in your power to get your website ranking at the top of search results. 

When we delved into vacation rental statistics, we found that direct bookings were a growing trend. Improving your SEO means you’ll get more bookings from your own website, and you won’t always have to rely on listing sites like Airbnb.

Often, people won’t go past the first page of results. The chance of getting clicks decreases rapidly the lower down you rank, as you can see from the graph below.

vacation rental seo
Image source: SISTRIX

In the seven SEO tips that follow, you’ll learn how to maximize your online visibility and increase your chance of appearing at the top of search results.

seo for vacation rentals

1. Understand the difference between technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO

To understand search engine optimization, it’s helpful to break it down into three categories: technical, on-page, and off-page.

All three are important and affect your ranking.

· Technical SEO

Technical SEO is about making it easier for Google’s website crawlers to evaluate your website.

It relates to how your website is set up, and when optimizing your technical SEO you have to consider:

  • The structure of your site content. Lots of internal links and an XML sitemap can help crawlers find their way around your website.
  • Using robots.txt files. These are files that contain instructions for browsers about how to display your website.
  • 404 error pages. Your site shouldn’t have any pages that produce a 404 error.
  • Website security certificates. These show customers they can trust you, and they also convey trustworthiness to search engines.
  • Domain name. Memorable domain names that use important keywords are likely to perform better in search.
  • Responsive/mobile-friendly. Search engines prefer websites that are responsive on mobile devices.

If you’re not experienced in website building, technical SEO can seem daunting. However, Avantio customers need not worry. Our vacation rental website design services will provide you with a fully optimized site that ticks all the technical SEO boxes.

· On-page SEO

For on-page SEO, you need to think about your page content, and how to make it accessible for both users and search engines.

Here are some aspects of on-page SEO:

  • Keywords. Using relevant words and phrases throughout your website can help search engines categorize your site correctly. 
  • H1 and H2 title tags. Headings and subheadings help users find information faster and have a positive impact on SEO. 
  • External links. Linking to reputable websites gives your website more credibility.
  • Shorter URLs that contain keywords. Using shorter URLs containing relevant words and phrases makes your pages easier to categorize and rank. 
  • Meta descriptions. This is a brief description of a page that appears in search results. People will read this snippet and decide whether to click on your site. A good meta description should clearly describe the content of the page in 150-160 characters.
  • Alt-text for images. Whenever you upload an image to your site, you should remember to include alt text. This brief description of the image contents helps crawlers categorize your page and also helps your image appear in Google image search.
  • Content. Your content strategy is an important aspect of on-page SEO. 

· Off-page SEO

Actions that happen outside of your website can also affect your ranking. 

Off-page SEO refers to backlinks or links from other websites to yours. 

When other websites link to yours, this signals to Google that your website is trustworthy and authoritative. Social media shares and mentions of your brand also count towards off-page SEO.

vacation rental seo

2. Do keyword research 

Keywords are a vital part of your vacation rental SEO strategy as they help Google match your website to what people search for. 

To rank on the first page for the right keywords, you first need to do your research and find out what potential guests are searching for.

Keyword research is the process of identifying what search terms your target customers are typing into Google search when they want to book a vacation rental. 

It’s difficult to rank for generic search terms such as ‘vacation rental’ or ‘holiday rental’, so you have to be creative and find less obvious keywords to target.

High volume, low competition keywords are ideal. However, you can also target low volume, low competition keywords. Fewer people will search for these terms but you can start ranking faster if you opt for less common keywords.

Google Keyword Planner, Keywords Everywhere, or Ubersuggest are free tools that can help you find ideal keywords. Plus, you can take inspiration from your competitors’ keywords. With tools like Buzzsumo, SEM rush, or Google Keyword Planner you can identify the keywords your competitors are using.

There are two kinds of keywords: short-tail, and long-tail. Here’s what you need to know about each.

· Short-tail keywords 

These are one to three-word, generic phrases. “Vacation rental Spain” is an example of a short-tail keyword.

It’s harder to rank for short-tail keywords as the competition is much fiercer. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t use them. 

The main pages of your vacation rental website, such as your landing page and homepages for different properties should use short-tail keywords that accurately fit your brand.

· Long-tail keywords 

Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific phrases. They could be full sentences, questions, or phrases that people type into Google search. 

For example:

  • “What is the best place for a family to visit in Spain?”
  • “Which is the best wine region in Italy?”
  • “Cheap romantic city break destinations in Europe”

It’s valuable to identify long-tail keywords. By targeting these phrases you can attract people who are in the early stages of decision making. These keywords are easier to rank for, so you can increase your traffic and convert more visitors to paying customers. You’ll also have more chance of ranking higher for short-tail keywords in the future. 

Google is a great place to find long-tail keywords. When you start typing something into search, you’ll see that Google provides suggestions for how to finish the query. The suggestions that come up are all possible long-tail keywords.

The “People also ask” section, which appears after the first couple of results, can also give you some ideas for related keywords.

Then, at the bottom of the results page, you’ll see related searches.

Q&A websites like Reddit or Quora can also be good sources of long-tail keywords. Identify common questions that people are asking and use them as long-tail keywords.

A tool like Answer the Public can generate ideas for long-tail keywords. When you type in a generic phrase it will suggest lots of similar and related questions and queries that people ask.

Lastly, think about questions that customers often ask you. You turn these into long-tail keywords that will form the basis of your content strategy.

3. Get good at content creation 

When you’ve gathered a list of keywords, you can use those as the basis for your content strategy.

Content is amazing for SEO and it’s useful for potential guests. It will boost your vacation rental SEO by:

  • Bringing more traffic to your website. People searching for advice could land on your site, and sites with more traffic tend to rank higher.
  • Helping you rank for more keywords, especially the long-tail keywords you’ve identified.
  • Giving Google more material to crawl. The more pages you have, the more opportunities to rank for certain keywords.

You know what your target customers are searching for, now you need to provide answers. Your main goal should be to help your customers.

Content comes in many formats, and now we’ll look at some of the most common types of content.

· Blogging

Blogging is a good place to start. Blog posts are ideal for using keywords, producing helpful written content, and building internal and external links.

So how do you write a good blog post? Here are a few simple tips:

  • Stick to one topic per post. Aim to cover just one question, concept, or problem with each post.
  • Choose one main keyword per post. This could be a long-tail keyword that you’ll use multiple times throughout. Support this with related or similar keywords.
  • Grab attention with your headline. Your title needs to be engaging and interesting. It should make people want to click on the page.
  • Hold their attention with the introduction. The first few sentences should present the problem, and explain that you have the solution. 
  • Break up your text. Short paragraphs and subheadings make your text easier to read. Bullet points and images also make your blog post more digestible.
  • Write as you would speak to customers. Your writing should be clear, on-brand, and conversational. Tools like Hemingway and Grammarly can help you achieve this.
  • Include meta descriptions for every post that persuade people to click.

· Video

Video is an engaging medium for customers. YouTube is the second biggest search engine after Google, so posting videos there can help you capture more traffic and get people to find your properties.

You can make property tours, local area tours, or interviews with vacation rental owners and guests. You could even make videos to answer common guest queries or explain how things work in your properties.

Consider hiring a professional videographer to produce polished videos. These might include moving shots, drone footage, and background music to really show off your property.

· Images

Images are one of the main selling points that convert site visitors into guests. They also boost SEO, as images help people find your website through Google image search.

You should use high-quality, professional photos in JPEG or PNG format, and aim for file sizes between 70-100kb.

Every image you upload to your website should also have alt-text. Alt-text is a short description of image content for people who can’t see them, however, it also has SEO benefits and enables people to find your images in search.

· Social media

You can reach a wider audience through social media, but you will need to research which social media channels your target customers use most.

If Instagram is a popular site for your audience, you can create lots of visual content, stories and even encourage guests to tag your brand in their posts or stories. 

Social media can help you receive more interest in your properties and get people onto your website.

· Be creative with your content

When it comes to content, the possibilities are endless. Maybe you can feature on vacation rental industry podcasts, webinars, or livestreams, or even start your own. This can be a good strategy for getting backlinks which we will explain further in the next tip.

You can create useful, downloadable resources such as an e-book or brochure that can help you capture email addresses to add to your mailing list.

Recycle your content by reusing the same content in different ways. For example, you can turn a blog post into a video or a series of social media posts.

Track the performance of your content through Google Analytics to see how much traffic and interest it generates. By learning what works, you can constantly improve, create more valuable content, and keep boosting your SEO.

4. Know how to use links 

Links are very important for SEO. Both internal and external links have an impact on your vacation rental website’s SEO. 

· Internal links

When one page of your website links to another page, that’s an internal link.

Internal links help search engine crawlers navigate around your website, and they also help you create a cohesive structure.

It’s also a good way to keep users engaged on your website as they can go from one page to the next and stay on your site for longer.

Blog posts can contain links to other related posts where you go into more detail on a specific topic. You can add links to your booking page throughout the site to help convert more visitors into customers.

· Link building

Link building is a strategy of getting external links, where other websites link back to your site. These backlinks are highly valued by search engines, and there are many ways to get backlinks to your site from other websites.

Here are some tactics you can try:

  • Approach local businesses. Websites of local tourist attractions or contractors like photographers and cleaning companies may link to your vacation rental website.
  • Mention and link to other websites. If you promote local businesses, they might return the favor.
  • Ask guests for backlinks. If any of your guests are travel bloggers or influencers, you can ask them to write about or mention your vacation rentals and link to your website from their blog.
  • Create collaborative content. An interview with someone who is well known in the local area, for example, who will then link back to your website. You could also look out for opportunities to be interviewed.
  • Write a guest post for another blog. Offer to write a guest post on a relevant site in exchange for a link to your site.
  • Publish original research. If you provide useful statistics, other sites and blogs will want to quote them.

Always prioritize quality over quantity when link building. The websites that link to you should be relevant and genuine, and you should never buy links as this won’t reflect well on your SEO.

5. Understand image search and SEO

We have mentioned the importance of good images, but don’t forget that you can be found by your images alone. Make sure the alt-text descriptions are accurate and use relevant keywords.

It’s worth investing in excellent photography and high-quality images to persuade people to book your vacation rental. 

You should also make sure the file names of your images are accurate and include keywords here as well.

6. Design an ideal user experience 

It should be easy for visitors to browse your site content and make a booking. 

We talk about the importance of providing a good user experience in our article about direct booking strategies.

A site menu can help people get to what they want quickly. It may also help to map out your user journey and optimize your website accordingly. You can test this booking journey yourself to remove any friction points.

Other ways to improve the user experience are to include visuals, ensure text is readable, and have lots of calls to action and an unmissable “Book Now” button.

7. Take advantage of trends 

Young couple at the beach sitting next to their scooter and looking out at the sea

Keep up with online trends to find new ways to boost your website traffic. You should always be on the lookout for trending keywords, seasonal trends, or social media trends in the vacation rentals industry.

Tools like Google trends, Buzzfeed, Buzzsumo, Reddit, and Sprout Social can help you keep an eye on what’s trending.

Though trends don’t last, they can be a good opportunity for a short-term boost that can improve your SEO in the long term.

–> Stand out from your competition with SEO

Good vacation rental SEO can make the difference between getting bookings and not.

There’s a lot of competition for ranking in Google, but by approaching SEO from lots of angles you give yourself the best chance of ranking at the top.

Many property management businesses won’t take the time to implement all the SEO strategies we’ve discussed here. So by using these tips, you’ll get an edge on the competition.

With a powerful vacation rental channel manager, you can diversify your portfolio and list properties on a variety of OTAs, as well as promoting bookings on your website.

At Avantio, we recognize that distributing your listings is a strategy, not a task. Take our free 5-day email course for property managers who want new, creative strategies for distributing their vacation rentals. 

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