SEO Guide – The Key Takeaways

The SEO Guide For Vacation Rental Websites provides a detailed explanation of the most important aspects of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). If you are already familiar with this topic, use this bulleted list to check our best practices:

  • Providing relevant, high-quality content is the #1 most important factor is getting your site to rank in popular search queries.
  • Set up Google Search Console & Bing Webmaster to check for technical SEO issues and monitor your organic search performance.
  • Ensure that your website is set up for search-friendly content (check this Moz Infographic for a comprehensive guide).
  • Set up Google My Business and consider doing it for every city you operate in.
  • Create a list of keywords to target with your content using the free Keywords Everywhere Chrome Extension
  • Commit to consistent content creation starting with your evergreen content and consider using an outsourced resource from Fiverr.
  • Start generating external links (aka backlinks) to improve your site’s domain authority. Scroll down to see five easy ways to start getting backlinks.

If this bulleted list doesn’t make 100% sense to you, proceed on to read about each point in more detail.

SEO 101

Search Engine Optimization commonly referred to as “SEO,” is the practice of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic through organic (non-paid) search results. Most people think that to improve their website’s SEO their first goal should be to understand the technicalities of how search engines work. This approach is wrong.

Let’s take a look at Google Search’s Mission Statement:

Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Key to this mission statement is the word useful. The goal of SEO is to make the content on your website useful for the people searching terms relevant to your business.

For example, let’s say you operate a vacation rental business in New Orleans. Ask yourself, what types of searches are your future customers making?

  • How do people search for accommodations in New Orleans?
    • What criteria are they interested in?
    • Which areas do they want to stay in?
  • What else do visitors to New Orleans plan ahead of time?
  • What kinds of travelers are searching for accommodations?

Once you generate a list of relevant questions, you need to figure out how you (and your business) can provide the most useful information for people who are searching for answers to these questions.

The goal of your site’s pages should be to provide users the content they are searching for in the format that they want. Providing relevant, high-quality content is the #1 most important factor is getting your site to rank in popular search queries.

Once you have committed to creating valuable content for your target audience, then it is time to check your site’s Technical SEO.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO ensures that Google and other search engines can crawl and index your content. This is how search engines make content available to people searching queries relevant to your business. There are 1000s of articles and entire books written about technical SEO, and it is easy to get distracted from what really matters – writing useful content. Therefore, we have distilled down what you need to do about Technical SEO (instead of getting lost in learning about the tech).

Set up Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster

Google Search Console & Bing Webmaster are tools that provide insight into how your site is performing in search and whether your site has any technical SEO issues. In order to set up each tool, you will need to place a snippet of code into your site’s code.

Once you set up Google Search Console & Bing Webmaster you will be able to:

  • Confirm that Google and Bing can find and crawl your site.
  • Fix indexing problems and request re-indexing of new or updated content.
  • View Google and Bing search traffic data for your site including:
    • How often your site appears in Google and Bing Search.
    • Which search queries show your site.
    • How often searchers click through for those queries.
  • Receive alerts when Google or Bing encounter indexing, spam, or other issues on your site.
  • Show you which sites link to your website.
  • Troubleshoot issues for AMP, mobile usability, and other Search features.
  • Submit your sitemap for indexing.

What is great about these tools is that you will have an easy way to check how your organic search performance. You will see how frequently you are appearing in search, and how many people are clicking through to your website. This will give you key insight into what content is driving quality traffic to your site.

Create Search-Friendly Content

Search-Friendly content is content that can be crawled, indexed, and ranked for relevant search queries. Since most vacation rental websites are built using templated sites like Lodgify, Rezfusion, Guesty, or Kigo (find review sites here), they should already incorporate the basic technical structure to be crawled and indexed by search engines.

When assessing these vendors or building a custom website, technical features you should look out for include:

Refer to this Moz Infographic for a comprehensive guide to creating search-friendly content:

On-Page SEO Optimization
Source: Moz

Set Up Google My Business

Google Search unsurprisingly favors businesses that utilize other Google products like YouTube and Google My Business. Google My Business is a tool to manage how your business appears in Google Search. It will allow you to provide:

  • A description of your business.
  • Contact information and hours.
  • Photos of your business and rentals.
  • A way to appear on Google Maps.
  • Responses to reviews of your vacation rental company.

As a reminder, here is what these business listings typically look like:

Google My Business Results
Source: Internet.com

According to Google, businesses with photos receive 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t have photos. This can already give you a big leg up over other vacation rental companies in your area. In addition, Google recommends that you monitor and consistently respond to reviews.

If you are a multi-city operator, it will benefit you to create city-specific Google My Business pages to enhance your SEO in local searches. Just ensure you can encourage positive local reviews in each area where you specify a busiess page.

Executing SEO

Perform Keyword Research

While making sure your site can be crawled, indexed, and ranked by search engines is important, the key to successful SEO is producing consistent high-quality content. When you start out, generate the list of questions you want the content on your site to answer for potential customers. Then write down what search terms you believe people are using to get answers to those questions.

After you have a list of search terms, you can easily check how popular those terms are on Google. There are many paid tools out there that give extensive keyword intelligence, but a good free way to start out is with the Keywords Everywhere Chrome Extension.

After downloading the free extension, search a term you are interested in answering like “best tours in New Orleans.” You will see how competitive this term is as well as what related terms people are also searching for. The less competitive the term, the easier it is for you to rank on the first page of search results. If your term is highly competitive, check for related terms you can tailor articles to that will be easier for you to rank on.

In this case, you can see that writing an article about the “best New Orleans secrets tours” is going to be much easier to rank for than the other related keywords. Starting out, it will be difficult to get into the top results for most competitive keywords. Consistent content creation and link building (the next two topics in this article) will help get your articles ranked for high volume, competitive search terms.

Start Consistent Content Creation

Consistent content is the foundation of a solid SEO strategy. You should prioritize your content creation in the following way:

  1. Create evergreen content that provides foundational knowledge about the cities you operate in.
  2. Create time-related content that provides seasonal or event-specific travel advice to potential customers.

A vacation rental company that you can look to as a leader in the content-creation space is Domio. For every city Domio operates in, they provide a city-guide alongside vacation rental results.

Domio City Guide
Source: Domio Blog

In addition to this evergreen content, Domio consistently publishes time-related content focused on new attractions and events in the cities where they operate.

Domio New Orleans Blog

There is no right answer to how frequently you need to add content to your site in order to start generating traction in SEO. A few well-written evergreen content pieces can generate as much traffic as a ton of shorter time-related content pieces. Hubspot found that 92% of their leads came from older posts, and that a strategy of updating old evergreen content can be a much more successful strategy than only writing new content.

If you and your team don’t have enough time to write content, a great way to generate content is with a freelancer. Fiverr is a marketplace for freelance writing talent (as well as many other types of freelancers) where you can source, interview, and hire talent to help execute your content strategy.

Whether you decide to generate content internally or hire externally, commitment to consistent creation is the most important factor for success. The next step after starting your committing to developing a content engine is to enhance your website’s “domain authority.”

Establish Domain Authority with Link Building

Domain authority is a metric that describes how much authority search engines ascribe your website. Typically, domain authority plays a large role in determining the order of search results. One of the most important factors in determining a site’s authority is how many external websites are linking to content on that site. This means that the more other websites link to your content, the more successful your site will perform in search.

Link building, therefore, is a fantastic strategy to increase traffic to your content both from those sites and through organic search. Google, Bing and other search engines have taken steps to penalize websites that abuse link building, so it is important to remember links to your site should be natural within the context of those external sites.

The following are five easy ways to start generating external links:

  • Get listed on the local tourism authority’s website.
  • Partner with local concerts, music festivals, marathons, or other events to get listed on their sites.
  • Work with local travel bloggers or new publications to get featured on their websites.
  • Do a guest blog post on a site that writes about the vacation rental industry (like this one!).
  • Consistently post content on social media platforms and reach out to relevant accounts to share your content.

In addition, you can use a backlink checker like ahrefs to see what external sites link to your direct competitors. This may give you some additional ideas to how you can generate additional links to your site.

Conclusion

We hope you have found the SEO Guide For Vacation Rental Websites useful, and you have some immediate take-ways to improve your website’s SEO. Please leave any comments or questions you have, and we will make sure to get back to you.

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