Boosting Direct Bookings: A Guide to SEO for Vacation Rentals & B&Bs.
Discover how to climb search engine rankings and drive more business directly to your property website with effective SEO for vacation rentals.
Looking to drive more direct bookings via your website?
As the Managing Director of an SEO agency, but also the owner of short-term rental properties in Scotland, I understand the unique challenges and opportunities you face in the space of SEO for vacation rentals. This concise SEO guide is written for my fellow property entrepreneurs, whether you have a single holiday let or a portfolio of up to 50 units. By honing your website’s SEO and sharpening your content marketing strategies, you can boost direct bookings, increase revenue, and expand your business.
The world of short-term rental online searches is overwhelmingly dominated by big hitters like Airbnb and Booking.com. These giants have spent years perfecting their global search presence, grabbing the lion’s share of visibility on platforms like Google, and making short term holiday let SEO all the more challenging. Particularly for smaller ventures, perhaps like yours, with only a few units, this leaves you facing an uphill battle to carve out a space and attract direct bookings. But here’s how we can level that playing field a bit.
When we dive into paid advertising, such as Google’s sponsored listings, the story isn’t very different. Industry giants often bid aggressively on a plethora of terms, from broad ones like “self-catering holiday flat in Edinburgh” to even specific brand names.
Surprising, right? Even if you’ve got a distinctive brand name, these big players might bid on it, either by design or accident, ensuring they hold the prime spots in search results. Just to paint a picture, Booking.com is believed to have splashed out a whopping 11 billion dollars on digital ads in 2019, with a lion’s share dedicated to Google (see here: https://www.phocuswire.com/booking-holdings-expedia-group-marketing-spend-2019).
So, in the face of such overwhelming odds, how can you stand tall against these industry giants?
Think of it as a modern-day David vs. Goliath challenge. Diversifying your channels is key, but it’s essential to choose where to focus your efforts strategically. This guide aims to navigate the daunting world of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to elevate your website’s ranking and, in turn, ramp up your direct bookings.
But before we get into the nitty-gritty of strategy selection, let’s lay a foundation by understanding some core SEO principles, essential for throwing your hat into the ring for those all-important clicks.
The 3 Pillars of SEO
Technical SEO Explained
Think of Technical SEO as the backstage crew of a theatre – it ensures everything runs smoothly behind the scenes. It focuses on optimising both your website and server to ensure search engine spiders (like Googlebot) can efficiently crawl and index your site. It encompasses a range of factors, including page speed, sitemaps, and robots.txt files.
Now, for smaller ventures operating between 1 to 50 short-term lets, especially on platforms like WordPress, the good news is that much of the Technical SEO is sorted for you already. While it’s not flawless, with WordPress’s inherent SEO tools, coupled with plugins like Rank Math and speed optimisers like WP-Rocket, you’re off to a solid start. Throw in Google Search Console and you’re pretty much sorted with the basics.
That said, while ticking the primary Technical SEO boxes means less ongoing work in this area for smaller sites, it’s vital to keep an eye on things via the Google Search Console. Bigger sites, boasting thousands of pages, will need to delve deeper into Tech SEO nuances.
Essential Technical SEO Tips for Your Website
Make Sure Your Website is Crawlable and Indexed:
Your website might be unintentionally preventing search engines from crawling and indexing its pages. How might this happen?
Robots.txt File: This file can contain commands restricting search engines. For instance, a URL like www.example.com/robots.txt with the following content would block all web crawlers:
User-agent: * Disallow: /
Avoid this and instead use:
User-agent: * Disallow:
This ensures that all web crawlers have full access.
Watch Out for “Nofollow” and “Noindex” Tags:
During the development phase, websites often use “noindex, nofollow” tags to prevent premature indexing. Ensure these tags are removed once your site goes live.
Submit an XML Sitemap:
An XML sitemap is a navigator for search engines, helping them understand your website’s structure. If you’re on WordPress, plugins like Rank Math can auto-generate sitemaps for you. For custom-built sites, consider using free services like XML-Sitemaps.
Leverage Google Search Console:
This invaluable, free tool by Google offers insights, allowing you to see your website as Google does. It’s a treasure trove for SEO professionals, webmasters, and website owners, aiding in troubleshooting and enhancing search-related metrics.
Key Features of Google Search Console
There are a range of key features that make Google Search Console your best friend for nailing the SEO for your vacation rentals. On the whole, they ensure you are equipped with the best information straight from the horse’s mouth to make the most optimal strategic moves.
Track your site’s visibility in Google Search. Analyse keyword performance, clicks, impressions, click-through rates (CTR), and rankings for various search queries.
Index Coverage Reports:
Gain insights into how Google indexes your pages, pinpointing any indexing errors or challenges.
URL Inspection Tool:
Probe into the crawling, indexing, and serving status of any URL directly from Google’s perspective.
Efficiently submit and manage sitemaps to aid Google in understanding your site’s layout and detecting new or refreshed pages.
Mobile Usability Reports:
Identify and rectify any challenges that might hinder your site’s mobile experience.
Security and Manual Actions:
Stay informed! Google alerts you here about any security threats or manual actions resulting from guideline violations.
Core Web Vitals Report:
Assess the user experience quality on your website, with a focus on loading speeds, user interaction, and visual consistency.
Structured Data Testing and Enhancement:
Experiment with your site’s structured data and adopt Google-supported enhancements, like breadcrumbs or sitelinks.
Dive deep into data about both external and internal link connections to your website.
Receive valuable insights regarding the loading speed of your site’s individual pages.
Content Optimisation Part 1: Research
At the heart of SEO is content optimisation – the meticulous process of crafting and refining website content to shine in search engine rankings. This isn’t just about pleasing algorithms; it’s about resonating with your audience.
But before you delve into content tweaks, you need to step into the shoes of potential customers. What queries might they type into search engines when searching for businesses like yours? Understanding this is at the core of keyword research.
Unlocking the secrets of what your potential customers will search for is made easier with a few handy tools:
- Google Keyword Planner: This tool is free with a Google Ads account. It’s a treasure trove for discovering prevalent search terms and getting insights on monthly search volumes by region.
- SEMrush: Available at semrush.com, this platform offers deeper keyword analysis and competitive insights.
- Google’s Own Search Features: Don’t underestimate the power of Google’s related searches and predictive search functionalities. They can offer real-time insights into trending and related queries.
Harnessing these tools can give you a comprehensive view of the keywords that matter most to your business.
Semrush.com keyword research example for “Isle of Skye Accommodation”
Taking the keyword research example provided, we input “Isle of Skye accommodation” and discovered it boasts a commendable 5,400 unique searches every month within the UK alone. It’s worth noting that this number is specific to that exact keyword and doesn’t account for other nuanced variations. When you amalgamate all the iterations of “Isle of Skye accommodation”, the combined UK search volume surges past 10k monthly.
Now, if you’re a newcomer to this domain, aiming directly for the keyword “Isle of Skye Accommodation” might feel like an uphill battle given its competitiveness. However, stretching the term a bit further – perhaps something like “dog-friendly accommodation Isle of Skye” – could offer a more user-friendly route.
Top Tip: Identify what sets your business apart and then gauge if there’s search demand for it. For instance, “location + hot tub lodge” is far more precise than the broad term “accommodation”. While its search volume might be smaller, those searching for such a specific amenity are more inclined to convert—especially if you offer precisely what they’re after.
Google predictive search
More than just a convenience for swift mobile typing or email crafting, this feature offers phrase suggestions and typo corrections, streamlining your experience. It also evolves with your habits, delivering increasingly personalised suggestions. But here’s a pro tip: you can leverage this tool to unearth high-intent keywords, enhancing your content’s SEO strength.
Google ‘related searches’
When you scroll to the bottom of a Google search results page, you’ll encounter ‘related searches’. These aren’t random – they’re alternative queries tied closely to your initial search term. Powered by sophisticated algorithms, these suggestions weigh up factors such as search term popularity, the user’s search history (when logged in), and the content of current search results.
Think of your website not as a single entity, but as a collection of doors, each leading to specific content. Avoid cramming unrelated search terms onto one page. Instead, view every page as a unique opportunity to seize search rankings. If, for instance, you have properties in Manchester, Isle of Skye, Glasgow, and Perth, then design your site structure with distinct pages targeting location-centric terms:
By doing so, you create tailored entry points for users seeking specific offerings in those localities and, in turn, helps with the SEO for your short term lets.
Top Tip: Google has a soft spot for outstanding content that effectively answers users’ queries. Say you’ve got a presence in four distinct locations, each with its dedicated booking landing page. To increase your impact, consider weaving a rich tapestry of information that not only drives traffic but genuinely helps the user. Picture creating a micro-site within your main website, where interlinked pages enhance each other’s reach.
For instance, for the Isle of Skye:
Keen to uncover the most-searched questions for each location? A simple Google query can reveal related questions. Or, for a deeper dive, consider a month’s subscription with AlsoAsked to access a treasure trove of insights.
*Example of alsoasked.com search for “Isle of Skye Accommodation”.
Content Optimisation Part 2: Implementation
With your sitemap in hand and a good understanding of which keyword aligns with each page, it’s time to dive into fine-tuning the content on those pages. Let’s explore the elements you’ll need to optimise for each page:
URLs: A URL is more than just an address—it’s a signal to both users and search engines. When creating your URLs, prioritise clarity and descriptiveness. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:
- Readability: URLs should be easily understood by humans, which means using meaningful words over strings of numbers and symbols.
- Keyword Inclusion: Embed relevant keywords in your URL to give hints about the page’s content.
- Conciseness: Less is often more. Aim to be succinct, avoiding long-winded URLs.
Opt for something like YourWebsite.com/Isle-of-Skye-accommodation
Instead of the unrelatable YourWebsite.com/page-223483429
Site Structure: URL structure for larger sites
For large websites, think of your site architecture much like a librarian views the organisation of books. Just as a library is designed to be easy to use for readers, your site should be intuitively organised for both users and search engines.
Silo Structure: Employ a “silo” approach. Start with broad categories and then delve deeper into specifics, forming a hierarchical structure.
The Hierarchical Approach: For instance, start with the domain, branch into the location, and then delve into individual properties. This structure not only makes sense for users but aids search engines in understanding the context and relevance of each page.
Hub Pages: Under each primary location category, consider adding hub pages. These might include FAQs specific to that location or curated lists of local attractions.
Folder Structure: Employing a folder structure is beneficial, as it imparts a clear hierarchy. However, a word of caution: while you want to provide clear categorisation, avoid over-complicating your structure with too many folders. Aim to keep the path to each page as direct and straightforward as possible, staying close to the root domain.
Meta titles, often referred to as title tags, serve a dual purpose: they’re vital for SEO and pivotal for social sharing. These titles are what users see in search engine results when your page appears.
Character Count: Aim to keep your meta title between 60 to 70 characters. This ensures it displays properly across search engines without being cut off.
Keyword Placement: Incorporate the primary keyword for your page, ideally positioning it towards the beginning of the title for maximum impact.
Purpose of Meta Titles: Think of these titles as concise introductions. They should encapsulate the essence of your page, providing a clear and accurate snapshot of the content that awaits visitors.
Meta descriptions offer a brief overview of a webpage’s content, positioned right beneath the meta title in search engine results. Though they don’t have a direct bearing on search rankings, their impact on click-through rates can be substantial.
Character Count: Strive to keep your description between 150 to 160 characters to ensure it displays optimally across various search engines.
Keyword Inclusion: Embed relevant keywords within the description but do so naturally, without compromising readability.
Crafting Your Description: Your meta description should be both engaging and representative of the page’s content. Its role is to provide a teaser, compelling users to click through and explore further.
Top Tip: If platforms like booking.com or Airbnb hold superior rankings – specifically if they’re above your website for your brand’s keywords – leveraging your meta description can be crucial. When you’re positioned in the 3rd or 4th spot, introducing a compelling call to action in your meta description can significantly bolster your click-through rate (CTR). For instance, incorporate incentives such as, “Book directly with us and enjoy a 10% discount!”
Headers & Sub Headers
Headers and sub headers serve as crucial structural elements, enhancing navigation for readers and search engines alike. Always employ H1 tags for primary headings, and use H2, H3, and so on for subsequent headings. It’s essential to incorporate keywords within these headers naturally, steering clear of ‘over-optimisation’.
Best Practices for Effective Header Usage
Keyword Integration: Seamlessly weave relevant keywords into your header tags. This aids search engines in grasping the crux of the content. Remember: keyword stuffing is a no-go.
Hierarchical Consistency: Ensure your headers maintain a logical order. Start with an H1 for primary headings, then progress sequentially with H2, H3, etc., as you delve deeper into the content.
Function Over Form: Prioritise the structural purpose of header tags over mere stylistic changes. Misusing them for aesthetic adjustments can muddle search engine interpretation.
Descriptive Precision: Each header should provide a concise yet accurate preview of its respective section. This clarity aids both search engines and readers, allowing swift comprehension of the page’s segmented topics.
Content is right at the heart of SEO. Prioritise crafting top-tier, unique, and pertinent content that resonates with your target audience. Ensure your content is meticulously researched and has no grammatical mistakes. While it’s important to weave in relevant keywords, remember to do it seamlessly.
Sidestep excessive repetition and keyword cramming. Your content should flow naturally for the reader, yet simultaneously cater to search engine algorithms. Rich, compelling content not only enhances user engagement but also elevates your site’s prominence in search results.
Top Tips for Crafting Content:
Diverse Keyword Research: Harness an array of keyword research tools, including AlsoAsked, Google Predictive Text, and Google Related Searches. Blend these search terms organically into your narrative.
Structure for Skim-readers: Organise your content with clear sections, making it easily skimmable for readers. It makes for a better user experience and helps retain attention.
Highlight Key Amenities: If you offer amenities with significant search potential, dedicate specific sections to them. It not only serves user intent but also bolsters your visibility in related searches.
*(Semrush Content Optimisation Tips 2022)
Images are powerful tools that can significantly uplift user engagement, especially in the space of short term holiday lets and B&Bs where visual perception is everything. However, their SEO potential extends far beyond just looking nice.
For maximum SEO benefits:
Descriptive File Names: Ensure your image file names are descriptive and incorporate relevant keywords. For instance, instead of ‘IMG_1234.jpg’, use ‘Beach-Sunset-Florida.jpg’.
Alt Tags: These are essential for search engines, helping them grasp the image’s content. Always use informative alt tags that encompass pertinent keywords.
Compress for Speed: Page load time is pivotal for SEO. Compressed images load faster, improving user experience and positively impacting search engine rankings.
SEO for Image Search: By diligently optimising images, you not only greatly help the main content’s SEO but also stand a chance to rank higher in image search results, tapping into a wider audience.
Proper image optimisation ensures both accessibility for all users and better visibility in search engines.
Internal linking is more than just connecting pages on your site; it plays a pivotal role in SEO and enhancing user experience.
Structural Clarity: Through internal linking, search engines gain a clearer understanding of your website’s structure and the relationships between different pages. This aids in better indexing and ranking.
User Navigation: Strategic internal links guide visitors seamlessly through your site, providing them with more related content and reducing the chances of them bouncing off.
Descriptive Anchor Text: The clickable text, or anchor text, should be relevant and descriptive of the page you’re linking to. Instead of generic phrases like “click here”, use contextual text like “learn more about our services”.
Link Equity Distribution: Internal linking distributes the ‘value’ or ‘equity’ of backlinks across various pages of your site, which can boost the ranking potential of individual pages.
Contextual Relevance: Ensure your internal links are relevant. Linking to related content within your site not only benefits SEO but also offers readers deeper insights into topics they’re interested in.
When executed thoughtfully, internal linking can be a powerful tool to improve both website performance in search results and user satisfaction.
Schema markup, or structured data, acts as a translator between your website and search engines, clarifying the context of your content. This is another tool in your kit for cracking your accommodation’s SEO strategy.
Detailed Content Insights: Through specific code snippets added to your site’s HTML, you can offer search engines precise details about the nature of your content, be it products, reviews, events, or even recipes.
Rich Snippets: By implementing schema markup, you elevate the potential of having enriched search results, known as “rich snippets”. These can feature star ratings, event dates, or other interactive elements, setting your listing apart from the rest.
Boosted CTR: The additional information and engaging visuals from rich snippets can lead to higher click-through rates, enhancing your visibility and user engagement.
Tool Assistance: Tools such as Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper can simplify the process of creating and embedding schema.
Consistency is Crucial: It’s imperative that the structured data you incorporate aligns with the content your users see. Mismatches or inaccuracies can mislead both search engines and users.
By effectively integrating schema markup, you not only optimise for search engines but also enhance the browsing experience for users.
For vacation rentals and serviced accommodation, you could utilise this free tool https://technicalseo.com/tools/schema-markup-generator/ and create local business schema ->
Or FAQ Schema ->
Link building plays an indispensable role in the trajectory of an SEO campaign. In the realm of SEO, when we refer to links, we’re talking about clickable connections from other websites that lead back to yours.
A Measure of Trust: Think of each link as a seal of approval or a vote of confidence from one site to another. The more high-quality links you have, the higher the trust search engines have in your content.
Quality Over Quantity: While the sheer number of links can influence rankings, it’s the quality of these links that holds paramount importance. A single link from a reputable source can be more beneficial than multiple links from lesser-known sites.
Why the Big Players Dominate: Recognisable entities like booking.com, Airbnb, and hotels.com dominate the search landscape, and one significant reason for their dominance is their extensive link profiles. They’ve amassed a vast number of high-quality inbound links, bolstering their authority and trustworthiness in the eyes of search engines.
In the evolving landscape of SEO, effective link-building remains a cornerstone of building online authority and driving organic traffic.
*Airbnb link graph (120k links)
Link Building Strategies: Practical Examples
To successfully enhance your website’s authority and SEO rankings, consider adopting diverse link-building tactics. Here are some examples to explore:
Chamber of Commerce Profile: Get listed and secure a backlink from your local chamber’s online directory.
Local Directories: Add your website to reputable local directories that cater to businesses in your sector or region.
Travel Blogs and Editorials: Collaborate with travel bloggers or writers for a feature article with a link back to your site.
Regional Websites: Get listed under the “Accommodation” section of local area or tourist information websites.
Tourist Boards: A profile on platforms like Visit Scotland that links back enhances both visibility and trust.
Local Websites: Collaborate with other local websites, especially those in complementary sectors, for mutual promotion.
Media Features: Secure features in newspapers or online articles that link back to your site.
Forums: Engage in relevant forums where you can organically share your link where it adds value.
Furthermore, while actively seeking out backlinks, consider reaching out to local sites and proposing mutual promotion. However, steer clear of quick fixes like purchasing link packages from platforms like Fiverr. Not only are they ineffective, but Google also disregards links like this. At worst, such practices used to attract penalties, but now they’re simply rendered useless, adding no value to your SEO.
Link Analysis: Using 3rd party tools to find link opportunities
Navigating the world of link building can feel daunting, but with the right tools, the process becomes more manageable. Majestic is a fantastic place to start. Not only is it user-friendly, but it can also offer valuable insights into your competitors’ link profiles.
Here’s a simple guide to getting started with Majestic:
- Visit majestic and sign up for a basic subscription.
- Once logged in, navigate to “Referring Domains” or “Links”.
- Input a website address into the search bar.
- Choose “ROOT DOMAIN” from the dropdown options.
- Sort the results by “Trust Flow” to view all the domains linking back to the entered web address.
By repeating this process for various competitor websites, you’ll gain a clearer picture of potential link-building opportunities. Exploring these backlinks can inspire your own strategies and uncover platforms and domains you might not have considered.
When it comes to link building, remember – it’s not about how many links you have, but where they come from. Engaging in bulk link-building practices with low-quality sites or free directories won’t elevate your ranking. Instead, into understand metrics like trust flow, topical trust flow, and citation flow. These metrics will guide you in gauging the quality and relevance of your backlinks.
Have you ever considered leveraging the power of expired domains? These are websites that have ceased operations but still carry with them a legacy of backlinks. Local expired domains that relate to your business can be goldmines.
Here’s how to harness them:
- Head over to platforms like expireddomains.net.
- Enter your locality or relevant keyword, like “Isle of Skye”.
- Sort results by backlinks. This will showcase domains with a rich backlink history.
- Look out for relevant expired domains with an impressive backlink profile.
- Purchase these domains and set up a 301 redirect to your website.
Remember, the idea is to find domains that resonate with your business theme. This ensures that the backlinks you inherit are both relevant and valuable.
Visual Tip: In the provided screenshot, you can see how sorting by the BL and DP columns easily brings up domains rich in backlinks. It’s a straightforward and effective way to unearth potential link-building gems.
You can then cross reference that in Majestic ->
Ideally, you’re looking for a site that has good relevant trust flow (above 10), and good quality links pointing to it. You can then buy it or back order and 301 redirect it once it’s ready.
Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is an essential tool, especially for tapping into Local SEO for vacation rentals like holiday cottages, short-term lets, and B&Bs. It’s a free offering by Google that gives your business an instant and controllable digital footprint.
Create your business listing – it’s straightforward. Most of the time, Google will send you a postcard with a verification code. Input this code to get your listing live. And here’s some good news – occasionally, they might just ask for a phone number, making the verification process even quicker.
You don’t need to have a website to get started with GMB. It’s a stand-alone platform that can help your business gain visibility on its own.
GMB listings tend to rank swiftly and prominently on Google. So, as you establish your brand and gather traction via different channels, there’s a bonus. But look out, big players like Booking.com and Airbnb, recognising the value of your brand, might start bidding on your brand terms with Google Ads.
Have you ever noticed when you search for a specific brand on Google, and the first thing you see is an ad, often from a different brand? That’s because those major platforms are bidding on those brand terms. They want to ride the wave of your brand’s popularity.
Remember, with GMB, you’re giving your business a boost and a spot on the Google map. It’s a powerful way to ensure potential customers find you easily, regardless of whether you have a website or not.
*Example for search term “this must be the place arran” using German VPN
Google My Business: A Guide
Claim, Verify and Enrich Your Profile:
Begin by claiming and verifying your business on Google, then populate your profile meticulously to maximise visibility and boost credibility.
Select Appropriate Categories:
Opt for specific labels such as “Vacation Home Rental Agency”, “Holiday Apartment Rental” and “Short Term Apartment Rental Service”.
Investigate top-ranked competitors:
Use primary keywords and adopt relevant categories aligning with your accommodation type. Ensure you include all pertinent categories.
Use Precise Business Information:
Ensure your business name is consistent, and your name, address and phone number across all platforms.
Integrate your official website link:
This way you’ll make it easy for customers to make direct bookings and let them know about any additional information.
Draft an Engaging Description:
Curate a captivating description emphasising the unique aspects of your property and make sure you incorporate keywords in a natural way.
Incorporate High Resolution Imagery:
Add clear, high-quality photographs of your properties’ interior and exterior and images that highlight local attractions or distinctive features of trhe property.
Talk about the Amenities:
Is there Wi-Fi? Or a swimming pool? Are pets welcome? Mention any exclusive services like a concierge or free parking.
Specify Business Hours:
Make sure the listed business hours genuinely represent your working times and mention any holidays.
Share Positive Reviews:
Encourage happy customers to share their experience at your property with great reviews and share their feedback professionally. It’s the best way to promote your business.
Engage with Google Posts and Special Offers:
Keep your profile lively with updates on local festivals or special events.
Analyse and Adapt:
Look at your customers’ preferences and behaviours and let it inform your approach to your content.
Take Direct Reservations:
Incorporate Google My Business’s booking functionality – that way you can capture new customers easily.
Showcase Virtual Property Tours:
If possible, present a 360-degree virtual tour, enabling potential customers to virtually tour your property.
Build Citations for your Google My Business Listing
A citation, in the context of local SEO, is an online reference to your business’s Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP). These citations can be found on a variety of platforms including business directories, websites, and even social media. Their primary role is to enhance the visibility and credibility of a business in local search algorithms.
Citations can be crafted manually, or you have the option to delegate this task to someone with experience doing this through platforms like Upwork or PeoplePerHour. It’s essential that the citations mirror the precise naming conventions and address listed on your Google My Business profile. Maintaining consistency is important to staying relevant and enhancing your local search rankings.
Google Travel: What is it and how can you benefit from it?
Google Travel serves as an integrated platform that amalgamates a range of travel services offered by Google. It seamlessly merges functionalities from Google Flights, Google Hotels, and more, ensuring a holistic travel planning journey.
Here’s a snapshot of what Google Travel can do:
Hotel Exploration and Reservation:
It empowers users to sift through and compare hotels, considering aspects like pricing, facilities, reviews, and availability.
Collaborates with Google Maps:
It helps customers pinpoint hotel positions and surrounding points of interest.
Tracking Your Website’s Performance
You can peel back the layers of your website with Google Analytics, the most well-known web analytics tool from Google. Learn the nuances and patterns of your website traffic, arming yourself with detailed insights and an analysis that will allow you to plan with greater confidence.
With GA4, you can now set and track specific milestones:
- Clicks on phone numbers
- Form completions
- Booking initiations
- Email interactions
To do all of the above and increase your CTR, you simply need to set up Google tag manager and link it to your analytics account. YouTube is a great source for step-by-step setup guides, we recommend this channel:
Google Search Console
Earlier in this guide, we spotlighted the power of Google Search Console. This invaluable, complimentary tool not only gauges your organic prowess but also identifies and resolves technical hiccups that could be hampering your site’s performance on Google.
Our advice? Integrate Google Search Console and stay vigilant, frequently monitoring its insights for optimal results.
While it’s possible to manually track how you’re faring on Google, remember, Google tailors its search results to individual users and varies by location. Enter: Rank trackers. These third-party tools offer an unbiased lens, presenting accurate insights on your rankings across different locations.
Through our extensive tests of 10 different rank trackers, we vouch for SEranking. It stood out, delivering unmatched precision, and firmly positions itself as the top choice in the market.
Picking Battles You Can Win
Now that you’ve covered the SEO basics, it’s important to understand how to pick your battles. Jumping straight into the fray to rank for terms like “Accommodation” + [Location] might be an uphill battle, especially for newcomers. Instead, prioritise strategy: Identify and leverage market gaps.
Here’s a nugget: Major Online Travel Agents (OTAs) zero in on what we dub as “surface keywords.” These are the crowd-pullers; highly searched phrases with a clear intent, primed to generate multiple bookings. Why? OTAs operate on a global scale and they’re hunting for broad strokes that guarantee revenue.
On the other hand, long-tailed keywords might be your secret weapon. They face less competition, possess distinct specificity, and often lead to higher conversions, especially if you’re offering precisely what the searcher seeks.
Here’s an example of a surface keyword/ popular high searched term:
And here’s an example of a long tailer keyword/ less competition and more specific.
Long-tailed keywords, while drawing in less traffic, face reduced competition. The silver lining? They often yield superior conversion rates. By optimising your site for these specific phrases, not only do you stand a fighting chance in the crowded digital arena, but you also open doors for more direct bookings.
Establishing Which Keywords To Use
- Does your search prompt map results?
- Can you gather as many or more reviews than competitors?
- Can you enhance your profile beyond your competitors?
- Do you provide similar amenities?
If you find yourself nodding in agreement to these questions, you’re in a good place. Local map packs typically rank higher than organic listings, making them a valuable target.
Top Tip: Amplify your profile – this doesn’t just mean adding more pictures or information than competitors.
- Stay active: Use Google posts every week to maintain a fresh profile.
- Engage: Activate the messaging feature.
- Strengthen your presence: Gather as many good reviews as possible.
Top Tip: Picking the Right Website Name
When choosing a website name, think local and specific. For instance, if your property is on the Isle of Skye, a website name like isleofskyeaccommodation.com can perform better than a more general name.
Why? People looking for accommodation on the Isle of Skye will see that your website is precisely about that.
Top Tip 2: Your Local Website Can Shine Brightly
Even if your website is small and local, it can stand out more than a page on a big, general website. It’s simply about being relevant to what people are searching for!
Here’s How to Measure Your Website’s Potential:
Links To Your Site:
Look at other top sites in your area. Do they have many websites linking to them? How does your site compare?
Quality of Your Information:
Check the content of other top websites. Can you offer richer and more helpful information?
Does the content on your website closely match what people are likely to search for?
Make sure your website clearly shows its local ties. This could be through its name, or the information you provide.
Ensure your website answers common questions tourists might have about your location.
Compare your website’s popularity with others. Are more people talking about or visiting your site?
Remember, for property let businesses, local charm, and relevance often shine brighter than size. Make sure your website reflects that.
Wrapping Up Our Vacation Rental SEO Guide
As a property let business owner, navigating the digital realm might seem daunting. But remember, SEO isn’t just about algorithms and keywords; it’s about connecting your unique accommodations with travelers who are seeking the experiences you offer.
Our SEO guide has taken you through the essentials: from the importance of tailored keyword choices, leveraging mighty tools like Google My Business, and the nuance of domain selection, to the art of standing out in a market where the big players often seem to dominate.
By now, you should have a clearer vision of how SEO will help align your property with potential guests’ searches. Remember, it’s not just about reaching the top of search results but resonating with the right audience. Dive deep into local charm, enrich your online presence with valuable content, and stay tuned in to the needs of your customers.
With these strategies in hand, you’re not just optimising for search engines, but for genuine connections and increased bookings. Embrace the journey and watch your accommodation business flourish.
Google search console – https://search.google.com/search-console
Google analytics – https://developers.google.com/analytics
Google My business – https://www.google.com/intl/en_uk/business/
Google travel – https://www.google.com/travel/
Rank math – https://rankmath.com/
Xml sitemaps – https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/
SEMRUSH – https://www.semrush.com/
Keyword Tool – https://keywordtool.io/
Google Ads – https://ads.google.com/
Also Asked – https://alsoasked.com/
Search Engine Land – https://searchengineland.com/
Schema Generator – https://technicalseo.com/tools/schema-markup-generator/
Majestic – https://majestic.com/
Expired Domains – https://www.expireddomains.net/
Ahrefs – https://ahrefs.com/
Loves Data – https://www.youtube.com/user/LovesData
Upwork – https://www.upwork.com/
People per hour – https://www.peopleperhour.com/