If you are a vacation rental professional, national travel companies with big marketing budgets like HomeAway.com and VRBO.com probably dominate search engine rankings for the search terms you most desire. Because of this, you may feel like SEO is a waste of time for your business. Before you decide to give up, check out these tips.
Dominate Long Tail Keywords.
Though you might not be able to dominate search results for broad search engine key terms like “Destin vacation rentals” or “ski vacation homes,” you can dominate for more narrowly-targeted terms known as long-tail keywords. These terms are longer or more specific than general key terms, and they reach a more targeted audience. Because they are more targeted, the person searching these terms is actually a more qualified source of traffic. Optimize some of the pages of your website for these types of keywords. Here are some examples of long-tail keywords.
- “Destin beachfront houses” – The person searching this term is likely further along in his/her decision-making process than the person generally searching “Destin vacation rentals.” The person isn’t just thinking of renting in Destin; he/she has chosen a specific type of home and is closer to booking. If you search “Destin beachfront houses” in Google (and your Google location setting is specified as “United States”) you’ll see that Oceanreefresorts.com is ranked #1 in search results above two giants.
- “Rocky Mountain ski vacation homes” – The person searching this term is likely closer to the booking stage than someone performing a general search for “ski vacation homes” because the searcher has clearly chosen a specific destination. If you search this term in Google (and your Google location setting is specified as “United States”), you’ll see that RockyMountainVacationRentals.com is ranked #1 in search results above two giants.
Reach Mobile Users with Conversational Keywords.
As of December 2013, 60% of all Internet searches are conducted via mobile devices. Additionally, it’s been reported that 50% of travel-related mobile queries result in a purchase. However, people don’t use the same terms to search using a mobile device as they do using a computer. Mobile searches consist of conversational phrases because they are often conducted via a smartphone’s voice search feature. So, one way to dominate search rankings is to optimize pages of your website for more conversational terms. Here are some examples of conversational terms, which are also long-tail keywords.
- “Find oceanfront Destin beach homes” – Oceanreefresorts.com is ranked #1 for this conversational term in Google above two giants (if your Google location setting is specified as “United States”).
- “Find Rocky Mountain ski vacation homes” – RockeyMountainVacationRentals.com is ranked #1 for this conversational term above two giants (if your Google location setting is specified as “United States”).
Be More Relevant than Big-Budget Giants. Here’s How.
It’s important to keep in mind that search results consist of web pages – not entire websites. Sometimes, a company’s homepage shows up for search terms, and sometimes an internal page or blog post shows up. So, you just need one page on your website that is more relevant than the national company’s site that is showing up in search results for that term. Blog posts are an excellent way to achieve this. Here are some examples of blog post topics and titles that would produce a highly relevant webpage for the search terms mentioned above. You can see how the search terms are incorporated into the blog post title, which should also act as the HTML title tag of the blog post page.
- “5 Tips to Find the Perfect Oceanfront Destin Beach Home”
- “5 Tips to Find the Perfect Rocky Mountain Ski Vacation Home”
Keep in mind, the content of these blog posts should not focus on promoting your product. The content should focus on helping the reader. Helpful content will help the reader get closer to booking. If you are the one who provides the helpful content, you give them a great reason to book from you. So, resist the temptation to talk about your vacation rental company’s homes in these blog posts.
Promote Your Custom Content. Facebook Ads Work Well.
Websites of the big-budget giants will probably hold more search engine authority than your website, but that doesn’t mean you can’t outrank them. To get a webpage ranked higher than theirs, you have to do more than just publish a blog post to show search engines you are more relevant. You need that blog post to exhibit other relevance indicators, like social sharing, backlinks, and webpage traffic. Facebook ads achieve this well. Just post your blog post as a status update on your company Facebook page. Then, go to your Ads Manager and create a post engagement ad from that blog post. This ad will expose your blog post to more people, resulting in more social shares, website traffic and backlinks to that blog post. If you are skeptical of Facebook ads, try it once. Implement a $50 budget over 5 days and check out the traffic you’ll get to that blog post. The more social engagement, sharing, and website traffic that blog post gets, the better it will rank.
Implement Local SEO
To rank on the first page of Google search results when someone conducts a search in your local area, you need to implement a strong local SEO strategy. While local listings often appear below the top three search results, exposure within local results can be extremely beneficial for capturing renters who already know they want to deal with local rather than national vacation rental companies. To learn how to effectively implement a local SEO strategy, check out “A Quick, Clear Guide to Local SEO.”
There you have it – 5 ways to rank high and beat the big-budget national companies in search engine rankings! Try these tips before you decide to give up on vacation rental SEO. Results won’t be immediate; but in the long-run, you’ll achieve longer-lasting search engine exposure than pouring more money into pay-per-click ads!