After deciding to build a vacation rental website, the first task at hand is choosing your domain name.
As your domain name is the primary interaction guests will have with your vacation rental brand, you want it to be memorable and unique, but you also want it to say something about your lodging.
It can be difficult to choose a domain – that’s why we want to help you make the right decision. Follow our expert tips to help determine what your vacation rental domain should be!
Start with some research
You’ve got to begin somewhere, so start by researching potential search terms for your vacation rental to help you get an idea of what guests will be looking for in Google. You can use Google Adwords Keyword Planner or AnswerThePublic to help you with this.
Put yourself in your prospective guests’ shoes: what keywords or phrases are they going to search for in Google that will lead them to your site?
Make a list of any relevant terms that have a good search volume to competition ratio, i.e.that have high monthly searches but show low competition for the keyword, to start generating ideas for your domain.
Brand before anything else
While keywords can be an important factor in your domain and for your SEO rankings, it’s important to not go overboard. Instead, you should focus on your vacation rental brand.
Online marketing and SEO master for vacation rentals, Conrad O’Connell says:
“Instead of just creating a long, keyword-stuffed domain that no one will remember, create a memorable brand for your vacation rental website. Partially matching your branding + destination can work well. For example:
Many experts recommend owners to use a partial match domain (PMD) for their vacation rental website.
Partial match domains are those which contain at least one keyword that is a match for what is searched for. This is especially important since Google crushed the ranking of many exact match domain websites in an update a while back.
“I do think it’s okay to try to find domains with your destination name in them, but favor your brand over just adding the name of the destination to the domain name.”
Keep ’em short and sweet
Let’s do a little exercise: first, think of all of your favorite brands.
Out of those brands, how many have short, snappy domain names that you know off by heart?
All of them, right?
As well as being easier to remember, short domain names are easier to type – you don’t want your guests to type the wrong thing and end up booking your competitors’ vacation rental!
Plus, a short domain will always fit much more neatly onto a business card, and it will be much easier to spell out to someone on the phone.
Use an appropriate extension
In general, using the “.com” extension (in technical terms, this is called a top-level domain) tends to give you the best search engine results for your vacation rental, as it’s used globally and is the most popular generic extension out there.
However, if it’s likely you’ll only be attracting guests from your home country, you could opt for the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) instead.
Some examples of ccTLD are:
- .co.uk (United Kingdom)
- .fr (France)
- .es (Spain)
- .au (Australia)
- .de (Germany)
Additionally, you could even register the ccTLD as well as the .com domain, and have it redirect viewers to the latter website. Lodgify users who are on the annual or two-year plan can register their domain for free via the My Websites section of the back end.
Bonus tip: check for existing variations
Given that some people might not get your domain right first time (by putting a .co.uk instead of .com, for example), you’ll want to make sure that if these sites already exist, they won’t embarrass your own vacation rental brand by directing users to your competition’s website!
Check the history of any domain before buying
Most vacation rental owners will create their new domain name from scratch. If you’re thinking about purchasing an existing domain, however, Conrad advises:
“It may be worth purchasing a domain (the .com version) if there is one you really want, but it is rare I’d spend over $100 for the domain.”
Though the most important piece of advice he has for VR owners planning to buy an existing domain is this:
“Just because a domain is currently open doesn’t mean someone didn’t use it before. Sadly, I once worked with a new rental manager who purchased a domain of a company that went out of business, leading to dozens of links pointing to their website with very negative reviews.”
Conrad recommends to use tools like Internet Archive to find out if the domain has ever been used before, and if so, for which purposes.
Stick to one domain
Once you’ve decided on your domain, registered it and all the rest, please, please avoid changing it. Or you could face a lot of problems, and not just with regard to redirection.
Conrad’s final piece of advice on domains:
“Some rental managers I work with have 10-20 domains that they’ve purchased over the years: that’s great, but make sure you stick with your main domain for the long term. Switching domains has lots of costs (even with perfectly setup redirects) in terms of lost link equity, branding and guest recall of their stay with you. If you must switch domains, do so carefully and with the help of a SEO migration plan in place.”