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 name should be!
TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR CHOOSING THE RIGHT VACATION RENTAL DOMAIN NAME
What is a domain name and what is it used for?
Technically speaking, domain names are easy-to-remember words that we use to identify IP addresses, which are basically numerical addresses that tell your browser where to find the associated website on the internet.
It might sound quite complicated to understand – especially if you are a beginner – but it’s not. Just try to think of the domain name as your website’s name – the address that internet users type into a browser to access your website.
There are free or paid domain names, they are unique and can’t be switched between different websites. You can easily get one (if it’s still available) in various hostings or website builders like WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, and of course, Lodgify.
Here are some examples of popular domain names:
If you’re a property manager and have a website, choosing the right domain name is key if you want to easily be found online, both directly or organically on search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo.
It’s important to think before making the final choice; it’s a very important step for the creation of a vacation rental website. That’s why we’d like to help you make the right decision! Changing your domain name is always possible, but the repercussions on your website could be very serious; so make sure you think ahead!
To be sure you make the right choice, all you have to do is follow these 9 tips from our experts that will help you choose a domain name that fits for your holiday rental.
1. 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.
2. 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.
“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: flighthouseobx.com sweetbeachvacations.com sandcastleorlando.com.”
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.”
3. Match domain name and brand name
What’s the difference between a domain name and brand name?
The vacation rental brand name is nothing more than how you call your property, villa or b&b and which will identify your business and differentiate you from your competitors.
Finding the right words to describe your property with just one name is not easy and could take time. Be creative, avoid acronyms and complex names, try to find a name that perfectly identifies you and your holiday home and finally, match it with your domain name.
You don’t want to have a brand name that’s different to your domain name. It could be confusing both for your potential guests, as well as for search engines. They don’t necessarily have to be exactly the same, but the best practice is to keep them as similar as possible. So guests can easily find your website, and search engines will index it without any discrepancies.
Choosing both brand and domain name is anything but simple. It’s something that will be stuck forever with you and your property, that will be displayed on your website, on social media and other platforms. Once chosen, you will not be able to go back (you will, but it’s really complicated).
4. 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.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is a discipline that aims to optimize websites so that they can be easily found by users when they look for something on search engines like Google.
Nowadays, SEO is very important for your vacation rental and the reason is quite simple. Try to think of how many times you found yourself searching for something on Google: general information, advice, products or services. Every single search is an opportunity for you to be found and known by new guests.
Try to think of how many times you do this in a whole year, then multiply that by the total number of people in the world. Well, the number you might have imagined is probably way smaller than the correct one. Check Google Search Statistics to see exactly how many searches have been done worldwide on a daily basis!
Well, now that you have a vague idea of how important might be SEO for your website, you should know that search engines like Google use more than 200 ranking factors to determine your position in their search results – and the domain name is just one of them!
Keeping the domain name simple and straightforward will help the user remember it more easily, as well as make your URL clearer, more effective and immediate. Also, the presence of your vacation rental name will be useful to make your property appear in the top positions when users search for it.
Even if optimizing the URL of your website’s domain name alone won’t bring huge amounts of traffic, it’s still a starting point. If you’re interested in learning more about SEO, check out our hub page with our best SEO advice and suggestions and start optimizing your websites to reach the top positions on all the search engines!
6. 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)
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!
7. 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.
8. 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.”
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