For vacation rental owners looking to create their own website or improve an existing site, there are many factors to consider. Arguably one of the most crucial aspects is vacation rental on-page optimization – which is all the SEO-relevant stuff you do on your website – and its importance for modern SEO results.
The vacation rental business is an increasingly competitive market – industry experts predict the global market value will rise to $169.7 billion by 2019 – so positioning yourself with a website and getting direct bookings is essential, and achieved by good SEO.
There’s no need to feel overwhelmed, we’ve done the hard work for you. Lodgify breaks down the simple steps you can take to optimize your vacation rental website for search engines and improve the amount of traffic flowing to your page.
1. It all starts with the right domain
Choosing an appropriate domain name will maximize search traffic to your site. A domain name is the element where on-page optimization of every website should start, so if you want to achieve the best results, you should follow these rules:
- Avoid using hyphens and other separators within your domain name, as these can often indicate spam in search results.
- Keep domain names short and snappy – ideally 15 characters or less. Short domain names are not only easier for customers to remember, but there is also less chance of typos.
- The key is to find a balance between a unique, catchy domain name (that your site visitors will remember) and a keyword-rich domain name which ensures that your page shows up in the search results to begin with.
Take a look at the full instructions on how to register your domain name using Lodgify.
2. Keep your URLs SEO-friendly
There is an industry trend leaning towards descriptive URLs over simple ones, with SEO experts at Ahrefs expressing their preference towards the former. Descriptive URLs do what they say on the tin – they describe the content you’re about to view, making it much more user-friendly, clickable and a lot less spammy.
To optimize your vacation rental site, think about what your guests want to see. Will they be more inclined to click on this:
When your site appears in search engine results, customers will immediately know what to expect from the clues given in your URL.
Best practice tips:
- Choose static rather than dynamic URLs.
- The shorter, the better. According to Rand Fishkin over at MOZ, 50-60 character URLs are fine, but anything over 100 characters deserves a rewrite.
- Recent research has shown keywords in URLs to not be a concrete factor in boosting rankings. However, the descriptive URL approach will often include your keywords and can help you rank for the right terms.
3. Don’t forget title tags
Title tags tell your visitor what each page on your site is about in a clear and concise manner.
There are a number of ways you can optimize title tags for your vacation rental website. These are our best practice tips:
- Use keywords towards the beginning of the title. MOZ have done a lot of testing on this topic, and found that the closer a keyword is to the start of the title, the more successful it is in ranking highly.
- Optimal title tag length is between 50-60 characters, or 512 pixels wide. Any longer than this, and Google will truncate the title in search results.
4. Metadata is still relevant
Vacation rental on-page SEO also calls for thought-out meta keywords. Meta keywords are tags which help you provide search engines like Google with data about your sites.
It’s easy to add meta keywords using Lodgify.
It’s important you don’t stuff too many keywords into your content in the hopes of ranking higher in search engines, but rather you focus on a select few that are really directed towards the searches you aim to show up in. Research shows that meta keywords don’t necessarily boost your search engine rankings, though at Lodgify we believe that choosing meta keywords is a good exercise to help you to define your vacation rental on-page optimization goals.
In the example below, “Cottage” has been used as the meta keyword, so it appears in bold on the Google search results page.
A meta description is a snippet of content around 160 characters long which outlines what the page is about. These snippets of text should be concise and engaging – the aim of the meta description is to attract potential customers to your vacation rental site. When you search for something in Google, the results display the title tag, URL and meta description if the term you’ve searched for appears there.
Look at the example below, “NewLife Villas” has been used as the meta keyword (shown in bold), and the meta description succinctly describes what the site is about. The description doesn’t truncate as it has abided by the word count (157ch).
Even though recent studies have shown that meta descriptions may not directly impact your website’s rankings in search engines, it’s always a good idea to include them on your website pages to convince users to click through, that’s why good on-page SEO calls for optimized meta descriptions.
5. Heading tags are important too, you know
Heading (or ‘H’) tags are also a valuable element to optimize from an SEO perspective as they define the structure of your content, for both your audience and search engines alike.
Headings are defined using H1 to H6 tags, with H1 being used for the most important heading on the page. It’s necessary to remember that each page of your vacation rental website should have only one H1 tag. On this Lodgify user’s page, the H1 tag is “Oceanfront Private Luxury Villa”.
Why is the H1 tag so important? Because it sends necessary signals to search engines as to what a page of content is about. Having “Home” as H1 on your vacation rental website says nothing about the page, that’s why it is also recommended to use a targeted keyword (one which you want to rank for) in the first few words of the headline for your page.
H2 tags are more about dividing the content up into readable chunks, think of them as subheadings. The main role of H2 tags is to reflect or summarize the paragraph they are assigned to. In the Lodgify user example below, “Guaranteed Lowest Price”, “Personal Villa Assistance 7 days a week” and “Inspected Properties in Bali” are all H2s.
If keywords fit into your H2s, great! But if they don’t, it’s not a big deal. Rather than optimizing by force, which will make your copy look unnatural, you should always be prioritizing your readers first, before thinking about search engines.
That said, keywords included within any H1 or H2 tags (along with title tags, meta descriptions and URLs) will send strong defining and relevancy signals of what a page is about to search engines like Google, which in turn help improve your rankings.
It’s pretty easy to add H tags to your Lodgify site, just go to your website pages and select “Home”. Press the “Add New Widget” button and choose the option for “Heading”, then the box below will appear.
The options “Big”, “Medium” and “Small” refer to H1, H2 and H3 tags respectively. Just select your size, write your text in the box and press “Save”. You can then drag these header boxes to wherever you’d like them to appear on your site, just bear in mind that the “Big” header should be nearest to the top of the page.
6. Page content: where the magic happens
Think about all the times you’ve booked anything on the internet – whether it’s hotels, car hire or theater tickets – something about the content you read persuaded you to book that day, and you should be doing the same with the content on your vacation rental website.
When writing content to optimize your vacation rental page, you should first focus on helping searchers. Make sure the introductory paragraph does just that – introduces your customer to the vacation rental service you’re offering. Always keep in mind that the first paragraph or 100 words should summarize what the rest of the copy is about, also it will have a positive SEO impact if you include a targeted keyword in this copy.
Sprinkle keywords and LSI keywords* naturally throughout the body of your text. Don’t force them, just let them flow!
*Latent Semantic Indexing keywords are other search phrases that are related to your targeted ones. Try this tool for free.
Longer content does tend to rank better in search results pages. For best results, it’s recommended that your product pages (in other words, your property descriptions) are at least 300 words. To ensure complete vacation rental on-page optimization, aim for between 300 and 500 words.
It’s essential you use various visual media on your site because it will drive engagement and entertain your website visitors.
On-page optimization rules also apply to visual elements that you want to use on your vacation rental website to provide the best user experience.
This could include video, high-quality photographic images or even floor plans.
Check out this really cool video from Lodgify user Kea Family Homes. It’s a great example of how visual media can truly enhance the user experience.
Research has shown that in online stores (tip: think of your vacation rental site as a store), 63% of customers believe image quality to be the most important aspect, more so than product-specific information, long descriptions and reviews. Since customers buy with their eyes, images of your beautiful vacation rental house and its picturesque location are your most persuasive selling point and the best value you can put in front of people who visit your website.
In order to fully optimize images or other media, it’s vital to accurately describe what is presented in the image. It’s best if you can include the chosen keywords in your file names.
Name your images accordingly before you upload them to your Lodgify site. Once you’ve uploaded your images, make sure you add captions which describe what is on the image.
Google recognizes these keywords and as a result, your images show up in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Given that 60% of consumers are more likely to consider or even contact a business when images show up in local search results, it’s a wise move to spend time adding such captions to your vacation rental site.
7. Make connections with outbound links
When you’re crafting content for your vacation rental site (or employing someone else to do it, for that matter), make sure to include outbound links to high quality, related sources for vacation rental on-page SEO.
Example: Let’s say you’re writing about the blue flag beach located a few minutes’ walk from your vacation rental, you could link the text ‘blue flag beach’ to an external well-known website that just published an article praising the local beach. Outbound links like these strengthen the relevancy of your content, and search results will praise your website for it.
8. Include internal links without overdoing it
Whenever you publish new content on your vacation rental website, take the opportunity to link to other internal pages on your site. By getting into the habit of this practice, you will improve the search value of those other linked pages.
The optimal amount of internal links needed for shaping balanced site architecture is at least three per page, which lead the user to topically related pages. This means you should really pay attention to their anchor texts and use keywords that are relevant to a particular resource.
What to take away
Maximizing your search engine potential demands optimizing various elements of your vacation rental website. The steps above are the necessary baseline of on-page optimization, but this is only a starting point.
With time, good SEO practice is the best way to increase your organic traffic and online visibility, then it will be up to you and your site to persuade customers to book their next vacation at your property. With any luck (mixed with a bit of skill), your beautiful website design and direct booking functionality will play a key role in converting your viewers into bookings.
Do you pay attention to vacation rental on-page SEO? Have you noticed the difference in traffic before and after optimization? Feel free to tell us in the comments below!