Chapter 1

50 Actionable SEO Tips for Vacation Rentals

Position your vacation rental website on the first page of Google with our 50 actionable hacks to improve your website's SEO.


Search engine optimization is an increasingly talked-about topic in the vacation rental industry. With so much competition from listing sites and competitors alike, the average vacation rental website doesn’t have much chance of succeeding without SEO.

However, with recent changes to Google’s algorithm in 2024 and Google Search Generative Experience (SGE) set to transform search entirely, to ensure your vacation rental website is dominating Google search results, you’re going to need good SEO.

We know how easy it can be to get lost in the internet’s many millions of articles about search engine optimization. But SEO for vacation rentals doesn’t have to be scary or strenuous.

In this eBook, you’ll find 50 actionable tips that you can start implementing right away for your vacation rental website. As we’ve split this guide into handy sections for on-page, keyword research, off-page, images, and content—you can easily skip to the topic you need help with most.

What’s really important to remember is that SEO is a long-term process. It requires time and patience to see real results, but they will come eventually as long as you’re following best practices and are focusing on creating high-quality content that is written to help your readers!

You don’t need to put all these tips into practice in one day, but the more you take SEO into consideration when you’re performing updates to your website, the better chance you have at ranking and being seen by the right guests.

So, without further ado, here are the 50 things you can do to improve your vacation rental website’s SEO!

On-page SEO

1. Decide on a branded domain name over a keyword-stuffed one

One of the first things you’ll need to do when you set up your business and website is decide on your property name and, therefore, domain name. In most cases, it’s better to choose a domain that’s branded over one that includes a lot of random keywords stuffed into it. Partially matching branding with the destination can work really well for many vacation rental owners.

Here are some examples:


💡 Top tip: John Mueller, Google’s Search Advocate, has clarified that “keyword domain names do not provide any recognizable SEO advantage on Google.” What he’s trying to say is that simply having a domain name that matches a keyword doesn’t guarantee higher rankings—other factors, like great content, authority, etc., all influence rankings a whole lot more.

2. Use an appropriate domain extension

Top-level domains (TLDs), such as the “.com” extension, tend to give the best results for all kinds of businesses. However, if it’s likely you’ll only attract guests from your home country, you might want to think about using country-specific ccTLDs.

For example:

  • .fr
  • .es
  • .au
  • .de
  • .it

3. Keep your domain short and sweet

Not only is a long domain a mouthful to say, but it makes it more difficult to type and more prone to errors. Plus, a short domain just looks better. A short, punchy domain name will also be much easier to spell out over the phone and will fit neatly onto a business card. Talk about a win-win situation!

4. Use your top keyword in your title tags

One of the strongest on-page signals your website can send to search engines is when you have your main keyword in its titles. That’s why you should ensure every page of your website has a unique title tag with one (just one, not two or three) mention of your keyword—preferably at the beginning.

5. Optimize titles so they don’t truncate

Google has a way of truncating titles that are too long—or rather, those that don’t fit into its 600-pixel frame. That’s why SEO specialists recommend keeping titles between 50-60 characters for optimal results.

Good SEO title tag examples

However, it’s not that simple. As some characters occupy more space than others (e.g., capital letters and wide letters such as ‘M,’ ‘W’, and ‘N’), you may need to rework your website titles to make them fit without truncation. 

💡 Top tip: Check out the Moz guide to writing title tags for more details, and try their title tag preview tool to see how your title will look online.

6. Optimize titles for click-throughs

More clicks can also help you move up the rankings, so make sure your headlines are attractive enough to make users click. Not only can you do this for all your website pages (such as ‘about us,’ ‘about the area,’ ‘press,’ etc.), but you can also easily optimize your vacation rental blog, as you’ll have more room to play around with fun titles!

Once you have a library of posts and data, you can run tests depending on which were the most successful—and devise new titles from these results.

7. Include your brand name and a tagline in your homepage title tags

The most important area of your website (your homepage) needs to be the most optimized when it comes to title tags. It’s often recommended to have your brand mentioned first, then a strapline.

Check out Airbnb as an example:

vacation rental seo tips - airbnb example

8. Don’t worry about including your brand name in other page title tags

Aside from your homepage, it’s not necessary to include your brand name in your other website page title tags because Google often adds this automatically. That’s great news because you’ll be able to use your limited characters more wisely!

9. Try not to waste space on page titles

Not only can you save a few characters by omitting your brand name from every title, but also by cutting out stop or connecting words, you’ll have a more optimized title.

Words we’re talking about are: a, and, is, on, of, the, was, with…etc. They’re likely not necessary and don’t add any value to your readers.

10. Take advantage of ‘purchase intent’ keywords

You’re a vacation rental owner or property manager, so your main goal is to achieve bookings for your home. As guests may already be searching for rentals in your area, you can grab their attention from the outset.

vacation rental seo tips - purchase intent

Adding a “Book” in front of your titles (e.g. “Book Florida vacation rentals online”) will help capture those guests who are already in the right stage of the buyer’s journey.

11. Use keywords in your meta descriptions

Keywords in meta descriptions no longer have an effect on ranking. However, they do show up in bold in search results, which can, in fact, encourage a higher click-through rate.

Bolded keywords in search results

12. Optimize meta descriptions so they don’t truncate

Just like website titles, meta descriptions also truncate after a certain number of characters. This is also based on pixels, but generally, meta descriptions under 155 characters (maximum) should help minimize the possibility of truncation.

13. Add a unique H1 tag for each page on your website

The header text, or H1, is one of the most important on-page SEO features. Make sure your keywords appear in your page’s H1 and that there is only one H1 per page.

You can use a free tool such as the Chrome extension Detailed to check what others (or even your competitors) are using as their H1 tag.

Example of Detailed Chrome extension

14. Use other keywords in H2s and H3s

You can target other keywords that aren’t as important as your main keywords in other headers throughout your page, particularly if you are adding to your vacation rental blog. You can also use semantic keywords (those that are related to your main search terms) in H2s and H3s to improve your chances of ranking better.

💡 Top tip: You can manually search for semantic keywords, but tools like Semrush make this a lot easier. You can use their SEO Content Template tool to enter your main keyword and then scroll down to the “Key recommendations” section to find semantically related keywords to help enrich your text.

15. Use short, descriptive URLs

Short URLs not only look better but when they have your keyword in, they can also help you rank higher.

vacation rental seo tips - use short urls

16. Keep your contact information on display

If you’re planning to run your vacation rental via your website, people are going to need to contact you! However, hiding your contact details from Google is also a big no-no when it comes to SEO. So, get more inquiries and have Google trust you by having clear, easy-to-find contact details on your website.

Vacation Rental Website Contact Page

17. NAP at all times

Sadly, we’re not advising you to take a siesta constantly. Instead, we’re reminding you to include your business Name, Address, and Phone number on all the pages of your website, preferably in the footer. This is important for targeting local search as you’re emphasizing your location to Google and sending out good trust signals.

18. Test your website load time

Many guests will abandon a vacation rental website if it doesn’t load quickly enough, so check how your website is doing with a free tool like Google PageSpeed Insights.

19. Follow recommendations for optimizing load time

If Google PageSpeed Insights comes back with a low score, do all you can to get your numbers up. While 100% might not be completely achievable without professional help, fix the things you can on your own to improve loading time for SEO. This often includes deleting pages that are image-heavy or feature a lot of videos if they’re not totally relevant (or necessary). Or reducing the size of the files on your site, getting a new hosting provider, or even optimizing your vacation rental website theme.

Keyword Research

20. Always conduct keyword research before you write a blog post

The whole point of starting a blog for your vacation rental is to gain traffic, right? So, make it as relevant as possible by researching keywords before you even start to think about blog post ideas.

Use a free tool like Google Adwords Keyword Planner to find search volumes and new keywords for your business and upcoming blog posts. Check out this Google Help Center article for basic tips for building a keyword list.

21. If your website is new, target low-competition keywords to rank more quickly

New websites are more difficult to rank for competitive keywords, but there is a way to get your site noticed more quickly.

Just target certain keywords that have a lower difficulty and, therefore, lower competition than the top keywords. You can use a free tool like Google Keyword Planner to help determine which keywords you should try to rank for.

vacation rental seo tips - keyword planner

💡 Top tip: You can use paid tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, or others to help you perform keyword research for your vacation rental. However, Google’s Keyword Planner is an especially great place to start if you’re looking for lower-of-the-funnel, buying intent-focused keywords. Check the CPC first. If the keyword has a higher CPC, it’s likely a very transactional keyword that people ready to “convert” are looking for.

22. Identify your competitors’ keywords, and use them yourself!

As the vacation rental industry is becoming increasingly competitive, with more and more rentals popping up all the time, owners and managers have to get creative.

By identifying your competitors’ keywords and the amount of traffic they bring, you can aim to target these yourself to drive more traffic your way. However, don’t include keywords just because you “think you should.” Instead, focus on keywords that are relevant to your target audience.

23. Rank for similar keywords by grouping them

Google is extremely smart and can identify relationships between keywords and other similar ones. Because of this, it’s now possible to rank for multiple keywords with just one page or blog post! So start by choosing one main keyword, then build groups of keywords that are very closely linked with this one to integrate into your website content.

24. Use Google “People also ask” to find other keywords to target

Often, when you carry out a Google search, Google will provide you with other frequently searched terms in the “People also ask” box. (Note: sometimes this appears at the top of search results, and other times it’s a bit further down). These related searches may help you find new topics to write about that other vacation rental guests are already searching for.

Example of people also ask

25. Make the most of Google autocomplete to find new keyword ideas

Simply type your original keyword idea into Google, and as if by magic, autocomplete will provide you with a list of suggestions.

vacation rental seo tips - autocomplete

It’s not magic at all, really. In fact, these are usually the most searched terms that start with the same phrase you entered. And can also provide you with more ideas for your content.

26. Delete words from Google autocomplete for even MORE keyword ideas

Ever accidentally deleted a word from a Google search and had tons more autocomplete ideas come up? Try doing this on purpose. Enter your full search query, then delete the bit you want more ideas for. Google will present you with a nice long list of ideas that cost you zero effort or time!

27. Target one keyword for each page of your website

One of the fundamentals when it comes to keywords and SEO is this: don’t target more than one keyword per page. If you do this, Google will decide for you which one is going to rank for that keyword, and you might not be pleased with the result.

Structure each page on your site to target one keyword and one keyword only.

28. Google your keywords before creating any content

Due to the increasing presence of ads across Google search results (and, more recently, changes in the search engine results pages that include “from across the web” snippets and SGE results), organic links are often pushed further down to make way for everything else.

💡 Top tip: By performing the Google search yourself first in an incognito window, you’ll be able to see if your content is likely to receive any clicks. If all you see are paid ads, and that is where all the traffic is going, it might be worth rethinking whether to target that search term.

Off-page SEO

29. Register each locale on local directories

If you have a multilingual vacation rental website with different domains or sections for each country, then make multiple entries on relevant directories such as Google Places, as well as any other national and regional sites.

30. Build links in your target country

Some of the best links you can build will be those coming from the same country as your website. That means if your website domain has a country-specific extension, you should aim to build links with the same country extension.

For example, if your website domain is, you should try to reach out and build backlinks from other websites that use .es as the extension. Doing this will help give your site more authority in your location.

31. Ask for links within your network

If you’ve just published your vacation rental website, one of the easiest ways to get a few links is by approaching people you already know. Hopefully, they’ll be able to help by adding a link to your site on theirs!

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Businesses local to your vacation rental
  • Your property photographer
  • Previous guests with travel blogs
  • Friends and family around the world (linking to the right locale site)

32. Build links within the content for top-value

Useful links from inside good content are the most likely to be clicked, so that’s why Google ranks them as the most valuable type of link to build.

33. Steer clear of low-quality links

Spammy, low-quality links won’t give your vacation rental website any link juice or authority, so just don’t do it! While it’s tempting, it will only waste precious time you could have been spending building high-quality links.

34. Avoid black-hat strategies

There are some link-building strategies out there that actually do more damage than good. Avoid these at all costs:

  • Link farming
  • Link buying
  • Excess 1:1 link exchanges
  • Article submissions (e.g., Ezine Articles, eHow, etc.)

💡 Top tip: Buying links has always been a no-no that can hurt your vacation rental SEO (or SEO in any industry, really). However, Google’s March 2024 update included a new signal targeting manipulative outgoing links. Websites engaging in practices to manipulate search rankings through outbound links may now face penalties, which is the last thing you want!

35. Interview a local “celebrity”

Another great way to achieve links from websites in your local area is by interviewing a local “celebrity” for your vacation rental blog. Perhaps there is a well-known chef whose business has served your town for years? A local sporting team that has a 10-year winning streak?

It doesn’t have to be someone who is famous on an international level, but someone who is recognized in your community will help other sources pick up the story and link back to your site – generating more visibility for your vacation rental.

36. Answer questions on Quora for links that drive traffic

While Quora links aren’t of the highest quality, they certainly do drive traffic. As bookings are the endgame here, scour Quora for searches related to your area and include a link back to your website or blog in your answer—easy!

Image SEO

37. Use descriptive file names for your images

Search engines and SEO function using text and file names. Google won’t rank the images you post, but they will rank the file names that those images are labeled under. That’s why you need to label every image you upload to your vacation rental website.

For example: if the default file is named ‘DSC0001’, the photo means nothing to search engines and won’t do anything to enhance your SEO.

How to Name Photo Files

If you name that same file ‘vacation-rental-villa-santa-barbara’, it suddenly becomes searchable under any one of those keywords. Someone searching “Vacation Rental Villa in Santa Barbara” will potentially find your website thanks to the way you have optimized your image file name.

38. Add relevant alt text to all your gallery images

Alt tags or alt text are the short captions that show when you hover over an image on a website. Search engines aren’t yet intelligent enough to figure out what’s in every image, so alt text does this for them. Using keywords that relevantly describe the images pictured will help your website’s images to be featured for appropriate search terms.

39. Optimize image size

Big photos = slow website loading times. Slow websites = impatient guests. Impatient guests = potentially lost bookings. Are you following the math?

While it’s great to allow a closer view of the properties your guests are looking to rent, you want to make sure they get to see the photo immediately first and then give them the option of zooming in once they are interested enough to stay.

This will keep the whole page from freezing up while still allowing them the ability to see in more detail if they choose to.

💡 Top tip: Research the optimal dimensions for your website provider and make sure you resize all photos to that uniform scale.

40. Optimize image file size

Even if the dimensions of your images are small, if you have not downsized the actual file size of the image, it might still be very slow to load the page. You want to decrease the actual file size of every image before you upload it to your website. Aim to keep your file size below 100kb whenever that is feasible.

There are many free websites like Optimizilla and Compressor for easy, accessible editing options.

41. Optimize image file type

For optimized images, you’re also going to want to make sure you’re using the best file type for the job.

Image file format

We recommend using either JPEG or PNG image files. JPEG images are the most standard and basic of image files. They make it easy to provide a quality image in a small file size, and so have become very popular. You will probably use JPEGs when showcasing photos of your vacation rental properties and rooms.

Content SEO

42. Create easy-to-read content

There are many tips you can follow when you set up your vacation rental website, but the biggest piece of advice we can offer is to create informative and clear content.

Separating your website content into sections with appropriate headings is not only useful for your reader, but it’s great for SEO, too! Short, simple sentences and bullet points also help you to structure content well so it’s easy-to-read.

43. Use a tool like Grammarly to check for errors

There’s no excuse for poor grammar when fabulous free tools like Grammarly exist. Grammarly will check everything from your website content to your blog posts and social media updates. The free version is quite robust, but if you’re going to do a lot of editing (which you should if you’re serious about vacation rental SEO!), the paid version is well worth it.

Example of Grammarly when editing

44. Use your main keyword in the page title

Whenever you sit down to write something new for your website, you’ll probably have done some keyword research to help you get started (see Keyword research section). It’s important to use your main keyword at the beginning of the post title to help you rank more quickly.

45. Use your main keyword in the body of your content

Sounds obvious, right? But often, writers forget to use the main keyword in their body text. Some research has suggested using it near the beginning of the page works better, but what’s really important is just including it somewhere naturally in the text.

46. Write longer content to rank better

Multiple studies have all shown that longer content ranks higher – with a study by Backlinko showing that, in general, the average word count of a first-page Google result is 1,447 words.

But remember, quality is always more important than quantity. So be wary of just “writing for the sake of it.”

💡 Top tip: Backlinko’s study also found that “websites with above-average time on site tend to rank higher in Google.” So, the key is to engage your audience enough to keep them on the page and scrolling through to read more!

47. Add internal links across your website

Internal links to other relevant sections of your website can help lower bounce rates as you’ll keep visitors on your website longer. It’s often quite easy to do this naturally, and it becomes even easier if you build up a blog.

For example, if you’re writing a post about the top 10 beaches in your area, and you’ve already covered the top 10 restaurants with a sea view – there will be a really organic way you can link from one to the other!

48. Add authority external links to your pages

Mentioning relevant external sites and sources is a great way to build authority and possibly search ranking! It will also help you to develop relationships with organizations or businesses relevant to your vacation rental niche.

49. Include a call to action on every page

In case you don’t have a sticky “Book Now” button on your vacation rental website, make sure to include one clear call to action on every page!

Call to actions are absolutely essential for converting more website visitors into bookings and filling up your vacation rental calendar.

50. Generate a plan with these 101 content ideas

If you really want to take it a step further and push for amazing SEO for your website, start a vacation rental blog!

For someone who has never written a blog post before, it can be a bit overwhelming to wonder where and how to begin. We get it, but don’t worry! We’ve created this guide with 101 content ideas for vacation rental blogs that are a great starting point for any new bloggers in the industry.

Split into sections such as “feature your local area,” “best of lists,” and “discounts and giveaways,” you’ll be spoilt for choice on which to start writing first!


From optimizing images to building backlinks and writing content about your top keywords, there are so many different things you can do to improve the SEO of your vacation rental website.

Being proactive and working on your vacation rental website’s SEO from the outset will certainly help you rank higher in the long term. But following the 50 steps outlined in this guide is just the beginning.

Due to ever-updating search engine algorithms and rules, particularly with the upcoming changes that SGE will bring, SEO for vacation rentals is a process that’s constantly subject to change. However, the fundamentals of what will help your website rank highly (the ones we’ve included here) will still be valid for many years to come. Focus on creating high-quality content that appeals to and helps your target audience, and you’re on the right track.

We hope you’ve found these 50 actionable SEO tips for vacation rentals as useful as we did compiling them! For more in-depth insights regarding a few of the most important tips in this eBook, read through our breakdown of 9 Simple SEO Tips for Your Vacation Rental Website.