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3 Tips to Position Your Vacation Rental Website for Success

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Kicking off a new year often comes with a list of personal goals or focus points for the next 12 months, and your website shouldn’t be any different.

Especially if one of your goals is to grow your vacation rental business, attract more guests, or improve your property’s online visibility — we’ve explored some of the most beneficial places to start when it comes to focusing on your website to increase traffic and motivate conversions.

How To Properly Structure Your Website

A properly-structured website improves user experience and also helps search engines (Google) understand a website.

Frequently, development teams don’t work with a technical SEO professional, and as a result, they generally don’t have the expertise, or the motivation, to properly optimize a website’s structure for search purposes.

This gives a website some substantial disadvantages when competing for search rankings.

So whether you’re redesigning or starting from scratch, here is a list of some of the most important components to consider when structuring a website:

URL Structure

Well-thought out URLs provide users and search engines a clean, easy-to-understand path through a website. Here are two examples of URLs that can be found online for the same page:

Clear URL:  yourdomain.com/country/state/city

 

Confusing, unclear URL:  yourdomain.com/cid=5/sid=34/49383&ris

Hopefully you can easily see which one is more user- (and search engine) friendly.

Site Architecture

Parent/child relationships create organized page groups (silos) within a website.

Websites that have related content should consider using this type of organization.

This is important for the main website content as well as the blog, if used. Here is an example of the use of proper parent/child relationships:

Parent:  Mexico

Child/Parent:  Cancun

Child: Family Friendly

 

The URLs will look something like this to denote these important relationships on your site:

yourdomain.com/mexico/cancun/family-friendly

Indexed vs Non-indexed Pages

Not all pages of a website should be indexed.

Login pages, dynamically-created page results, paginated pages, checkout-pages, and others should not be indexed in search engines.

There are several steps you can take to ensure that these pages aren’t indexed within search engines, and if you haven’t done this yet, consider it your reminder to begin the process or double check for appropriate indexing (and non-indexing) on your site’s pages.

Canonical Tags

Canonical tag settings can indicate the most important version of a webpage, and should be used, if appropriate, to help search engines understand what version they should be indexing if duplicates are present for one reason or another.

Generally, Google does not care for duplicate content and therefore assigning proper canonical tags can help eliminate or reduce duplicate content issues.

Metadata

Very few websites take full advantage of appropriate metadata.

If, for example, metadata is well thought out and complete on a website, the advantages are substantial for search rankings, click-through rate, and conversions.

A good place to start could include doing a metadata content audit, or looking through all your site’s metadata at once to better understand the story it’s telling to users, and search engines.

Once you know what you have, you can make a plan to improve it.

Images

Alt tags, or alt attributes, help search engines understand the content of an image, and are also used for searchers with accessibility considerations, such as visual impairment.

Filling in alt tags for each image on a website helps people find your website by doing image searches.

Leveraging this relatively simple inclusion to your site can be incredibly valuable for many destinations!

How To Include The Most Beneficial SEO Components

Search engine optimization (SEO) is always changing.

Before diving into all the technical components of SEO, it is a good idea to take a step back and think about search from Google’s perspective, or the same way you would rank websites if you created a search engine.

Although not perfect, Google does a stellar job understanding who the authority of a searched topic is and placing them in order.

As searchers, we want to find an expert that is reliable, honest, and accurate for whatever we are searching for.

Vacation rental managers need to consider this when building a website to provide a safe and welcoming environment for visitors.

Here is a list of the most important SEO components that make a difference for user experience and search engine visibility:

Targeted Keyword Phrases

Researched, well-thought out, and unique keyword phrases need to be used throughout a website in appropriate areas.

It is not beneficial to target the same phrase on multiple pages, as these will compete against each other.

Knowing your purpose/goal for each page helps grow rankings exponentially over time.

Brian Dean created a list of the 15 best keyword research tools, here are our 10 favorite:

  • Soovle
  • Jaaxy
  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Ahrefs
  • SECockpit
  • KeywordTool.io
  • Moz Keyword Explorer
  • Keywords Everywhere
  • SEM Rush
  • Google Trends

If your website is built using WordPress, using an SEO plugin like Yoast to help you with keyword inclusion is highly recommended.

Title Tags

The title of a webpage should coordinate with the assigned keyword phrase determined from the previous point.

Having this in the page title tag tells Google what the page is about, and is an important starting point for SEO success.

The optimal title tag length is 50 - 70 characters.

title tag

Meta Descriptions

Although the meta description does not help improve rankings, according to Google, they are imperative to optimize click-through-rate.

Think about what descriptions convince you to click on a link when doing a search.

These are well-written explanations of what the page is about, enticing searchers to click in 160 characters or less.

Below is a well-written meta description that entices a searcher to click on the link.

meta description

On-Page Content

Google loves to rank web pages where owners spend the necessary time creating helpful, accurate, updated, and thorough content.

It is a good idea to understand what competing pages are providing to users and improve on this content.

When it comes to vacation rental websites it is important to write helpful content associated with the targeted search phrase.

Another benefit of spending the time to write awesome content is often other websites will want to link to it, which can improve your site’s trust and rankings.

Internal Linking

Most people understand that getting outside links from other websites to a website helps rankings, but it is not common knowledge that internal (or on-site) linking is extremely important as well. 

When creating structure and content for a website, creating a methodical linking structure between pages can increase ranking and the user experience.

Site Speed

Google is a stickler when it comes to wasting searchers’ time with slow loading websites.

Many factors go into site speed and Google has a good place to check the speed of any webpage.

Here are some top factors that can lead to slow websites:

  • Hosting provider
  • Unoptimized images
  • JavaScript issues
  • Not using caching techniques
  • Unclean or bloated code
  • Too many programs and plugins being used

The Benefits Of Blogging For Vacation Rental Managers

If you are trying to decide whether you should start blogging for your vacation rental website, talk to people that have been doing it regularly for a decent period and time (more than 1 - 2 years).

Ask them for feedback and any proven traffic analytics that support their data.

From our experience with blogging, it is not uncommon to see more than 50% of website visitors arrive onsite from a blog post.

Many times, these are travelers who are looking for answers to questions about a specific area, and would not have otherwise known of your brand.

Becoming an authoritative expert about your location can be extremely valuable to the organic growth of your vacation rental business.

It is important to understand before diving in, however, how to properly write blog posts that have proven search interest.

It is more efficient and effective to do the proper research in preparation and develop a content calendar for an entire year, or season.

If you are stuck with finding topics we have written an extensive guide to get started with 251 blogging ideas specific to the vacation rental market.

If you don’t have time to write blog posts or develop a content calendar yourself, consider hiring vacation rental writing experts that can take this task off your hands.

Keep a similarly-organized structure to your blog as discussed earlier in this post about website structure.

We recommend choosing a set number of categories that fit your business and assign each post to one category.

You may find having 5 - 10 categories is sufficient to cover all future blog posts.

Here are some examples of categories to consider:

  • Restaurants
  • Things to Do
  • Attractions
  • Guides
  • Reviews
  • News

A great tip is to find comparable published articles or pieces and make improvements when you’re starting to write a new blog post.

Next Steps

Building or improving your vacation rental website takes careful research and planning.

Starting with these 3 steps can help you break your goals into smaller, more manageable action items to increase your website’s visibility and user-friendliness.

As with any investment, spending targeted time improving your website can make a huge difference for the bottom line of any vacation rental manager.

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