Chapter 8

Vacation Rental Link Building

Chapters

Your content may be great, and your website might look stunning. But if your customers aren't discovering your content, a good design will do nothing to improve your brand's visibility in the search results.

To stand out from the competition and become an authority in your niche, you must earn high-quality links from credible industry websites. This is a crucial component of a solid SEO strategy.

A good backlink profile says that other websites love your content (or your vacation rentals!) and find it valuable enough to link back to it. This signals to search engines that other sites are willing to vouch for the quality of your content, leading to higher rankings in the search results.

So, what exactly is link building?

In this chapter, we break down the entire process of creating a good backlink profile for your vacation rental website.

We'll discuss:

  • What is link building?
  • Why is link building important to property managers
  • How to get links to your vacation rental website
  • Identifying high-quality links
  • Types of high-quality links
  • Buying links

 

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What is Link Building?

Link building is the process of getting other credible, relevant websites to link to your rental website.

That could include your local area guide, your vacation rental blog, your property pages, or your homepage.

What Are Backlinks?

Backlinks are clickable links that you see on a webpage that connect you to other sites. This link provides an SEO boost to the website in the link's destination.

So for your vacation rental business, these backlinks would be on other websites like your local chamber of commerce or CVB, leading their visitors back to your vacation rental website.

It could also be that you are citing a website with original research and want to give them credit for it. You would place a link on your website and link back to where the research lives on their site.

We know this terminology can be a little scary but it doesn't have to be. Essentially, building links back to your site is a form of promotion for your vacation rental website.

Mastering the art of link building can put you ahead of the competition and make your rental site more discoverable to search engines and your vacation rental market.

Google's Ranking Algorithm

Links have been a core component of Google’s ranking algorithm since the search engine’s inception. They’re still important today but links are just one of many factors in the algorithm.

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Why Should Property Managers Care About Link Building?

Securing backlinks are one of the most important components of an SEO strategy to improve your rankings on the search results pages.

Search engines use software to 'crawl' pages on your website (they also use links from other websites!).

After the discovery phase, they index your pages in large databases so that it can be retrieved later.

As someone searches for your vacation rental website or your destination, the search engine determines which pages should be returned and in what order.

This is done through the use of highly sophisticated algorithms.

Part of how those algorithms determine the rankings of pages is with the concept of authority. Generally, the more authority a website has, the higher it will rank in the search engines.

When a search engine ranks pages, they don't just look at the content but also at the number of external links pointing back to your site. This is what is referred to as an SEO (search engine optimization) ranking factor. These links increase the credibility of your rental site and establish your authority online.

How do you improve your website authority? Primarily through link building.

Below are a few ways you can improve your vacation rental website's backlink profile.

Speak to a Link Building Specialist Today

How to Get Links to Your Vacation Rental Website

Link building can be one of the most rewarding SEO tactics to perform on your website but it's not for the faint of heart. It can be a long, drawn out process that takes months, if not years, to complete.

It's probably never truly "done" but you have to start somewhere, right?

Start With the Basics (Social Profiles, "Owned" Sites)

Be sure you've set up your social profiles and filled them out completely. These are your "owned" properties or websites where you control the ability to add links, images and content.

Social properties to start with:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Even if you don't post content to these sites very often, claiming them is always a good practice and it provides you with a way to build some credibility.

The links from these sites don't pass much (if any) authority but it builds trust in the eyes of the search engines. Also, a good guideline when building links is whether or not it will send your site referral traffic. In this case, social media is a great way to build up some referral traffic sources.

PRO TIP

Utilize a URL shortener like bit.ly to track the performance of clicks from listing sites or social profiles to your website.

Bit.ly URL Shortener

The same goes for any free listing sites your properties might be on. If they allow you to add a link to your site or property, do it.

  • Be sure you've filled out the About Us section and the bio completely.
  • Add a link back to your website

Local Industry Groups and Associations

Are you involved with any vacation rental groups, meetups or vacation rental associations? These could all be opportunities to get listed on and get a link back to your rental site. This would provide some SEO value as well as another referral source and could possibly result in some additional bookings.

Examples:

  • State tourism websites
  • Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB)
  • Short-Term Rental Associations
  • Chamber of Commerce

PRO TIP

Curious who's linking to you now? Want to know what pages have the most links?

You can do this for free by utilizing Google Search Console.

There's several different link tools out there and they all have different data.

For example, Google only shows you a sample of the top links and some of the paid tools may crawl different sites at different times so they will each have different data sets.

Keep that in mind when reviewing link data.

Login to your Google Search Console account and scroll down to the Links menu on the left side.

GSC Link Report

Click on Top Linking Sites to see sites that link to you

Google Search Console top linking sites report

You can also see the Top Linking Text (anchor text)

GSC Top Link Text

Create Local Partnerships

If you vendors or partners that you work with on a regular basis, you may be able to get an easy link from them.

Sometimes it requires linking to them and then asking for a link back to your site but it's worth the trade off if you can get some traffic to your site.

You can also reach out to new contacts and try to establish a business partnership with them which would include a link.

Examples:

  • Spas
  • Gyms
  • Tour Operators
  • Housekeeping Companies

 

Content Creation & Blogging

If you do your vacation rental keyword research correctly, then you'll undoubtedly have lots of phrases you can use to create amazing content for your site.

If you create some truly fantastic content, you can promote it to other sites by reaching out to them and asking them if they'd like to share it with their audience or link to it.

Since creating content should be a part of your SEO strategy, this shouldn't take too much extra effort. You'll just need to identify the correct sites to reach out to when you pitch your content.

Blogger Outreach: Getting an article written by a popular blog or online vacation rental magazine can generate buzz and good press for your vacation rentals. Make sure that whatever content they write has a link to your website.

Work With PR Firms: To increase visibility for your press releases, work with a PR firm to help deliver content across social media platforms. If your budget cannot afford a PR firm's fee, consider getting help from major newswires.

Speak to a Link Building Specialist Today

How to Identify High-Quality Links

Before explaining how to identify high-quality backlinks from low-quality backlinks, let's clear away the confusion about what makes a quality backlink.

These links come from websites with high domain authority, plenty of traffic, and a lot of original content relevant to your industry. So, in essence high-quality links include:

  • Credibility & Trust: Is this a website you can trust? Would you recommend it for information? In addition to checking to ensure that the content is educational and engaging, also look out for things like good grammar and well-written content.
  • Difficulty: Usually, the more difficult it is to obtain the link the higher quality it may turn out to be. You need to consider how much time you'll spend on acquiring these links and if it's worth your time in the long run.
  • Referral Traffic: Will this link drive traffic to my site? Link referrals are a great way to bring users to your site and encourage them to make a booking.
  • Avoid Reciprocal Backlinks: Exchanging links with other local businesses in your industry or destination is fine. But doing this in mass quantities and with many sites outside of the vacation rental industry is a recipe for disaster. These links are typically pretty low quality and will not increase your domain’s authority nor will they actually generate traffic to your website.
  • Authority of Linking Site: If you have access to any of the SEO tools like SEMrush, Moz, or Ahrefs you can pop the site into their tool to check the site's authority. If the site has high authority, that's a good sign. You can also look at their historical traffic trend to spot any major dips in their traffic which could be a sign of a Google penalty.

 

PRO TIP

Want to know if any of the links you've created are working?

Check your Google Analytics referral report to see which sites are sending traffic to your vacation rental website. Even better if those visitors convert into bookings.

That's always a great indication of a high-quality backlink.

Login to your Google Analytics account and scroll down to the Acquisition menu on the left side.

Google Analytics Referral Report

Click Referrals, set your date range and look through the sites that are sending you traffic and bookings.

Google Analytics Referral Report for Backlinks

It's also important to look at other metrics to determine if it's a good link. Look at bounce rates, pages/session and duration.

Speak to a Link Building Specialist Today

Types of High-Quality Backlinks

Editorial Links

Acquiring editorial links to your website is a sign that your website has strong credibility and trust.

These are not manually generated links, i.e., a website attracts editorial links organically by producing good content and marketing that content via different platforms.

These are the best kind of backlinks because you didn't need to ask for them or give a website a reciprocal link back to their website.

Links That Recommend Your Business As A Trusted Source

Backlinks from high authority sites generally have a better chance of helping you rank higher than links from an unknown website.

This means that search engines regard the business as a valuable and authentic source of information.

Even better when a site recommends your vacation rental business as a trusted place to stay.

For example, suppose a credible travel blog links back to a lesser-known property management website. In that case, it sends Google the signal that the reputed site is confident enough in its content and service to send its visitors there.

Trusted Local Organizations

We mentioned these previously but getting links from trusted associations and organizations is a great way to build up some authority.

Generally, these are paid memberships or directories that have a good reputation.

Think Better Business Bureau, your local Chamber of Commerce or other professional organizations.

PRO TIP

Know the difference between a nofollow link and a dofollow link.

To an average visitor, do-follow and no-follow links look exactly the same. Well, because they are. Until you look at the code of the link. There you can see what kind of link it is.

Here's an example of what the code looks like:

<a href="https://example.com/marketing" rel="nofollow">marketing</a>

A natural, dofollow link is an endorsement of one website by another.

On the other hand, a nofollow link is used for links that are sponsored, paid for, or sites you don't really trust.

This is important to know because if you've arranged for a link from a vacation blogger and they use a nofollow link, you won't be getting the full authority from that link.

There's two easy ways to check for this

Ayima Page Insights for nofollow links

You can also view source on any page to find your link and manually search for the attribute

Nofollow links with inspect tool

Do keep in mind, there are certain times when it's appropriate to use a nofollow attribute.

Speak to a Link Building Specialist Today

Avoid Buying Links

It may seem like a good shortcut for link building, but it'll be money wasted because Google doesn't approve of any type of link acquisition that violates their terms of service.

Violating these guidelines and participating in link schemes can get your site into trouble.

Understand that you can't fool Google.

Google's algorithms can recognize unnatural backlinks and even penalize your website, removing it entirely from the Google search results.

That's never good for business and can take a long time to reverse these penalties.

Google Link Schemes and Guidelines

Be sure to work with an SEO specialist here if you're unsure how to approach link building.

Random Link Requests

We're sure you've seen or received an email like this:

Link Building Spam Email

Don't take it personally that they didn't even bother to research what industry you were in. These are almost always automated.

Buying Links from Freelancer Marketplaces

The same goes for freelancing platforms like Freelancer and Fiverr.

Many freelancers on these platforms are willing to sell you hundreds of links for about $10.

It took about 30 seconds to find this amazing deal (sarcasm...). Please don't do this. Please....

Fiverr backlinks

If you want to build a solid foundation of backlinks, follow the steps above and try joining an association or community in the hospitality industry.

Work with other vacation rental vendors or local tourist organizations and come up with creative ways to get links from their websites to yours.

Link building is great for improving the ranking, brand awareness and reputation of your property management website in the search results.

But don't lose sight of the main goal from these SEO efforts: Promoting your properties and generating direct bookings.

Speak to a Link Building Specialist Today

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