We speak a lot about keywords, they form the basis of any successful SEO plan. But, how do you know which Keywords you should be using? How can you find out which are the words that are really going to bring people to your site? Today we’re discussing easy and effective ways you can find out which keywords will be the most effective for your vacation rental business and how to start ranking for them.
How do you Research them?
The first step is to put yourself in your customers' shoes. If you were looking for accommodation in the area where your business is, what would you type into to search engines? See what the competition is for these words. Does the relevancy of the sites drop quickly or are there multiple pages of results that meet the criteria of your search? The more relevant, big names that appear, the higher the competition is for these words. Another key indicator is the amount of paid adverts that appear. If there are adverts above and alongside the organic results then it shows that this keyword or phrase has enough competition for people to warrant paying to rank for it.
Then look at who your competitors are. Are they major, global brands? The more relevant and recognisable the sites are in your search results, the harder it will be to rank for this keyword. If you are a small or medium sized, local business then results like these are a good sign that the keywords you are researching are perhaps too generic for your business. Aim for more specific phrases that link to the exact service your business provides.
How do you Choose them?
Find the sweet spot between popularity of searches and competition. In our research, the term ‘vacation rental’ was a popular term with lots of competition from big sites. Adding just one more word to your phrase reduced this competition greatly. The simplest way to choose a keyword to try and rank for would be to focus on the location of your properties. These are going to be searched for by your potential guests but will weed out many general inquiries for the generic term of vacation rental.
So, as well as the main keywords you choose, slight variations in the wording will produce different results. For example ‘vacation rental’ and vacation rental property’ have differences of thousands of weekly searches. How to choose the keywords that have enough searches to generate traffic to your site, but that don’t have so many results that you will not appear on the first page or reach too many generic searches is the question. Look at the number of searches for terms you would associate with your site and choose options that offer enough results without the major competition of the most searched term.
How do you Measure them?
As well as conducting your own research there are various tools available to measure the popularity and effectiveness of Keywords. Tools such as Google’s Keyword planner will give you information about the number of searches per month, the relative competition and the estimated cost of running a paid campaign for these words. You can see the click through rate of Google Searches for specific terms with tools like Analytics, seeing the exact numbers of people that click
With Popularity comes Competition
The basic crux of SEO and keyword ranking is that the more popular and relevant a keyword is, the harder it is to rank for it. As you get more specific and reduce your potential site impressions, it is easier to appear high in the rankings but you will be seeing far fewer searches for longer or more specific phrases.
Big businesses can slash and burn their way to the top of the rankings for the most general of keywords. Try searching for something popular and generic such as ‘Hotels’. The brands that come up will be multinational, well known and expansive. Reaching the top for the most popular searches takes money and expertise. It is therefore important to make sure that your time is spent aiming for the keywords that are most likely to give you results.
Long Tail Vs Short Tail
This is where keyword research can get really interesting. Long tail refers to longer, more specific searches that are searched less often. Think ‘2 bedroom vacation rental property in Dallas’ as opposed to ‘vacation rental’.
One advantage of aiming for the longer tail is that the people you reach are closer to the final purchase. They have conducted their initial research and now know the product that they want to buy. These keywords will have far fewer searches, but the conversion rate of searches to purchases with long tail keywords will be far higher.
You can use the autocomplete function to find longer tail search queries that still generate results.
You’re narrowing down a generic term whilst still seeing popular search options. You are also reaching customers that have a better idea of what they are looking to book, rather than those just doing research. It also tells us that beach and beachfront are popular searches so we should include them both in our plan. Beachfront will have fewer monthly searches, but the competition will be lower.
Latent Semantic Indexing
LSI is the latest trend from Google. As well as looking for instances of your keyword on your site, Google can now crawl through your site to make sure that your page contains other words that are linked, or synonymous with the keyword or phrase that was searched. For sites that rank for searches for ‘vacation rentals’, LSI will check the site for terms like ‘Holiday Accommodation’ - This is to ensure that site is complete and contains useful information for the person searching. This was a response to people stuffing their site with a particular keyword instead of creating pages and content that were of genuine interest. Keyword stuffing can now get you sanctioned by Google, forcing your site down the rankings.
This is where having interesting and relevant content on your site comes in. It highlights the importance of blogging and creating original and relevant content. Ranking for a keyword now involves making sure your site is truly the most relevant result for the search phrase. If we use the long tail search example of ‘Vacation rental beachfront Florida’ then creating a post along the lines of ‘Top 10 Florida Beachfront activities’ will help your site rank for this phrase that will lead interested customers to your site. LSI will crawl your site and make sure that your content has been written properly and is not just an attempt to add the keyword as many times as possible.
Finding the right keywords to use will require a lot of research, and a period of trial and error. To be successful you will also need to complete regular checks and research to always stay on top. These tips are designed to help you get started choosing keywords that will result in real conversions from organic searches. But this is just one part of an effective SEO campaign; after finding the words you want to use, the process of ranking for them begins...