For those who aren't familiar with SEO, the idea of improving your vacation rental agency search results can seem daunting. However, if you put in the work to create truly valuable content and continue to promote your website, you can expect to see an improvement. In this article, we'll help you master some of the basics.
The Google algorithm looks at over 200 different factors on your vacation rental website to determine how relevant it is for a particular search, and thus in what position and on what page it is returned for that query.
Of the 200 factors, the three most important to address from the very beginning are content, inbound links and website architecture, i.e. the tools, technology and structure of building their website. In recent years, Google has made significant changes to the algorithm which orders its search returns, which has caused some sites to flourish and some to plummet from the face of the first page. These changes are dubbed as Algorithm Updates by Google, and always given odd names by the online community like Panda, Penguin and more.
So what can you do to make your site get better results? Here are three key areas of focus:
This should be your biggest area of focus. As this is the area that will be of most value to potential guests, it's worth giving some real thought to your content strategy.
Provide information about the area where you are promoting a property. Make your site a rich resource for users to learn about the places they can visit by profiling local attractions and points of interest. The more your site offers in terms of content, the better the user experience for your visitors and the more Google sees you as a website of value. The bar has been set high with all of the other content that continually competes for the visitors’ attention. Nobody is going to waste a second reading a 300 word article on “the ultimate Paris vacation” since it’s extremely unlikely to deliver anything of value in a couple of paragraphs. They’ll probably read a 2,500 word guide about the top 10 “off the beaten path” restaurants in Paris where they can get Michelin Star worthy cuisine for under $20, though.
Get a list of phrases that you want to rank well for (and be realistic about the ones you choose). Create landing pages around those keywords (this is very easy to do with a Kigo website) with the phrase within the body of the copy several times, and the page title as the phrase itself. It’s important that all the content on your site is unique, if it’s not you will not see an improvement for those pages.
Use natural language over keyword stuffing: Keywords are still useful, but focus on using them naturally, along with synonyms.
Answer questions that visitors are actually asking with the best possible answer: These usually cover queries that include, “what” “how” “best” “where” “top” “when”, etc. When you do this correctly, it can trigger content to show in the Google Knowledge Graph result, which helps you gain exposure above larger and stronger websites. This content is also utilized in voice search results with Siri/Cortana/Google Now/Amazon Echo/etc.
Look for new ideas: Googling things that relate to your business and industry often returns related results, which can help you figure out what your target audience is actively looking for.
By creating high-quality content that visitors eagerly read, you will help improve your overall site metrics, such as bounce rate and time on site. If your content is not high-quality, visitors will not want to stay on your website or come back.
2. Inbound links
Inbound links are links coming from sites other than your own. Think of them like votes of confidence, a link is a way of one website passing credibility to another, pushing its users to look at something else that they think will be useful to them. It’s important to have a number of these pointing to your site.
It’s best to start off with the lower numbers of higher quality links. It’s also worth noting that links should always come from relevant websites within the travel sector or a closely related industry. Ask yourself this question:"If Google didn’t exist, would I still actively work to get a link from this website because that's where my target customers are?"
Here are a few measures of a backlink's trust and authority:
Domain/ page authority: You can use MozRank to determine this. Numbers are provided for the domain as a whole and for individual pages. Higher numbers are better
Trust/citation flow: Trust is a measure of how trustworthy a link is or how likely or unlikely it is to be viewed as unnatural by the search engines. Citation is a measure of how strong and relevant a link is. Quality travel blogs with a real, active readership, local newspapers or TV stations, and sites like Tripadvisor would be relevant sources, while a website with few readers that posts articles about every topic imaginable would not be relevant.
3. Site architecture
A well-designed site architecture acts as the foundation for all optimization efforts. If you don’t get the basics right, it will be an uphill battle from there. Here are important components of site architecture:
Site speed: Common culprits that cause a site to be slow are un-optimized or too many images and poor quality web hosting. You can use GTMetrix.com to analyze your site speed.
Mobile-friendly design: Test your site using Google's mobile-friendly test.
Internal linking: Most site owners do a poor job of liking related pages together on their website. Effective internal linking is good for both the user and the search engines since it helps both find your best, most relevant content. In Google Search Console, site owners can view a list of the pages with the most internal links to determine if that matches up with what they would consider their most important pages to be. If the two don’t match up, you can see where the work needs to be done.
By implementing these changes, you can dramatically improve the quality of your SEO. Google is focused on its users, so if you’ve got a website full of rich, interlinked content, with reinforcement of other sites through links, then your website is set up for success. These key three components are a crucial place to start when looking at vacation rental website marketing.
(Editor's note- we have updated and republished this article to benefit readers new to the Kigo blog.)