Vacation Rental Website - Fundamentals
- More and more Vacation Rental Owners are moving towards creating their own Vacation Rental Website. They realize, that they need their own marketing base in order to be less reliant on listing sites. There are only two types of vacation rental websites („static sites“ + „live sites”) and you should think about which of these 2 types of sites you would like to create right at the beginning.
- The „Static Site“ („build it and leave it“ option), it’s a little bit like a digital version of a business card, you give people the address of your site and hopefully they look at it and do some business with you. In most cases these sites are property centric and they often don’t really deal with anything outside the property. They are very owner focused. Static sites basically show photographs of the house, some descriptions, a list of amenities, the pricing and some guest reviews to show that everybody likes you. All in all they are very limited with the amount of content they have. Over 90 % of the sites are like this. It adds to your credibility and lets you look more professional and its certainly better than having no site. It’s unlikely to rank well in search with this type of sites. But the days of just making a site an leaving it there and hoping to get any sort of business through organic search are over.
- „Live Site“: The owner of this type of vacation rental website adds pages and posts to the site on a regular basis. These are destination based sites. Live sites don’t talk solely about the property. They are talking about the things people can see and do, the places they can go, where one can eat and drink etc. Live sites are more guest centric websites. This type of vacation rental website will bring traffic as long as it’s updated on a regular basis.
- There are three ways of building vacation rental websites: A) Hosted version: There are a number of companies out there, that provide this option (Rentivo, MyVR, Lodgify etc.). These companies offer a selection of templates, which you can tailor by adding your own images, text etc. There is a monthly fee for hosting with a hosted template.You have a choice to use a suggested domain name by the company or you can buy your own domain name. PROS: It’s very quick to do an you can be immediately online. Good solution for people, who don’t want to invest a lot of time to create a site and just want to have the equivalent of a business card presence. Cons: Limited amount of functionality. You don’t technically own the website. If you stop paying at some stage, you will lose your website and any SEO search benefits that you might have built over time. The search ranking with this type of site is generally low. It won’t be that much business but credibility. B) WordPress: It’s a very powerful software and you can do pretty much everything with it. There are 2 types of WordPress – „wordpress.com“ (WordPress hosts the websites for you) and „wordpress.org“ (recommended for your vacation rental website; here you will need to sign up with a hosting company). PROS: It’s free, you only pay for third party hosting. You are in complete control. There are literally thousands of different wordpress themes (templates), and you can make your vacation rental website look how you like. The core WordPress has got a reasonable amount of functionality. If you want to do more impressing things you can add plugins to add functionality. There do exist also tens of thousands WordPress plugins. Plugins can include booking software, calendar software etc. As far as ranking goes, it’s possible to rank these sites fairly highly. CONS: It has quite a steep learning curve. But there are lots of tutorial YouTube videos and articles as well as specific sites (eg. wpbeginner.com) out there. C) Bespoke: There are a number of companies, that will make websites for you. There are even quite a few companies specialized in making vacation rental websites. PRO: Somebody else will do it for you. You can rank highly, just like with the WordPress option – in fact, no matter who makes this sort of site, they will almost certainly be using WordPress. CONS: It can get quite expensive depending on what you want to do and how complicate you want it to be. Communication might not be that easy as you can’t just call the person saying „please make me a website“. You still have to provide the photographs, text, your pricing structure as well as an overall summary of what you want your site to look like and what you want it to do.
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization): Optimize your Vacation Rental Website to rank higher than other sites in the same competing area. Google crawls the web 24 hours a day looking for new content to index. Search engines won’t come back unless we change the content. Let’s say we have a „Live“ type vacation rental website, adding new content all the time. Indicators point to „freshness“ and to keywords (writing about „what to do in orlando“, „what to see in orlando“, „where to eat in orlando“) . „Where to stay vacation rental Orlando“. For Google, this type will have more authority about Orlando and about vacation in Orlando than my neighbors. Writing content using relevant keywords (eg. „what to do in orlando“, „what to see in orlando“, „where to eat in orlando“), you can outrank your competitors and if you’re posting a lot of content you can even outrank the big vacation rental portals. Portals like HomeAway, Airbnb etc. are enormous. HomeAway has over 1 Million porperties to show and each of the properties has about 10 pages (gallery pages, review pages, rates pages, a map etc.). So they host aroud 10 million pages on their site and they have whole offices full of smart search engine optimizers putting together strategies to rank highly. They especially concentrate one terms „vacation rental“ and a „destination“. For an independent HomeOwner it’s virtually impossible to rank for those terms as these companies have that nailed. But let’s assume, that where you live most of your guests come on cycling holidays. HomeAway, TripAdvisor, Airbnb might know nothing about cycling holidays in a certain location. They don’t know about the local brewery or guided walks, or bird watching. All they are targeting is „vacation rental“ & „destination“. As a local expert you could talk about the things people can see and do. When you place this information via a blog on your website, you can start to rank for these terms. If you write a number of articles (not only a single post) regarding cycling holidays in your destination, you will start to rank for these terms. Wrapped up in these articles is your property. Travelers research their vacation before they book. If they are cyclists they will search for cyclicing holidays in your destination, you could come up highly in search results and drive a lot of traffic to your vacation rental website. People, who want to cycle in your destination need somewhere to stay.
- User Experience (UX): Once you make a site, you should not only focus on SEO but also on User Experience. Potential guests need to have a good experience when visiting you vacation rental website. User experience is key. It might be better to get only a small number of visitors (eg. 6 users), who spend some time to go from one page to another than to get 100 visitors a day to a crap looking site that nobody stays on (high bounce rate) …
(Source: via @rentmoreweeks – https://vimeo.com/177542653 )