Search Engine Optimization: A Guide for Short-Term Rental Property Managers and Hosts

Property Manager Tips
Search Engine Optimization: A Guide for Short-Term Rental Property Managers and Hosts

As a property manager or host, you might already have a catalog of great short-term rentals and a beautiful, user-friendly website, but if your potential guests can’t find your direct booking site anywhere, you may not see any business at all. Couple that with the fact that there is stiff competition in the short-term rental world, and it can be hard to make sure your website is the one that stands out most to prospective guests and renters. 

The answer may be found in search engine optimization (SEO). With that in mind, let’s take a look at the concept of vacation rental SEO and how you can use it to boost your business.

What Is Vacation Rental SEO?

At its core, SEO (for vacation rentals or otherwise) boils down to the practice of strategically placing keywords, links, and other elements on your website. The goal is to make algorithms used by search giants (like Google) rank your site as high as possible on a search engine result page (SERP). The higher up it appears on a SERP, the more likely your page is to get a click.

Search engine algorithms are undoubtedly complex, but some of the biggest factors influencing your page ranking include the following:

  • Technical SEO: Your site’s speed and accessibility to search engines; you want algorithms to be able to easily index and understand your site
  • Keyword Optimization: Your choice and placement of relevant keywords 
  • Quality Content: The overall relevance and quality of your website content
  • Quality Backlinks: Links from well-regarded websites back to your site
  • User Experience (UX): The ease at which users can navigate your site

When you’re first getting started with vacation rental SEO, it’s important to remember that it’s not just about finding the right property management keywords; they also need to be well-placed and not overdone. Overloading a page with keywords is a practice known as keyword stuffing, and it will actually decrease your SERP ranking! Google penalizes sites they feel are offering nothing but strings of keywords in order to rank higher in search.

You can use tools or online services to help you identify how fast your site loads and the user experience to set up your SEO strategy for success. For instance, by plugging your site’s URL into Google Pagespeed Insights, you’ll get a full report on your site’s current speed with recommended fixes.

Choosing the Right Keywords for Vacation Rentals

On the subject of keywords, you need to get an idea of which ones to use before you create your content. You can discover these through keyword research, a process that helps you find the best keywords for the subject area you’re writing about.

Fortunately, you can research keywords for rental properties even if you have no prior knowledge of SEO. Tools like SEMrush and WordStream will give you a range of keywords to use for any given topic; for example, if you search “short-term vacation rentals” on WordStream, some of the high-volume keywords for vacation rentals that will come up include “luxury vacation home rentals,” “weekly rentals,” and “short-term home rentals.”

Creating the Content

Once you’ve chosen the right keywords for a given page or topic, you’re ready to create the content itself. 

Keep in mind that SEO for vacation rentals and short-term rental sites is about more than just keywords; having content that’s high in quality — both in terms of information and the way it’s written — is crucial. Once you’ve optimized the main pages of your website, it may help you to make a content calendar. 

To get the most out of SEO for your vacation rentals, for instance, it’s important to generate new, quality content on a regular basis. A content calendar lets you plan your posts in advance, which helps reduce your risk of accidentally repeating topics or skipping major subject areas.

In any case, the right SEO strategy can draw more guests to your short-term rentals.

Tips for a Successful Vacation Rental SEO Strategy

As you start on your SEO journey, it can be helpful to know some tips for success. Follow these suggestions to get the most out of your website:

Maintain an Active Blog

Search engines tend to give preference to sites that generate content on a regular basis, which is part of the reason why having a well-maintained blog is so important. Blogs can also be a way to draw in more potential renters. 

Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly

Websites that rank high on SERPs have user interfaces that are easy to navigate. A large portion of web searches come from mobile phones, so it’s critical to ensure your site is easy to use on both desktop and mobile devices alike.

Network to Get Quality Backlinks

Keywords are an obvious part of SEO, but many people forget the importance of backlinks. These are links to your site that appear on other websites. Higher-profile sites that link to your website are the most valuable. To accomplish this, you can buy inexpensive advertising on local sites that will provide a backlink to your site. You can also sign up for the Chamber of Commerce or other local groups who can promote your site with a link or two.

It might help to think of a backlink as an endorsement; if your neighbor down the street endorsed a presidential candidate, it might not count for much, but if a former president were to endorse that same candidate, it would make a world of difference.

Regularly Measure Performance

Once you’ve optimized your site, you should make sure your SEO strategy is working well. Google Analytics and similar tools let you track each piece of content. There’s an array of metrics to work with, but some of the most important ones to track are bounce rate (how many people immediately leave when they reach the page), organic traffic (how many people reach your site as a result of web searches), and conversion rates (what percentage of visitors actually end up booking with you).

Don’t Be Afraid to Outsource

As is now clear, SEO for vacation rentals can be a major undertaking. It doesn’t just take time; it also requires that you know what you’re doing every step of the way, and while it’s entirely possible to learn the art of SEO yourself and create your website’s content on your own, many people simply don’t have the time to learn the process. 

The good news is that there are plenty of services that can help. It’s easy to contract with a content writing agency or even with freelance writers and marketers to create top-notch content that ranks.

How Safely Can Help You

Once your SEO strategy is in place, consider protecting the properties you have just optimized with a short-term rental insurance policy from Safely. Our policies offer you set-and-forget convenience: Just choose your policies, determine guest insurance fees, and integrate Safely with your existing property management system. Choose your coverage and get started today!

Safely’s Short-Term Rental Protection

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Grace is the Chief of Staff at Safely and a licensed insurance agent. She began her journey at the company over a year ago in the Customer Happiness department, where she learned the ins and outs of the customer experience, getting to know Safely’s customer base and exploring Safely’s value proposition in the market. Grace was asked to step into the Chief of Staff role in 2023 and spends her time working on company-wide initiatives including investor relations, compliance, and expansion. Outside of working hours, you can find her trying new restaurants with her husband, walking her dog along the river, and exploring the city of Atlanta.

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