Putting Your Vacation Rental On The Map – Literally

Amy Sept —  July 23, 2013

Promoting your vacation rental online boils down to one thing: You want to be found by people who will want to book your place. Listing directories are an important part of marketing plans; having your own website is another.

"Flower shop on Google Maps", photo by Lars Plougmann on Flickr. Used under a CC license.Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process that helps make your website as visible as possible in search results on sites like Google, Yahoo and Bing. In previous posts, we’ve talked about

Local search adds another layer to your SEO efforts; you don’t just want your vacation rental to show up, you want it to have top placement when someone searches for properties like yours in your geographic area.

While you can do a lot of deep digging to learn the details of local search optimization, there are a few central themes:

  • Confirming your identity and context within the community
  • Verifying that the information available for your business is accurate
  • Finding ways to flag that your business is relevant to a particular local community.

Your keywords influence this. For example, one basic step is to include your property’s location as one of your keywords, then write relevant website content that includes that keyword. However, this is not the only step you should ensure you cover.

Are you really who you say you are?

Another factor that supports your place in local search results, as explained by local SEO expert David Mihm, is any reference that confirms your business exists in the location you claim.

First, verify your business information with top search engines:

Then, confirm that your information is both accurate and consistent. Sam McRoberts, CEO of Vudu Marketing, told Search Engine Journal that citations — any online references to your business that include name, address and phone number — should always be in the same format.

“While Google is pretty smart, it’s best to make sure that your local citation efforts match your local listing as closely as possible. Don’t abbreviate in one and not the other (St. vs Street, (800) vs 1-800, etc.),” he advised.

Confirm your listing with other directories

Once you’ve carefully confirmed your information with search engines, you should also verify your information with other business directories.

“[Search engines] pull in business information from a variety of other sources,” Mihm explained on the GetListed.org blog.

“All three local search engines do the best they can to match the data that comes in from these other sources with what they have in their own index, but sometimes that doesn’t happen properly,” he wrote.

Mihm’s post on local search data providers lists several databases you should check to confirm your vacation rental information is both listed and accurate — including YellowPages.com.

If you’ve wondered whether a listing in the Yellow Pages is still worth it, a new survey says yes: the online and print versions of the Yellow Pages ranked just slightly behind the Internet as a local information resource.

Don’t forget reviews

Just as with vacation rental listing directories, reviews matter for local search results. While Vudu Marketing’s McRoberts notes that Google search seems to give Google+ Local reviews a bit more weight, he says reviews from other sites matter, too — particularly if they’re positive.

While you’re already directing reviews to other sites, watch for opportunities to ask people to leave a review on your Google+ Local listing. Something to be aware of: Leaving a review requires a Google+ account, something your guests may or may not be familiar with.

Why mapping matters

Some vacation rental owners avoid mapping their properties for a variety of reasons, like privacy or security. These concerns are valid, and you need to do what you’re comfortable with — but mapping your property is worth considering.

Listing directory FlipKey, for example, shared that “properties mapped to their actual location are booked 45% more frequently” — proof that search engines aren’t the only ones who want to confirm what your marketing promises.

Additional information

Search engine optimization can get very granular; this article’s intent is to provide a starting point. To learn more SEO, here are a few more detailed resources.

photo credit: Lars Plougmann

Amy Sept

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Writer and marketing pro Amy Sept is a regular contributor to the MyVR blog, to help answer your vacation rental marketing questions. Say hello via Twitter or Google+.
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