First, congratulations! Setting up a website for your vacation rental is one of the best things you can do to market your property. A survey shows that owners who utilize listing sites and a have a personal website for marketing their vacation rental have a 12% higher occupancy rate than those who solely use listing sites.

Unfortunately, the saying “if you build it, they will come” doesn’t hold much weight in the world of online marketing. Here’s a few tips to help you start generating traffic to your new vacation rental website.

Add a link on your paid listings

If you’re already advertising on HomeAway, VRBO, or FlipKey, add the link to your listing. It allows you to showcase additional photos and information not featured in your paid listing and adds credibility to your ad.

Add a link in your auto-responder

Auto-responders or auto-reply messages are triggered when a new inquiry is received on your listing. Because it’s important to reply promptly to new inquiries, auto-reply messages let you send valuable information to the guest when you are not available to respond personally. If you’re not using auto-responders yet, you should set up an auto-reply because the channels value it.

Adding a link to your website gives the potential renter more information about your property and keeps them engaged until you’ve had a chance to respond.

Add a link to your personal email signature

Seems pretty obvious, but many individual property owners forget to create a unique email signature for their rental. Every email you send essentially is an ad for your rental and having the link handy for recipients to reference and forward will help you get more traffic.

Nearly every web mail client, like Gmail, allows you to configure your settings and include a signature at the bottom of each email.  Here’s setup instructions for the most popular ones:

Send an email to past visitors

You don’t need a fancy email program, though a service like Constant Contact or MailChimp might be helpful for regular mailings; sending a quick, personalized note with a link to your website will help you drum up some initial traffic. Be sure to include your past visitors, family, and friends. Yes, we know family and friends aren’t going to be making a reservation, but they’re a great source for referrals.

Promote to your Facebook friends

Tap into your current network by posting a link to your website on your personal Facebook profile. Ask friends to like your post or leave a comment about a recent stay. If you’ve already created a Facebook Business Page for your rental and have followers, promote it there too.

Place a link on your social media profiles

In addition to creating a status update for your friends and followers, create a link on your profile to your rental. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and YouTube all have a profile section dedicated to website listings. Be sure to use a search-friendly keyword phrase as the link text, like “Lake Tahoe Vacation Rental,” instead of the default, “My Website” so the search engines begin to associate your website with this phrase.

Get listed on free web directories

Links are one of the primary metrics the search engines use to determine who you are, what you’re about, and ultimately, how you rank. Directories are a great way for new websites to kick-start link building efforts and get on the map. There are plenty of local business directories that offer free listings. Make sure to utilize the tagging or categorization structure of the directories, such as location or property-specific features to help you get found. Check out:

Additionally, search engines are continuing to personalize search results on web browsers and mobile devices based on a users location. Google, as an example, has even prioritized local search listings above the standard search results on some keywords, highlighting the importance of getting listed in their directory.

Start improving your search rankings

Creating a rental website is the first step in generating more traffic, inquiries, and ultimately more bookings for your vacation home. But ranking organically in the search engines doesn’t happen overnight. Every new inbound link to your website is another vote of confidence for search engines to direct traffic to your listing and not your competitors. Continue working to increase your inbound links, and over time you’ll gain more traffic.

Stay tuned for more posts on how to improve your search engine rankings! Subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss it.