Google My Business gives property managers the power to rank their short-term rentals ahead of listing sites without having to dig into SEO.
While the name might not immediately ring a bell, you have surely seen Google My Business, formerly Google Places, in practice. Google My Business is a “free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps” that helps customers find your business. If you have ever searched for a business or service near your location, you’ve probably seen Google’s interactive map - called a “map pack” - of local businesses matching your search.
How can you capitalize on being included in this map pack? Follow our steps below to get up and running!
You may have seen Google My Business in the past when searching for local businesses.
Why should my property management business use Google My Business?
Setting up a profile gives Google all the information it needs to match searchers with your vacation rentals. By adding Google My Business to your vacation rental business’s marketing strategy, you can “jump” the larger travel listing sites in the organic search rankings by being featured on Google’s highly engaging map.
Being featured in these results gives property managers and vacation rental agencies higher impressions for their Google My Business page, allows them to rank higher in organic search results without making major changes to SEO, and perhaps most importantly, it allows property managers to be listed before popular vacation rental listing sites like Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO, and more in organic rankings. This ultimately drives more traffic to your website, increases direct bookings and cuts out listing site fees.
Check out this example we found when searching for "lake tahoe cabins":
How to take advantage of Google’s local listings
Creating a Google My Business profile is quick and easy:
- enter the name of your business
- enter your address or management office’s address
- enter the business category/industry ("property management company" or "vacation home rental agency")
- enter your personal contact information and your business's website URL
After you’ve completed these steps, Google will send you a postcard in the mail to verify your address. Your Google My Business profile will not be visible until this is verified. After verification, you should begin showing on the Google Local results, which will help you in two ways: organic branded search and organic search.
Once your profile is complete, visit the Google My Business dashboard. From here, you should add as much information as possible, including:
- hours of business (or hours you can be reached)
- contact information
- description of your property
- and professional photos or video
Best practice is to create this profile with the same care you take when adding properties to listing sites.
From your dashboard, you can manage reviews, create ads, manage your AdWords account, and more. Below is a screenshot of the dashboard and only a few of its capabilities:
Be aware that Google is rather ambiguous about what types of vacation rentals are allowed. At the time of writing, Google cites the following as ineligible for a business listing: rental or for-sale properties, such as vacation homes, model homes or vacant apartments. Sales or leasing offices, however, are eligible for verification. Despite this, Google often does approve and list properties that are vacation homes under the category of “Vacation Rental Home Agency.” Until the guidelines are more clear, it’s hard to say what is and is not allowed, as Google is very inconsistent. So, it might be worth trying.
Once your Google My Business profile is accepted in the map pack...
If you are successful at being included in Google map pack, there are a few things you can do to improve your map pack rankings in Google Search:
- Ask guests to leave reviews on your Google My Business page (note: you cannot incentivize them to do so). You can set up a “one-click” review link here
- Confirm your business details on other websites (known as citations) that offer local SEO data
- Link to your Google My Business listing from your website
Google is reportedly looking to fully advance into the vacation rental search market in the near future by allowing short-term rentals to appear in accomodation search results. Until then, use Google My Business to drive high intent traffic to your vacation rental business’s website.