Search engine optimization is a vital marketing tactic and sales driver for any short-term rental property manager.
The best way to build your business's brand is creating interactions between your personal channel and guests. While listing sites are a critical part of any marketing and sales strategy, direct bookings put your name and brand at the forefront of a guest's experience, increasing your chances of repeat bookings.
How do you create more direct bookings? By investing in SEO. In fact, SEO traffic drives more direct bookings than any other form of traffic volume in the short-term rental industry.
So, what exactly is SEO? Moz defines it very well:
“Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing the quantity
and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.”
The quick facts about the important role search (and therefore SEO) plays in the accommodations planning process are as follows:
- Over 1.2 trillion searches happen every year on Google
- Google has research teams dedicated to understanding how guests use search to plan their vacations - and this comes through in the search results
- Large travel brands spend 61% of their advertising dollars in digital channels, including SEO & Paid Search
- 91% of guests don’t know what brand they will book their stay with before they start to research using search
The final stat is great news! This means that most guests aren’t loyal to any hotel or even previous vacation rental brands or businesses: you can convince them to book with you.
If you want a full debrief on SEO specifically for short-term rental property managers, download the MyVR SEO eBook by clicking the button below.
Can I actually get bookings from Google?
Yes, you can! Traffic from Google often has very high:
Booking intent. Potential guests who come to your website after searching for ‘vacation rentals in area’ are looking for exactly what you’re offering on your website. As a result, a good portion of those visitors tend to inquire or book.
Long-term staying power. While seeing results from SEO isn’t immediate, you can continue earning traffic to your site for a long time with content you wrote years ago. This means that you can see traffic to your website grow over time as you continue your SEO efforts.
This is good news for you: it means that the traffic you organically earn from Google is likely to turn into real paying guests.
Just to show you how true this is, look at how much organic traffic the popular listing sites get from Google each month:
Traffic estimates June 2018 via Ahrefs.
To put these numbers in context, here’s the percentage breakdown of organic traffic sources for these sites. They rely on search for a significant part of their overall website traffic.
Traffic estimates June 2018 via SimilarWeb
For example, over 50% of Flipkey’s overall traffic is just from search!
In other words, if you get leads and bookings from these listing sites (or ever have in the past), they’re getting a solid portion of their own website traffic through Google search.
So, why not “jump” the middleman and get a portion of this traffic for your own business?
We’re not trying to say that you can compete with the listing sites nationally. Rather, your organic search goals should be to compete with the listing sites only in your destination(s). Studies show that while the popular listing sites usually rank on the first page of Google, many local websites often rank ahead of these listing sites.
I’ve heard SEO is dead...is that true?
Nope, this is definitely not true! Let us show you some data to back this up
Data sourced via SparkToro
SEO is alive and well! 65% of the billions of search queries made on Google end with clicks on the organic search results. This means that if a Google keyword has 1,000 searches per month, 650 people click on the organic search results and visit a website; those websites do not have to pay for that click, like they would for clicks from Google Ads.
PhocusWire, a leading travel marketing research company, has found the same to be true:
“...the good news for brands that don’t have the multimillion-dollar marketing budgets of the big players is that the majority of traffic, something like 50 to 70% of clicks, will go to an organic listing. Typically only 3 to 5% click on a paid listing. So if you are the number one organically, you’re going to generate a lot more traffic than if you listed in just the paid search results.”
If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, there are many long-term rewards to be had, as search optimization has a longer-lasting effect than paid advertising.
When you stop paying for ads, your listing is removed and all of the traffic and bookings that went along with it are too. But with organic search, while it’s not as easy to earn a first page ranking, once you do, it’s harder for your competition to bump you out of your position.
While you may not become an SEO expert overnight, there’s a bunch of things you can do to improve your organic search rankings, and we cover all of them in the free MyVR SEO eBook, which you can download below.
Hopefully this was enough to demonstrate that SEO is worth investing in. So what are the next steps? Download the MyVR SEO eBook to find out!