Newsflash: The world is open for business, and that means it is time to get going or get left behind with your digital marketing initiatives. But where do you begin? With vacation rental searches delivering more bookings than ever before, it can be tempting to do everything you can to get your website ranking for your area’s high-volume terms for which everyone wants to rank highly.
However, if you are a newly established brand, or if you simply have not devoted any time to your digital marketing efforts, it can be nearly impossible to get to page one for those terms in time to take advantage of the record booking numbers we are currently seeing. That means you need to find an easier source for wins, and Brand Search is a fantastic place to start! Here is Bizcor’s guide to Brand SEO, your key to increasing repeat bookings and getting your brand in front of homeowners looking for a new property manager.
Though it can be tempting to simply target high volume search terms in your SEO efforts, this strategy overlooks the Vacation Rental Manager’s most potent weapons: past guests, repeat bookings, and a Trusted Brand. Property owners tend to target managers who have a good reputation; however, if a search for your brand returns irrelevant results, it can be exceedingly difficult to prove to owners that you are a company worth hiring. On top of that, it makes it even more difficult for past guests to find you and book with you directly. This is where Brand SEO comes into play!
Make no mistake: Just because you have a personalized website and a brand name all your own, it does not mean Google will display your site in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPS). Just like any keyword, there are many steps you need to take to start showing up on page one for your brand name. Many Search Engine Optimizers overlook this fact, which can hold you back when it comes to the bottom line. Fortunately, there are some easy to take steps to make sure your brand shows up first, so your audience can find you!
If you want potential guests and property owners to easily find your brand, the first step is setting up a basic Local SEO campaign. This means signing up for Google My Business, Bing Places, and various citation sites around the web. These sites allow Google (and other search engines, such as Bing) to recognize your brand name in connection with your website, phone number, and industry, so you can have your website and brand display in the search engine knowledge graphs (as seen below). This allows guests to see your brand easily, and hopefully book easily as well.
Bizcor Pro Tip: Make sure that all information submitted to Google, Bing, and other sites (such as Yellow Pages) is accurate and exactly the same. Search engines cross reference the data among all these sites, which means incorrect information can hurt your ranking potential!
In addition to Google My Business, Bing Places, and other business specific citation sites, it’s also incredibly important to make sure you have an active and saturated social media presence. Submitting your business to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram provides Google even more connective tissue to help associate your brand with your website, while also giving you a chance to interact directly with guests and potential homeowners. Of course, just owning these profiles isn’t enough – you also need to do everything you can to show Google that these profiles are active, so you can continue to build trust signals with your user base as well as the search engines. This means posting regularly, adding photos, and making sure any changes of information – such as a phone number or website URL update – are made whenever necessary. Though social media marketing – in our experience – does have a low ROI in many cases, it’s still crucial to own and operate these profiles, so search engines can recognize your brand.
Bizcor Pro Tip: Direct messaging and reviews are important to Google’s and Facebook’s visibility algorithms. So, even though these features are not required and can actually be turned off, we recommend keeping them active and making sure both are well pruned and taken care of. The higher reviews you get and the better response times you maintain, the more Facebook and Google will like you.
Now that you are all signed up for Google, Bing, and the major social media sites, we come to perhaps the most important business listing sites of all: Local Chambers of Commerce. If you want Google to associate your brand with your location, while providing a high-powered link that boosts brand and site authority, getting signed up with your local chambers of commerce is a no brainer! You might even get a few bookings from guests finding you on these sites! However, keep in mind that these can get very pricey, particularly if you are in a primo travel destination. Though we recommend signing up for as many chambers as you can, it may be worth having professionals – like Bizcor – take a look and recommend the ones that will provide the greatest benefit. Not all chambers are created equal, and you do not want to waste money on a low-powered site.
Bizcor Pro Tip: Better Business Bureau and Dun & Bradstreet are “chamber” style sites that are also highly recommended to expand your brand reach. Both come at a high price; however, the trust factor and visibility they provide is truly invaluable!
Though maintaining your off-site presence is indeed important to a quality Brand SEO campaign, there are quite a few on-site tasks that shouldn’t be neglected as well! Chief among them is brand mentions throughout your website. Every page should mention the name of your brand at least once in h tags, content, and meta data. You should also consistently link to your Contact Us page and About Us page from other pages on site, so search engines know that those pages – and thus your information – is important to your site. Finally, make sure your phone number is listed in the header, footer, Contact Us page, home page, and About Us page, while also listing your address in the footer and Contact Us pages. The goal of any on-site brand campaign is simply making your business’s information is easily located and cached by search engine spiders, so don’t skimp out! More is better in this situation – just don’t overdo it, or Google may ding you for over-optimization!
Bizcor Pro Tip: Making your phone number clickable on mobile devices is a great usability feature that can further your goals with Brand SEO, while keeping mobile users happy! Add Local Data Schema here as well – ideally in the footer – for an extra push.
Though keywords such as “[area] vacation rentals” may provide the big search numbers, your brand is the highest converting traffic you’ll ever find, so don’t leave your brand in the dust! Follow these tips to make sure your brand is noticed in the search engines and you can start increasing your direct bookings today.
Fortunately, though the world continues its painfully slow journey back to “normalcy,” now is the time for property managers to set the groundwork and experience a bit of a silver lining that may make the rest of 2020 a bit more palatable. This journey, surprisingly enough, starts with a digital marketing campaign. Here are some of the top reasons that now is the perfect time to invest in SEO, PPC, and other digital marketing services!
Though much of the world is on pause, many markets are starting to open for business. This means two things: One, you’re missing out on lucrative bookings; and two, your competitors are more than likely starting up their marketing campaigns and leaving you in the dust.
Though there are continued signs of pandemic throughout the US, travel is currently booming in open markets. Even hot spots such as Florida and Arizona are seeing record demand as home-weary travelers do everything they can to leave the confines of their quarantine and experience the world. In other words, there is a massive influx of guests clamoring for a place to stay, meaning you are missing out if you haven’t increased your marketing budget.
If your market isn’t open yet, quarantining your marketing budget may seem like the obvious choice. After all, what’s the point of spending money to market properties that you can’t rent out? If you find your purse strings tightened, the answer to that question may indeed be to sit tight. However, if you have the capital, now is the perfect time to invest in SEO.
The reason for this is quite simple. All of your competitors will have the same instinct you had the moment the pandemic became reality: Batten down the hatches, close down the marketing budget, and wait until this all blows over. The side effect of this is that the travel SEO marketplace now has a fraction of the competition that it did previously, as most smaller local companies will not only cease updating their SEO campaigns – which can lead to the aforementioned ranking stagnation – but also see a decrease in conversion rate. If you have a savvy SEO team running your campaign, this can open the door to incredible ranking increases, which will be extremely lucrative when your market finally starts to return to normalcy! And this isn’t just a theory; over 80% of Bizcor’s SEO clients have seen massive increases in keyword ranking since March of this year. The other 20%? All clients that paused their budget and elected to wait until markets started booming once more. Currently, it’s easier than ever to improve organic ranking in the vacation rental industry. All you need to do is get the right team to take advantage!
Do you offer homes in a top drive-to destination? If so, even if your market isn’t exactly booming right now, opening your marketing budget may lead to revenue from unexpected sources! Chief among these sources are the growing numbers of work-from-home employees. With many offices switching to remote systems until the pandemic is over, employees everywhere are itching to leave their home – even if they can’t get the time off. Fortunately, this new era of remote work has made it easier than ever before for professionals to take long vacations while taking their work with them! This opens a whole new world of possibilities, and a potentially lucrative revenue source.
Of course, a normal digital marketing campaign will not be sufficient to attract this type of guest. To properly tap this market, it’s important to adjust your message to make sure you are appealing to their needs. Advertise your cleaning services, high-speed internet, comfortable work areas, and availability of longer stays to ensure your homes are perfect for the remote work atmosphere. Though the return may not be as much as the traditional travel marketplace, this creative way of digital marketing can help hold you over while you build SEO ranking and wait until life returns to normal. It’s just going to take a little bit of focusing and tweaking to coax those extra bookings out of the woodwork!
The bottom line is, even with the pandemic, travel demand is nearly at an all-time high right now because of the itch to leave home. Many of Bizcor’s clients in Florida, Arizona, Gulf Shores, and other open markets are seeing as much as 200% increases in organic traffic compared to last year since June 1, with even more impressive ecommerce gains as previously cancelled vacations get rescheduled. In fact, many of our hardest hit markets – such as 30A and Destin – are currently seeing full year over year improvements, even factoring in the major drop off that occurred in March, April, and May.