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.