Search engine optimization (SEO) best practices and algorithms continue to change, becoming more important for businesses trying to reach large audiences. Years ago, only basics were needed to rank well, however SEO essentials have evolved as focus shifts on experience.
Search engines now value useful content over keywords, with user experience soaring above all criteria. Keeping up with these trends may seem overwhelming, so we rounded up the top 5 features vacation rental websites need to appear in SEO results.
SEO Essentials: 5 Ways to Improve Your Vacation Rental Website
Fast, Reliable Mobile Design
With nearly 60% of online searches done on mobile devices, it has become necessary for vacation rental companies to have a mobile-responsive site in order for users to find information. Mobile searches have become the No. 1 way users find content, and search engines now consider this part of their SEO algorithm.
For example, Google boosts websites that have a mobile designs that are both easy to use and load quickly. On the flip side, Google will penalize sites lacking a strong design and speed, and push them further in the ranking.
Cater to Machine Learning
Search engines use machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence that learns and evolves from its own algorithm. This technology allows search engines to think more like users and identify other words and phrases that relate to a topic or keyword.
For higher SEO rankings, think like a user and create content that supports a topic rather than a specific keyword. The goal is to cater to your user’s intent while providing relevant information. Google will look at the content, pick out certain keywords and phrases, and drive that content to the user. Keywords should support the topic rather than inserting the same phrase multiple times throughout the content.
Build a Trusted Brand
It’s no secret a vacation rental company should have a professional logo, site design and provide the best experiences to guests. These are basics every company needs to start building trust. However, have you searched for your business name lately? If not, try it and see what comes up in the results. Look for reviews, articles, mentions and anything else that includes your brand.
Online users trust reviews over big branding. People now use online reviews in order to make purchase decisions and learn more about a brand. In fact, 85% of consumers read as many as 10 reviews before they feel they can trust a business or brand (Search Engine Land).
How does this relate to SEO? Search engines look at reviews to decide if a brand is a good fit for the user. Due to the push to enhance relevant content, search engines move sites with negative or no reviews further down the list. Would you recommend a business with only a one-star review? Neither will search engines.
Search and Booking Experience
In addition to a trusted brand with stellar reviews, vacation rental websites should provide a seamless process for searching, inquiring and booking properties. The website should load quickly, in less than 2 seconds, provide the best search results, have low or no 404 errors (a.k.a. page not found) and give the user everything they need in a timely manner.
This process – known as User Experience Optimization (UEO) – will become more important to websites that want to compete and improve search engine rankings. Those making tweaks to improve speed and usability will rank higher, as websites and search engines work together to provide a better overall experience.
Provide High-Quality Content
In regard to websites, content is anything on the website that gives a user information. This includes photos, videos, descriptions, all website text, blogs, FAQ pages, contact pages, etc. Many SEO experts say search engines will favor long-form content, however users also want information quickly. They will not stay on a site and read copy that is too long.
The trick: Stick to the facts and write for your audience. If a blog post measures 1,500 words, make sure it is factual and relevant content. Here’s how to ensure quality content on your vacation rental website:
- High-resolution, vibrant photos with detailed captions and descriptions
- Videos that showcase vacation rentals inside and outside, providing a real-time experience
- Vary content length: Use long-form when appropriate and short-form when needed
- Well-written, error-free website copy on all pages
- Detailed information about your company and its services
- Interesting and relevant blog posts that cater to your users
Want to learn more about SEO essentials and ranking higher in search engines? Learn how user intent affects SEO results.