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2023 Guide to Building & Optimizing Vacation Rental Websites

2023 Guide to Building & Optimizing Vacation Rental Websites

Creating a website for your vacation rental property provides many benefits including avoiding the cost of commission fees when using online travel agencies (OTAs) like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com. However, building your own website takes thought and planning if you want to do it right. Let’s take a look at how you can build and optimize a vacation rental website of your own in 2023.

Step 1: Plan Your Vacation Rental Website

Before you invest in a vacation rental website, take a moment to come up with your plan and strategy. Websites vary vastly in cost, quality, and purpose. It’s important to take some time and think about what you want out of your vacation rental website. This will save you lots of time and money, especially if you're using a web developer to build your website.


  • What are your goals for the website? Would you like to gain direct booking traffic? Would you like to gain new property leads? Would you like this to be a resource for your guests?
  • Do you have the technical skills to build it yourself? Or should you get some help?
  • What is your budget? What kind of time do you plan on investing in the project?
  • What websites do you like? What do you like about them and what do you not?
  • How will you market your website? Do you have a marketing budget and plan?
  • How many listings do you have? How many do you anticipate having in the future? How will this influence the website you build?

Once you’ve given some thought to what you're looking for, what your plan is, and what your budget is, start considering your options.

Hostaway has website solutions for all sizes of operators, levels of expertise, and budgets. For small- and medium-sized businesses, Hostaway offers its users a free booking engine or WordPress plugin. Medium and large operators can use Hostaway webhooks to build a fully customizable solution through website builders like Wix and Squarespace or website development services specializing in vacation rentals such as Boostly and InterCoastal Net Designs.

Now that you’ve determined your best-suited option, let's get to some of the fun stuff! Building and optimizing your vacation rental website can be really fun, rewarding, and provide a great return on investment.

Once you’ve started building the bones of your website, you’ll want to get started on:

We’ve compiled a complete list of great tips, strategies, and tools that will help create the best-converting vacation rental website possible!

Step 2: Your Direct Booking Website Strategy

Strategies & Tools for SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial component of any website. SEO is the process of optimizing your website to rank highly on search engines such as Google and Bing.

Some great general tips to optimize for SEO are:

1. Add Keyword-Rich Content

Keywords tell Google what your website is about and what searches to show it up for. Use relevant keywords throughout your website to help search engines identify the topic of your website. However, avoid stuffing keywords, i.e., overusing keywords in a single piece of content. Make sure your writing is natural, informative, and useful.

Good keywords to target are:

  • Vacation Rentals in {Your Market}
  • Places to Stay in {Your Market}
  • Where to Stay in {Your Market}

2023 Guide to Building & Optimizing Vacation Rental Websites

2. Add Internal Links

Internal links are any links from one of your pages to the other. There are two types of internal links: Menus and contextual links. Menus are obviously important because they help visitors navigate their way through your website. Contextual links are there to help visitors find relevant articles or pages within your website content. For example, this link to our blog about the importance of channel management is a contextual link.

Linking not only helps your visitors, it also helps Google. Google follows these links to find important pages on your website. Pages with no links are considered to be unimportant and are therefore ranked low in Google searches.

3. Build Backlinks

Backlinks are when other websites add URLs within their websites that redirect to your own. Backlinks are extremely important for SEO. When another website provides you with a backlink, it is essentially a stamp of approval for your business. Google uses backlinks as a metric to identify quality websites and rewards these websites with higher rankings. The best backlinks come from high-quality websites within your industry.

Here are some great tips to build your backlink profile:

  • List yourself on business directories
  • Ask local businesses to add links on their website to your own
  • Guest blog within your industry
  • Make yourself available for a case study
  • Sign up for HARO and receive reporter inquiries

4. Have a Blog

Don’t rely on your regular website content alone. Having a frequently updated blog that incorporates content that potential guests would be interested in and includes keywords, internal links, and backlinks will significantly boost your website's SEO.

5. Have a Fast Website

Website speed is an increasingly important ranking factor in search engines. Google takes into account the speed of your website when determining your ranking. This is because slow websites have a higher bounce rate. Visitors to your website will exit if they notice it is too slow.

Use the Google tool Page Speed Insights to evaluate your website’s speed on desktop and mobile.

6. Build for Mobile

Mobile is an important part of any website these days. Make sure you're optimizing and designing your vacation rental website to be responsive and mobile-friendly. What looks good on a desktop doesn’t necessarily look good on mobile. Most website builders offer you an option to edit for mobile view specifically.

7. Use SEO Tools Tracking your performance, identifying errors, and optimizing your website are all easier with the right tools. Some great SEO tools are:

2023 Guide For Building & Optimizing Vacation Rental Websites

Strategies & Tools for Driving Direct Bookings

How do you drive bookings to your website? This is the question all vacation rental managers ask themselves. It’s not easy to find ready-to-book guests and direct them to your website. We’ve got a few tips to help!

1. Marketing No-Fees

Guests booking directly to your website avoid the fees of Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com, or wherever they normally book. Make sure guests know about these savings.

Work on building brand loyalty from your direct booking guests. These guests can be great brand advocates and may choose to return year after year.

2. Blogging

Blogging is great, when done right. Blogging has significant SEO benefits and helps you rank for new keywords. Blogging may seem like a daunting task, especially if you don’t think of yourself as a writer but that doesn’t need to be the case. The way to improve is by starting, getting your feet wet, writing something, then writing another blog. Over time you’ll be surprised at how much you improve. You can also use ChatGPT to provide you with outlines or even a sketched-out article that you can simply improve.

Google will also notice and begin to rank your articles higher in search results.

3. FindRentals.com

Find Rentals is a book direct marketplace that helps property managers gain direct reservations. Find Rentals charges a per-year listing fee but takes zero commission on traffic. All guest inquiries are redirected directly to your website.

Strategies & Tools for Conversion

You’re starting to drive traffic to your website. Congratulations! You’ve done the hard part! Now, you’ll be wanting to convert that traffic into paying customers. To improve your conversions you’ll need to monitor how visitors move through your website, what they are doing, and why they are exiting without buying.

1. Heat Maps

Hotjar monitors and records your traffic, building heat maps and recordings. With these maps and recordings, you can evaluate how guests are moving through your website and make adjustments to your site.

For example, say guests don’t seem to be finding your contact page. Perhaps you need to make the button bigger, a different color, or place it in a new spot. Once you’ve made your adjustments, monitor the change in visitor behavior and optimize again, then keep doing it!

2. Calls to Action

Make sure visitors to your website know what you want them to do. Add calls to action (CTAs) that make it clear what you want them to do. If you want them to send you an email or call you, make sure they can find your contact page. Add your phone number in your header and footer.

For example, Hostaway’s header has a green button that contrasts with the orange background and draws your attention: “Request Demo”. When developing your own CTAs, test out different colors, locations, and text.

Some great CTAs for your vacation rental website are:

  • Book Your Stay
  • Learn More
  • Limited Time Promotion

2023 Guide For Building & Optimizing Vacation Rental Websites

3. Limited-Time-Only Promotions

Building urgency is a great way to improve conversions. Guests are always looking for a good deal, especially if they are booking directly. If you put a timer on the promotional rate, you’ll see your conversions increase drastically.

Limited-time-only promotion examples:

  • 30% off if you book within the next 2 hours!
  • 30% off to the next 5 guests that book!

Better yet,add a countdown clock, making your CTAs time-sensitive and building greater urgency. Guests to your site will feel the need to book as soon as possible.

Step 3: Get Started

Hostaway Website Builder and WordPress Plugin

If you're a manager or host with only a few properties and don’t have the budget, time, or expertise to build a professional website, the best strategy may be to utilize the templated websites provided by your channel management system. Hostaway provides free, customizable, templated websites that are perfect for small operators! Checkout this example website for Lifty Life.

For managers and hosts that want to develop a custom website, it’s best to build using WordPress. WordPress is easy to use, has intrinsic SEO benefits, and is compatible with Hostaway's book direct plugin.

Both the booking engine and WordPress plugin can accept credit card payments using payment processors including Stripe, Braintree, authorize.net, Ascent, and Nexio.

Fully Customizable Websites

If you're looking for further customization in your book direct system you can use Hostaway’s Public API to build custom solutions. This level of customization requires some coding expertise but can be a great solution for sophisticated, large operators with an internal web development team or budget to outsource the work. For those wanting to explore this option, reach out to your Hostaway account manager to learn how best to get started.

If you need some expertise in building a beautiful, converting website, reach out to website builders with vacation rental expertise such as Boostly, InterCoastal Net Designs, Lodgea, and Dtravel.

Ready to find out how Hostaway can transform your business?

Hostaway is proud to support thousands of Property Managers and Airbnb Hosts Around the world. We take pride in being Top Ranked in Vacation Rental Software Review Sites: Capterra, G2, Software Advice, Trust Pilot, to name just a few! Check out our reviews and read the Hostaway Case Studies from real successful and growing Short-Term Rental Managers!