Before you invest in a vacation rental website take a moment and strategize. Websites vary vastly in cost, quality, and purpose. It’s important to take some time and think about what you want. This will save you lots of time and money especially if you're using a web developer to build your website.
Once you’ve given some thought into what you're looking for, what your strategy 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 consider using the free Hostaway booking engine or Wordpress Plugin. For medium to large operators consider using Hostaway Webhooks to build a fully customizable solution or using Hostaways partner InterCoastal Net Designs for your web development.
Now that you’ve determined what the best website is for your needs 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:
We’ve compiled a complete list of great tips, strategies and tools that will help create the best converting vacation rental website possible!
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:
Keywords tell Google what your website is about. Use relevant keywords throughout your website to help search engines identify the topic of your website. However avoid stuffing keywords, make sure your writing is natural, informative, and useful.
Good keywords to target are:
Internal links are any link 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 throughout your website. Contextual links are there to help visitors find relevant articles or pages within your website content. As an 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 not important and therefore ranked low in Google search.
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 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, like Hostaway in the vacation rental industry!
Here are some great tips to build your backlink profile:
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 your website is extremely slow.
Use the Google tool Page Speed Insights to evaluate your website speed on desktop and mobile.
Mobile is an important part of any website these days. Make sure you're optimizing and designing your vacation rental website as mobile friendly. What looks good on a desktop doesn’t necessarily look good on mobile.
Tracking your performance, identifying errors, and optimizing your website are all easier with the right tools. There are many great SEO tools out there; here are a few of our favorites:
How do you drive direct 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!
Guests booking directly to your website avoid the fees of Airbnb, VRBO, Booking, or wherever they would normally book. Make sure guests know about these savings. You may want to consider further discounts beyond the service fees they will avoid.
Work on building brand loyalty from your direct booking guests. These guests can be great brand advocates and may choose to return year over year.
Blogging is great, if 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, get your feet wet and write something, then write another blog. Over time you’ll be surprised at how much you improve. Google will also notice and begin to rank your articles higher in search.
Some great topic ideas are:
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!
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 conversion you’ll need to monitor how visitors move through your website, what are they doing, why are they exiting without buying?
A favourite tool of mine is Hot Jar. Hot Jar 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. With this information you can make adjustments to your site.
As an example perhaps guests don’t seem to be finding your contact page. Perhaps you need to make the button bigger, a different colour, or in a new spot. Once you’ve made your adjustments monitor the change in visitor behaviour and optimize again, then do this a hundred more times!
Make sure visitors to your website know what you want them to do. Add calls to action (CTA) that make it clear what you want visitors 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.
As an example Hostaways header has one orange button that draws your attention, the request a demo button. When developing your own calls to action test out different colours, locations, and text.
Some great CTAs for your vacation rental website are:
Building urgency is a great way to improve conversions. Guests are always looking for a 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: __
Even better is if you can add a countdown clock on the promotion. These calls to action are time sensitive and build immediate urgency. Guests to your site will feel a need to book as soon as possible.
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! Chechout this example wesbite 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 Hostaways book direct plugin.
If you're looking for further customization in your book direct system you can use Hostaways 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 our partners at InterCoastal Net Designs. The team at InterCoastal are experts in the web development of vacation rental websites. InterCoastal is a Hostaway integrated partner which means they will build the website to be synced real time with your Hostaway calendar, rates, listings, photos, etc. Book a demo to learn more.