5 tips on search engine optimisation for holiday lettings
Nowadays, practically everyone looks for a holiday rental online using one of the world’s big search engines. If you want your property to feature in their searches you therefore need to make sure that Google et al detect its online presence. The process of getting something to show up online is known as search engine optimisation (SEO). In this article, we look at five ways of improving search engine optimisation for your holiday let to increase your chances of ranking high on the internet.
Keywords are king
When someone types something in a search engine, highly-complex algorithms kick in and trawl the internet looking for similar words or phrases. They then display the pages that offer the best match. Keywords are therefore obviously, well, key to this process.
To choose your target keywords think about three aspects of your Cornish holiday property:
- the type of property (cottage, apartment, farmhouse, etc.);
- the destination (e.g. on the beach, on the moor, clifftop, St Ives central);
- the property’s unique selling points (such as pool, beach views and games room)
Write down a list of words and phrases you associate with each.
Your next step is to think about what the holidaymaker types into the search engine when they begin their search. Are they looking for an apartment in Padstow? Or a house for large groups in Cornwall? Or a pet-friendly farmhouse near Tintagel? Make a list of these too.
Now compare your two lists and compile a definitive list of your keyword phrases. They should combine your property’s type, location, size and amenities. They should reflect the sort of sentence put into a search engine.
Top tip – make your keywords specific rather than general. “Holiday let in Cornwall” will generate tens of thousands of suggestions whereas “house with pool in Penzance” narrows the search down considerably. A more targeted focus means your property is more likely to appear higher up in the suggestions, because there’ll be fewer sites competing for the same keyword.
Once you have your keywords put them to good use in the text for your holiday let. In most adverts, you get three opportunities for this: in the title, the property description and the location information. Pop your keywords into the text – frame the title around them and then slot them into the two main body copies of text.
But don’t make your text all about the keywords. Remember that the holidaymaker is reading the text to get important information so make sure you provide it. It’s also a good idea to bring the reader into your text. Use the second person – for example, “You and the kids will love the pool table in the games room” or “Sit back on one of our comfy terrace seats and watch the sun go down”.
Top tip – don’t jam in keywords; it has to read naturally. Google and friends can easily detect overuse of keywords and reject websites with obvious keyword stuffing. Go for a sprinkling and make them fit into the text as naturally as possible. Read it out loud to check.
Mega meta description
Another important part of search engine optimisation for your holiday let is the meta description. The text that appears underneath the link in the search results page is short but must be sweet. Make sure you include your keywords in this description, ideally between 140 and 160 characters (about 25 to 30 words).
You also need to ensure the text tells the reader exactly what they’ll find when they click through to the link. For example, your holiday let meta description could say, “Family house in Penzance with a pool and private garden. Quiet location just 5 minutes’ walk from the beach and attractions. Off-season discounts available.”
Top tip – think of your meta description as a summary of the best your holiday let offers. And then put this into a maximum of 160 characters.
Serious social media
To boost search engine optimisation for your holiday let it’s also worth looking at social media. Google and gang notice who has a social media presence and traffic to your website or holiday let ad from your profiles sends the right signal to search engines.
Set up at least one on a platform where your potential guests are likely to be. Set up a profile separate from your personal profile and start posting the latest updates about your property and sharing news and information about the area. If you have good images, try Instagram and Pinterest.
Don’t forget that social media is just that – social. Interact with other pages by liking, commenting and sharing regularly. This signals to the social media platform that you’re a real person and encourages them to show your posts to a wider audience. Obviously if you list your property with a self-catering agency or property management company it’s worth checking that they’re doing some of this too.
Top tip – social media isn’t about quantity, it’s about conversation and consistency. As a general rule, it’s better to publish one post regularly and comment on those of others, rather than push out a flurry of posts every so often.
One of the best ways of helping the search engines find your holiday let is to incorporate a blog in your website. Use the blog to write about your property: latest additions, special features, what your holiday let offers (discounts, last-minute deals, etc), and the location with a guide to local attractions, news about the area and things to do. Above all, make sure the blog posts are useful to your readers and answer their questions.
Keep your blog up-to-date with regular additions. Aim to add a new piece (at least 400 words) every other week, although weekly is better. Include inspiring photos or video as well. Make sure the copy reads well. Again, read out loud when you’ve finished to check or better still, get someone else to read through it. And break it up into easy to read chunks with plenty of paragraphs and subtitles.
Top tip – don’t forget to share your latest blog posts on your social media platforms for extra exposure.
P for patience
Search engine optimisation takes time and no site ranks high straight away. Getting a good ranking on Google takes time and patience. Make it a work in progress and one that you carefully chip away at over a period of time. The rewards are more than worth the hard work and perseverance because after all, the higher your holiday let ranks on the search engines the more likely you are to receive bookings.
Top tip – many web designers and holiday management companies include SEO as part of the service. It may be worth paying the extra in return for an expert taking on your ranking. But before you sign up for any services, ask to see proof of the company’s SEO results.
At Cornish Traditional Cottages we’ve been marketing holiday lets in Cornwall for longer than any of the search engines and certainly know our stuff when it comes to SEO. Allow us to take care of yours and leave the rest to us. Get in touch to find out how we can help your Cornish property rise to the next level on Google.