Ever since the turn of the century, everything, obviously, has moved online. Can you think of anything you CAN’T do online? We do our banking online, never having to see a physical dollar all month if we choose. We can order trinkets from Asia or Latin America and have them in our home the following day, just by the click of a button. And who are we kidding, we all enjoy watching that Dominos online pizza maker turns from “Baking” to “On its way” as we order our dinner online without ever speaking to a human (we are hungry for pizza in the office if you can’t tell).

Everything is online, including marketing. In what seems like milliseconds we went from traditional marketing efforts such as print ads, billboards, newspapers, realtors faces being plastered on the side of buses, to the new age style of marketing, or what we like to call, the now age.

See, if you haven’t been living in the 80s, and you’ve finally cut off that mullet and converted your old CDs and records over to MP3 or iPhone audio, then you have probably heard of the term SEO, or, Search Engine Optimization.

When we first started researching SEO and came across words such as meta tags, and H1 tagging, we thought, “this must be a game for web developers and coders alike, how is a marketing professional, let alone your average aspiring business owner supposed to understand this?!”

Now that we have been in marketing for years and have mastered our trade in SEO, we have great news to share with you. It’s not as hard or as scary as it sounds.

“Okay.” you’re probably thinking. “But what does this have to do with my vacation rental, I’m just here to make some money.” Well, let us let you in on a little secret. SEO has EVERYTHING to do with your bottom line.

Search Engine Optimization is what we call a small big process, and what we mean by that is with a small implementation, you can have a BIG return on your bottom line.

So how do I do this, you ask. Let’s start with the basics.

What is SEO?

SEO is the practice of optimizing your online content on your website, property listing, or whatever content you may have, so it can be found easily by a potential consumer online. Content that is Search Engine Optimized will appear or “rank” higher than content that is not optimized. You see, the higher your content ranks on google, yahoo, or even Airbnb, the more people your content (or listing) will reach, meaning more bookings and finally ending in more revenue. Your potential customer is online as we speak, searching not so random phrases to find a solution to their problem. People right now are searching for the vacation rental YOU have to offer, but the question is…. Will they find you?

If you’re already an Airbnb or any sort of property listing marketing platform user, you know just how easy it is to use and get your vacation rental live, ready for business. Simply, you completely fill out the relevant information, and with a snap of a finger, your listing is live and ready for the world to see. But with so much competition on Airbnb alone, it’s critical you take this process one step further than the rest and optimize your listing for SEO.

So, how do you optimize your vacation rental listing to be found on Airbnb? Here is our guide:

To start, let’s break this process down into three sections:

  1. Target customer profile
  2. Keyword research
  3. Implementation

1: Target Customer Profile  

Any great marketing tactic including SEO begins with a well thought out a target customer profile. Like in any industry (perhaps not any industries involving baked desserts) it’s nearly impossible to serve every kind of person. This is where your ideal target customer profile comes in. Decide on who is the kind of person you want staying at your vacation rental (ex: business people, families with kids, millennials). Once you have this understanding, ask yourself the following questions to learn a little more about them:

  • What age are they?
  • Where are they traveling from?
  • How do they travel (airplane, car, bus, train)?
  • Where do they hang out online and offline?
  • What do they listen to?
  • What do they do for fun?
  • How do they spend their weekends?
  • What makes them tick?
  • What’s in their pockets or purse (Seriously, think about this one! But we beg you not to go snooping in people’s personal belongings… you understand)?
  • Where do they work?
  • Why are they coming to x destination for? (corporate event, family vacation, bachelor’s weekend, foreign travel)?

When you have those questions answered, you can begin picturing this person in your head, which brings us to our next step.

2: Keyword Research:

Keywords and key phrases are the main words your potential customer is typing into Google or Airbnb to find the property listing they are looking for. So now that you know exactly who your target customer is, why they travel, and what they are thinking, you can step inside their minds and start getting an idea of what or keywords and key phrases they might be typing into Airbnb or Google when searching for a vacation home. Are they searching “property for a family with small children,” or “large house to fit 12 for a long weekend,” perhaps“vacation homes close to public transportation.”  Once you decided what some phrases they will be searching, use a few of the following tools to help you refine your keywords:

  • Googles Suggest feature
    • This is when you type a keyword or phrase into google or Airbnb and suggested phrases pop up while you are typing. Use this as an indicator of the spectrum of words your customers are searching for, outside the once you typed in yourself.
  • Google related terms
    • This tactic has to be one of our favorites and it’s easy AND free. Once you search a key phrase, scroll to the bottom of Google and find the related phrases at the bottom. These phrases are actual terms people have searched for when looking for something very similar to what you searched.
  • Your competitor’s terms
    • Before you say this sounds cheeky, hear us out. You most certainly have competitors in the area, so use that to your advantage! Take a look at their listings and phrases used. Take a look at what might work, what might not work, and refine your keywords from there.
  • Keyword research tools
    • There are several keyword research tools out there that are both free and paid for that can give you amazing insight to what your customers are searching for, how many times these words are being searched, and alternative words to use to break through the saturation. Some of our favorites are Google Search Console, Moz Keyword Explorer, and Google Keyword Planner, just to name a few.

3: Implementation

Now that you know your target customer profile like a mother knows her secret apple pie recipe she won’t tell you (we’re not bitter) and you know what they are searching for and what keywords they use, it’s time to implement. There are three places you will implement your keywords into your property listings:

  1. The Headline
  2. The Photos
  3. The Listing Description

JZ marketing hack: Many content marketers think you need to load your listing up to the max with Keywords, but that is not the case at all. In fact, that is something you should avoid at all cos. When you insert too many keywords just in the hopes of ranking higher, Google and Airbnb alike outsmart the average marketer and make sure a piece of content or listing is only loaded with interesting, relevant information with a splash of keywords to even the playing field.

1: The Headline:

The headline is where your Nancy Drew investigation skills come into paly. Your property listing headline needs to be a phrase that your target customer is searching for (ex: Large home close to public transportation, Home on the beach great for small children)

  • Keep the title under 70 characters in length
  • The primary keyword should be the first word in the title

2: The Photos:

If you are on a platform that allows you to tag your property photos, be sure to tag (AKA ad a descriptive noun) to each photo for both the main text AND alt text. Tagging your photos with descriptions such as “large kitchen” or “newly designed master bedroom” helps Google decode the photos boosting your property listing ranking.

3: The Listing Description:

This is where some vacation rental owners make it or break it. Remember that note that you don’t want to overdo it with the keywords? Yeah, that is this section. Simple dust in a few keywords here and there in the listing where it makes sense, and you will be on your way to higher rankings and more bookings in no time.

What is your favorite SEO hack you have learned?