Vacation Rental Marketing - Does Blogging Work? You Betcha - A Case Study
There Are Vacation Rental Websites And There Are Vacation Rental Websites...
Ask most vacation rental owners if they have a website for their property and most these days will say yes.
What most don’t realise is that there is a huge difference between having a mere web presence and creating and maintaining a fully functioning marketing machine.
Vacation rental websites come in all shapes and sizes from lightweight single page sites to sites that are in-depth destination channels.
In this article, I'll show you how to turn a VR website into a marketing machine...
Single page websites are like single track roads - You’re not going to see much, if any, traffic on them.
Google's search bots are hungry creatures and by definition, they don’t have much to consume on a single page site or sites with just a few pages. These sites are called ‘thin’ websites (think of this like a single page book or leaflet. It’s not going to be a best seller).
It’s just not possible to rank in search for a ‘thin’ website so an owner can only direct traffic to it via word of mouth, email and social media.
In short, you can only push traffic to a 'thin' website. For a site to be successful you need to be pulling in traffic (day in, day out).
Heavyweight sites are like freeways - They attract a lot of traffic and this traffic is driven from many locations. If you have a bigger site, then you have more landing pages (on ramps) where traffic can show up.
Each page that you add to your site is another inroad to more traffic.
How does this work in practice?
Meet Terry and Sandy
Terry and Sandy own two condos on Anna Maria Island, Florida. There are over 4,000 competing properties in the area.
They have a fantastic website (http://annamariaislandcondorentals.com/)
This site has over 250 pages
Terry and his wife are CONSTANTLY adding articles about what’s on, what there is to see and do and where to eat and drink in the Anna Maria Island area. They have turned their property website into a true destination guide.
These articles are between 500 and 1,000-word posts, packed with photos, videos and links to more information. These articles consist of personal recommendations about what guests can see and do in the area.
Google loves this constant stream of information and it ranks the pages highly.
The site ranks for 2,500 search terms on Google.
25 of these terms rank on the first page of Google.
The site ranks highly for terms like Anna Maria Island Vacation Rentals and Anna Maria Island Condo Rentals and it out ranks the likes of Airbnb, Vacasa, HomeAway and TripAdvisor for many search terms.
It also ranks on the first page for terms like…
- Anna Maria Island beach (a term that gets over 8,000 searches a month)
- Anna Maria Island golf (260 searches a month)
- What to do in Anna Maria Island when it rains (70)
- Horseback riding on Anna Maria Island (100)
- Beachfront condos on Anna Maria Island (480)
- Anna Maria Island condos (20)
- Best beach on Anna Maria Island (320)
- Anna Maria beach (1,600)
- Anna Maria Island beach Florida (210)
- Paddleboarding on Anna Maria Island (110)
The site also ranks for another 75 terms on the second page of Google.
So, what are the numbers...
All of this currently equates to around 150 site visitors a day. Site visitors visit about 250 pages daily.
Now obviously, some pages bring in more traffic than others but the site gets almost exactly 1 page view, per page, per day. 250 pages / 243 page views per day.
The bigger the site gets the more traffic it gets.
There's also the added bonus that the bigger the site gets the more sticky it becomes.
1 in 5 visitors come back to the site for two or more visits
It's not only about traffic
- Marketing like this builds trust and relationships
- It's just easier to convert website visitors into future guests
- You have a ton of content to share on multiple channels e.g. Facebook pages, Facebook groups, Twitter, etc.
- You quickly establish yourself as an authority
All publicity is good publicity
Terry and Sandy are also sharing their posts across a number of social media platforms and this also builds brand awareness and drives traffic from these sources.
Here's what Terry has to say about that..
We have Facebook messenger installed on our site.
Not only are people contacting us about booking our condos but they are contacting us asking about helicopter tours, dolphin tours, sunset tours, where to celebrate birthdays and more.
So now people on Facebook see us as the authority on Anna Maria Island as well.
The interaction like, loves and shares with the blogs is amazing
In addition to social media, Terry and Sandy joined Vacation Soup in January and this has giving them huge additional exposure.
Their posts have been read 44,000 times on vacation soup
(that's not impressions, that's page views).
You can clearly see the uptick in traffic after they joined the soup
As an example, Terry and Sandy published this article last week https://vacationsoup.com/anna-maria-island-ranked-6-americas-happiest-seaside-town/
This article was read by over 500 people in the first two days after publishing on vacation soup alone.
Not only that. Since joining the soup Google started including all of their posts on Google Alerts. This is because Google sees the site as a genuine news outlet. Once again this increases site traffic.
You can see how the sites keyword ranking has grown since joining the soup in the graph below,
That's around 150% increase in ranking terms in 6 months
You can have a good look at their posts here https://annamariaislandcondorentals.com/blog/
In addition to this extra exposure, here at vacation soup, we produced a 79 page PDF that is a compilation of Terry and Sandy's most popular posts. They can use this PDF as a lead magnet in order to harvest potential guests email addresses.
Getting someone’s contact information is what converts anonymous web traffic into prospects or leads, because (1) you can be reasonably sure they’re interested in your offer and (2) you have an (active) way of staying in touch.
You can have a look at the PDF we created here
You don't even need to write all of these articles yourself.
There are a host of copywriting services available online. From Fiverr to Fivesquid and many many more. You can pay as little as $10 for a 500 word article.
I fully realise that this type of marketing isn't for everyone. When it comes to marketing vacation rentals most owners don't have the time or the inclination to put in the work required.
But that's exactly why this form of marketing works
Cream always rises to the top
There are over 11 million vacation rentals worldwide, so by definition you need to do something special in order to stand out from the crowd. If you only market via the listing sites then you can only run with the crowd (and you are beholden to the listing sites demands).
If you want direct bookings then you need to drive traffic to your website and as you can see this form of marketing does exactly that.
Getting guests to #bookdirect puts you in control of your business
Alan Egan is co-founder and head chef at Vacation Soup, a platform that helps vacation rental owners build their brand in order to help them escape the ever-rising costs of doing business with the big listing companies.