Search Engine Optimization (SEO) vs VRBO/Homeaway/VacationRentals.com/Flipkey

I never thought that these two words would go together.  If you spend some time dissecting the internet, you will find that VRBO has amazing positioning for keywords that contain “city” vacation rentals.  There are also a few other players in the mix. Homeaway, Flipkey, VacationRentals.com , and TripAdvisor.  These are the beasts of the travel market. VRBO seems to have branded itself better outside of search engines and has a better reputation than others.

So, the big question at hand would be: Where do I invest my money?  Do I spend thousands of dollars on SEO or do I purchase listings in these other websites that already have positioning.  At first glance, it would be smartest to just purchase a listing on a website that already has positioning.  However, you need to understand that as more and more people list their properties on these sites, your listing area will become more competitive. What a dilemma!!

I have found that it is best to create a mix of SEO and vacation rental listings. This will maximize your profits and generate the leads that you need to stay alive.  However, there is one BIG difference between SEO and vacation rental listings. With SEO, the consumer seems more ready to make a purchase.  Meaning that they are not necessarily shopping around as much. With the vacation rental listing websites, you get a lot of haggling.  When we have done studies with our company in Park City, we find that our conversion rates for SEO generated leads are astronomical in comparison to our conversion rates with vacation rental listing websites.

One of the things that VRBO and home away have done is that they have partnered with several companies in the industry to make the integration of listings seamless.  For example, with Streamline, when you list your property, it will actually update that information on VRBO or home away. You don’t have to log in to each of those individual portals any more.  Your information is sent electronically to VRBO and home away and updated daily. This includes calendars, descriptions, amenities and pricing.

So what is the secret formula?  Do I spend thousands on an SEO company?  My first advice is, don’t be fooled by people that tell you they can get you to #1.  I have been in the SEO business for many years and getting #1 takes money.  Google has really changed over the years and it is not how it used to be.  It takes a lot of time, energy, effort and money to get positioning on Google these days.  If you are a company starting out and have never had a presence on Google, I would recommend that you see how VRBO does at generating leads for your business.  Of course, you should never neglect your website.  Make sure it is professional and portrays your company appropriately. At the end of the day, people are going to end up on your website.  There’s no exact science to this game.  I have found that different markets excel with different vacation rental listing companies. Some markets work great with Flipkey. Others work best with Homeaway.  This is a study that you have to do for yourself in order to find out what works best for you and your business.

In closing, be creative!  There are a lot of ways to generate leads. Don’t ignore AdWords,  Craigslist and even local listing websites.  Make sure you are on the local chamber of commerce website.  It is the little things that will pay dividends in the long run.

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