The One Keyword Set We Must Rank For in Google

This guest post is by Conrad O'Connell of 91Digital, a digital marketing consultant with a focus on SEO, PPC, and email marketing. Conrad's post below is for anyone who wants to ​stay relevant in search results -- not with big broad competitive keywords...but for keywords ​around your own name.  

When you think of travel brands, what is top of mind? ​Four Seasons? ​Expedia? Hilton Hotels?

Branding is the most effective way to stay in the top of mind of your guests when they think of your area. But branding isn't just for big organizations. Well-branded vacation rental properties and management companies have a very unique advantage.

While the various elements that go into a well-branded vacation rental may be too big of a topic to tackle with just one post, no matter the size of your vacation rental business, we can all focus on one element: search.

​On-Page SEO Basics To Help Google Understand Your Brand

Ranking well for either the name of your property or management company is a critical element of any independent portfolio and it starts with the basics -- what we call on-page search engine optimization (SEO).

Here are some helpful tips for making sure your website structure is setup for success.

1. Add your brand name to the end of each title tag. For example, if your brand was
"Conrad's Classy Vacations” and you were located in Myrtle Beach, you might have titles tags like this:

`<title>​Search 50 ​Myrtle Beach Vacation Rentals - ​Conrad's Classy Vacations</title>

The point here is that you should be including your brand name at the end of every title tag, on every page of your site. `

2. Include the brand name on the homepage and other areas on the website.

This is pretty simple, but it’s alarming how often I see it missed - if you want to rank for your property brand or management company name, you need to have that name on the website. ​This can be in the footer of the website along with name/address or in the header/other areas of the website.

3. Use markup code to give Google a small nudge ​acts like a helpful guiding signal​ to tell Google basic information about content on your page. While this has less of a benefit that some suggest, it’s a very quick install that can pay dividends. Using a tool like JSON-LD Schema Markup Generator, you can easily generate a code snippet that can be installed on your website.

These three steps are quite simply low-time investment ways to let Google know who you are, and where you are located. Without these steps, even a unique vacation rental business name might not get discovered.

Search 50 Areaname Vacation Rentals

​Setting Up Google Business

Verifying a Google Business account is an excellent ​way to help get a Knowledge Graph entry for your vacation rental business. Put simply, a Knoweldge Graph entry is the additional information that Google displays on the right hand column on the search results page. Here's what one of those Knowledge Graph cards looks like: 

The good news is that Google Business is free to use and setup.

The bad news is that Google makes the rules for verifying vacation rental businesses somewhat ​challenging for property owners, because it requires you to have an official office.

From Google’s Support documentation:

> ​The following businesses aren’t eligible for a business listing: Rental or for-sale properties, such as **vacation homes**, model homes or vacant apartments. Sales or leasing offices, however, are eligible for verification.

This means you’ll need to have an ‘office’ to allow for Business verification to work in the most official Google-approved way.

In theory, in order to make sure you are legitimate, Google sends you a postcard through the mail. You could​ ​use ​your property address for that​ postcard to verify your Google Business Listing at your property, however you are at risk for your listing being shut down in the future.

Other options for an address include virtual offices (UPS Store, Regus, Allied). However, you cannot use a PO Box.

For property managers with offices, this should be a simple three step process:

1. Add your business here - []

2. Send a postcard to your office address

3. Verify that postcard once it arrives

4. Add in all related Google Business Listing data (hours, contact phone number, photos, text-messaging number, category)

Once this is setup, you can help your ability to rank well for your brand by signing up for [Moz Local] and also getting reviews on your listing.


Quick tip: send your happy guests a post-​departure review link using the following link:


​Simply replace the xxxxxx with​ your placeid as found with Google’s placeid search tool.

Lastly, make this link easy to remember and use by shortening it with or a similar link shortening service. Getting good reviews on your Google business account boosts your exposure and helps you rank when travelers are searching your ​company name. ​

​Tips For Memorable Property Names

Property owners and managers are faced with two challenges: branding both the property and the overall management company. In a way, there are two branded search buckets to tackle: guests searching the exact name of a property as well as guests searching for the brand of the PM.

Ranking well for property names is made a lot easier with many of the same principles above:

* The name of the property in the <title> tag of the property detail page

* The name of the property in the URL of the property detail page:​JuliansHideout

* Creating internal links to the property detail page with both a HTML sitemap and easy-to-crawl results page

I’ll be honest: none of the above matters if your property names are too common. If the name of your property is ‘Sea Beach Home’, ranking in Google for that is going to be fairly difficult. Unique names like Ona's Perch make it far easier. ​

A useful tip here is to ​run a Google search with the name of your business with quotation marks. If Google returns thousands of results, this may be a sign that your name is too generic. However, if it only returns a small handful (and none of the results are vacation rental properties or travel-related content) that's probably a good sign.

​Owners: Memorable Names… Or Else

Much of the same rules apply to single owner-managed properties as well. The same branded search issues can surface here as well — without a memorable brand name, ranking well can be difficult. While changing your brand may not be possible, you can adjust the brand some to make it easier to rank for in search.

For example: Sea Beach House could be renamed to The Fort Myers Sea Beach House in a quick solution to rank better in your destination.

A full on re-brand may be required if you’re struggling to rank even after the above steps have been taken.

​Search Volume Correlates With Stronger Brands

One metric is pretty clear — the stronger a brand becomes in the eyes of guests, the more often they search that brand on Google.

​As more people search for Airbnb, the more bookings they get from this branded traffic and the more money they make.

This can be seen at the smaller scales as well. When branded search volume increases over time for property managers or rental by owners with 1, 10, 100 or 1,000 rentals, they too get more bookings and drive addition website traffic.

The key to converting that traffic is setting up a solid strategy between Google Business, proper on-page SEO and driving more bookings!

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.

Thanks to Home From Home & TPVR for notes used in this article.

September 14, 2017

About the author 

Conrad O'Connell

Conrad O'Connell of Buildup Bookings is a Digital Marketing Consultant specializing in the vacation rental industry. With a focus on creating campaigns spanning SEO, PPC, Email Marketing and more, Conrad strives to create winning campaigns that get results. Have a question? Email him conrad AT

  1. Thanks so much for letting me share, Matt!

    I get asked a lot about where to ‘start’ with SEO especially from property owners looking to take a first step after they build their website. This is my recommendation – before diving to deep into ranking for very competitive terms, let’s make sure you can be found for your brand name.

    As always let me know if you have any questions below.

  2. Thanks for sharing, Conrad and Matt. After being away from the vacation rental industry for the last 4 years, my wife and I just purchased a rental home near Mt. Rainier in Washington State. I am pumped to start building a web presence for the property. As always, thanks for sharing your knowledge!

      1. Well I do not have a website set up yet. I heard of 1&1 offering a website. I have my email address with them. Up until now I operated with the Big 3 Trip Advisors, Owner Direct and Air bomb.
        However, i am thinking of a change for the next season.
        I will keep your notes and reconnect you when I am a bit further down the line.
        Thank you so much for coming back to me.

        1. Hey Eva,

          I would highly reccomend you make that step towards your own website. Depending on your level of experience, you can check out:

          – A WordPress website with your own theme/layout (Alan Eagan has great starter themes I’ve seen many people start to use)

          You can actually drive good traffic to your website quickly as often times guests will find your property via a listing site, then Google the name of your property with the hopes of booking direct. Some guests are more ‘savvy’ to the fees charged by listing site platforms and would rather deal directly w/ owner.

  3. Hi Conrad,
    A couple of questions.
    •I went to schema mark up generator and copied the script, but now I don’t know what to do with it! I use MYVr for my website if that is helpful.
    •My rental is Goldilocks Cabin, and gets pretty good visibility, although there is another rental out west with same name. So should I rebrand on my web pages Goldilocks Cabin Stowe?
    •Also I took as my Web site many years ago as was taken. Was this a bad Idea? Will it be helpful in the search if I buy another domain and name it or or something, and direct it to my website too?
    Thanks for all the good info. very much a newbie in the SEO, but willing to learn.

    1. Hey Jille!

      1 – It seems that MyVr just actually rolled out a feature where they can auto-add this markup for you. It’s under settings in the backend.

      2 – I personally just did the search here in South Carolina and found your website ranking #1. I say if you’re doing well and getting a good click-thru-rate when guests search `goldilocks cabin` (over 30%+) no need to rebrand anything.

      3 – Hmm, this sort of has two options and neither is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. In theory the EMD (exact match domain) can help you rank for non-branded queries like ‘vermont cabin rental’, but may make it a bit harder for you to rank for your brand. However you are ranking well for your brand, so despite that limitation it hasn’t hurt you at all.

      In this case I wouldn’t reccomend changing your domain as it is getting traffic/ranking for you brand in Google. However, if you purchase alternate domains, feel free to 301 redirect them to your primary domain. Then, in theory, you can ‘advertise’ with your branded domain but have all the traffic go to your current keyword-heavy domain.

  4. Google no longer permits Vacation Rentals to set up a Google Business listing as detailed here

    This is what they have to say:

    The following businesses aren’t eligible for a business listing:

    Businesses that are under construction or that have not yet opened to the public.

    Rental or for-sale properties, such as vacation homes, model homes or vacant apartments. Sales or leasing offices, however, are eligible for verification.

    An ongoing service, class, or meeting at a location that you don’t own or have the authority to represent.


  5. Great article Conrad and thanks for the link to the markup generator. Great tip, also, about adding an identifier to a property name. We have done this for a long time because I realised that there were more than a few “Beachcombers” around so I always added the name of the suburb to the URL as our domain name (CairnsHolidayHomes) covered the location where all our homes are.

  6. Thanks Conrad some good information here. I will try to tick all the boxes on my holiday home websites. I like the hint about creating and promoting the brand name.

  7. Question for you, Conrad… I had gone in and setup Google My Business listings for each of our VR properties recently. They’re in process of being verified however I just saw your article and the rules on that. I used the actual property addresses. I noticed that while it says Vacation Rentals are not eligible for a Google My Business listing, at the end it says they’re able for verification. “Rental or for-sale properties, such as vacation homes, model homes or vacant apartments. Sales or leasing offices, however, are eligible for verification.” What does that mean exactly? We do have a business license but it is registered to our personal home office. Think it’d be ok to change the address there and be in compliance?

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