I was reading Lisa Kilkenny's excellent in-depth new ebook all about renting out your property in Spain and it inspired me to highlight some of the ways you can optimise your rental ads on the popular websites so that they appear better in the search engines, and hence generate more enquiries for you!
If you own a property in Spain and need to generate some rental income from it then you'll certainly need to generate enquiries for your property.
You may have left the rental of your property solely in the hands of your rental agent but in these tough times, is that generating enough bookings for you?
Peak season may be booked but what about the rest of the year? If your property isn't in a popular location how can you generate more bookings? You have to treat renting out your property as a mini business. You only get out what you put in.
There are a huge number of properties available to rent today compared to even just two years ago. That level of increased competition means that it is difficult to reach high levels of booked weeks at good rates for every property.
So if you are disappointed with the number of bookings your are receiving per annum then why not supplement whatever your rental agent is doing with your own efforts. Work your property too, maximize your rental potential and do some DIY rentals of your own.
The internet can be a hard nut to crack, if you are not on pages 1 or 2 of the search engine you can basically forget it – no one will find you and as 95% of enquiries come via this medium it is imperative that you are seen.
In this article I am going to explain how to optimise your advert and work the rental websites to your advantage. These are simple techniques but can have a huge effect on the number of enquiries that you generate.
1. If it’s free take it:
There are many websites that currently allow you to list your property for free. Some of these may not be very good and may not get much traffic but others do and are free mainly because it’s not their core service. It can do you and your property no harm getting listed on every free rentals website going. It will only help to increase your exposure. Some examples are Eye on Spain Rentals (lots of traffic, listing is free for now); http://www.self-catering-breaks.com, http://www.selfcatering.co.uk. Just do a search in Google for “spain rentals free listing” for example and search out the free sites.
2. See what Google recommends
Once you’ve found all the free websites that you can list your property on, you should also take a look and see which of the paid-for listing websites you should advertise your property on.
Here’s an important tip in understanding search engine user behaviour. Someone searching for “holiday rentals in spain” isn’t going to be someone really knowing what they want or where.
You need to focus on what’s called the “long tail search”. People with intent will search for something specific. They know what they want and they’ll buy it/ book it if they find it. They tend to search with slightly longer search phrases. It's these phrases you need to research in the search results.
Let’s take an example. Say you have a two bedroom apartment at the Casares del Sol development in Casares Costa.
Search for the following in Google:
“apartments for rent in casares costa”
“apartments for rent in casares del sol”
“2 bed apartment for holiday rental in casares”
“casares del sol rental apartment”
“holiday apartment in casares del sol”
TOP TIP: You should also perform the same searches but substituting “holiday” for vacation!
Now, after you try each of the long-tail search phrases you should be able to narrow it down to one or two websites that consistently appear in the results for your chosen phrases.
Those consistent sites are the ones you should spend some time reviewing and seriously consider paying to list your property for rental on.
The effort spent getting this right at the beginning can save you a lot of time and money, as paying for the wrong advert on the wrong website will yield few if any enquiries.
3. It’s all in the title.
If you know anything about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) you’ll know that one of the most important on-page factors for ranking well in the search results is the Title Tag.
The Title Tag appears in the code but you can see it. It is displayed in the blue bar right at the top of your browser. When you do a search in Google, the title of each search result is the website page’s Title Tag.
Here’s an example. Let’s do our search again for “holiday rentals spain”. Google shows the following results:
The title highlighted is the Title Tag of the page. If we go the web page we can see this in our browser:
This Title Tag is very important for search engine ranking. Ideally for your listing it needs to contain your most important keywords. So in our example above we would want it to contain the words “holiday, 2 bedroom, apartment, casares del sol, casares costa”.
Have a look at other rentals listing on your chosen sites. How are the title tags constructed? Remember, these are normally set to display certain data that you input in your listing. For example, if you enter the location as “Casares” then you’re missing out on potential traffic. If there isn’t an option to enter the urbanisation name on it’s own then include it in the location. So instead of Casares, you would put location as “Casares del Sol, Casares Costa”. NOTE: Use spaces after the commas, some people don’t and this affects your listing’s performance on the search engines.
Much better! Now you have optimised your listing not just to appear for the keyword “casares” but also “casares del sol” and also “casares costa”.
I hope you get the gist of this. It’s actually a big topic in itself as it’s very important and often overlooked.
4. Keywords, keywords, keywords
When you list your property on any website, you don’t really have many opportunities to mention your important keywords. You main opportunities are in the title tag, as mentioned above, and then in the description.
Here’s an example of a poorly optimised description:
“Beautiful 2 bedroom apartment with communal pool and gardens in quiet, relaxed urbanisation. Views of the mountains and the sea. Master bedroom with en-suite and large second bedroom”.
Now, it’s time to optimise our advert by inserting our keywords and phrases:
“Beautiful 2 bedroom 2 bathroom apartment in the Casares del Sol urbanisation in Casases Costa, Costa del Sol. Casares del Sol enjoys a quiet, relaxed experience with it’s communal pool and gardens. This apartment at Casares del Sol benefits from wonderful views of Estepona mountain on one side and views of the Mediterranean sea on the other. Of the two bedrooms, the master bedroom comes with it’s own en-suite and the second bedroom is large enough to accommodate 3 people. This has to be one of the best 2 bedroom apartment available for holiday rental at Casares del Sol.”
Can you see what I’ve done? Not only have I mentioned “Casares del Sol” a few times, I also mentioned “Casares Costa” and “Costa del Sol”. I then introduced other potential long-tail keywords such as “Estepona mountain” and “Mediterranean sea”.
I also increased the number of times I mentioned the word “apartment” and “bedroom” and used both “2” and “two” to describe the number of bedrooms. I then finished it off with my main long-tail key phrase.
Which description do you think the search engines would give priority to for someone searching for “apartment for holiday rental casares del sol”?
5. Link to your rental listing
Here’s a really hot tip to get your rental listing to appear higher up the search results in Google.
Most of the big rentals portals list thousands or properties. Holidaylettings.co.uk has over 6600 properties listed for Spain alone. Holiday-Rentals.co.uk has over 10,700 for Spain! So off you go and add your listing only to find it’s lost amongst all the other thousands.
So how can YOU give your own listing a boost?
It’s quite easy actually but first you have to understand how Google ranks websites. Now, you may be wondering why I keep focusing on Google. Simple, they “control” the majority of search engine traffic so it’s best to focus on this specific search engine. Trust me on that!
What makes a website appear highly in Google? There are two main reasons:
Firstly, there are the on-page factors, such as the Title Tag which I mentioned earlier, and also the number of times your keywords or phrases appear in the content of the page. That’s why you should maximise your description with your key phrases.
Secondly, and also much more importantly, are the links pointing to a website from other websites.
I’m going to go into more detail now into this second part because links are just SO important.
The Internet is essentially a collection of billions of interconnected web pages, hence the “net” in Internet. It’s like one huge network. You move around the Internet by searching then clicking on links from site to site.
For example, on Eye on Spain you may read an article and click the link at the bottom to visit the website of the person who wrote the article. In Google’s eyes this is like Eye on Spain giving that other website a vote.
The more votes a website gets the more “popular” it appears to be and it climbs up the search results. Therefore, website owners are forever trying to get more and more links pointing to their site from other sites to get theirs ranking better for given search terms.
Before we finish this “link” lesson there is one other thing you need to know. The text within a link tells the search engine what the page that the link is pointing to is about.
For example. Eye on Spain ranks at number 1 on Google for the search term “spain forum”. That’s because lots of people have link to the forum page using “Spain forum” in the link text. Here’s what I mean.
Here’s an example of how link text works:
“Eye on Spain has a good Spain forum”
“Click here to visit Eye on Spain’s forum”
In the first example the link text is “Spain forum”. In the second it’s “Click here”. The first link is MUCH better. It tells the search engine that the page it’s pointing to is about “Spain forum”, the second one is rubbish as “click here” doesn’t tell it what the destination page is about.
A great example of link text in action is if you search for “click here” in Google you get the Adobe reader download page come up as the number 1 result. That’s because most people link to the Adobe reader download by saying “Click here to download Adobe Reader”. Google therefore thinks that the Adobe page is about “Click here”.
Phew, that’s that lesson over.
So what’s this got to do with YOU and YOUR listing.
This is where we look at the topic called “deep linking”.
Most people generally link to the home page of a website, but if you can point more links to a specific page within a website, it will give those internal pages a HUGE boost in the search results, pages such as rental listings!
Therefore, you can help your own listing on another website by deep-linking to it yourself!
Let’s take an example again.
On the Eye on Spain rentals section I found the following property for rental at Casares del Sol:
Note: If you’ve been paying attention you’ll have noticed that this link isn’t very good for link benefit as it doesn’t contain the keywords. It just shows the page address.
So, if I was the owner of this property, let’s call him Tom, I would want to get some links from other sites to point to this page. Here’s what Tom should do:
If Tom has his own blog he should link to it from his blog. Blogs can be very powerful tools! Or if he has his own website he should also use that to link to it. You can set up a blog on Eye on Spain or use a facility such as blogger.
Write an article and submit it
Writing articles is a great way to get links! Tom could write an article about “things to do in Casares Costa”, or “best places to eat in and around Casares” or “Casares del Sol – What makes it ideal for holidays in Spain”. These are just some examples. The idea is to write about something of interest that other websites would want to publish for the interest of their readers. Don’t write about your apartment! Nobody cares about that.
Once you’ve written your article (350 – 500 words is about right) then add an “authors bio” at the end. This is where you say something about yourself and here you can include a link back to your listing. Here’s an example:
“Tom owns a holiday apartment in Casares del Sol which is available to rent all year round”. Note the optimised link text!
Now you need to submit it.
You can start with some article directories. The best one has to be www.ezinearticles.com. Powerful site and the links work well. When you submit your article here you will need to enter the HTML version of your bio so that the link comes up property. Here’s how you would enter the bio in HTML version:
“Tom owns a holiday apartment in Casares del Sol which is available to rent all year round”.
This will look like this on a web page when your article is published:
“Tom owns a holiday apartment in Casares del Sol which is available to rent all year round”.
All you would need to do is change the web address to the web address of your listing on the rentals site you want to link to and the link text to whatever you are trying to optimise yours for. Don’t remove any of the <> brackets!
You can also submit it to Eye on Spain for inclusion on the site, www.eyeonspain.com/submit-article.aspx, and other sites such as www.britishexpats.com also accept articles.
There are many websites and article directories you can submit your article to. Just search on Google but always make sure you use the optimised link text in the author’s bio!
Include it in your forum signature
Some forums allow you to put links in your signature. If you use forums make sure you add your optimised link to your signature.
Squidoo is a great website for links. Create a lens on Squidoo, write about something of interest and and then insert your optimised links to your rental listing.
I think that’s enough for today. I think you get the picture now.
If you do nothing else at least do the “links” part of what I’ve suggested here. It will really rocket your own listing up the search engines and help you to generate more enquiries.
This may all seem like a lot of effort and it is. You have to work your property if you want it to work for you.
There is too much competition today to just leave the marketing of your property to the traditional methods and people. You can do your bit too and you should.