I posted this on a blog on HA but though I should share it here.

Here's the thing! I have been with HA, OD. VRBO, HL, and a host of others and I get bookings in drips and drabs even though I have jumped through all the hoops and chase the ever moving goal posts. Some sites perform better than others in different years, who knows why and I am always conscious that one year I may get next to nothing from them. The income is my pension so I cannot afford to let this happen.

So I have spent a lot of time creating websites to at least have an alternative, my main one for the villa is this one: http://www.algarvevillaforrent.com/ which now brings in about 50% of my bookings each year.

Unfortunately for one man band websites like mine getting onto the first page in search when competing with the big boys is almost impossible I guess this is what puts most people off having their own site. However with some hard work and time it is actually very possible to get on to the first page and my site is proof of that and I get bookings, but even then I cannot manage without the 3rd party sites HA. OD et al. Having both is a win win situation.

To stay on page one, let me explain, On Google.co.uk for example I am currently search position 17.1 which is the average of hundreds of keywords, short key phrases and long tail keyword phrases, so because its average then I have many page 1s many page 2s and many page 3s I need to maintain this. Being complacent will see the rankings drop so I started my own Wordpress blog https://vidanova87126800.wordpress.com/ which is only a few months old, I can get clicks to my main site from there, and of course back links but I have no idea if it brings in bookings.

Then this last week I built my own local tourist guide web site Monchique Portugal Guide http://www.monchiqueportugal.info/ The idea of this is to get another site into organic search with links to my own site. This last site is still very much in the build process. It is interactive in that the public can submit photos, write about their experiences in the region and importantly add reciprocal travel related links. So if you have one let's exchange it is vital to have them.

I have discovered the following: You need to spend a few hours every day on SEO (search engine optimization), which includes getting your site technically correct, writing and interesting content, having a good site structure with internal links, and most importantly incoming "follow" back links from reputable sites. (not bought links). There are a plethora of SEO sites that you can use to help you with all of the above, just google SEO and you will come up with many, you don't need to pay anything just use the free versions of many.

I hope that this post is helpful and would appreciate any questions or comments, just get in touch, best through one of my sites.

Comments

Damian SheridanDamian Sheridan
9 months ago

Hi @codliveroil - great post and one which affects thousands of owners out there.

OTAs are great for most however it can be a real eye opener when owners consider the overall % paid out over the course of a year.

I concur with Mark, try and keep the main body of your new content on the one site to develop that into the main source of authority in the eyes of search engines like Google.

Yes, link building is very important but instead of doing it from another low-authority blog, perhaps focus your efforts on other local websites or higher authority sites. Adding a page to your site and guest welcome pack like 'The Best Restaurants in .....' can be a great fishing line to encourage other businesses in your area to add a reciprocal link to you. Alternatively, using Google Alerts can keep you informed about what's happening in your area and writing quality detailed blog pages/post about local news can very easily encourage links to your site without any other work on your part.

PMP do indeed offer a great tool for us vr managers and can easily crawled by search engines - this will be improved for search ranking once they implement https. Whether anyone goes down the line of a site builder or Wordpress (certainly my recommendation if you have a bit of time to 'learn the ropes') your success will ultimately come down to the time and effort you put in and it looks like you are certainly not lacking there! Even a few hours a week doing the right things would help any owner/property manager considerably.

Some additional SEO-related suggestions...

  1. Ensure you use Google Analytics to be sure your efforts are paying off.

  2. Implement Search Console to be aware of any website issues/errors. Also get a better understanding of search phrases where you are appearing in the top ten pages of Google SERPS.

  3. Get your Google My Business page - often under-utilised by owners/managers but can be invaluable for your local SEO and position on Google maps (local pack). I have over 200 nights booked this year mostly a result of this alone!

  4. Blog Content - Top 10's (e.g. restaurants, bars, etc) in your area. Events in your area. A brilliant way to appear for search queries that OTAs/listings sites will generally not be doing for your locality.

  5. Consider using a keyword analysis tool (Wincher is very cheap) to keep track of your website position against the most popular search queries for your property location/type.

Hope that helps. Damian

#bookdirect

chaletenginechaletengine
9 months ago

Hi Nigel / Bev,

Mark here again :-) First, can I just say you are a like content generating machine! SEO is definitely going to work for you as you put out more content in a month than I have in my lifetime.

I took a quick look over at your WordPress.com website and I really wish you had that content on your own website so that you can benefit from it. Without wanting to offend PMP, I think you have already outgrown them and would be better served with your own website that would let you have your own blog. You could then port over all that content from the WordPress.com website.

You seem to be very clued in on the tech side, so why dont you setup your own WordPress site? Alan Egan from Vacation Soup has a free walkthrough from start to finish and I specialise in WordPress sites for ski chalets, so feel free to bounce any ideas or concerns off me. Always happy to help!

Keep up the exceptional work!

Mark

CodliveroilCodliveroil
9 months ago

"content generating machine!" never been called that before, lol, my wife calls me a PITA whatever that means, LOL.

PMP have assured me today that https will be available within a month or two and I did have my blog on the site but it was beta and causing all sorts of duplicates in Titles and meta and tags so I deleted it and moved it to wordpress. Once they have ironed out the problems I will put it back on my site.

PMP have been pretty good at introducing suggestions and fixing bugs and they are very reasonably priced, I am not sure I have the time to build and maintain my own Wordpress site as well as keeping up the SEO work, fishing, car shows, camping, vacations lol!

dannydanny
9 months ago

Thanks for sharing this @Codliveroil, it's really good to see a working case study that proves it is possible with a little dedication and hard work.

For many people, the work isn't worth the money but not realising how liberating it really is not relying on OTAs for your bookings. Congrats ✌️

Nigel StringerNigel Stringer
3 months ago

Just an update. The long awaited transition to https happened about two months ago, my ranking took a dive from the 17 mentioned earlier in my post to 40, everything I read said this would happen but after a while it should climb back up..........how long is a while?

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