At the moment the rental business is almost completely occupied by the major players, and for a small players there is a very small room to play. This was the truth before recently. However the latest Google updates gave small business a big chance to matter.
The key point is that Google values the original content and listings. Big players already have thousands of listed apartments and hotels, hence to update each of these they need to go over each of those and complete a list of recommended actions, whereas the small business can afford it. Despite all that they are confident that nothing will harm them as they already have most of the market, added to all that the fact that many prefer buying “things” from big brands.
However search results matter in this game. When somebody is looking for an apartment in Amsterdam for a couple of days he searches for it in Google instead of just going to one of those winner websites. Taking into account the changes in the market it’s quite possible for small business to steal the first lines in search results and get a customer.
So, how to get into the first lines of Google searches?
The first thing Google recommends is following the basic SEO tactics – that is to say having accurate site with all meta-tags required, using unique titles, anchor text, ALT tag for images etc. (for simplicity technical SEO). Here is a very basic guide from Google itself:
There are a bunch of tools that can help with technical SEO. My favourite one is the SEOquake Extension/Add-on for your browser. What it does is very simple: it shows where did you made an error or forgot to complete any of MUST DO points.
The next thing every vacation rental business must do is listing all properties on as much local listings as possible. Here is a basic list of free to register websites:
This is the thing that small businesses don’t have a right to miss, and what is the most important – they need to list their business themselves. Many Online Travel Agencies might do it themselves if they see you don’t, because to sell your apartment they might need to list it first.
All you need to do is just going to the above listing providers, register, wait for the confirmation and verification. Once you gave done that - you are a step ahead of your big name competitors.
For most listing providers it’s pretty straightforward and you just need to follow the onsite instructions. However it’s a bit tricky with YELP and CitySearch.
How to add your business to Google Hotel Finder
To get your business listed on Google Hotel Finder you need to claim your business as Google+ Local Business or Place. As I already said it’s straightforward. However you need to know that you can’t directly sell there: it’s the privilege of Google Partners, the winner brands. All you may get is affiliate sales or link to your website under the more menu.