Why a vacation rental blog might just be a complete waste of your time.
This article might be a little controversial for some. Many of the top vacation rental marketers out there stand strongly behind blogging, and claim it as one of the strongest forms of marketing to attract renters.
We, on the other hand, believe that despite all of the possible benefits, blogging really isn’t for everybody, and is most probably a huge waste of time for most of us. Instead, your time might be better spent on local search, and guest blogging.
In this article, we’ll cover the basics of the three options so that you can then decide which route might be better suited for your capabilities and business.
What is it, exactly?
First off, blogging falls under the massive category of content marketing. Content marketing is a strategy geared towards using content (such as articles, blogs, social media, videos, etc…) to drive traffic to your website or business that will eventually convert into sales (or bookings for us vacation rental managers). Content marketing really isn’t the easiest thing to do, but we’ll get to that soon enough.
The act of blogging is simply writing a series of short to medium length articles (500-1000 words) on your website. There are many blog platforms out there that you can either add to your website, or build your website around (WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, ect…).
Why it’s good
1. Blogging is good, because if you have a great strategy, and actually publish good and interesting content, you might actually get a couple or articles to rank on search engines and generate traffic to your site.
2. Also, Google likes it you’re constantly updating the content on your site. Therefore, blogging is good for your website’s overall SEO.
3. If done properly, your articles should help to establish authority about your region. Which will in return help to establish credibility and earn trust with your readers.
Why it might be a waste of your time
1. For blogging to actually work, you need to write very helpful content, and write a lot of it. Realistically, one post per month probably won’t do anything for you. Writing a lot takes time. And if you’re not a good writer, or you don’t particularly like to write, creating good content will be even more difficult and more time consuming.
2. If your articles don’t generate any real traffic, what’s the point? Great question! There basically isn’t any… If your articles don’t generate organic traffic, no one sees them, and you’re doing all of it for nothing.
On the other hand, you are helping your site a little in terms of SEO. But the chances that the effects are significant enough to improve your search engine rankings is debatable at best.
3. Writing just for the sake of writing is borderline useless, and most probably a big waste of your time. You need to real strategy behind your writing. Even if your articles do in fact generate some traffic, is the traffic just there for the article? Or is the article helping to convert readers into bookings?
4. You will only start seeing the traffic way down the line. We’re talking three to six months at best (excluding exceptions to the rule). And that’s if you’ve been doing everything the right way!
Conclusion about blogging
More exposure is always good. There’s no arguing that. But when it takes three to six months before you start to see any significant traffic, that’s a hard pill to swallow.
Three to six months of blogging every week, about local news, attractions, restaurants and stories. Then maybe, just maybe you’ll start to see some traffic to your blog.
And how much of this traffic will actually turn into bookings? More realistically, how many of these readers will even sign up to your newsletter to receive future discounts?
Blogging really isn’t as “easy” as most are making it out to be. It has literally become it’s own industry, with it’s own conversion science behind it and high paid professionals that are hired just to do that one job.
At the end of the day, it’s a pretty big risk to take if you’re going at it alone. It’s a lot of time and energy that’s being focused on something that just isn’t really a sure bet.
So what other options are there?
Well, as the title suggests, there are two other options which we will cover briefly below.
What is it?
Guest blogging is simply the act of writing an article for someone else’s blog, rather than your own. To find a good blog to guest post on is fairly straight forward. All you need to do is research blogs within your niche (local travel, activities, news, etc…), and ask if you can post a guest post. You can email them or call them, whichever you prefer.
Keep in mind; you’ll need to have a good idea to actually get an article published on someone else’s blog. But if you can, there are a lot of benefits that will come along with it.
Why it’s good
1. While it no longer has any real SEO value (because of the new algorithmic change), it’s an amazing strategy to piggyback off someone else’s popularity in order to gain good visibility for yourself, your brand, and your business.
Instead of spending so much time and effort trying to build up your own blog, you can focus a little more time on the content, and get it published by someone who already has the readers to go with it.
2. Most blogs allow guest bloggers to have an author biography, which they publish right below the guest blog. This is a great place to showcase yourself and have a link to your website. If the readers liked your article, and they like your biography, there’s a good chance they’ll click through to your site.
3. You don’t have to do it as often to see results. Unlike blogging, guest blogging doesn’t need to be done every week. The main reason you’re supposed to blog often is that it’s supposed to help make your website more as a whole. The blog your guest posting on is already doing it for you, so you don’t have to.
Just make sure the blog you are guest posting on is high quality, and don’t fill your article with links back to your site.
Why guest blogging might be a better option than your own blog
As mentioned above, you’re essentially piggybacking of someone else’s already popular website. So if you are writing good content, it will actually be seen, and you won’t have to wait 3-6 months to see the results.
It’s also a great way to practice your blogging skills and to see if you’re any good at it. This might be a good option to try out before you decide to jump into blogging for yourself.
Local Search Marketing
What is it?
Local search marketing basically encompasses all of your local online directories (Google+ Local, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Foursquare, Mapquest, Yelp, etc…).
All you need to do is claiming your listings in your local business directories, just like you would any vacation rental portal like HomeAway or VRBO, except it takes much less time and they’re usually free.
Why it's good
1. SEO, SEO, SEO. Some might say online directories don’t hold much value anymore for helping your website’s overall SEO. While that might be true, it does however really help your local SEO.
Your local SEO can be even more important. When travellers are looking for accommodations within a specific area, search engines like Google will often publish the local results on the first page in it’s own section. (See image of a google search for “orlando vacation rentals” posted beside).
Besides the local results, local directories can help your website naturally rank for local keywords organically (so not just in the local results). Although this sort of thing takes a little more time, it’s still a huge asset.
2. Local directories actually get a fair bit of traffic. Websites like Yelp, and Foursquare are huge, and often pop on for local searches. A lot of people simply fall onto directory results when they’re browsing, and use them to research and double check reviews.
Registering your business on just one or two directories won’t do much, but a handful of them together will help bring in some decent traffic on a yearly basis.
3. Most online directories are FREE. Which means you won’t have to pay a dime to get the visibility. Although some might limit your options when it comes to what they’ll allow you to publish without paying, it’s still worth the 15 minutes it takes to set up.
4. Despite a few exceptions, once they’re set up maintenance is minimal, and often non-existent. M most local directories require no profile maintenance, and therefore very little of your time.
Why local search directories are a better option than your own blog
For the most part, local directories are free and require very little of your time to set up and maintain. Not to mention, you’ll usually start to see results pretty quickly, if not from search engine rankings, then from the traffic the directories get themselves.
Unlike blogging, which can take up six months to begin to see results and requires hours of your time every single week.
The Grand Conclusion
Although blogging does have its benefits, it’s just too time consuming, difficult, and risky for most vacation rental owners to undertake. If it takes you a full 8 hours to research a topic, write it out, and then publish it on your site, that’s a full day’s work you’ll be spending every week on blogging. That’s time taken away from managing your properties, from handling inquiries, and most important of all, from living your life with your friends and family.
Guest blogging and registering your website to local search directories simply require so much less of your time and you will see the results much, much sooner.
You really have all of the basics down,
and you’ve got the time to spare,
and you’ve already accomplished absolutely everything else possible when it comes to marketing your vacation rentals,
We say your time is better spent somewhere else than writing on your own vacation rental blog.
What do you think?