SEO 101 for Vacation Rental Hosts

Are you a short term rental host looking to increase the visibility of your direct booking properties? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a powerful tool that can help you do just that. With the right SEO strategy, your direct booking listings can get more views, more bookings, and earn you more revenue. In this post, we’ll explore the basics of SEO for short term rental hosts. So get ready to learn how to get your short term rental listing to the top in search engine rankings!

SEO for Short Term Rental - Laptop screen showing a diagram of what SEO is all about

Definition of Search Engine Optimization

But first, what is SEO? Like, at all?

Search engine optimization is the process of improving a website to increase its visibility when people search for products or services.

There’s a lot to unpack there, but basically, any webpage that calls up other webpages based on search terms has a process to prioritize the results. If you understand that process, you can take steps to improve your pages’ prioritization and visibility.  For Google, it’s about ‘EAT.’

Google’s ‘EAT’ framework refers to Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. In the context of short term rental listings, expertise refers to the level of knowledge of the host and the quality of their services. Authority is the credibility of the host and their reviews. Trustworthiness is the reliability of the host and their ability to deliver on their promises. By applying the EAT framework to short term rental listing sites, hosts can be assured that their listings are of a certain quality and guests can be sure that they are booking a high-quality listing.

Five Benefits of SEO for Short Term Rental Hosts

Increased Visibility: SEO will help you get more visibility in search rankings, allowing you to attract more potential guests.

Increased Bookings: By optimizing for keywords relevant to their listings,hosts can increase their bookings by appearing more prominently in search engine results.

Increased Revenue: With more bookings, hosts can generate more revenue from their rental properties.

Enhanced Brand Awareness: By optimizing their content and listings, hosts can build their brand and become more recognizable in their respective markets.

Improved User Experience: By optimizing their websites, hosts can provide their guests with an improved user experience, increasing the chances of repeat business.

Vacation Rental Hosts - Man browsing the internet and the laptop screen showing list of listing and their location

A Step-by-step Guide to SEO for Short Term Rental Hosts

Keyword Research

Keyword research is an important part of creating effective short term rental listings. To get started, brainstorm keywords related to your listing like the location, amenities, and features. Once you’ve created a list of potential keywords, you can use keyword research tools like Google Adwords Keyword Planner to get an idea of the competition and search volume of each keyword. Select the most relevant and popular keywords and use them in various aspects of your listing, such as the title, description, and tags. If you want to go deeper, analyze the keywords used by other properties in your area to get an idea of the best phrases to target. Finally, review your keywords periodically to make sure they’re up to date and relevant. Utilizing the right keywords can help you get more visibility and bookings for your short term rental listings.

A successful keyword research strategy for short term rental listings should utilize “long-tail” keywords and synonyms. Long-tail keywords are more descriptive phrases consisting of multiple words that are used to narrow down the search query and target more specific audiences. For example, a host in Austin could use the long-tail keyword “luxury accommodations in Austin” to target potential customers who are looking for high-end lodging. Additionally, the host could use synonyms for their listing, such as “upscale properties in Austin” or “premier lodging in Austin,” to reach a broader audience. By using a variety of keywords, hosts can ensure their listings are seen by a wide range of potential customers.

Create Quality Content

Creating quality content for your  listing means providing potential guests with an accurate and detailed description of your space, amenities, and area attractions. Now that you’ve done your keyword research, edit your listing to include well-written, descriptive text peppered with relevant keywords that have a high search volume. Don’t forget to include high-quality photos that accurately reflect the space and amenities. Your listing and photos should be comprehensive, covering all the features of the space and its amenities. In addition, it should be informative, providing guests with helpful information on the area and the services available to them. The best listings are engaging and inviting, giving guests the confidence to book. 

Optimize Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

Often overlooked, optimizing title tags and meta descriptions for short term rental listings is an essential step in driving organic search traffic to the page. Title tags should be concise, descriptive, and contain relevant keywords, while meta descriptions should be between 50-160 characters and include a call to action. When creating title tags, ensure the title is relevant to the content and that the length is no more than 60 characters, as longer titles will be truncated. For meta descriptions, focus on what makes your listing unique and use language that encourages people to click and learn more. Lastly, make sure all content is unique and relevant to the listing, as duplicate content can have a negative impact on SEO rankings.

An example of a title tag and meta description for an short term rental listing in Austin, TX might be

“Explore Austin’s Live Music Scene – Cozy & Affordable 2br Apartment in the Heart of Downtown.” (title tag)

“Enjoy the best of Austin with this modern 2 bedroom apartment located in the heart of the city’s vibrant downtown. With plenty of restaurants, bars, and live music venues just steps away, you won’t have to go far to experience all that this city has to offer.” (meta description)

The title tag and meta description work together to give potential visitors an idea of the location, amenities, and activities they can expect when they stay at the short term rental.

SEO for Short Term Rental Hosts - Image showing how SEO works

Do It Yourself, or hire a service?

When considering if you should pay someone to help with your SEO, there are two main considerations that impact your short-term rental business: Time, and Money.  DIY SEO requires a decent amount of time to become proficient. Do you have that time? How comfortable are you at picking up new tools? For starters, you can expect to spend 3-4 hours learning how to use free online keyword research tools, then another 2 hours learning how to edit the title tags and meta descriptions on your website.  Once you have your basic skills in place, add in 2 hours per page to get your SEO in order. There are excellent resources online to walk you through these steps, but it can still be a daunting and time-consuming task for some. Youtube is the best place to start looking for guides on how to teach yourself but be careful, you might get more.

In comparison, using an SEO service can save you time and effectively optimize your listing for greater visibility. But, even then, there are lots of options to choose between. 
You can find many listings for SEO professionals on Fiverr and Upwork.  These can be affordable and a good place to start if you are on a tight budget. If you can find an SEO professional who has experience in the short-term rental industry, this could be a great solution. The higher-quality services will also provide ongoing maintenance and analysis to ensure ongoing success.  Most high-quality SEO services are quite labor intensive and they are, therefore, not inexpensive.  An experienced professional in the US may charge over $100/hour.  At SageSEO, we do things a little differently.  We believe SEO shouldn’t break the bank.  We leverage AI to bring a comprehensive, but affordable, approach that delivers holistic SEO coaching backed by tech innovation. No matter where you find your SEO support, please remember that like experts in social media or other forms of marketing, SEO experts can’t promise increased bookings.  Their job is to make it more likely that people will see your listing, and the rest is up to you!  

Ultimately, DIY SEO can be a good option for owners who want to be actively involved in the process, while those with limited time and more resources may prefer the expertise and convenience of an SEO service. 

Vacation Rental Hosts - Girl and boy looking at the laptop screen


Search engine optimization (SEO) is a powerful tool for short term rental hosts to increase the visibility of their listings and increase bookings and revenue. From keyword research to content creation, this post has outlined the basics of SEO and provided a step-by-step guide to help short term rental hosts optimize their listings. By following these steps, short term rental hosts can ensure their properties are seen by the right people, leading to more visibility, more bookings, and more revenue.

Free Workshop: SEO Fundamentals
for STR Websites

February 7th from 1-2 pm Central

Like what you see? Share with a friend.

Chris Martin

COO of Sage SEO, Guest Blogger

Chris Martin is the COO of Sage SEO, a SaaS platform for content marketing. He brings a unique perspective to the opportunities and challenges of IT, with a background in the arts, academia, and federal programs.  He has a bachelors in Musical Theater from Catholic University, a Masters in American Dance Studies from Florida State University, and a PhD in Performance Studies from the University of Maryland. Chris’s doctoral research focused on the ways ballroom dancing was used as a prop for white supremacy at the turn of the 20th century. His experience with short-term rentals is strictly as a user, rather than a host, having stayed in properties all over the country.  His favorite was a month-long stay at a 5th-floor walkup in the La Latina neighborhood of Madrid. 

HostHelpr | Instagram

Table of Contents


Voucher Code:


Purchase Date: dd/mm/yyyy

Use screenshot or
Important Note: Please ensure that your screen captures the entire section.

Register as a Vendor