Uncomplicating Keywords

How do you know which keywords are “right” for your website?

Let’s cut to the chase: when it comes to marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) is often the most confusing part of a marketing strategy to tackle. As travelers continue to rely on websites, OTAs, and search engines to guide them to their perfect vacation, SEO will continue to be an important part of your marketing mix.

The Basics of SEO

As we discussed in our Marketing 101 Workbook, SEO is what makes your website show up ahead of competing websites in search engine results. The best SEO will help put your website at the top of the first page of search results. Why? Because search engines, like Google, display links to the pages it considers most relevant to the words someone typed in when searching.

Keywords are the most straightforward way to boost your website’s ranking in search results. You want the keywords that users are searching for in Google (or any other search engine) to be sprinkled throughout your website so that Google thinks that your website is a good match for the person searching.

Here are some places you can use keywords:

  • Your property listings on your website
  • Your property listings on third-party OTAs
  • In blog posts or text on any of your website’s pages
  • In URLs or page headlines or titles

Finding the Right Keywords

You can brainstorm keywords yourself or use a tool like Google Keyword Planner (GKP). GKP is a great way to get data on keywords you’ve brainstormed or to generate fresh ideas. It even shows you monthly search volume for keywords being typed into Google; the more it’s typed in, the more people are searching for it, and the bigger audience you may be able to get in front of.

Here’s a secret: avoid overly generic keywords. While generic keywords may have a high search volume, you can’t be sure that the people typing them in are actually a good fit for you. For example: “Florida vacations” is a generic keyphrase probably used by someone who thinks they may want to visit Florida but isn’t sure of where they’ll be or what they’ll do there.

“Orlando vacation rentals” is a much more specific keyphrase. The audience who types in this keyphrase knows that they’re going to Orlando and is probably looking for an alternative to a traditional hotel. Although fewer people may be searching for “Orlando vacation rentals” than “Florida vacations,” they’re more likely to be interested in what you have to offer and may be further along in the decision to rent a property.

Measuring Success

Think of keyword research the same way you do marriage in Hollywood—it’s going happen more than once.

Once you identify a batch of keywords, work them into content on your site, and see your website rise in search results, keep an eye on your rankings and keywords. The keywords you choose today may be less relevant in six months. Check Google Keyword Planner every few months to see if the keywords you’re using are becoming less relevant and your ranking is dropping. If so, brainstorm new keywords, run them through Google Keyword Planner, and update your website with these new keywords. Lather, rinse, repeat.


Even seasoned marketers want a stiff drink after first diving into the world of SEO. The best way to approach SEO is to brainstorm keywords, play around in Google Keyword Planner, and test keywords. If those keywords work, that’s great! Enjoy watching your website rise in search results. If they don’t, don’t sweat it. You can change your keywords anytime.