The business models seem to go hand in hand on the surface. Realtors usually have the skinny on vacation property for sale and can represent the owners in sales and rental situations fairly easily. This makes it easy for owners that live out of state.
The problem comes when those Realtors combine their real estate website with a vacation rental website. From a marketing and usability standpoint, this is a scary combination. The two business models are entirely different, although loosely related, and combining them creates problems with your marketing efforts – and with the visitor that’s landing on your website looking for a relaxing vacation with the kids.
- For a web site user, combining two different business models can muddy the waters and they’re never sure which part of the site they’re looking at.
- Your potential vacation rental clients are sometimes unsure when they hit a realty site if you have “vacation rentals” or “monthly rentals.” Sites that have both are especially confusing.
- You’ve probably implemented at least two forms of navigation to separate sales from vacation rentals. This can add unneeded confusion to your site as the visitor isn’t really sure where they are and the navigation is no help.
- There is a perception that a vacation rental that is tied to a realty website is for timeshares, and you’re inevitably going to be sold something you don’t want.
- Branding is doubly difficult. Is your URL MyRealty.com. That isn’t very vacation rental friendly. Wouldn’t you rather be able to promote a url that says what you are such as MyVacationRentals.com?
- The content on a site is a factor to good search engine rankings. When content addresses two different markets – the search engines might rank a site lower than they would if the content was focused on one industry. If they don’t have the “trust” in what they’re spidering, they may not consider that content authoritative – resulting in lower rankings.
- Link-building should be accomplished carefully, with relevant and supportive websites and directories. A site that is relevant to your real estate sales is not relevant to a vacation rental program. This means that links from a real estate site are unlikely to help vacation rental pages rank well. By separating content and linkbuilding to two separate websites, your links are going to count more, and be more likely to help you rank in a higher position.
In the past real estate websites had a tendency to participate in vast link exchanges. The example below is a site that breaks all of my rules.
I’m not going to “out” them because that’s not nice, but I will point out some issues that they’re having and that can be corrected, but it will take time and separation.
- Their URL has “Realty” in it
- They combine both sales and rentals on one site
They have a link on their homepage that says “North Carolina Vacation Resources.” This links to a link exchange form and a page that features links from all over the world. Their link text pointing TO this page is misleading – and the content on the site is irrelevant to vacation rentals…and probably most of the links are irrelevant to Outer Banks Home Sales
- They’re buying Paid Ads in the top 5 position – pretty expensive for terms like “Outer Banks Vacation Rentals”
- They don’t rank organically in the top 100
- They’ve got over 100 “link exchanges” going on – but Google is only giving them credit for 7 links back to their site – pretty big waste of time and space.
- The user has to choose immediately from a menu when they hit the homepage – sales or rentals. No matter which way they go – the look & feel of the site changes. The visitor is confused and not sure they’re even on the same website.
There are instances when the two have combined, and it can work pretty well, but I always advise clients to consider separating their offerings. Integrating booking engines and MLS pages can be much easier when you don’t have to worry about how one is going to affect the other.
If you can’t separate your sites – the lesson here is to stop participating in irrelevant link exchanges. They don’t work very well. You CAN exchange links with relevant area businesses that add value to the readers, but not with real estate sites in cities and towns your shoppers are highly unlikely to even care about. The proof is in the Google Back Links of the example above. They require a link back to their site – but Google is giving them NO credit for those backlinks.