Your vacation rental website is the most important aspect of your business and your brand, but if you’re using a messy or ineffective domain name—or none at all—you could be missing out on a huge amount of business.
Why it matters
Having a good domain name attached to your website isn't just for looks. An effective, clear domain name, the web address visitors use to access your site, looks professional and gives a level of credibility, one visitors have come to expect, to your website. Your domain name works on multiple levels to give guests an easy way find you, assert your trustworthiness as a business, and streamline your branding message across the web as well as print.
What to Do First
Do some searches.
Chances are you already have an idea of what guests are searching for when they come across your rental. Whether its your location, area-based activities, or rental type, you should get a sense of what your guests will most likely be looking for when planning their vacation. What other websites come up during your searches? What are their domain names? Are they using the location, some sort of descriptor, or something else in the domain?
Doing this will give you a better sense of the keywords guests use to find you, and will help you improve your website's search engine optimization (SEO) to rank higher on search engines like Google and Bing.
Another resource to consider is the Google AdWords Keyword Planner. This tool helps you see search traffic for specific keywords as well as comes up with other related search terms that you could use on your site or in your domain.
Make your domain fit your property.
Your domain should describe your rental as clearly and concisely as possible. If people consistently book your rental because it's half a mile away from Disneyland, make sure your domain reflects that. Or, if your company boasts cozy, remote cabins in the woods, try to get your domain to reflect that notion.
You know better than anyone else what makes your rental business unique from others in your area; capitalize on those differences in your so prospective guests know what to consider right off the bat. Stand out from the crowd.
Think about branding.
More than likely, your business has a name: Michigan Lakeside Vacation Homes, Seabreeze Newport Beach Management, Clearwater Creek Mountain Cabins & Cottages. If your company has a brand name like this, try your very best to make that your domain. This will reduce confusion across branding materials, including business cards, social media, listing sites, and word-of-mouth referrals. You want guests to be able to recognize your business and your rentals wherever they encounter them in their vacation planning process.
You're looking to create a brand that's memorable—one that stands out from the competition. Keep it clear and consistent throughout all your marketing channels, starting with your domain name.
Domain Do's and Don’ts
DO: Use keywords and your location in your domain name, like www.SouthBeachTropicalGetaways.com or www.NewHampshireCabins.com
DON’T: Overload your domain with excessive keywords. This just isn't the way search engines work, and it'll look unprofessional.
DO: Know the competition (and the competition's domain names). You'll have a better idea of what to target with your own domain name.
DON'T: Accidentally route your business to a competitors' site by creating a domain that's too similar or that might be easily mistyped.
DO: Keep it short. Obviously, some rental locations need specificity to accurately capture the area, like Southern Orange County or Sugarloaf Big Bear, but as far as you can, limit the number of words in your domain to between two and four, five at the very max.
DON'T: Use a domain over 25 characters. No one will remember it, and it'll be cumbersome to type on mobile devices. Dot Com extensions are very popular, which is why many rental owners end up using an extra long domain just to get a .com extension. If you're stuck with little options, consider a .net or .co extension; it's not ideal, but if you know from your research that prospective guests are very consistently searching for Lake Arrowhead Condos, and that .com is unavailable, it could be worth it to use a different extension to really target those keywords.
For example, say you manage some rentals in Miami. Here are some options for your domain name:
BAD: www.miamibeachrentalsofflorda.com (Is this Rentals Off Lorida or Rentals of Florida? This domain is hard to read because the words merge confusingly. It's also hard to type.)
BETTER: www.miamibeachrentalsflorida.com (This is easier to read, but still a bit long. Take this domain if the below is not available.)
BEST: www.miamibeachrentals.com (It's clear, easy to read, and easy to type.)
Or even better yet, you could come up with a brand name for your business and make things a lot easier:
DO: Consider dashes or numbers in your URL. Many will say these elements will make your domain harder to remember, but in truth, all domains, even the simplest ones, are hard to remember. If you're struggling to find a domain that works for your site, using a dash or number to differentiate your business might be your best move. Plus, hyphens will make it easier to read, and numbers help with .com saturation.
DON'T: Make your URL wildly confusing or unprofessional with overused numbers or dashes. www.best-florida-beach-vacation-rentals-4444.com is not a good look.
Purchase your domain
You can purchase a vacation rental domain name directly from us or from any other domain registrar, such as Go Daddy. We'll automatically point your site to your domain when purchasing through Vacation Rental Desk, otherwise your Reservation Dashboard shows you how to link another domain with your site.
Good domain names deserve good websites behind them. Sign up today to build your own professional vacation rental website in minutes with intuitive online booking and management software.