Technology is changing the face of the online vacation rental business faster than ever before. With social sharing and online peer reviews topping that list of changes, it’s more important than ever for homeowners to learn how to use the internet to their advantage. By using a keyword notification service like Google Alerts, you can easily listen in on what people are saying and gain valuable information about your property – or your competitors’.
Google Alerts is a simple and excellent tool that delivers a notification to your email address whenever particular keywords that you specify are found in a web page, forum, blog, community, or discussion board. There are many benefits to using Google Alerts, such as:
1) Monitor what people are saying about your property
Don’t be the last to hear any buzz about your home. You’ll want to either promote the mention if it’s positive or counter it if it’s not. Set up alerts that monitor your exact property address and even your name. Sometimes your property will be in a community or area that is technically part of a larger town, so be sure to set up an alert for both (i.e., “123 Main Street Woods Hole” and “123 Main Street Falmouth”). Put quotation marks around a phrase whenever you want Google Alerts to search for the exact phrase in the exact order that it appears. In other words, not putting quotation marks at the beginning and end of a three-keyword phrase will alert you to any web content that contains those three words no matter where or how they might appear on the web page.
2) Monitor what people are saying about your competitors’ properties
If you know that your neighbor at 125 Main Street, Woods Hole, is also a rental, you might set up an alert for their address or name to keep tabs on the feedback they’re receiving. This will help you stay on top of what vacationers are really looking for in your area, and how you can best meet their needs.
3) Monitor when a new competitor pops up in your area
It behooves you to know if there’s been an influx of properties listed online in your area so you can adjust your prices accordingly. Use the same keywords you would use to describe your own property, and include your town as well as neighboring towns. Because verbiage will vary in every property description, be sure to create alerts using multiple variations of a keyword string: “Yarmouth beachfront cottage,” “Yarmouth beach rental,” “Yarmouth rental on beach,” or “beach house Yarmouth” for example.
4) Monitor when a realtor or scam artist “skims” your online listing
Google Alerts can also make you aware of when someone not authorized to do so takes some or all of the listing you’ve worked hard to create and advertises it online for their own purposes. Generally these people won’t even bother to change the property descriptions, so to catch them, include some offbeat keywords in your property description and then create a query for them in Google Alerts. Maybe you have a fish theme in the kids’ room, so putting the phrase “Yarmouth fish comforter” in your listing then setting up an alert with those same keywords might do the trick.
Things to keep in mind:
If you don’t have a Google account, consider creating one to set up and manage your Google Alerts with ease. Also remember that many vacationers’ search habits can change, so learn how to use Google Trends, and then use it often, to detect any new and emerging buzz words. This tool is also helpful for improving your listing’s title and property description to better match the search terms that vacationers are searching for.
How do you use online tools to monitor your vacation rental reputation?