10 Google maps tips to help you quickly find your dream hotel or villa – part one: keywords and search nearby

With the regular postings of gorgeous hotels, pretty B&Bs or exquisite villas to rent, I hope to inspire you for your next holidays.

But you probably also research those on your own and end up being frustrated by the amount of time it takes you to find even just one place that fits your criteria.

I want to help you with this, sharing more about my secret tips and techniques to find the right holiday accommodation much more quickly.  Things such as using Pinterest for your travel planning, using Google maps the right way, knowing the right websites to look at, etc…

So if there is a specific area you are struggling with when you are researching your holiday and vacation, let me know and I’ll make sure to write something just for you about it.

Today, I’m starting with Google Maps.  And so that you don’t get lost in Mongolia because you zoomed out too far, here are my 10 Google map tips for a quicker and efficient hotel or villa search.

The 10 Google Map tips you need to know!

  1. How to use the right keywords
  2. Using “search nearby” the right way
  3. How to find the exact location of a place for which you only have an area
  4. Searching by longitude and latitude
  5. Snooping on a villa or hotel using Satellite view
  6. The power of Streetview
  7. Calculating distances for your itineraries
  8. Creating your own Google map
  9. Accessing Google map offline
  10. View your Google maps history

Today, we’re starting with tips 1 and 2.

Google map tip #1: have a clear keywords strategy

You’re going to hear me repeat this often but it all starts with a good keywords strategy. This will allow you to be more efficient not only with Google but also with other sites such as aggregated hotel sites or villa rentals sites.

First, think clearly about what you’re trying to find.

Identify the key criteria and style of the places you are looking for: is it luxury, architecture, design, food, family facilities, etc…

Having a clear idea of what you’re looking for will help you

  1. use the right keywords to perform searches
  2. analyse the results based on these criteria and quickly eliminate those that don’t match

Why some places appear on Google maps and some don’t

It’s important to know that hotels or villas get a marker on a Google maps because at some point there will have been some activity related to their property on Google. This can be because they created a Google Local Business page, they got a review on Google, they created a Google plus profile, some photos were uploaded to Picasa with their name on etc..

Google maps search results for "villa rentals Italy"
This is what you get when you type “villa rentals Italy” in Google maps! Overwhelming, isn’t it?

This means three things

  1. some nice properties (this is particularly true for villas, obviously less so for hotels and B&Bs) may not appear on the map so you’ll have to find other ways to identify them. I’ll give you help with this in future posts.
  2. if property owners have created a Google plus page or a Google Local Business entry, they will have used certain keywords to describe themselves. Now, some of them might have done some smart search engine optimisation investigation (for those of you who are not as geeky as me, search engine optimisation or SEO is the art of appearing as high as possible in the Google search results) and used the words they know people put the most often in Google. But some others have not.
  3. finally reviews, listings and photos may have been written in all kind of languages!

The short of it is that there is no exact science that allows you to find all places quickly and only with one go.

However, having a clear idea of what you want and knowing the main keywords and potential translation that people and places use to describe their hotels/villas or to search for hotels or villas will help.

My tried and tested keyword strategy for Google map

Here are the ones I often use when I do searches. This could be a good starting point for you.

You probably know it but it’s worth repeating than to search a full string of words on Google, whether in maps or the usual Google search, you need to put them between quote marks.

For hotels

“small luxury hotels”, design hotel”, “boutique hotel” “luxury boutique hotel”, “hotel de charme”.

For B&Bs

“design B&B”, ““agriturisomo” “luxury B&B” luxury design B&B”.

For villa rentals

“luxury villa”, “villa design”, “villa architect”, “holiday rental”, “holiday home”, “luxury holiday home”, “design holiday home”, “luxury vacation rental”, “vacation rental design”, “luxueuse location de vacances”, “location de vacances de luxe”, “location villa luxe”, “location vacances luxe”.

Over time, you might find that a certain string of keywords provides you with the results that match your tastes better. Use this repeatedly to refine your search strategy.

Google maps tip #2: use search nearby the smart way

Now that you have your keywords in your head or listed on a piece of paper, it’s time to go to Google maps.

It doesn’t matter if you go to maps.google.co.uk or maps.google.fr or maps.google.com as Google can search the world over. You can also use keywords in any language.

This method only works if you have already zoomed in on an area as doing it over a whole country would yield way too many results.

So it goes like this

  • Step 1: go to google maps and enter your area or city
  • Step 2: when you are on the map for your location, just underneath the name of the place on the left hand side of the map, you’ll see “search nearby:hotels restaurants.
  • Step 3: click on the “search nearby” words themselves. This will put a cursor in the white box just above so that you can use your own keywords.

DO NOT click on the “hotels” link that Google suggests, it will bring you everything under the sun and often disregards B&Bs. Villas are of course not accounted for with that either.

  • Step 4: enter the keywords that you have identified in your keywords brainstorm session. Hit return. Results will start coming up as a list on the left and with markers on the map.

Depending on your keyword and how close to your destination the results are, the map may zoom itself out. You can of course always zoom back in to get closer to your preferred point.

The results will appear both on a window on the left hand side with details and sometimes the hyperlink to their site and as markers on the map itself.

[themify_box style=”light-blue” ]EXTRA TIP: The left hand side box does NOT have all the results you see on the map. So I always prefer to go marker by marker. This gives me a much more accurate idea of the relevancy of the results. It also means that I can see where the places are located, which is crucial for me[/themify_box].

Example: a search for a villa rental in les Alpilles, Provence

For instance, here, I did a nearby search focusing on the village of Eygalières, which is just marvellous and in the delightful region of les Alpilles, Provence, France.

I chose the keyword “location vacances luxe”, which is French for “luxury holiday rental”.

You see that there are several places in the window on the left, some are relevant but others not. Remember that Google will have picked those results because the owners of the villa/business have used those keywords in their description.

So a real estate agent might say “locations vacances luxe” because they want to be found for that but of course, they are not an independent villa. You might still look at their catalogue though and see if they have some nice properties.

Back to my search, by choosing to look at the map, I see that there is a “Mas d’Olivane”. I click on the marker itself and that brings up a full window with details including a link and photos.

If you find something that is right for you when you look at their website, pay attention to how they describe themselves. Those can give you other ideas for keywords and you can redo the search again using those keywords.

For instance “le Mas d’Olivane”’ website header says “mas de prestige. location”. By trying “mas location” in the “nearby search”, I now have a much more precise list of results

I can start clicking on each marker and explore.

When you click on a marker, you get a window on the left that changes to show you the address, the street view if it exists, photos from around the web or from the owner, etc..

We’re off to  a good start, aren’t we?  Part two is all about clever tricks to learn much more about the villa you just found using Google Maps nearby search.

Want some help finding your next dream vacation?

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