Airbnb SEO: 9 Rank Boosting Tips (that Airbnb doesn’t want you to know)

airbnb seo

By Rowan Clifford

Author of Airbn’b’Smart and Smartbnb user

The number of bookings you get on Airbnb has a direct correlation to your visibility within Airbnb’s search results. The higher you rank, the more bookings you’ll get.

But, what happens if you’re listing is hidden away in the doldrums of Airbnb’s search results pages out of sight from eager guests looking to part with their hard-earned cash? What then? Is that it? Is this something that you just have to put up with?

Or, is there something you can proactively do to change it?

As luck would have it there’s a whole lot that can be done to influence your ranking position on Airbnb (don’t stress, I’ll be showing you exactly how to do it in a moment). It’s called Airbnb SEO (SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization).

It’s part art, part science, and it could very well be the difference between ranking number one or one hundred in the search pages…

What is Airbnb SEO?

Airbnb SEO is the process of increasing the visibility of a listing within Airbnb’s search results pages. Increased visibility on Airbnb can be obtained by satisfying the ranking requirements of Airbnb’s search algorithm.

Many of these ranking factors are publicly stated by Airbnb themselves, however, most are kept behind lock and key.

By understanding Airbnb’s search algorithm (and the ranking factors that influence it) it is possible to impact/improve the position of a listing within Airbnb’s search pages.

Over 100 different ranking factors!

Did you know that Airbnb analyzes over 100 different data points with its algorithm to generate its search results pages?

Some of these ranking factors are public knowledge, but the vast majority are hidden behind lock and key.

How to get a listing higher on Airbnb?

There is no straightforward answer to the question, “How do I get my listing higher on Airbnb?” The problem is that Airbnb’s search algorithm works by analyzing multiple different data points for each and every listing in order to deliver a personalized set of search results for each user based on their search criteria, previous searches, demographics, etc.

Airbnb uses this data to showcase the best possible matches to guests in an effort to reduce friction, and speed up the booking process.

The search algorithm aims to match guests with ideal listings as quickly and effectively as possible.

How to increase Airbnb traffic?

If you’re not ranking number one within your local area, don’t dismay, as all is not lost. As luck would have it, there’re numerous steps you can take to increase your visibility on Airbnb (more on that in a second).

So, what are these Airbnb ranking factors? And how can you use them to increase visibility on Airbnb? Here is an easy guide to increasing Airbnb traffic where you’ll find expert advice.

Before we get to mastering your Airbnb SEO skills, I’d advise you to download our guide on boosting your STR business performance.

Airbnb SEO strategy: 9 Rank Boosting Tips to optimize an AirBNB listing

If you want to get more traffic, you should make your listing more competitive. Read on to find the answer to the question, “What should I do to optimize my Airbnb listing and make it stand out?” Below are 9 Airbnb SEO tips that (if implemented) will have a positive impact on your ranking and visibility in Airbnb search over time.

1. Fast Response Times

To minimize friction within the booking process, guests want/need answers to there questions quickly. So it comes as no surprise that a host’s response time can impact the placement of a listing in the search results.

Fast response times = Happy guests = Better search ranking.

What you need to do:

To combat this, you need to respond to guest questions as quickly as possible (the quicker the better).

To make this process quicker, try using the Airbnb’s ‘Saved Messages‘ feature. This feature enables you to effectively copy and paste answers quickly and easily to any frequently asked questions received.

Pro Tip: To achieve zero lag-time between guest questions and answers, I recommend a service like Smartbnb to manage the communication for you.

2. Update Your Airbnb Calendar Daily

For a platform like Airbnb to succeed, it’s imperative that the free dates and availability of each listing remain up to date and super accurate (otherwise, trust is lost, and users will never come back).

That’s why back in the day (before ‘Instant Book’ was even a thing), the up to date nature of your calendar was a BIG deal!

Nowadays, however, with the introduction and popularization of ‘Instant Book,’ frequent updating of your calendar is no longer such a big deal.

What you need to do:

If you don’t have instant book switched on (which you should), then it’s important that you log in to your Airbnb dashboard regularly and refresh your calendar page. This sends a signal to Airbnb’s algorithm that your calendar is up to date and accurate.

Is there a shortcut to keep the calendar updated?

Hell yeah! Let Smartbnb do its magic.

3. Enable Instant Book

Instant Book allows guests to book your place (you guessed it) instantly. No questions, no time delay, no friction…Instant!

And, this is exactly what Airbnb wants. In fact, Airbnb claims that Instant Book will increase bookings by 20%

Here’s why:

  • Convenience: Book guests without having to respond to each request.
  • More guest interest: Guests can use filters to search for listings that can be booked instantly. Instant Book listings are more popular with guests since they’re able to more easily plan their trip.
  • Search placement: Instant Book positively affects your response rate for your listing, which can improve your listing’s placement in search results.
  • Superhost Status: Instant book can also help you reach Superhost status, which requires that you maintain a 90% response rate

What you need to do:

To compete on Airbnb in 2020 and beyond, it’s imperative that you turn on Instant Book.

Pro Tip: To switch it on, log into your Airbnb dashboard and click Your Listing > Manage Listings > Booking Settings > Turn Instant Book On.

4. Quality (and quantity) of Reviews

Airbnb solved the trust issue of renting out your home to complete strangers with their unique review system.

As it turns out many companies had tried (and failed) before Airbnb, however, it was Airbnb and its unique review system that fueled their initial traction and set them on their path to success and worldwide domination.

And for that reason, the positive reviews you receive carry a huge weight in the position of your listing in the search results pages, plus they also have a big impact on the booking decisions of guests.

So it goes without saying that reviews are kind of a big deal.

What you need to do:

The quality of the reviews you get will depend on the following factors:

  • Accuracy: How accurately did the photos and description represent the actual space?
  • Cleanliness: Did the cleanliness match expectations?
  • Check-in: How smooth was the check-in process
  • Communication: How responsive and accessible was the host?
  • Location: how appealing is the neighborhood (safety, convenience, desirability)?
  • Value: How would you rate the value of the listing?

To get more 5 star reviews go through each of the factors above and make sure you’re offering an exceptional guest experience each step of the way.

Also, why not try and build hard system solutions to any potential problems to ensure positive reviews for the long term.

Pro Tip: To increase the number (and quality) of reviews you get, try sending a 'Thank you message' to your guests after they check out, it works like a charm!

What if there was a way to automate reviews?

Guess what! There is. And a good one.

5. Completed Listing

Have you ever seen an Amazon or eBay listing that’s really badly done? Things like crappy photos, one-sentence descriptions, zero product details, etc. Looks super spammy, right? This is something you must avoid like the plague.

That’s why Airbnb provides you with numerous text boxes, checklists, etc during your listing creation to encourage you to add detailed descriptions for every aspect of your property to provide guests with as much information as possible pre-booking.

What you need to do:

Log in to your Airbnb dashboard and go back through each and every section of your listing and make sure that EVERY section is populated with detailed, thoughtful descriptions (this doesn’t mean they have to be boring, but they do need to be descriptive).

This also means things like adding image captions, taking images of every room, checking off all amenities, completing your user profile, getting verified, etc.

It means literally EVERYTHING! Do this well, and you should begin to see a positive boost up the rankings.

6. Pricing

Airbnb is not alone in the short term rental space. In fact, there are a number of competitors hot on Airbnb’s heals looking to steal market share; think booking.com, home Away, Vrbo, etc.

And, what’s the best way for any of these competitors to compete?

PRICE!

So Airbnb needs to provide great value to booking guests otherwise they’ll go elsewhere, which is why price has such a big impact on the position of a listing in the search results pages.

What you need to do:

It’s all about balance…

Price your listing too high and you’ll be pushed down the rankings, and your bookings will drop, price it too low, and yeah, you’ll move up the rankings, but your profit margins will suffer.

So, you don’t necessarily want to be the cheapest, but you do want to be competitive.

That should mean not only seasonal price variations but also price variations for holidays, weekends, special events, etc.

If your listing is consistently competitively priced, over time, you’ll notice an increase in your ranking in the search results pages.

Pro Tip: Staying on top of all of these pricing variations can be a lot of hard work. However, it is possible to automate this entire process using a dynamic pricing tool to get competitive pricing for all date ranges.

7. Length of stay

The minimum length of stay isn’t necessarily a ranking factor parse. However, it does have an impact on the number of search results that your listing can be displayed in.

What you need to do:

To maximize the visibility of your listing, set your minimum nightly stay to the minimum threshold you can manage.

8. Booking rate percentage

The booking rate is the number of people who have visited your listing vs. the number of people that have booked.

For example, if 100 people view your listing and five people book, then your booking rate is 5%.

This is an important metric for Airbnb as they want to move a guest from searching to booking as quickly as possible. And, for that reason, they want to showcase listings with a proven high booking rate over those that convert less.

Listings with a higher booking rate will rank above those that don’t.

What you need to do:

This is a bit of a tricky one as it’s actually a culmination of so many different factors all put together, which is why it’s kind of the holy grail of ranking factors.

Here are just some of the factors that will affect your booking rate:

  • Listing quality
  • Images
  • Price
  • Reviews
  • Quick responses to messages
  • Instant book
  • Location

So to positively impact your booking rate you kind of need to just be a kick-ass host on all fronts, if you can do that, then you’re going to do very well, and you’re going to crush it on the search results pages.

9. The Wildcard: Listing Age

I’m calling this the wildcard because it isn’t something we can manipulate to influence our Airbnb SEO or ranking. However, it’s still worth noting that new listings on Airbnb get a boost within the search results.

This ranking boost is likely to satisfy new hosts and help get them off the ground with bookings and reviews etc. Although, after the initial honeymoon period, new hosts will have to compete on the same playing field as the rest of us.

So why not just duplicate a listing to have it show up higher in the rankings? Because it will start out new, as in, no reviews!  And we know that reviews are gold to Airbnb.

Our SEO advice will get you more guests

Make sure, you're ready to provide high-quality experience at scale.
Smartbnb will give you a hand.
Give it a try with a 14-day free trial!

Conclusion

There you have it, you now have a deep understanding of Airbnb SEO and what it takes to rank your listing in the top positions on the search results pages.

Continue learning how to boost your STR business performance with our comprehensive guide. Download now.

As I mentioned earlier, Airbnb uses over 100 different data points to determine the order of their search results, so although this list isn’t 100% conclusive, it’s a very good place to start.

Peace out,
Rowan.

9-ways-to-scale

9 Simple Ways to Scale-up your Airbnb Operations, from Check-in to Review

The more bookings you get, the less free time you have.
You’re stuck in the old ‘time-for-money’ paradigm…
…and it sucks.
Luckily, however, there are ways (many in fact) that you can run a successful Airbnb business and even scale it up to multiple listings in a way that doesn’t impact your free time.
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