For vacation rental hosts, the primary goal is to get as many bookings as possible at the highest possible rate. There are plenty of ways to achieve this – e.g. by improving your amenities, taking professional photos or creating a website for your rental business. You may or may not choose to use these methods, but there is one thing every host should master in order to be successful on Airbnb, and that’s the search ranking algorithm.
What is Airbnb SEO?
Just as you need to optimize a website for search engines like Google and Bing, you also need to optimize your listing for the Airbnb search engine.
Unlike Google ranking factors, however, Airbnb SEO strategies do not take into account keywords or written content. It’s more about understanding the actions searchers take and how you as a host can meet their needs.
For example, one of these actions is the number of clicks in the search results. While this is out of your control as a host, Airbnb considers it a really strong sign if guests are clicking on particular listings to find out more information. That said, Airbnb only counts clicks from different guests. So, don’t try clicking on your own search result hundreds of time as that won’t get you anywhere!
As well as this, Airbnb is constantly checking how many requests to book a listing receives, because successful listings usually help to convince the guest to book.
What determines your place in Airbnb search results?
Airbnb is transparent about the fact their algorithm uses more than 100 factors to determine your listing’s search ranking. Although the algorithm itself is a secret, Airbnb has revealed that those 100 elements fit into three main categories.
Airbnb ranking factor #1: Guest needs
This is something that it is impossible for hosts to control. Airbnb looks at factors which relate to the guest, including the location where their searching from, previous trips they’ve taken, the places on their Wish List, listings they’ve clicked on and more.
Airbnb ranking factor #2: listing details
These are ranking factors which hosts can influence. Listing details include things like how many five-star reviews a property has, the price and location of the listing, whether it uses Instant Book, how quickly the host responds and so on.
Airbnb ranking factor #3: trip details
Trip details are also hard for the owner to impact. They take into account how many guests are traveling, the length of the trip, how far in advance they are booking, as well as any maximum or minimum prices.
But the question is, what can you do to improve these areas?
How to get more bookings on Airbnb
Optimizing your Airbnb listings is the first step to getting better visibility, attracting more guests and increasing your bookings on the platform. Here are the top 10 suggestions to rank higher on Airbnb and begin to boost your income!
1. Think like a guest
Put yourself in the traveler’s shoes. If you are using Airbnb as a guest, you want to find the perfect listing for your trip, and that’s what Airbnb intends to deliver. So, when you prepare your home and create the listing, think about which kind of traveler will love to stay at your place. Is it for the adventurous solo traveler, or is it more for families with kids? Make your property and listing ready for them, and they will find you easily.
2. Don’t skip on high-quality photos
Use professional pictures in your listing. Although this tip won’t improve your search ranking by itself, it will help a lot. Your photos will be travelers’ first impression and will determine whether they click on your listing to know more about it. It will also help them decide whether they include it in their Wish List! The more travelers who click on your listing and add it to their Wish List, the better your search ranking will be. However, do not ask a friend to click on your listing a thousand times because Airbnb only counts clicks from different guests.
3. Seal the deal
Close as many bookings as possible. Getting guests to click on your listing will boost your search ranking. However, the ratio of reservations against clicks is also an essential factor for the algorithm. According to Airbnb, “successful listings do a good job helping guests decide to book.” So, having an impressive listing of professional photos and a perfect description won’t be enough. In order to be always among the first listings in your area, you will need to close those bookings.
4. Respond in a timely manner
Be responsive. This will help you to close bookings and get the Superhost status, too. Try to answer every question and comment made by your guests and do it as quickly as possible. Both response rate and time are measured by the algorithm. Never take more than 24 hours to answer your guests.
Remember: Airbnb doesn’t give an explicit boost to Superhosts, but the factors required to become a Superhost do help your listing rank higher.
5. Be instantly bookable
Make the booking experience as easy as possible. Since 2016, Airbnb has been implementing Instant Book, and the reality is that now, most of the guests and hosts use it. Due to the huge success of instant booking, Airbnb gives a boost to those listings who accept it. Nevertheless, if you choose the Request to Book method of accepting reservations, you can still obtain a good search ranking as long as you perform well in the rest of the decisive factors.
6. Refuse and cancel as few bookings as possible
In order to stay at the top of search results, you should aim to keep the number of cancellations and booking request refusals as low as possible. If you choose the Instant Book option, you only have a month during which you won’t be penalized for canceling bookings. After that month, cancellation penalties will apply – unless you have proper reasons. If you choose the Request to Book method, you can theoretically refuse as many requests as you want. However, it’s highly important to remember that the ratio of clicks to bookings is vital for your search ranking. Therefore, the more requests you refuse, the worse your search ranking will be. In order to avoid refusals and cancellations, make your house rules as clear as possible on your listing.
7. Price to beat your competition
Competitive pricing is essential. Pricing is very important as it is a big decision factor for guests when comparing listings. Sometimes, a slight change in price will leave your listing out of certain searches. Design and implement a good price strategy to get the best results. You can even use a third-party pricing tool.
8. Gather as many 5-star reviews as you can
Both the number and the quality of the reviews you receive are some of the most well-known factors of ranking on Airbnb. Encourage your guests to leave you positive reviews by simply asking them to do so. Explain to them how you would like to improve future guests’ experience by taking their comments into account. Be supportive during their stay and try to accommodate any additional requests (as long as they are within reason!).
9. Under-promise, over-deliver
Sometimes an unexpected bottle of wine can make a huge difference in your guests’ impression, but a noisy neighbor’s dog can ruin their experience. This is why you should always present guests with realistic expectations and never hide anything from them.
10. Fill out your personal profile
Although it is sometimes forgotten, your personal profile is very important. A nice and welcoming description of yourself will help potential guests to decide between two listings of the same kind. Also, get verified by adding all the information and official documents Airbnb asks you to. Building trust is always a good technique in any business, so why should it be forgotten here?
About the Author
Vayoo for Hosts is the first mobile app that helps Airbnb hosts increase their occupancy rate and monthly revenue. Some of Vayoo’s features are price recommendations, search ranking monitoring and market analysis.