how to rank higher on airbnb

Airbnb SEO: Tips for How to Rank Higher

Now that you’ve found our Airbnb SEO strategy guide, your search for how to rank higher on Airbnb stops here.

It’s time to receive Airbnb ranking tips and SEO hacks from the perspective of someone who is a professional SEO (search engine optimization) consultant and a world traveler who frequently uses Airbnb.

Why does this matter?

Because optimization is both a science and an art, especially when it comes to travel and hospitality.

airbnb seo tips

Note: Many of these strategic Airbnb SEO tips can also be applied to other OTA’s (e.g. HomeAway/Vrbo, Booking.com, Expedia, etc.)

First things first…

What is Airbnb SEO?

Airbnb SEO is the process of implementing strategic changes to your Airbnb listing to boost its visibility in the Airbnb search results list. 

Online listing marketplaces teach us time and again––even ones outside of the short term rental (STR) market––that a listing’s ranking is higher when it has “favorable” characteristics combined with a high-quality user/customer (guest) experience.

Hold onto that tidbit of knowledge while we jump into the Airbnb search ranking algorithm. To know how to rank higher on Airbnb, you need to understand SEO for Airbnb first.

To Improve SEO for Airbnb Listings, Learn the Airbnb Algorithm

To rank higher on Airbnb, you must first step into the mind of Airbnb as a company.

Their focus involves increasing their market share by obtaining as many online bookings as possible while achieving high guest satisfaction. 

how to rank higher on airbnb

 

What Does Airbnb Give Preference to?

If you improve your Airbnb listing’s credibility in the eyes of Airbnb in regards to the following overall factors, the better your Airbnb visibility will be. The website will boost your listing if you perform well in these categories:

  1. Actual # of bookings
  2. Booking potential
  3. Guest satisfaction

Don’t worry––we’ll break it down into the smaller pieces that influence how well your listing stacks up. Then we’ll tell you exactly how to rank higher on Airbnb to get more views and bookings. 

But this is a crucial first step of learning Airbnb SEO.

airbnb-ranking-factors-2022

Airbnb Ranking Factors 2022

Many factors influence Airbnb search ranking, but we suspect Airbnb hasn’t released a complete list of these algorithmic ranking factors for Airbnb SEO.

To make it easy for you, we list proven factors and sprinkle in a few that are likely contenders based on how we know about other search engine algorithms. You’ll find other posts on the web that talk about hundreds of factors. But we organize them here into general categories for easy digestion. Then, we break it down further.

Here are 14 Airbnb ranking factors (in no particular order):

  1. # of previous bookings
  2. Pricing
  3. Guest search criteria & filters
  4. Instant Book settings
  5. Guest’s previous Airbnb activity
  6. Listing click-through rate (how often a listing is clicked after it is displayed) 
  7. Listing newness 
  8. Listing dwell time (time guests spend looking at your listing)
  9. Vacancy for selected dates
  10. # of reviews
  11. Average rating (guest satisfaction score)
  12. # of booking cancellations & request rejections
  13. Response rate & time
  14. Calendar updating

Why is My Airbnb Listing Not Showing?

ranking higher on airbnb

It’s possible your Airbnb SEO game might not stack up to your competitors’.

So we’ll use the above list to look at your competition’s listings in comparison to yours. This approach might help you understand what’s going on.

So here are 14 possible reasons why your Airbnb listing is not showing up as high as your competitors’ listings, because the following might apply to theirs in comparison to yours:

  1. More previous bookings
  2. More attractive price
  3. Better match for a guest’s search criteria & filters
  4. Instant Book is on
  5. Better match for a guest’s previous Airbnb activity
  6. Better click-through (how often a listing is clicked after it is displayed)
  7. They created their listing more than 6 hours ago
  8. Longer dwell time (guests spend more time looking at their listing)
  9. They have vacancy for the guest’s selected dates (and you don’t)
  10. Higher # of reviews
  11. Higher Average Rating (guest satisfaction score)
  12. They reject less booking requests than you do (and cancel less)
  13. Better response rate & time
  14. They update their calendar more frequently (more active)

12 Airbnb SEO Tips for Ranking Higher

Make the following adjustments, and they will improve your Airbnb listing’s search ranking over time. This way, you become more competitive in regards to the above factors that are in your control.

Use these 12 tips to rank higher on Airbnb and get more bookings:

1. Set a More Attractive Price

While price might not come to mind when you think of SEO for Airbnb, it’s often the final determining factor in whether someone books or not. And increasing your Airbnb bookings is the gateway to other Airbnb ranking factors on the list above. 

To increase your number of bookings, the price needs to not only be competitive, but it needs to match your listing’s perceived value

So here’s what to do.

Make Your Listing’s Perceived Value More Attractive Than Your True Competitors’

First, acquaint yourself with your direct competitors’ listings and pricing. 

These are the listings in your area that:

  • attract the same type of traveler
  • have similar amenities to you
  • have similar capacity
  • are located near your listing
  • perhaps offer a similar aesthetic or experience 
While the top listing has more architectural appeal (and a stunning view), the bottom listing could improve with professional photography, decor additions, tidying the bed and making the window view pop.
Image source: Airbnb

Does your direct competition clearly offer better amenities, property aesthetic or location?

If so, you should:

  1. Take note of your competitors’ amenities (strengths, weaknesses, etc.)
  2. Improve what’s in your control, and show if off in your listing
  3. Tweak your price so it better matches the perceived value of your listing
airbnb-optimization

 

Adjust Your Nightly Rate By Season & Demand

Seasonality is something you need to keep your finger on. You need to be aware of the dates during which demand decreases and increases year after year. Aside from just the weekends.

  1. Note the seasons and general time periods when demand is lower.
  2. Note the seasons and specific dates when demand is higher (sports events, festivals, conferences, concerts, etc in your area).
  3. Adjust the pricing in your calendar accordingly each year.

 

If your direct competition is more in tune with low-demand periods than you are, they are going to set lower nightly rates for those dates while your rates are higher. Guess who will get the booking?

Sound tedious? Consider Airbnb pricing optimization software to save time and automate this process.

2. Improve Your Airbnb Listing Amenities

To rank higher on Airbnb, improve (better yet–increase) your listing’s amenities (the ones in the settings and also those that aren’t). 

Many of these can be low-cost or even second-hand. Perhaps you can add a hairdryer? Beach towels? Children’s books? Workspace? <– This is a new must-have.

airbnb amenities

Take a critical look at what your listing doesn’t offer that your direct competition does. 

Make small improvements that are in your control and show them off in your listing (e.g. coffee maker, rain shower head, bathrobes, welcome snack, Netflix, etc). 

 

 

On the flip side, note what your direct competition doesn’t offer that you do (or what they simply don’t display in their photos), and show it off in your listing photos and description.

Bet you can find something enticing that your competition doesn’t offer or show! 

You’ll likely rank better on Airbnb when you can tick off more of the Amenities boxes in your settings. It seems the listings with the higher number of amenities show up first. But keep in mind, your listing must reflect reality.

3. Activate Instant Book (Guaranteed Airbnb SEO Booster)

This might be one of the most-despised suggestions by Airbnb hosts, despite wanting to know how to rank higher on Airbnb. 

It’s every Airbnb host’s worst nightmare to have a dangerous or destructive stranger in their home or investment property. However, you wanted to know how to improve search ranking on Airbnb, so we couldn’t exclude this.

If you have Instant Book on, you will boost your Airbnb listing’s visibility. Period.

Image source: Airbnb.com/host/instant

 

If you’re able to step out of your comfort zone to improve your income, you should keep reading, because we’re not going to leave you hanging.

Here’s what could help you make the transition safely and confidently.

Know What’s in Your Control

When you have Instant Book on, you always have the control to review & cancel a booking, penalty-free. 

According to Airbnb:

Hosts who have Instant Book turned on for their listing can always cancel, without penalty, if they’re uncomfortable with a reservation.

Some examples of when a host can cancel penalty-free include:

– The guest has several unfavorable reviews that concern the host

– The guest hasn’t responded to questions the host needs to know about their trip

The guest makes it clear they’ll likely break one of the host’s house rules, like bringing a pet or smoking

You’ll be able to cancel online 3 times in one year for being uncomfortable with a reservation—after that, you’ll have to call into our Community Support team to make the cancellation without penalty.

Source: https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/2022/how-do-penaltyfree-cancellations-work-for-instant-book-hosts

With Instant Book, you can also choose to only allow bookings from guests who have received nothing but positive reviews from other hosts.

Mine for Data

When you turn Instant Book on, you can use the following tactics to identify a potentially troublesome guest.

  • Reiterate the house rules / expectations and see if there is any resistance
  • Ask what the purpose of their visit is so you can “prepare recommendations”
  • Request an explanation for any previous bad review they received
  • Request that your potential guest get Airbnb-verified

Understand True Red Flags

When you understand the true red flags of a problem guest ahead of time (not just that their profile photo looks suspicious), it will help you form a legitimate case for rejecting an Airbnb guest’s booking request without penalty.

Here are some common red flags:

  • Shady messages (e.g. asking suspicious questions, trying to do business outside of Airbnb’s platform, strange or evasive “purpose of visit,” etc.)
  • They don’t respond to any of your messages
  • They throw you attitude when you ask questions or explain house rules
  • Last-minute booking from a local (but keep in mind, COVID is driving a lot more local bookings from legitimately good guests who want a safe local getaway close to home)

Try Instant Book for just one booking to start, and see how it goes. This might be the “getting your feet wet” that you need to get going. You can also consider guest screening software, and other resources for protecting your Airbnb.

4. Reject Less & Cancel Less

If your fear of the “unknown guest” is sabotaging your Airbnb income potential, re-read the above section. If you don’t want your lifestyle and freedom to be restricted by bookings and that’s causing your cancellations, you need to learn how to make your Airbnb more passive.

Rejecting less bookings and cancelling less is good for Airbnb SEO. 

5. Be More Flexible with Nights Stayed

Setting a minimum night stay can hurt your Airbnb search visibility. It can also leave awkward one-night gaps in your calendar that technically can’t be filled. To improve your listing views and bookings on Airbnb, remove the minimum stay and be more flexible with the maximum.

If you give a discount for monthly stays, this will also help you.

6. Block Off Less Dates on Your Calendar

This is one of the more obvious ways to improve visibility on Airbnb. Because if you block off your calendar dates, you’re going to show less often to potential guests. 

This will then lead to less bookings. Which then affects your search ranking down the road.

In summary, blocked nights do hurt Airbnb SEO–indirectly.

7. Improve Your Airbnb Listing Title

Your title is going to earn you clicks, so it’s important to make sure it’s both appealing and that your words make the most of your limited character space.

Based on just the titles in the listing examples below, which listing would you be more likely to click?

Image source: Airbnb

In regards to keywords, Airbnb hasn’t 100% figured out keyword search. However, there are some minor adjustments that might help your listing. It just requires some finesse.

If you don’t have time or aren’t exactly sure how to write an optimized Airbnb title, hire a writer for Airbnb listings and your other channels.

 

8. Optimize Your Airbnb Listing Photos

Your photos are crucial for getting clicks, and therefore, bookings. They should showcase the most high-impact visuals and entice people to click. Especially the first one that shows in your listing––order matters. 

airbnb photo collage example good
Image source: Airbnb

The photo collage displayed at the top of your listing should evoke emotion. So should your photo captions, which present another marketing and communication opportunity.

Use a caption for each photo. This is precious real estate!

airbnb photo captions example good
“You can feed swans or ducks from a balcony while drinking your morning coffee/tea. An unforgettable experience!” Image source: Airbnb

Keep in mind that while your photos should be impressive, they also need to accurately represent the space at any given point in time.

Based on just the photos in the listing examples below, which listing would you be more likely to click?

Image source: Airbnb

Read more about how to improve your Airbnb photos.

If you don’t have time or want custom recommendations for Airbnb photos and captions, we are happy to do that for you at ColorMyBnb.

airbnb-optimization

 

9. Improve Your Listing Description

Your description should open with a sentence that is both attention-grabbing and impactful. Each sentence in your description should add significant value.

The guest should easily be able to skim and pick out what they absolutely need to know, and you should highlight the most competitive features of your place. 

Digestibility is important—-no one wants to read lengthy paragraphs. Make it easy on the eyes.

Airbnb Description Example 1

Listing 1 below immediately gives the listing credibility. It also highlights what guests would find appealing in the listing as stand-out features. And…it’s fairly digestible.

Meanwhile, there’s room for improvement. 

Image source: Airbnb

How? One suggestion I’d have is providing exact details about proximity to more specific landmarks, restaurants and entertainment, transportation, etc. Plus, including the names of those noteworthy places.

Airbnb Description Example 2

Image source: Airbnb

The first sentence in Listing 2’s “The Space” section can be replaced with something high-impact. If a guest has selected summertime dates, they already know that whatever shows in search is going to be available during summer.

The story behind the boat is nice, but the “I” statements should be replaced with “you” statements––why the guest (“you”) will love it. 

Short on time or lack writing optimization skills? We can improve your Airbnb listing description for you.

 

10. Get More 5-Star Reviews

Image source: Airbnb

Leave a Review

One way to get more reviews is to review your guest not too long after they leave. When you do this, they’ll get a notification from Airbnb that their host has left them a review and if they want to see what was written, they need to leave you one, too.

While the experience is fresh in their mind, it helps instead of waiting days.

Create a Fantastic Experience

To get more 5-star reviews, you should provide great guest support, pay close attention to detail when it comes to what the guest is paying for, and add nice little welcome surprises to be discovered upon check-in. 

Prevent Negative Reviews

To prevent negative reviews, check in with the guests after their first night (if they’re staying multiple nights) to see if they need anything and are happy with their stay so far. It will give you time to remedy anything before their whole stay is impacted, which could lead to a less-than-stellar review.

If they know you’re open to amend any issues while they’re there, it’s kind of on them if they say everything is good. Therefore, making a negative review seem like they kept something from you.

11. Improve Your Response Rate & Response Time

Respond to *all* guest inquiries. Provide quicker answers to guest inquiries (within 24 hours) and it can boost your search ranking. The quicker the better.

12. Be Patient (Ranking Higher on Airbnb Takes Time)

There is no “5-minute Airbnb SEO strategy” to make your Airbnb appear first or on the first page of the platform. You need to make the above adjustments and prove them over time. SEO is a long-term game–and those who keep at it will come out on top.

Save Time on Airbnb SEO Implementation

Don’t have time to apply these ranking tips? Explore our Airbnb optimization services to position your rental listing for better success.

airbnb-optimization
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