Have you ever wondered how Airbnb chooses which listings should rank at the top of its search results?

If so, you’re not alone.

In fact, the listings that appear at the top get considerably more bookings than the listings lower down the page.

Recent statistics from Googles search results show that ranking number 1 will generate a 32.5% click-through rate compared to a ranking number 10 that generates a mere 2.4% click-through rate.

So how do you increase your search ranking on Airbnb?

Is it just pure luck? Or is there a science to it?

Luckily, ranking well on Airbnb is much more of a science.  You just need a strategy that’s all.

In this article, I’m going to be showing you the Airbnb ranking strategy I’ve used to help rank at the top of Airbnb’s search results for the past 3 years.

 

HOW DOES AIRBNB’S RANKING ALGORITHM WORK?

Airbnb’s ranking algorithm judges each Airbnb listing based on a number of pre-determined quality scores (which I’ll be discussing at depth later in this article).

The goal of Airbnb’s ranking algorithm is to match guests with suitable listings as quickly as possible and to do that they need to establish a hierarchy within its search results pages.

At the top of this hierarchy sit the listings with the highest probability of being booked, and at the bottom of this scale are the least likely to get booked.

To do this manually would be impossible, which is why Airbnb uses complex algorithms to analyze nearly 100 different factors for every listing in every search to determine a value for each listing, and it’s this value that determines your listings placement within the search results.

By matching the user and the listing as efficiently as possible, Airbnb is able to provide an improved user experience and also generate more revenue as a result.

Viewing things from this perspective we can begin to build a ranking strategy of behavior that increases your listings probability of getting booked, and subsequently increase your chances of being found in Airbnb’s search results pages.

 

AIRBNB RANKING STRATEGY

For any algorithm to work, it must have data points that can be quantified and measured, and Airbnb’s ranking algorithm is no different.

Having pondered this question, and tested many different variables, I have built a list of quantifiable factors that can be used as part of your ranking strategy for Airbnb to enhance your placement in their search results.

 

AIRBNB RANKING FACTORS – THE COMPLETE LIST (KIND OF…)

 

1. LISTING COMPLETE 100%

As an example, let’s assume that we have two identical properties, each with the same images, price etc.

– Listing 1.

This listing has been created with minimal effort.  Many of the fields are left blank, and the fields that are filled in are poorly written, and very brief.

– Listing 2.

This listing has been carefully constructed.  Each and every field has been meticulously completed, with every effort to provide in-depth detailed descriptions wherever possible.

From these examples, we can obviously see that “Listing 2” is of higher quality.  So, what methods could a computer algorithm use to come to the same conclusion?

Here are some examples:

  • Are all of the information fields of the listing filled out?
  • How many words of content has been entered into each field?
  • Is the word count sufficient to describe the property accurately?
  • Are the descriptions well written and free from spelling mistakes?

These are the types of things that the algorithm can calculate to assign your listing a quality score.

This is why it’s so important to take the time to fill in every section of your listing with patience and care.

 

2. QUANTITY OF IMAGES

Images are vital for Hosts to accurately represent their listing.

Using the same example as above, if “Listing 1” had just three photos, and “Listing 2” had twenty photos, it is safe to assume that listing 2 is more accurately representing their property, and providing a better experience for the user.

An algorithm could quantify quality in this instance by assigning a quality value to listings with more images.

This is why I recommend having at least 15-20 images.  This will showcase value to your users and satisfy Airbnb’s ranking algorithm.

 

3. QUALITY OF IMAGES

Another way Airbnb could derive value from your images is by assessing their quality.  It is safe to presume that higher resolution/quality images lead to a better user experience.

To combat this it is recommended to take all of the photos of your home with a good camera.

*Tip: Make sure all images are taken in landscape mode.  Portrait style images don’t look as good on Airbnb.

 

4. IMAGE CAPTIONS

Airbnb provides an option to add captions to your gallery images.

We can again presume that a listing gallery with relevant captions adds more value than a listing that doesn’t.  We can also assume that if the image descriptions are unique, and not duplicated (as I see so many people do), that this provides yet more value again.

This is why you should always add relevant captions to all of your gallery images.

 

5. QUALITY AND QUANTITY OF REVIEWS

The quality of reviews that a Host receives is an easily quantifiable data-set for Airbnb’s algorithm to process.  Simply put,  a listing of high-quality reviews will rank higher than a listing of low-quality reviews.

However, just the overall quality of reviews doesn’t paint the whole picture.

For example, one listing may have 4 reviews all of which are 5 stars, whereas another listing may have 20o reviews at an average of 4.5 stars.

Which one of these listings showcases the highest quality and trust?

The correct answer is not quite so straightforward.

One could very much argue that averaging 4.5 stars over a much larger data-set of 200 reviews is far more accurate, and subsequently of higher trust, than a comparative listing with a data-set of just 4 reviews.

It’s for this reason that it’s reasonable to assume that Airbnb’s algorithm must take into account not only the quality of reviews but also the number of reviews.

So, as a Host looking to improve your visibility on Airbnb’s search results, you must focus on the quality of reviews you receive, and the quantity.

If you are new to Airbnb, this may mean pricing your listing lower than the market rate to build up your reviews in order to compete effectively.

 

6. VERIFICATION LEVEL

Verification is a way to exhibit trust on Airbnb.

You can add ID verification in the following ways:

  • Taking a photo or uploading an image of your government-issued ID (such as your driver’s license or passport)
  • Connecting another social media profile to your Airbnb account (such as a Facebook, Google, or LinkedIn account)
  • Uploading an Airbnb profile photo and providing a phone number and email address

A listing with minimal verification displays less trust than one with the highest level of verification. A high level of verification also increases the probability of generating more bookings.

Airbnb understands this too, therefore it would make sense for their algorithm to take this into consideration.

So get verified!

The verification process is simple and once complete, you’ll never have to re-verify or renew any existing verifications.  On top of that, you’ll get a shiny “Verified” badge for your good work.

 

 

7. AIRBNB HOST PROFILE

Your profile page is your chance to share a little about yourself.  It’s also a section that can help to build trust.

For an algorithm to quantify a trust score from your profile it could use a variety of metrics:

  • Is the profile image of high quality?
  • Has the profile description been filled out correctly?
  • Is the description word count sufficient?

From this, we can extrapolate that to maximize your potential quality score you must create a good, trustworthy profile with a high quality, friendly, welcoming image of the host, alongside a soft, well-written, detailed profile description free from spelling mistakes.

 

8. PRICE

It’s safe to say that price has the biggest overall impact on the number of bookings a listing will receive.  It’s for this reason that your pricing will have a direct impact on your placement within the search results.

We discussed earlier in this course the importance of monitoring your prices against your competition for this very reason.  So, to maximize your visibility on Airbnb, you will need to optimize your prices regularly.

This process can be automated which can save you a tonne of time, and make you a lot more money.  I use Wheelhouse to do this for me.

 

9. INSTANT BOOK

This is what Airbnb has to say about Instant Book:

“Guests on Airbnb value a quick and easy booking experience and are most likely to book an Instant Book listing. Search aims to show listings guests are most likely to book, so Instant Book listings get a boost in the algorithm. And, to be sure, if a Request to Book (or non-Instant Book) listing performs well on other booking experience factors, it’s possible to perform well in search ranking.”

As with all ranking factors, they are all targetted at improving user experience and increasing revenues, and Instant Book is no different.

If you haven’t already, switch Instant Book on Now!

 

10. MINIMUM NIGHTLY STAY

Although this isn’t a ranking factor as such, it will have an effect on the visibility of your listing.

To appear in searches your listing must match the users’ search criteria.

Therefore, to show up in the maximum number of searches, it’s recommended to reduce the minimum nights as much as possible, and similarly increase the maximum nights.

 

11. HOST RESPONSE TIME

As a user, you want your questions answered as quickly as possible.  Hosts that respond quickly provide a good experience/service to the user.  Airbnb understands this, which is why it is used as one of their ranking factors.

Airbnb explicitly states :

“Responding to requests within 24 hours will boost your ranking in search.”

A response rate of under 24 hours is very easy to achieve and should be seen as an absolute minimum.  A response time of under 1 hour should be your goal.

Although a 1-hour response rate may not improve your ranking yet, it will help you to convert more bookings.  And as we’ll be discussing shortly, your booking/conversion rate is very, very important.

 

12. LOCATION

The location of your property is out of your control, but it does have an impact on your visibility as Airbnb’s search algorithm attempts to show listings in locations that guests are most interested in booking.

Although this is something that you have little to no control over, it is still important to be aware of.

 

13. WISHLIST COUNT

A user adding your listing to their “Wishlist” is a positive ranking signal.  It’s an easily quantifiable metric that validates a listings potential appeal and is a clear signal of interest.

So, the more your listing gets saved to Wishlists, the better.

A quick way to give yourself a little boost is to request your friends and family add your listing to their Wishlists.

 

14. CLICK THROUGH RATE

When a listing is shown in search results, it’s considered a positive sign if a guest clicks on that listing to learn more.  A simple metric Airbnb can use to quantify this is to calculate the Click-Through Rate (CTR). 

CTR is the number of clicks that your listing receives divided by the number of times your listing is shown (impressions):

Clicks ÷ Impressions = CTR.

For example, if you had 5 clicks and 1000 impressions, then your CTR would be 0.5%.

Here are some of the top things to get right to achieve a good CTR:

  • Awesome featured image
  • Optimized listing title
  • Price
  • Number of reviews
  • Quality of reviews

 

15. TIME ON LISTING PAGE

The time a user spends on a listing is a metric of engagement which can be quantified.

More time spent on page = higher quality listing

Likewise, if a user takes one look at your listing and clicks straight back to Airbnb’s search pages, then this would indicate a lower quality listing.

In SEO this is called ‘bounce rate’, and it’s almost certainly something that Airbnb’s algorithm would take into consideration.

 

15. BOOKING RATE

The Booking Rate follows on from and is directly related to Click Through Rate.

The Booking Rate is the percentage of successful bookings in relation to the number of views a listing receives.

Booking Rates are calculated by simply taking the number of Bookings and dividing that by the number of total listing views for a specific time period.

For example, if you had 50 Bookings from 1,000 views, your Booking rate would be 5%.

50 ÷ 1,000 = 5%

The Booking Rate is the ultimate display of approval on the Airbnb platform.  It’s the culmination of every aspect of your Airbnb listing and your work as a Host.

Trust.  Quality.  Value.

 

HOW TO CHECK YOUR AIRBNB RANKING POSITION

A simple method to begin charting your position in Airbnb’s search pages is as follows:

Go to www.airbnb.com (Do this in incognito mode in your browser, otherwise you will not get accurate results).

Enter your location.

Don’t fill in the date fields or the number of guests.

Then click “Go”

Search without filters

The list of results shows how well (or not) you rank against the competition.

Note*

This open search matches your property against ALL the listings in your area.

Sometimes filters should be used to gauge yourself against your immediate competition

e.g. You have a 1 Bedroom Apartment that sleeps x2 guests.

Filters to select: Sleeps Max 2 people + Entire home.

airbnb filters in use

This will filter your results to show how well you rank against your immediate competition.

This is a very rudimentary method for gathering ranking data, but it is valid as a rough guide.

To get a much more in-depth accurate measure of your rankings it is best to get the assistance of a ranking tool that gathers much more data.

Like the one below

CONCLUSION

Go through your listing and optimize it with consideration for all of the above points and you should see a steady increase in your ranking position on Airbnb.

Yes, it may take a bit of time, but it’ll be totally worth it.  Trust me.

If on the other hand, everything I’ve written above reads like gobbledygook and sounds far too complex, then I’d suggest getting in touch with these guys.  They’ll go through your listing with a fine-toothed comb and optimize the shit out of it (for a small fee).

They’re well worth a look.

Otherwise, follow what I’ve written above, take action and let me know how you get on.

Peace out.

Rowan.