Optimize Airbnb Listing: How To Rank Higher On Airbnb (Airbnb SEO)

how to optimize airbnb listing

My Airbnb business grew from 1 to 110 properties in the just two years, and the key reason behind this success was my good understanding of how to effectively optimize Airbnb listing.

Ever wonder why your bookings are drying up with time?

To give you instant reward and hook you to the platform, Airbnb gives an initial push (new listing bump) to new properties but if you don’t optimize Airbnb listing your bookings will soon start drying up and slowly lead it to a loss-making business.

In This Article..

Here I am sharing all my Airbnb optimization secrets which helped me turn around loss-making business into profitable ones within weeks if not days.

Some of these techniques are time-consuming; you will have to be consistent and keep doing them regularly to stay ahead of the competition.

Other aspects of Airbnb listing optimization are technical, I have tried to simplify them into actionable steps in simple layman terms as much as possible.

What is Airbnb SEO?

Just like Google, Airbnb search engine’s job is to show the best and most relevant listings to the user.

With 1000’s of listings to choose, Airbnb has developed an algorithm to internally grade properties which is used to determine its ranking in the search result. 

This algorithm is called the Airbnb search engine – it is based on a set of pre-defined rules to identify each event that occurs on a listing as a positive or negative one, and it maintains an overall internal Airbnb score of your property.

A positive event gives +1, and an adverse event leads to -1 in the internal scoring. 

Higher the internal score, better will be the search ranking of your Airbnb listing.

The Airbnb search algorithm is more complicated than this. Still, to optimize Airbnb listing, this simple principle of the internal score is sufficient to understand each optimization step you need to perform.

What is the need for Airbnb SEO?

You might have noticed, when searching for something on Google, we rarely go beyond first two pages of the search result as it is human nature to feel insecure and we think information after first few pages is less reliable – it works the same way on Airbnb too.

To optimize Airbnb listing is all about appearing in the first two pages of the search results for the maximum number of search criteria...and when this happens, you will have no difficulty in filling your calendar ANY TIME of the year.

How Airbnb decides search ranking?

Airbnb is continuously monitoring your listing and the actions you take.

Every time you make a change to your listing or a user clicks on it – each event that occurs on your listings updates the internal SEO score, positively or negatively.

Another essential thing to note before we dive into the details: Airbnb is guest focussed.

They want more and more guest convenience, no matter how hard it makes your life as a host. 

Airbnb knows if people are coming to book their vacation on the website, hosts like you and me will be there offering our holiday lets.

INTERNAL & EXTERNAL FACTORS

Apart from the listing strength (internal factor) and how attractive your listing is to guests, Airbnb also monitors user behaviour(external factor), i.e. how people react to your listing. 

 

The recorded user behaviour is divided into the few key performance indicators (KPI’s) such as:

  • Click-through rate is the ratio of users who choose to click on your listing when it is displayed in the search result along with other listings.
  • Conversion rate is the percentage of users who book your listing compared to those who take a look and end up booking another listing nearby.
  • Bounce rate is the percentage of users visiting your listing but left without interacting further.
  • Exit event tracks how users moved through your listing, if they read listing reviews, checked photos, read property description, location before exiting the page.
  • Average book time users spend on your listing before proceeding to book on your listing or click away.
  • Popularity is how many users come directly to your listing from outside Airbnb by following your listing URL shared in:
    • Phone message
    • Whatsapp message
    • Email
    • Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Reddit etc.)
    • Other external websites referring to your listing (known as backlinks in SEO terms)
 

All this user data is continuously collected by Airbnb to determine the quality of your listing.

 

Here is the list of factors used by Airbnb search engine to determine your properties search ranking. to

1. Age of your listing

With time as your Airbnb listing grows older, it keeps gaining Airbnb trust. With each successful guest checkout, it becomes more and more credible, and the algorithm keeps adding +ve points to it.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  • Nothing you can do to age your listing faster, but you can offer shorter stays, in the beginning, to gain credibility quickly.
  • To beat the established competition, you can offer significantly lower price, no cleaning fee or offer amenities which most of them are not offering such as free parking, pocket WiFi, Cable TV or a BBQ grill.
  • You can watch this short video tutorial on how to update amenities on your Airbnb listing.

2. Property Type

Shared property is considered less favourable compared to an entire property on offer.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

 

  • If you share a room in your property, try to give a separate bathroom exclusive for the guest to use.
  • Indicate with whom the spaces will be shared, you, other guests or someone else.
  • If you share an entire property, double-check the Airbnb settings to ensure you have not marked space as shared by mistake.
  • Watch this video tutorial on how to ensure shared areas are correctly marked in your Airbnb listing.

3. Guest Reviews

You need lots of 5-STAR guest reviews.

 

Each 5-STAR review gets you +ve points added to your Airbnb SEO score and sub-4-STAR review is going to wash away your months of hard work.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

4. Property Location Is Important!

Airbnb knows the hotspots and busiest places in your area and the distance of your property from them.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

 

  • If you have not yet invested in a property, try to get one in the prime location, and Airbnb will reward you with more bookings for being in the right spot.
  • If changing the location of the property is not an option, try to provide rare amenities such as Breakfast, Gym access, Hot tub or Gym access.
  • In the listing summary, always mention the distance to the nearest public transport from your property.
  • Providing an amenity which is not available in the amenities section of Airbnb for you to ✓ it is not going to help you with search ranking as an algorithm can only see the amenities configured by Airbnb.

5. Nightly Price

Airbnb is guest focussed, and it will always encourage you to make it more and more affordable for people with a limited budget. (For luxury travellers Airbnb has launched Airbnb plus and Airbnb Lux).

 

Airbnb algorithm will love you more and more as you keep dropping the nightly price and reward your listing with higher search ranking almost instantly.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  • When looking at other listings in your area, don’t pick a bad one as your reference. Don’t just see their prices, check their reviews and occupancy levels too.
  • Start with 20% lower than the properties offering the same amenities in your area and keep reducing this difference by 5% after every five (5*) reviews you get.
  • Do no use Airbnb smart pricing. (video: how to switch off Airbnb smart pricing).
  • Use a 3rd party dynamic pricing tools like BeyondPricing or Pricelabs.
  • If your property is booked >80% for the next month, your prices are low.
  • If you are <50% booked for the next month, your prices are too high.

5. Provide Essential Amenities

Providing as many amenities as you can, it will help immensely with optimization for your Airbnb listing. 

Out of all, the first in the list ‘Essential’ amenity is the most important. Make sure it is checked in your listing and if you don’t provide any of these items, do everything you can to offer them.

 

Essential amenity for Airbnb SEO

6. Provide Home Safety Amenities

Next in the list of amenities, is the Home Safety equipment. 

Do everything you can to provide these four items and check the four boxes. These items are not expensive and can save lives!

 

Home Safety Amenities for airbnb seo

7. Provide Internet

Internet is the third most important amenity Airbnb wants you to provide. Make sure to offer it and check these two boxes under ‘Common amenities’ section.

 

Internet amenity to Optimize Airbnb Listing

8. Amenities - more the merrier!

More boxes you can check under the amenities sections of your listing the better it is. Think of it as every checkbox you tick in this section gives you a +1 in the internal Airbnb scoring.

 

Airbnb amenities and SEO

Don’t forget to put the ‘Safety card’ information with the local emergency numbers at the bottom of the amenities page.

9. Ease Your Cancellation Policy

Airbnb is guest focussed, more flexible your guest cancellation policy is, more Airbnb will reward you with higher search ranking.

 

Moreover, if you choose a ‘Strict’ cancellation policy, you won’t get many far off bookings as people prefer flexibility, especially families and groups.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

 

  • Start with ‘Flexible’ cancellation policy and as your listing establishes with time and reviews, change it to ‘Moderate’.
  • Choose ‘Strict’ only if you are selling it super cheap or your property is in an area of extremely high demand and not enough options for people to choose from.
  • Airbnb has recently introduced non-refundable flavours for each cancellation policy; it is a good idea to choose them if you are selecting the moderate or strict policy. Ready my guide on how to choose your Airbnb cancellation policy.
Cancellation policy Optimize Airbnb Listing

10. Improve Photo Quality & Count

Airbnb algorithm cannot see how beautiful your listing photos are, but from the file size it can guess the resolution of the images, and high resolution is a positive indication.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

 

  • Upload plenty of photos of the spaces which will be accessible for guest. For a 2BDR property, ideally, you should upload 20-30 photos.
  • Don’t get the best photographer in town to take photos, hire a student or someone who does it as a hobby.
  • Ask your photographer to take photos in the best possible resolution. Generally, a file size >2mb indicates excellent photo resolution.
  • Don’t transfer the files over messengers or Whatsapp, etc.; they will lose resolution.
  • Get your photographer to upload them on a shared drive such as Google drive, dropbox or Wetransfer.
  • Upload as many photos you find reasonable to show all the areas in the property which will be available for guest to use, leave nothing to the imagination. At least two photos of each space from two different viewpoints is advisable.
  • Photos of a bathroom are essential, don’t miss them.
  • Don’t forget to upload an image of the exterior of the property, with street view.

11. Increase Bookable Nights

Making open more bookable nights gives a boost to your search ranking almost instantly.

 

More the number of nights available in your calendar for people to book, more is Airbnb interested in selling them out, and you will appear in more search results.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

 

  • Open your calendar for as many nights you can in the future, usually one year in advance is sufficient.
  • The lower is your minimum stay requirement, more sellable it becomes leading to more bookings and Airbnb will love you for that.
  • If you use PriceLabs for dynamic pricing, you can drop your minimum stay requirement dynamically. For example, you can change your minimum stay requirements for the next X days or months on a rolling basis. See this video tutorial on how to do this in PriceLabs.
  • Higher is your minimum nights requirements, less favourable your listing becomes for Airbnb SEO. 

12. Avoid Cancellations

Airbnb algorithm will hate you for cancelling a booking, and your search ranking will plummet instantly. 

 

The only exception is if the situations fall under Airbnb extenuating circumstances policy; in this case, they can cancel any reservation penalty-free. 

 

Still, the criteria to meet its conditions are stringent, and you will need to provide proofs. Please read my previous post on what qualifies for Airbnb extenuating circumstances policy.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

 

  • Try your best never to cancel a booking; you will lose a lot of bookings due to an immediate drop in your Airbnb search ranking.
  • If you have to cancel a booking, never do it yourself, call Airbnb instead and explain them the situation, sometimes they do favours and cancel a reservation for you penalty-free.
  • If you cancel a booking yourself from website or phone app, Airbnb will permanently block your calendar for those dates, and you won’t be able to accept another booking. Please read my post on the four ways to reach Airbnb.

TIP: Although Airbnb gives you three free cancellations for instant bookings but what I have noticed is that they don’t keep track of cancellations. I have managed to cancel several reservations in the last few years by telling them that I never cancelled a booking previously, try this trick you may get away with it too.

13. Keep Quick Response Time

Airbnb is customer focussed, and they want quick replies being sent to guests when they send an enquiry,

 

Airbnb search engine algorithm starts a timer as soon as an enquiry comes, and the sooner you respond, more points it will reward you for being responsive.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

 

  • Response time looks at the first message you send to the guest, and the timer stops after that.
  • If you are busy and can’t respond to guest query straight away, drop a message like ‘let me get back to you’ or maybe ‘Hi’ to stop the timer.
  • Use Smartbnb for message automation, and it will take care of your response time even when you are sleeping. It can also pre-approve quest enquiries automatically. Read smartbnb review.

14. KEEP HIGH APPROVAL RATE

If you have turned off Airbnb ‘Instant bookings’ OR you have not updated your calendar for a few weeks, Airbnb will send you booking requests from guests for you to ACCEPT or DECLINE.

approve reservations airbnb

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

 

  • Try to accept as many bookings as you can. Declining too many requests is going to hurt your Airbnb search ranking.
  • Make a decision as soon as possible; accept or decline requests at the first opportunity.
  • Booking request automatically expires after 24 hours, NEVER EVER let this happen, it is terrible for Airbnb SEO.
  • If an enquiry comes and you know the guest is not going to book after you address their query, don’t decline it, pre-approve it to keep your approval rate high.

15. Switch On Instant Booking

Airbnb loves listings with instant booking ON. If you turn it OFF, several points are taken off from your Airbnb optimization score, and you will notice an immediate drop in your search ranking.

Although in specific scenarios, especially when you are sharing space in your own home, it is advisable to keep instant booking off as you may want to keep a check on who is coming to stay.

Switch on Airbnb Instant Booking for Optimization

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

 

  • Switch OFF instant bookings when you need to, safety first. But you lower your prices, relax your cancellation policy, add an amenity, give free cleaning to compensate for the ranking drop and keep Airbnb SEO happy.
  • If you are concerned about the identity of the person booking your place, keep the instant booking ON and add the additional guest requirement of ‘Government-issued ID’ under Airbnb booking settings.
  • Adding photo requirement doesn’t protect you much, the photo can be changed anytime by the guest – so don’t rely on this option.

Watch this video tutorial on how to add additional guest requirements for Instant bookings.

16. Use Airbnb Price Tips TO FILL EMPTY NIGHTS

Empty rooms don’t pay! If you desperately need bookings for a specific period and you would rather have someone pay something instead of letting the night go vacant, you can switch on Airbnb smart pricing suggestions for those dates.

Airbnb search engine algorithm will hug you for this, and that increases your chances of getting a booking by at least 50%. Although the Airbnb smart pricing suggestions are super low, it is a useful tool you can occasionally choose to fill empty nights.

Use Price Suggestion for Airbnb SEO

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  • Even if you have smart pricing switched off on your listing, you can still see and apply Airbnb price tips and apply them to unbooked dates in your calendar.
  • Apply Airbnb price tips only on the dates you wish to fill up in your calendar.

Watch this video tutorial on how to apply Airbnb price tips.

17. Offer Weekly AND Monthly DiscountS

Airbnb wants you to offer weekly and monthly discounts and Airbnb search engine algorithm will give you credit for doing so.

The more discount you can offer more your listing will be pushed up the Airbnb search ranking. 

offer weekly or monthly discount on AIrbnb

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

 

  • I offer 5% for weekly, and 10% for monthly stays be default but even if you don’t want to give these discounts, don’t leave the discount fields empty, mention 1%.
 

Watch this video tutorial on how to add weekly and monthly discounts on Airbnb.

18. Avoid Charging Per Person

Airbnb wants you to offer all-inclusive price, and its search engine algorithm will reward you for not asking for a per-person price.

It is understandable that you may want to make it more affordable if fewer people are going to come and stay in the property but in my view its pretty lame, no matter if one person stays in the park or five, your cost for each night is the same so why offer a discount?

charge extra person fee for airbnb listing optimization.jpg

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

 

  • Charge for the extra person only when you have to make extra efforts such as putting together a sofa bed and provide linen, towels etc.
  • Don’t charge an extra fee until the people-on-bed count runs out.
 

Watch this video tutorial on how to apply weekly and monthly discounts on Airbnb.

19. FREQUENTLY Update Your Calendar

If you are regularly maintaining your calendar, this will send a positive signal to Airbnb search engine algorithm that you are less likely to cancel a reservation as your calendar is pretty much accurate.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

 

  • Even if you don’t need to, block a random date in your calendar and unblock. This is to pass a message to Airbnb that your calendar is up to date.

Watch this video on how to manually block and unblock a date in calendar for Airbnb SEO.

20. BECOME A VERIFIED HOST

Airbnb is no exception to online fraudsters, and providing ID proof along with connecting your Airbnb profile to social media platforms, will increase your credibility with Airbnb search engine algorithm which will help your listing rank higher on Airbnb.

provide your Govt ID to Airbnb

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  • Under your profile settings > personal info, upload a Government ID.
  • Connect your Facebook and Google accounts with Airbnb under Login & Security > Social accounts section of your profile settings.
Watch this video on how to upload your Government ID on Airbnb.

20. Add HOST Introduction

Airbnb search engine algorithm wants you to give that personal touch to your listing and will reward you for doing so with higher search ranking on Airbnb.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

 

  • Go to your Airbnb profile and enter a detailed description of who you are and why you are hosting etc. more details you can add the better. 
  • If when you don’t want to share anything personal, it is about ticking the box so write some generic like ‘I love meeting people from different parts of the world, and I look forward to connecting you as a host or a traveller. I will do my best to make your stay as comfortable as possible.‘ 

Watch this video on how to add your Airbnb profile introduction.

21. ADD REASONABLE Security Deposit

Though keeping a security deposit is extremely important, it just makes guests be more respectful of the property but don’t enter a scary amount to put people off.

 

The objective of the security deposit is to make people feel responsible and cover small incidental damage, to cover extensive property damage there is separate Airbnb has host guarantee insurance.

how much Airbnb deposit to charge

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

 

  • Try to keep security deposit equal to 3-4 nights of your average nightly rate and round it to the nearest 50.
  • If you have expensive furnishings in your property, keep them out of guest reach. Don’t hold your personal belongings in the area’s guest can use.

Watch this video on how to add security deposit for your Airbnb listing.

22. ADD TO Airbnb Wishlists

This is one of the most widely known facts about Airbnb SEO.

Airbnb rewards your listing with higher search ranking when people add it to their wishlist. Until early 2019, you could see the count of how many people have added it to their wishlist, but it has now been removed, but Airbnb still tracks it.

wishlist your property on airbnb

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  • Add listing to your Airbnb wish list.
  • Ask your friends and family members to add it to their Airbnb wish lists, more the merrier.
See this video for how to find Airbnb listing URL so you can share it with your friends.

23. Listing TITLE Should Stand Out

Having an attractive listing headline will click-through rate, i.e. more users will click on your listing when displayed in the search results and this is counted positively in your internal Airbnb SEO score.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

 

  • Be creative when writing your listing title, don’t mention obvious things like city name, try to highlight the most significant selling points.
  • Use special characters in the title, so it easily stands out in the search results. To use unique icons, go to website utf8icons.com and copy-paste the image of your choice into the title field.

See this Airbnb tutorial video on how to add unique icons to your listing title.

24. Create CRISP LISTING Summary

Having to the point listing summary helps guests in decide if it is the right place for them or not. 

It generates user interest, decreases the amount of time they will spend on your listing before booking it and increases its performance rating with Airbnb search algorithm.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

 

  • Write listing summary in bullet points.
  • Keep it factual; don’t add your perspective of the property.
  • Highlight what matters most to visitors in your area.
  • Don’t write a long paragraph; users find it less attractive to read.

25. CHoose cover photo wisely

Choose the best photo of your property as the cover photo. It should generate curiosity and encourage the user to click on your listing, thereby increasing its click-through rate.

choose best cover photo Optimize Airbnb Listing

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

 

  • The cover photo can of a bedroom, living room, kitchen, view from the property or exterior of the building.
  • It is a bad idea to use a generic city or landmark photo as the cover photo.

26. Put Best FoUR Photos At The Top

Move the best four photos from different areas of the property to the top of the image gallery. 

When the user clicks on your listing, photo preview shows your cover photo along with the four top pictures as you can see in the image below.

This should engage users towards wanting to know more about the property, and start reading the description, check reviews and view photo gallery etc. this will feed positively to your Airbnb search engine internal score.

Airbnb cover photo tips Optimize Airbnb Listing

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

 

  • Try to include one external view of the property, living room, bedroom and bathroom, which the guest will be able to access.
  • Don’t add photos of the same space twice in the first four photos.

27. Add External views of the property

Always make sure to upload an external photo of the property, how it looks from outside and the street view – this gives people an extra sense of comfort and confidence about the property and surrounding areas. 

Exterior photo for airbnb seo

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

 

  • It’s a good idea to include at least one external view of the property.
  • Try to include the photo which shows the entry to the building.

28. Allow self check-in

Being able to check-in themselves is important to guests, and Airbnb wants you to provide this facility as much as possible.

Switching to a self-check-in method is taken positively by the Airbnb search algorithm, and it will boost your search ranking significantly.

Airbnb Self Checkin Options

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

 

  • Try to provide one of the three self-check-in options, i.e. Smartlock, Keypad or Lockbox.
  • If putting a smart lock or keypad is not an option for you, try to use the Airbnb key exchange services.
  • If you are concerned about safety or want to keep a check on who comes to stay in your property, stick to meet and greet option, safety first!
  • See this video on how to set the check-in method on your Airbnb listing.

29. Create backlinks

This last Airbnb optimization technique involves doing things off the platform. 

Airbnb is constantly monitoring how people come to your listing, if someone comes to your listing by following a link on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other non-Airbnb website, this is treated as a good sign and indicates people are talking about your property outside Airbnb.

list airbnb on google my business

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

 

  • Share your listing as much as possible on social network websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.
  • List your short term rental on google my businessbing places and in the website details of your business give your Airbnb listing URL.
  • Register your short term rental business on your countries tourism websites and use Airbnb listing URL as the website address. For example, visitusa.org.ukvisitbritain.orgvisitscotland.com.
  • List your Airbnb as short term rental business on yellow pages.

Airbnb Listing Optimization Myths

Over the years I have heard people talk all kinds of random stuff which they believe helps with the Airbnb search ranking.

Here are the most baseless things people say will help with higher Airbnb search ranking:

  • Logging frequently into your Airbnb account
  • Connect to a channel manager

If I missed something on the list which you strongly believe helps with Airbnb search ranking, please drop me a message and I will be happy to discuss your findings and include in the list.

I will keep adding more techniques as my experience grows, to stay tuned with my future posts and updates please subscribe to my Airbnb blog newsletter.

You can watch my video tutorial on how to optimize Airbnb listing like a Pro.

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