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How does the Airbnb search algorithm work?

airbnb search ranking algorythm

While it is impossible to list all Airbnb ranking factors, we can briefly show you how search placement and ranking influence what prospective guests will see within Airbnb search results. Then, we’ll explore tactics that Airbnb hosts can use to attract more eyeballs and surge higher in Airbnb rankings. In 2022, it is no secret that Airbnb rewards instant book listings. Yet, competing against other properties within Airbnb Categories has become crucial and you’ll see why photos are more important than ever to achieve this goal.

The company does give a ranking boost to new listings, but for existing listings, it is crucial to be the best Airbnb host (or Superhost) in a location, make the booking experience easy for guests, have a detailed description and list of specific amenities, have flexible house rules, keep an open and up to date calendar, and responding to messages in a timely manner. We’ll see why and how quality, popularity, and pricing are the key factors that Airbnb weighs in when deciding how high a listing appears.

How does the Airbnb algorithm work for guests? How do they find your property?

Airbnb’s algorithm is a sophisticated computer program that uses data to make recommendations for potential bookings. It makes use of many factors to determine the order in which listings appear. It’s designed to get guests to find quickly an Airbnb listing that meets their needs – whether they’re budget-friendly or offer luxurious amenities. 

To understand how the Airbnb ranking algorithm works and see how you can influence it, you have to first step into the shoes of a guest. The algorithm is designed to help Airbnb make money by presenting to guests a list of properties that they are most susceptible to book and that will bring Airbnb more money. For instance, if Airbnb were showing guests properties that are not available on the dates they are looking for or that have fewer bedrooms than requested, guests would be unsatisfied and leave the platform without booking anything.

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So, for each request made by a guest, Airbnb needs to consider all of its inventory of properties, list the properties that best match what is needed, and rank them in an order that will appeal to the guests (and make money for Airbnb). All in a fraction of a second. So, you can never rank number 1 on Airbnb pages for all the users at the same time. The ranking order changes from one search to another. You can try and rank higher for certain searches, certain categories of properties in your region, or certain types of guests.

Overall, Airbnb’s ranking algorithm considers three major factors: The quality, the popularity, and the price of a listing.

AIRBNB SEARCH RANKING algorithm

Quality of the listing:

What makes something “quality” can be subjective. To account for this, the Airbnb algorithm assesses many listing characteristics to evaluate quality, including:

  • photos,
  • guest reviews,
  • size,
  • location,
  • other property details that might affect guest experience

Popularity of the listing:

Guest behavior on the website or in-app decides whether a listing is popular. To factor in popularity, Airbnb records signals such as how often guests:

  • Send a booking request,
  • Book the listing,
  • Save the listing to their wish list.

Price of the listing:

The algorithm considers a variety of price data, including how the total cost (pre-tax, but including fees such as the cleaning fee – read below for more details) compares to similar listings in its area for given dates.

Listings that are priced below other comparable properties—those with similar guest capacity and amenities—tend to rank higher.

How to improve your Airbnb ranking

Airbnb ranking algorithm

1. Increase the attractiveness of your Airbnb listing in search results and on your listing page

To help spark guests’ interest in the search ranking, we recommend that you:

  • Use high-quality photos to set an inviting scene that will pull in your customers and help your listing stand out. Great photos may entice users to click on your listing within search results, driving your click rate data, which may help you rank higher in the longer term.
  • To rank higher in a certain Airbnb Category, such as ” Amazing Pools” or “Beach,” make sure to upload fantastic photos that represent this type of travel well. Airbnb’s machine-learning tools are able to understand what your photos are showing, label them with attributes such as “very large pool” and help you qualify for categories such as “Amazing Pools”.
  • Use the description and the various tick boxes in your Airbnb listing details to describe your vacation rental in great detail. Let guests know exactly what they’re getting themselves into. Give specific information such as location, amenities, and more so there are no surprises on your vacation. 
  • To give your guests the best experience possible, you should offer the amenities that they are looking for. For instance, high-speed wifi and free parking can make a huge difference in how long someone stays with you!

2. Use competitive pricing when needed (including cleaning fees, notably).

Airbnb’s algorithm factors in your total price before taxes, including any discounts or additional fees. For instance, if you have a $50 cleaning fee and a 10% weekly discount, you need to take it into account when thinking about how expensive your vacation rental is in the virtual eyes of Airbnb. The algorithm will compare this with the prices of similar spaces nearby and use it to determine how competitive you are set on the platform. This way, Airbnb guests can find listings that offer good value for money while also matching their needs.

3. Increase the bookability of your Airbnb listing by adding availability to your calendar, turning Instant Book on (or respond under a few hours), and not canceling bookings

It goes without saying that if your property is not available for the dates that a user is searching for, it will not show up in Airbnb’s search results. Why would Airbnb show a place that is not bookable? So, making more days available for booking in your calendar is the first step to increasing your bookability. 

Yet, Airbnb does not only want to show places that can be booked. It also wants to rank higher those that have a higher chance of turning into a booking. So, Airbnb will penalize and rank lower properties that make it harder for guests to get a confirmed booking that will be honored by the host. 

This is why Airbnb ranks higher the hosts who:

It makes sense that Airbnb would rank higher listings with a higher chance of turning a solid booking: Actual bookings deliver fees and commissions for Airbnb. Why would the company promote places that have a smaller probability of making money?

So, if the instant booking option is not turned on, hosts have to mimic its behavior as much as possible by responding as fast as possible (under a few hours) and accepting all booking requests. We are not saying that you should accept them, just that the logic for Airbnb is to rank higher listings that usually say yes to booking requests fast.

Airbnb’s algorithm factors in your listing’s availability, your response times to inquiries, and how often you accept bookings. The more open dates you offer on your calendar, the more likely your listing will meet a guest’s search criteria and appear in their search results.

Other actions you can take:

  • Lower your response time to rank higher (response Respond to requests at least within 24 hours, if not under a couple of hours).
  • Response rate: Say yes to most booking requests. The more you decline booking requests, the lower you will rank. Airbnb does not want guests to have to wait and get a negative answer, as this is a bad customer experience. 

4. Get a Superhost Airbnb account (Not for the badge per se, but fot the qualifying criteria based on hospitality data)

The algorithm factors in how well your Airbnb listing has been performing over time. For example, if you are a Superhost and have had many bookings or guests give positive reviews about their stay, then it is likely that this will help rank higher for potential visitors looking on Airbnb to find an accommodation option near them while traveling too.

When searching Airbnb, users can also filter properties based on whether their host is a Superhost or not. If this filter is turned on and you are not Superhost, then your property will not even show up in the search results.

The Superhost badge shows in your Airbnb profile and can help increase the attractiveness and visibility of your listing.

Airbnb SEO vs Airbnb Algorithm

Like Google, Airbnb is responsible for showing users a listing that is most relevant to them and its purpose is to help them find the best fit for them. Airbnb uses a proprietary algorithm for internally classifying properties which determine how to rank the properties on the search results page of the website. This algorithm called Airbnb is based upon a list of predetermined rules that identifies any events in a listing as positive or negative and keeps an overall Airbnb score for that location. Positive events give +1, whereas negative events result in +1. A higher internal score means more searches on your Airbnb listing.

Airbnb search engine optimization has more to do with the keywords you use in your listing title and description in the hope that Google users searching for a vacation rental will see the link to your listing pop up in Google search results. In this sense, Airbnb SEO and the Airbnb ranking algorithm are two different things.

Airbnb Algorithms: Secrets! Is there an easy way to make your Listing top on Airbnb? Tell me the way. Have you ever found an empty page in a web search? Successful adaptation of algorithms can mean the difference between a top-rated listing clicked by millions of people and a rental that is hidden below the list. How does the algorithm at Airbnb work? How do we list homes? The Airbnb ambassador is free!

How can I get a listing higher on Airbnb?

Can you list the ways that you can get more listings from Airbnb? The issue with the Search Engine Optimization of Airbnb is that each listing has multiple data elements and it is analyzed for individual users according to their searches, previous searches, demographics, etc. Airbnb tries to show guests the best possible matching options so that friction can be minimized and the booking process is smoothed out. Using these algorithms, the search engine aims at matching guests to their ideal listing the most efficiently.

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Rental Scale-Up

Thibault is the founder of Rental Scale-Up. He owns vacation rentals in St. Barths and Bali. He also leads innovative projects for companies within the vacation rental industry. Feel free to reach out to Thibaut Masson on Linkedin.

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