If your listing does not rank well on Airbnb search rankings, then prospective guests won’t see your listings, you won’t get click throughs, leading to no bookings and no profits.
So it’s crucial to rank as high as possible on Airbnb search rankings in order to get the most of your your hosting. But how?
It’s not like they openly publish the inner workings of their search algorithm.
The big picture: Airbnb Search Helps Them Make Money
Airbnb is a business and it’s out to make money. If you agree with this premise, then we can deduce our way to some likely factors that will impact your Airbnb search rankings.
So how do you help Airbnb make money?
By getting bookings with guests who pay for a stay at your listing.
But it’s not about how much they make from that guests with one booking, but how much they could make from that guest over the lifetime of the guest using Airbnb.
That means Airbnb search would want to show the listings that are most likely to result in a booking now as well as later.
Let’s break it down into three distinct parts of the guest experience.
- Search to Listing: This is all about the click through rate (CTR) – what percentage of the time when your listing is shown, a prospective clicks on your listing versus others? Focus here is to increase your CTR.
- Listing to Booking: This is all about the conversion rate (CR) – what percentage of the prospective guests that land on your listing actually make a booking with you? Focus here is to increase your CR.
- Satisfaction to Future Booking: There are likely multiple metrics tracked here but they are probably all related to future likelihood to book again on Airbnb. So the focus here is satisfaction since that is likely the strongest indicator of future bookings.
Your goal then is to do everything you can to optimize your listing for each phase of the guest experience.
From Search to Listing – How to Increase Your CTR
Everything covered here impacts your search rankings and only a few are immediately available to you as a host–primary listing photo, listing title, and your price.
Yes, they will see your number reviews and whether you’re a superhost, but those are not items you could address immediately and we’ll get to these later.
- Your main photo–make sure to use a high resolution photo (minimum of 1024 X 683px, but higher is better). Just keep the Width to Length aspect ratio at 1.5. Get more tips on great photos here.
- Your listing title–how do you decide when to open an email? If you’re like most people, you’ll read the subject headline. Well, it’s not very different for Airbnb guests when they’re searching on the site–they read the listing headlines. Here are some tips to write winning headlines.
- Your price–all things equal, listings priced lower will get more bookings. Now this doesn’t mean you should lowball your listing. It depends on where your positioned within your market. Have a clear idea of whether your listing is on the economy side, middle, or more on the luxury side in your market, then price in the middle or slightly below middle of that range. For more pricing tips, go here.
Listing to Bookings – How to Increase Your Conversions
Once the prospective guest clicks on the Airbnb search results and opens up a listing, it’s all about turning that click through into a conversion (i.e. booking). There are more than a dozen factors to consider here, including your profile and reviews that ultimately impact conversions, but we’ll cover only the ones you could do something about right now:
- Great photos–again, having great photos are crucial. Not just the main photo, but every single photo. Listings with >30 photos have 40% more bookings than listings with fewer than 10 photos. It matters, a lot. For more photo strategies and tips, go here. If you don’t have professional level, high resolution photos, you’re leaving money on the table.
- Great listing description–detailed and honest listing descriptions address questions and concerns potential guests may have. Any concern not addressed in the description most likely leads to a guest leaving and booking with someone else. Most prospective guests won’t reach out to ask questions.
- Activating Instant Book–starting out, you may be hesitant about doing this but having it turned on could drastically improve conversions, and maybe even help with search rankings. To learn more about Instant Book, go here.
- Ease of booking–every additional barrier to booking lowers your potential conversion rate. These are minimum night requirements, cleaning fees, security deposits, and refund policy. The higher or more strict, the higher the barrier to booking. You’ll need to think through each carefully and make sure you’re asking for the minimum required to protect yourself and not overdoing it such that it impacts conversions.
- Great response rate–when prospective guests are searching, they’re often within an hour of getting ready to book. Hosts who respond to every inquiry, within 5 minutes, are WAY more likely to convert. So respond to every single inquiry, even if just to say a friendly “no”.
Satisfaction to Future Bookings
After you land your booking, your work to improve your Airbnb search rankings is not done. Everything you do from now until you get a 5-star rating will add to your future search rankings. According to one ad hoc study of listings in South Africa conducted by a tech savvy host, guest satisfaction might be the #1 factor for search ranking.
This is the long game. Ensuring guest satisfaction won’t move the needle much after just a handful of guests. But consistently delivering the highest guest satisfaction will result in higher search rankings and more bookings.
So how do you ensure a great guest satisfaction?
Here are some suggestions:
- Delivering on promises–this is the most important thing. You must deliver on your listing promises–what your photos show and what your description says.
- Available but no intrusive–guests feel that they could reach out to host at anytime but still feel secure in their private space (i.e. no surprise unannounced visits)
- Warm welcomes–not possible for all hosts but in person check-ins add a human touch that is difficult to replace. Simple welcome gifts and messages also help.
- A little positive surprise–have something extra that is unexpected (e.g. maybe a locally baked cookie), or a better than advertised selection of coffee. Having something that is unexpected but positive could really go a long way.
- Being proactive–making recommendations or addressing guest needs before they need to ask for it. Telling a business traveler about which roads to avoid due to local construction shows you’re thinking about their needs. Be creative.
- Being flexible–things happen all the time, unexpectedly. Guests show up late to check in due to traffic delays. Being flexible and accommodating could help your guest become more forgiving of your mishaps.
So which of these actions could you take today to improve your listing’s Airbnb search rankings?