Top Airbnb Ranking Factors:
The Complete List (2020)
As longtime Airbnb hosts we have slowly learned a ton of the Airbnb Ranking Factors. Most hosts are interested in growing their short term rental business and the best way to do that is by optimizing your listings to satisfy the needs of both the search engine and the guests.
The higher your listing is on the search results page the more bookings you will receive.
Other than the upper echelon of Airbnb engineers, nobody knows what all of the Airbnb ranking factors are. That being said, Airbnb has graciously provided some of the main SEO factors hosts should be aware of. Additionally, we have conducted some of our own research and combined it with our professional knowledge of how search engine algorithms like Google, Bing, and Yahoo operate.
Airbnb has come out and stated that there are over 100 ranking factors which they look at to determine which listing will rank at the top. While they have not stated exactly what each of those ranking factors are, we can use research and a little bit of common sense to determine what they might be.
Top 6 Primary Airbnb Ranking Factors:
# of Guests
Type of Place
You might be surprised by those six primary ranking factors.. When we asked hosts what they thought was the #1 Airbnb ranking factor they either said, “Photo quality” or “Instant booking” - both of which are wrong.
At the end of the day, if you do not fulfill the needs of the initial search query you will be immediately disqualified from the search results - and that is not a bad thing! If your property is in Los Angeles you will not rank in New York City - and there is good reason for that.
It's important to understand that you will NOT rank for every Airbnb search query.
The objective of the Airbnb ranking algorithm is to match prospective guests with the most suitable accommodation available. If you do not show up in the search results it is simply because your unit is NOT the most suitable accommodation on the platform.
The good news is, you can make your property more suitable! There are no secrets in this algorithm, there is no way to “game-the-system”. If you want to be at the top of the search results page - you can be.
All you have to do is follow and master these advanced SEO factors. Once you’ve accomplished that, the algorithm will be forced to showcase your property in the coveted 1st place position.
Other Major Airbnb Ranking Factors:
Search to View: The search to view rate is the total amount your listing appears in a search divided by the total number of times your listing is clicked on. A search for example would be if someone selected 1 bedroom in Whistler; if your unit met that criteria it would be counted as a search even if the guest never saw your listing.
View to Book: The view to book rate takes the conversion process one step further. It is the total number of times your listing URL was opened divided by the total number of bookings you received.
Booking Acceptance Rate: Another conversion metric Airbnb uses to assist with ranking is how often you accept bookings. Divide the number of inquiries received with how many bookings you accepted. The higher your acceptance rate the better the experience is for the guest.
Time on Listing: Airbnb is tracking how long visitors are staying on your page, do they bounce out of your page within seconds, or are they staying for 5+ minutes? The longer guests stay on your page the better your listing must be.
Visitors that like your listing can add it to their ‘wishlist’. This allows them to effectively ‘save’ your property for their future travel plans. The more people that view your listing and add it to their wishlist the better. Not only will it improve your searchability, it will also appear at the top of their search next time they’re looking for a property in your region.
Could high nightly prices be hurting your business? All else being equal, our research shows that low priced properties rank higher. It comes as no surprise that Airbnb wants to connect guests with the best property for the best price. If you keep your pricing competitive you will see significant ranking improvements.
Airbnb’s smart pricing algorithm helps ensure you’re always listed as one of the most affordable options, your pricing will update in-real-time depending on how many views your listing is getting and overall search traffic on the Airbnb platform. The Smart Pricing algorithm is often very generous in the discounts to guests so it's important you manually review and regularly optimize your pricing in order to keep maximum efficiency.
The fastest and easiest way to improve your Airbnb rankings is to activate Instant Booking. Studies show that Airbnb guests vastly favor the instant booking functionality over the outdated approach of Inquiring -> Waiting for Reply -> Receiving Reply -> Confirming Booking. Since it is the preferred method of booking for guests, Airbnb heavily prioritizes properties with instant book enabled.
If you receive an instant booking which you do not feel comfortable with you can cancel the booking within 24 - 48 hours.
Not only are quick responses good for guests, its an important Airbnb ranking factor. Make sure that you respond quickly to all guests messages, especially the initial inquiry/ booking message. Let your guests - and Airbnb - know that you’re an active host that responds in a timely manner. You should respond to every message within 24 hours, but realistically within 15 - 30 minutes.
Don’t keep your guests waiting!
High-Quality Horizontal Images are one of the most important Airbnb ranking factors. A recent Airbnb study proved that listings with 30 or more high-quality images received 40% more bookings than properties with less than 10 images.
- Ensure that each image has a descriptive caption explaining what is noteworthy in the image.
- We recommend every property have a minimum of 20 high-quality images
- Airbnb's recommended minimum image resolution is 1024 x 683px. But you should aim for 1900px or higher. Just keep the aspect ratio of Width to Length at 3:2 to ensure the photo does not get distorted.
In most cases, it is best to hire a professional photographer to capture the essence of the property. They have the experience and expertise to utilize state-of-the-art photo editing software to bring images alive and really sell your property.
Long and Descriptive Listings: Regularly review your listings content and ensure that it is written in an easy-to-understand way. Try not to use big blocks of text, rather, bullet point the main takeaways you want prospective guests to know.
Well-Written Listing Title: While listing titles likely don’t provide any direct ranking benefit, but it will improve your click-through-rates. Here are some tips for optimizing your Airbnb listing titles.
Keyword Rich Listing Descriptions: Be mindful of what keywords guests will be looking for and use these phrases in your listing descriptions.
An apartment in a downtown core should clearly state which main venues are nearby, “Next door to Comic Con”, “Minutes from the XYZ Stadium”.
We’re not talking about your house manual, but rather the additional rules Airbnb asks you to create. Only create a few rules and ensure they are reasonable for guests to follow.
The more rules you have the less excited guests will be for their stay. Because of this, Airbnb will not want to send future guests to properties that have tons of complicated and unnecessary rules.
Only create additional rules that are necessary, all other “rules” can be stated in the house manual.
Availability: Before your property can show up in the search results, you have to be available. Most hosts do not keep their calendar open more than 6 months in advance, so if you want to be at the top of the rankings keep your calendar open for 12 months in advance. This is one of the easiest ways to improve your Airbnb rankings.
Up-to-date Calendar: Airbnb regularly monitors how often you make changes to your calendar. They want to be confident that your property is available for the dates the guests inquire about. Ensure you make regular adjustments to your calendar to always be ahead of the Airbnb algorithm.
Cancellation Policies play a major role in the search engine algorithm. Due to the extenuating circumstances policy during 2020’s Covid-19 pandemic we can expect Airbnb to further prioritize flexible cancellation policies.
Flexible cancellation policies ease travelers minds, knowing they can easily cancel if their travel plans change. While this can be financially damaging to the host, if used correctly it can be a great policy to offer. Aside from a worldwide pandemic, typically, travelers do not cancel their plans. So you can drastically improve your Airbnb rankings and very rarely have to honor your cancellation policy.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Airbnb offered a Temporary Flexible cancellation policy which promised to help improve hosts rankings and qualify them for an additional search filter. Keep a look out for future cancellation policy changes to take advantage of any potential bonuses Airbnb will award hosts!
“Only 3% of experienced hosts have a flexible cancellation policy.” - Renting Your Place
Never Cancel a Booking: A recent survey concluded, that last minute host cancellations are the worst Airbnb situation that can occur. It is a massive headache for Airbnb to find suitable accommodation for the guests and as a result Airbnb will seriously penalize hosts that do it carelessly. While some hosts are forced to cancel occasionally, it should be seen as a last resort.
Airbnb Host Profile
As of November 2019, Brian Chesky, CEO & Founder of Airbnb, announced that radical changes will be implemented as a response to the tragic 100-person house party in California. The house party resulted in the death of five party-goers and stirred an uproar from guests concerning their safety and security. During that time, Chesky promised that all hosts would be 100% verified and would be subject to thorough monitoring.
By ensuring your hosting profile is 100% verified and complete, you would surely see ranking improvements.
Host Verification: Ensure that you have provided all the necessary documentation to prove your identity and become verified by Airbnb. An unverified host causes guests to become concerned and less likely to book on the platform. As a result, Airbnb rewards fully verified hosts by pushing them up the search engine.
Compelling Profile Bio: Write a compelling biography for your profile. Give guests a sense for who you’re as a person and as a host.
- How long have you been a host?
- Do you travel often?
Connecting Social Profiles: Social profiles provide guests with a sense of comfort knowing that you’re a real human being. Social signals are proven ways to help improve conversions and likely have an effect on your search visibility.
Social Connections to Guests: By connecting your social profiles you’re allowing Airbnb to view all of your Facebook friends. The less degrees of separation you have with the searcher the more better match you and the guest will likely be. If you share mutual friends with a prospective search it is very likely your property will rise through the rankings. In short, make sure you have plenty of Facebook friends!
Actively Participant on the Airbnb Community Forum: Airbnb favours hosts that are active on their community forums. If you’re actively responding to community questions it is likely you treat your guests similarly. Make sure you connect your Airbnb profile to your forum commenting and take part in the community.
Review Rating: Reviews are among the most important ranking metrics. A low review rating is grounds to have your property delisted from the site. Properties with high ratings are rewarded with moving up the rankings. Furthermore review rating is a metric used to achieve hosting achievements such as Super Host which in turn is a ranking metric.
Number of Reviews: The more reviews the better, assuming they are positive. Airbnb requires that you have a minimum of 5 reviews before they display a rating on your listing. Not only is this a ranking metric it also has a big impact on the purchasing behaviors of guests. Listings with more reviews are more likely to be looked at and therefore more likely to be booked.
Reply to Reviews: Airbnb wants to create a friendly and highly engaged booking platform. In an effort to force these types of interactions they encourage hosts to reply to guests reviews. Not only does this show Airbnb that you're a proactive and caring host, but prospective guests viewing your listing can see your replies.
Airbnb Amenities & Filters
By offering plenty of amenities you will immediately improve your search visibility when prospective guests filter by specific amenities.
Number of Amenities: Airbnb uses amenities as filters for guests to search for the ideal property. As such properties with more amenities are more likely to be displayed in filtered results. Price divided by the number of amenities can also be used as a metric for Airbnb to calculate the value of your property.
Accessibility Amenities: Accessibility is a niche that very few hosts target which makes it a great target market. Airbnb has added filters related to providing accessible units to disabled guests. Whistler for example has over 3,000 active listings but when filtered to “accessible parking” there are only 18!
Pet Friendly: Like all filters, the pet filter is used in ranking properties. Unlike others “pet allowed” is among the most common filters selected. By allowing for pets you can improve your listing ranking by exposing yourself this common filter selection.
Family Friendly: Family friendly units are units that are equipped with amenities off of Airbnb “family friendly” list. These amenities communicate to guests and Airbnb that your unit is safe and equipped for children.
Business Ready: Airbnb in recent years has been working to develop its business clientele. Guests that are travelling for business will be displayed listings that best suit their needs such as listings with high speed internet and a workspace. Units visible on the “travelling for work?” filter must have been reviewed by previous business guests.
Backlinks are a common metric that Google uses to rank websites it is therefore reasonable to believe this is something that Airbnb is also monitoring. Websites linking to your listing, that have high domain authority, should be improving the visibility of your listing. Google will also evaluate the backlink profile of your listing to determine its ranking in the Google search results page.
Airbnb Listing Badges
New Listing: Once you put your property live you are awarded with a temporary badge that reads “New Listing” this tag is crucially important. It provides a SEO boost to your property which is necessary because your listing will not have had the time to build up guest reviews.
Airbnb Luxe: As a result of Airbnbs acquisition of Luxury Retreats in 2017 we now have Airbnb Luxe. For a property to receive the tag of Airbnb Luxe it must first have a 300 point inspection. Properties listed as Airbnb Luxe have to be exceptional, luxury, and private. The Luxe tag is a filter and therefore can help in rankings however this achievement is well beyond the capability of the majority of listings.
Airbnb Plus: The Airbnb Plus badge is similar to Airbnb Luxe. It requires an in person inspection that confirms that the listing is: thoughtfully designed, well-equipped, and well-maintained. The badge is visible to potential guests when they are searching through Airbnb properties. According to Lodgify, one of the benefits of joining Airbnb Plus is higher placements in the search results.
Superhost: Interestingly, Airbnb has stated that becoming a Superhost will not provide a ranking boost. Since many of the requirements to become a Superhost are ranking factors you will indirectly see improvements.