How to Rank #1 on Airbnb | SEO Expert Advice

There are over 6 million vacation rental properties on Airbnb. Unfortunately, it takes more than the right price point to attract enough bookings to remain profitable; it takes advanced SEO tactics.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of appeasing search engines (in this case Airbnb) in an effort to improve the likelihood of having your property being listed higher in the search results. When most people think of search engines they often think of Google or Bing, not Airbnb; when in reality, Airbnb is just a large search engine for finding vacation rentals. Rather than your search query being question-based (ie. How old is Airbnb?), your search is filtered by location, availability, etc.

Content is King

It may sound obvious, but ensuring your listing has been completely optimized for the search engines meaning you need to answer all the questions a guest might have in the content. Use the listing description section to answer all of your potential guests' questions about the unit, the location, and even the fun activities they could expect to do. Look through all of the amenities/ essentials Airbnb lists for you and immediately go to the store and buy as many of them as possible.

When potential guests are looking for a

place they can filter the search to only showcase properties that include specific items. So if you cheap out and don’t have them, you will NOT appear. It doesn’t matter if you had the best location at the cheapest price - you just lost the booking!

Things that need to be addressed in your listing

  • Submit a comprehensive house manual so Airbnb knows you will take care of the guest.
  • Create a guidebook about all of the amazing attractions surrounding your place.
  • Upload 15-20 photos clearly showcasing the interior and exterior of the property.
Harrison Hot Springs Guide Book

A comprehensive guidebook map for an Airbnb in Harrison Hot Springs, BC.

Instant Booking is a MUST

Airbnb claims that hosts who use instant book can get up to 2x the number of bookings!

Believe it or not - guests don’t like the idea of waiting to have their booking accepted by the host. Especially when that traveler is a seasoned vet on Airbnb. Enable instant-booking to allow for guests to easily reserve their accommodations if they have a good “Airbnb track record”. A good track record usually means they have several 5-star reviews and a verified account. If for some reason you do not feel comfortable with the booking you have the option to cancel penalty-free for 24 hours.

At Lifty Life Hospitality all of our properties utilize the instant-booking feature and have never had any issues. With over 200 bookings relying on instant-booking we have found it is one of the easiest ways to increase your search engine positioning.

5-star Reviews

92 percent of customers say that a bad review has convinced them to avoid a booking.

Review management is the lifeblood of any good vacation rental. The hospitality industry lives and dies on ensuring they’re regularly receiving 5-star reviews. Even a 4-star average on Airbnb is recognized as a relatively low-performing property and you will see a decline in your average position on the search results, thus resulting in fewer bookings.

Some tactics we suggest

  • Add something unique to the property like board games, local art, even an arcade game would be cool!
  • Encourage your guests to leave a 5-star review if they enjoyed your property.
  • Respond to every review in a friendly and professional manner.
  • NEVER bribe or extort your guests into giving 5-star reviews.

If you believe a guest will leave you a negative review then do not review them until you notice they have reviewed you. Airbnb allows the host and guest 14 days to review each other if after 14 neither party has reviewed than the reviewing period is closed.

How to respond to bad reviews

  • Guests want to be heard so ensure you address their concerns head-on.
  • Thank them for bringing their concerns to your attention.
  • Sincerely apologize!
  • Explain that you will personally correct the issue.
  • Encourage them to book again and confirm you will ensure they have a great experience the second time.

Respond and Accept Inquiries

The Airbnb algorithm heavily favors hosts that respond and accept guest inquiries quickly. Imagine you’re trying to book a property and it takes 2 days for the host to even respond. You would probably become very frustrated and move onto a different property or completely give up on the Airbnb platform. For this reason, Airbnb expects all hosts to respond within an hour of a guests initial inquiry. By responding within an hour to all of your inquiries you will increase your average conversion rate and appease the search engines.

If you’re just starting out we recommend you reduce your nightly rate to encourage an influx of 5-star bookings. The last thing you want when you’re just getting started is a review saying your place is overpriced. Make sure you exceed all expectations and provide extremely helpful and timely responses to any of your guests.

Try to accept over 90% of the inquiries you receive to show Airbnb you’re motivated to accept bookings and eager to make the guests' user-experience as simple as possible. At the end of the day, Airbnb is focused on providing great experiences to their customers and if you don’t meet that expectation they will gladly give the bookings to someone else.

Calendar and Pricing Optimization to Improve SEO

Regularly updating your calendar and pricing will show Airbnb that you’re up-to-date with availability and providing competitive pricing for your guests. We advise all property owners to update their calendars every single day. Even if it means adjusting your pricing by a couple of dollars.

Airbnb recognizes that the more your sign in and make adjustments the more eager you’re for bookings and the less likely you will deny the inquiries they send you.

We have experimented with Smart Pricing (Airbnb’s in-house pricing algorithm) and found it to be extremely generous to the guest. Smart Pricing often left thousands of dollars a year on the table. Providing affordable accommodation to guests is one thing, but discounting so deeply that it affects your bottom line is another.

We recommend using a 3rd party software that performs daily price optimization and calendar updates. This software often generates home-owners 10-20% more in revenue than if they were to try and manage it themselves.

Here's a list of the top dynamic pricing software

Professional Photography

The ranking algorithm is able to detect high-quality photos and will penalize listing that don’t. Guests rely on the images to accurately showcase the property. Airbnb punishes listing with poorly lit, over or under-edited, or highly inaccurate photos and pushed off the first page of search results; reducing the number of potential guests that see your listings.

For the best SEO for your Airbnb pay the extra cost to hire a professional photographer to properly showcase your vacation rental. A few hundred dollars on a professional photographer will have the largest bang for your buck. You will notice significantly increased rankings and higher conversions.

How to stage your short term rental for a photography session

  • Clean, clean, clean
  • Stage the property with unique decor and centerpieces
  • Keep people and dogs out of the photoshoot
  • Adjust for optimal and natural lighting

Vacation rental photography DIY tips

  • Purchase or rent a tripod
  • Use a wide-angle lenses
  • Multiple lights for enhanced flashes. Bounce the light off other walls
  • Use a DSLR camera (your iPhone won’t cut it)
  • Declutter. Make no mistake - clutter is not your friend.
  • Use professional editing software. If you’re a beginner photographer you can use software like “Snapseed”

Proper staging and photography are critical components of the ranking algorithm.

staging and photography for airbnb

Lifty Life Hospitality prides itself on being able to improve our home-owners Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway rankings. We provide SEO consultations for any host looking to improve his/ her exposure and generate more bookings.