Understanding which listings on Airbnb are shown on the first page of search results is a big topic! 🧐 I've divided the explanation into 2 parts.
This week's part explains how search works on Airbnb and why 🧑🏫
In Part 2, I'll uncover🔦 which actions you can immediately take to improve your search ranking and your Airbnb business 📈
This week's episode covers:
👉The board framework of how search on Airbnb works
👉Factors that Airbnb says impact search results
👉Factors that the host community has discovered by trial and error
Be sure to download my guide 👉👉 17 Hacks to the Top of Search
👉👉Every week I post a few quick Airbnb tips on my Instagram account! 📸📸 Follow me: @airbnbuncovered
Welcome back to my channel! I’m Matt the creator of Airbnbuncovered.com and Airbnb super host. On this channel, I UNCOVER some of the best kept hosting secrets as well as share with you everything that I’ve ever learned after hosting over 3000 guests.
On this week’s episode, I’m going to uncover how search works on Airbnb and try to answer the question of why your listing isn't the first one shown.
A big challenge with this topic is that Airbnb doesn’t publicly disclose exactly how it ranks listings and decides which ones it’s going to show first. They do share some of the things that impact search results with hosts, but not everything. The hosting community has tried to reverse engineer the rules for search and from this work we know a bit more.
We’re going to dive into both of these areas to help you rise to the top.
Search is a topic that I was obsessed with a few years ago when I first started hosting. I wanted my listing to be the very first one shown when a guest searched. Since then I’ve spent countless hours researching and testing how to get to the top of search. While it’s almost impossible to be the very first listing shown for every guest, there are some steps you can take to be there more consistently.
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Search results on Airbnb is a huge topic! So I’m going to break it into two parts. This week’s video is going to go through how search works and the concepts behind it. And next week’s video is going to talk about the actions you need to take to rise towards the first page of search results. Even split into two videos, it’s still a lot of information and probably too much to simply watch and remember. To help you along, I’ve created a guide that is available on my website. The Guide is called “17 Hacks to the top of search” and I’ll link to it in the description below. Be sure to download this guide because there’s a few hacks in the guide, that aren’t covered in these 2 videos.
To truly understand search I think you need to first understand how Airbnb approaches it. With this framework in mind, I think it’s easier to understand why the actions I’ll go over next week work. Some of this explanation is according to Airbnb and some of it is according to my own experiences and the generally accepted rules of search from the broader Airbnb community. I’m basically sharing the culmination of all my research on this topic from the last 4 years.
The first thing to bear in mind is that Airbnb exists to make money. At the time of this video which is April 2020, Airbnb is valued at approximately 30 Billion dollars. They’ve earned this valuation by creating a website or booking portal, if you want to call it that, that converts would-be guests into confirmed reservations quickly and efficiently.
To do that they’ve built a sophisticated system or search algorithm, which is what I’ll be calling it for the rest of this video, that cleverly shows available listings for a particular date in a particular order that the system believes is the most relevant to a potential guest. Their strategy is to minimize the number of listings a guest looks at before seeing the listing they want to book.
If you’ve ever searched for accommodation in a large city or popular tourist destination you know that the options can be endless, and it would be even worse without the sophisticated search algorithm.
You may be thinking, lots of choice is a good thing. But there are numerous marketing studies out there that prove that too much choice is actually a bad thing. With too many options consumers become confused and frustrated and often shy away from completing a purchase. It appears that Airbnb knows this and, while they’re actively growing the number of listings on the site, they’re also finding ways to make sure guests aren’t overwhelmed. Reducing this overwhelm is where the search algorithm comes into play. And this is also the first main point of the video – as hosts, we need to understand that search on Airbnb is primarily working for the guest and not hosts.
As I mentioned Airbnb wants to convert would-be guests into paying customers. So we as hosts, need to set up our listings and operate our businesses in ways that please the algorithm and subsequently guests, over our own business desires.
While this sounds a bit obvious, let me do a bit more explaining. It’s easy to go into your listing and start adding settings that work well for you or make your life easier. Good examples here are things like setting your nightly rate way too high, limiting check-ins to only a few days of the week or taking forever to respond to guests. But these aren't overly guest friendly and the algorithm can recognize it. As a result it’s likely going to reject listings that aren’t overly guest friendly or at the very least prioritize them much lower.
Now that you know what the search algorithm is broadly trying to do, let’s look at some of the specifics. We’re going to start with the stuff we know about search from Airbnb. The first thing to know is matching, which I touched on earlier. But let me give you a few examples to explain how matching works: The search algorithm will also only show listings that have availability for the dates a guest has entered. Which makes sense – why show listings if they’re already booked. If the guest picks that 5 people are traveling, then it will show listings that accommodate that many guests. If the guest sets a max budget, then only listings that fit in the budget will be shown. This is why you see the additional search filter at the top of the search screens. The main filters are dates, number of guests, work trip, type of listing price and a few others. All of these are designed to narrow the amount of choice.
The system also takes it a step further with some artificial intelligence and will show listings a guest has previously visited towards the top of search. It does this because it’s trying to convert the potential guest into a reservation. If a guest is looking for a short stay, Airbnb will show listings that have had a lot of short stays, because it thinks the host is likely to accept a short booking. Unfortunately, we don’t much more about how Airbnb tries to match listings to guests. But Airbnb does tell us that within these results, the algorithm first shows listings hosted by a super host and listings designed as Plus.
Now for the part that, I along with other hosts, have pieced together. We believe the algorithm then uses activity levels to decide which listings to show at the top of the search results within the super host, plus and regular listings. So the more views and subsequently bookings a listing gets, the higher it will rank.
If a listing gets lots of views, but no bookings then it will likely fall in search and that’s because there’s something on the listing that is detracting guests from booking. so the algorithm is not going to continue to send potential guests to a listing that most guests click away from. Because of this Airbnb tracks a listing’s Inquiry and Request and acceptance rates and then uses these hosting statistics to rank listings within results.
Reviews also play a HUGE factor in your search ranking. You will rarely ever see a listing with fewer than 3 stars appear very high in search. So the more 5-star reviews a listing guests, generally speaking, the more likely it is to appear on the first page of search results.
On the surface, it sounds like all you have to do to be shown near the top of search results is to become a super host, get your listing designated as “Plus” or both and then get lots of eyes on your site to secure lots of bookings. And yes, in a nutshell, it's that easy, but the question is how to do you do that? And that’s what next week’s video will talk about. I’ll go over how to audit or setup your listing in a way that pleases the search algorithm and then I’ll cover what actions you have to do to continue to please the algorithm.
To summarize today’s video, we know there needs to be some sort of criteria to rank listings and show guests listings that they’re likely to book near the top of the results. Otherwise, guests would probably become incredibly frustrated and probably abandon trying to find accommodation on Airbnb. I shared with you my understanding of how Airbnb ranks listings in their search results. I explained that Airbnb tries to match guest preferences with listings that meet these preferences, by matching things like dates, number of guests, type of stay, etc. I also explained that super hosts, Plus listings, listings with lots of activity and solid reviews get to be shown first.
In the next video, I’ll show you what specific actions you can take to meet these criteria and rise in search results. I hope that you found this video helpful and informative. If you did, please give this video a thumbs up and rate it 5-stars if you’re asked. I hope that you’ll share this video with your host friends. If you haven’t already subscribed to my channel, please do so now and click on the notification bell. Look for part two of this series on getting to the top of search next Tuesday. So, until then, bye for now.