Understanding the Airbnb algorithm
According to Airbnb, their property listing algorithm is based on around 100 different factors or ‘signals’. These are tracked on every listing and used to calculate a unique score which determines where a property appears in Airbnb’s search results. A good way to break down the Airbnb ranking is to consider three key areas:
- The quality of your Airbnb listing
- The bookability of your Airbnb listing
- Your dependability as an Airbnb host
The good news is, there are ways you can positively influence each of these factors to improve your Airbnb ranking over time. Making the right changes will help turn an average listing into a high-performing Airbnb listing that ranks higher, gets more clicks and attracts more bookings.
1. The quality of your Airbnb listing
A good quality Airbnb listing starts with great photos, a well-crafted listing headline and an informative description of what the property offers guests.
Your aim with photos is to encourage people to click your listing. This has a huge impact on your Airbnb ranking. Choose the first photo carefully – it’s the one potential guests see when they are looking through lists of potential properties. Your first photo has an important job – to encourage curiosity and encourage people to click on your listing to find out more. Our research found that 79% of people were more inclined to book properties with hero images of attractive external shots of the property.
If your property does not have a stunning exterior, don’t worry. Scenic views or a lovely living area is your next best hero photo. Make sure you have a good number of photos added – we recommend 25+. Properties with 25+ photos get 6X more inquiries than those with less than 10. After the hero photo, choose the next four photos carefully, as these are shown with the hero photo at the top of your Airbnb listing.
Make sure that all your images are bright – take them in natural daylight wherever possible. It is also really important to use the highest resolution you can – blurry poor quality photos put guests off. Finally, take your photos in landscape (horizontal), not portrait (vertical) orientation. We recommend getting professional photos of your property, these are a sound investment that will help you stand out from the competition. Our guide to taking photos that appeal has more great tips.
When guests scroll through lists of available holiday properties, the title or listing headline is often the first thing they see. It’s the gateway to the rest of your listing, so needs to grab their attention and get them to click to learn more. The more clicks you get, the better your Airbnb score. We recommend using this formula to craft your perfect Airbnb listing headline:
Adjective + Number of Bedrooms + House Type (House/Apartment/Cottage) + Special Feature (Garden/Log Burner/Netflix/etc.) + Another Special Feature
So, you get something like these:
Modern 2-Bed Apartment with Stunning City Views & Free Parking
Delightful 3-Bed Cottage with Log Burner in Peaceful Woodland Setting
Luxury 5-Bed City Apartment for 10 guests – 2 Minutes from Bars and Restaurants
Your listing headline should contain no more than 50 characters. Listings with longer titles are prioritised in Airbnb search results. Our guide to writing killer headlines has more tips!
A well-written property description also adds to the overall quality of your Airbnb listing, so it makes sense to spend some time writing a clear and informative description that really sells the property to guests. We recommend using bullet points and highlighting key features of the property and the local area. Our guide to writing property descriptions that sell offers lots of great advice.
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2. The bookability of your Airbnb listing
In addition to the overall quality of each listing, Airbnb also takes a number of ‘bookability’ factors into account when determining a property’s overall position in Airbnb search results. Factors like whether you offer instant book, nightly price, cancellation flexibility and overall availability have a powerful impact on your Airbnb ranking position.
Airbnb is guest-focused, so listings that make it easy for guests to book are prioritised in search results. Guests can also filter by properties that allow instant book, so any that don’t are immediately removed from search results. All TravelNest properties have instant book turned on, as this has a huge and positive impact on booking volume.
A common issue that leads to poor performance on Airbnb is where a property is overpriced in comparison to the competition. Research shows that Airbnb heavily favours lower-priced listings. As a business, Airbnb wants to offer guests the best deal, so lower prices mean a better ranking for your property. What’s more, guests filter their search results on Airbnb by price, often filtering out the more expensive properties.
Alongside your nightly price, your cancellation flexibility has a huge impact on booking volumes. Greater cancellation flexibility offers guests a longer cancellation window should they need to cancel a booking. At the time of writing, 86% of all TravelNest bookings for 2021 were for properties offering flexible cancellation. What’s more, our recent Travel and Tourism Survey further underlined the importance of cancellation flexibility post-Covid19 – 90% of travellers said flexible cancellation is ‘very important’ to them when booking a holiday home. As with price, guests can filter by cancellation flexibility on Airbnb – those that don’t offer this show up in far fewer searches.
Airbnb wants to sell as many dates as possible, so prioritises listings that offer good availability. We recommend opening up your calendar and providing as much availability as possible. This means your property will appear in multiple guest searches on Airbnb. It is important to have pricing in place for the next 18 months to 2 years and ensure your calendar is open and available for booking on as many dates as possible. Also, consider lowering your minimum nights stay to boost performance.
3. Your dependability as an Airbnb host
Airbnb wants hosts that are reliable and whom guests can depend on. That’s why factors including your cancellation rate, the number of positive Airbnb reviews and your response rate to enquiries all have an impact on your Airbnb ranking.
Cancellation rate refers to the percentage of bookings that are cancelled by a host within a defined period, usually 12 months. Try to keep your cancellations to an absolute minimum, as listings with a high cancellation rate are de-prioritised in Airbnb’s search results.
Airbnb favours hosts who get back to guest enquiries promptly. When you become a TravelNest customer, our Bookings Team deals with all guest enquiries quickly and efficiently for you. 97% of all Airbnb inquiries are dealt with within 24 hours, which has a positive impact on our property owner ranking on Airbnb.
Positive guest reviews boost the performance of your holiday home listing on Airbnb – those with good reviews rank higher. Our blog on Five ways to get great guest reviews for your vacation rental offers lots of advice to help you collect lots of positive reviews and boost your performance on Airbnb.
We are experts in listing optimisation
When you become a TravelNest customer, our dedicated team of property optimisation specialists will help you create a high-quality listing for your property that performs well – not just on Airbnb – but on over 30 top booking sites.