Simply putting your property on Airbnb without optimizing your listing will lead to no results. With 6.6+ million active listings, it takes some strategic work to make your short-term rental stand out from the competition and rank higher on Airbnb searches.
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about Airbnb SEO including what it is, how it works, and what proven strategies you can implement to boost your results as a host. The tips with which we will provide you come from our own experience as an Airbnb manager, from long-term hosts, and from recommendations directly provided by the Airbnb platform itself.
What Is Airbnb SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is at the core of content marketing. SEO combines all the strategies and tricks that a digital marketer applies to have the brand content show on the first positions on search engines like Google when users look for related topics.
In the vacation rental context, Airbnb SEO is what an Airbnb host or Airbnb manager does to maximize the visibility of their listing on the search result pages on the platform. When guests search for rentals in your area, you want to rank as close to the #1 position as possible.
The benefits of ranking as #1 are multiple and straightforward to appreciate. The more guests that see your listing, the more guests will book with you. Increased bookings will lead to a better occupancy, which translates into more revenue and higher Airbnb cap rates.
When a guest looks for a place to stay, they enter certain words which describe the location, the space, and the experience they are hoping for. These are known as keywords and make up the core of Airbnb SEO. However, just using the right keywords in your listing title and listing description is not enough to rank as #1 when Airbnb guests search for similar properties in your market.
So, let’s see what else you should work on for your listing to rank higher on Airbnb.
How Airbnb SEO Works
There are a lot of different factors that go into how listings get ranked on the Airbnb platform. However, there are two principles that are fundamental to the success of your Airbnb marketing strategy.
Airbnb SEO optimization is guided by:
Making Guests Happy
The Airbnb algorithm is a complex thing. The Airbnb team highlights that rankings are determined by many factors, but the goal is to generate results that meet the needs of guests. In this sense, the Airbnb business model is very user oriented, and the term users here refers to Airbnb guests rather than hosts.
When ordering listings during a guest search, the Airbnb algorithm gives the biggest weight to 3 aspects: quality, popularity, and price. The quality of a listing includes photos, characteristics, title and description, reviews, etc. Popularity refers to the rate at which guests engage with the listing: how often they save it, book it, communicate with the host, etc. Price reflects the nightly rates set for the listing and how they compare to similar properties in the local market, giving priority to lower prices for the benefit of guests.
So, the goal of providing a better experience for your guests during search and during stay should guide everything you do to optimize your listing.
Watching Your Competition
Besides considering your guests, you should also keep in mind your competitors in the area. First, you cannot hope to set up Airbnb SEO once and forget about it. You need to keep coming back to it every couple of weeks (at least), analyze how your rental is performing, how competition is doing, and find new opportunities to optimize your listing against the competition.
For pricing, you actually need to implement adjustments daily so that your rates are neither too high (exceeding competition) nor too low (to where you miss out on maximizing revenue). Airbnb Smart Pricing, and Airbnb pricing software can help you automate this process.
Second, all the optimizations you do to your Airbnb listing should be based on how the competition is performing. For example, in some real estate markets, all comps have 1,000+ reviews by guests, so getting a few dozen reviews will do nothing for your listing;strive to surpass the 1k count. In other markets, listings barely have 10-15 reviews, so if you get 20, you’re already ahead of the competition in one aspect of Airbnb SEO.
Now that you know the two fundamental principles that drive SEO on Airbnb, let’s look at a few specific tips on how to boost the ranking of your listing.
24 Ways to Improve Your Airbnb Ranking and Optimize Your Listing
As a host, there are lots of things that you can do to get your listing to rank higher on Airbnb search results, both during setup and later. Here are 24 tips on how to boost Airbnb SEO:
1. Start with a Top Location
Airbnb itself says that the location of a property plays a major role in its position in search results. Preference is given to places that are close to popular tourist attractions that guests like to visit during their stays in the area.
Location is not something you can change just to please the Airbnb SEO algorithm, so you have to prioritize this when buying a short-term rental. Choose a property that is not only in the best cities for Airbnb but also nearby local attractions and public transportation options. If you don’t own a property yet and don’t know where to start, you can check out Awning’s Top Deals for vacation rentals for sale in prime locations.
If you choose a strategic place for your investment, you will see results immediately, as soon as you list it on Airbnb.
2. Offer Competitive Amenities
Airbnb also suggests that hosts should strive for popularity among guests in order to rank higher, and one way to do that is to offer amenities that are in high demand and low supply. It is all about outperforming the competition.
For major things like swimming pools, hot tubs, and outdoor patios, you’d need to plan and search for a property that has these features before buying, or at least the space. For simpler things like a bathroom, air-conditioning, high-speed internet, streaming services, and grills, you can search what nearby listed properties are offering and try to top them. In most cases, investing in a few highly demanded amenities will more than pay for itself by boosting the ranking of your Airbnb and getting you more bookings and thus more income.
While you can enter amenities during the listing process, you can always go back and add more as they become available. The more amenity boxes you can check on your listing, the better for Airbnb SEO and occupancy, but make sure you don’t exaggerate as this will hurt you. As you make money from your Airbnb business, it’s worth adding a new amenity once in a while, especially as competition increases in the area.
3. Complete Your Profile and Update Your Listing
You need to work on Airbnb SEO as soon as you get on the platform. When first signing up as a host, make sure that you fill in your profile in full with all details. Airbnb and guests alike values transparency. The same holds true for your listing - complete all available information. Don’t spare your efforts when listing on Airbnb because it will reward you as soon as your listing goes live.
While the bulk of the work has to be done when you first get started, this is not a onetime thing. You need to update your listing regularly whenever you change anything around or when you notice a change in demand among guests or a change in supply among hosts. Maybe you started offering an experience, or maybe you forgot to mention an amenity or a local attraction when you created your listing. It’s never too late to optimize.
As a rule of thumb, try to update your listing at least once a month to show the Airbnb algorithm that you are staying up to date. Results should be immediate as Airbnb aims to provide up-to-date listings to guests first.
4. Use Professional Photos
One of the pillars of Airbnb SEO is providing a quality listing, and a key feature of a high-quality listing is the photos. Actually, Airbnb will not let you upload photographs below a certain size as they want pictures to be high quality, high resolution, and preferably professional. They should cover all rooms and spaces, present different angles, and highlight the amenities that your property provides. That’s a straightforward way to show potential guests that your rental is better than others in the area and to get them to book with you.
If you’re hesitant to coordinate the process yourself, Airbnb offers professional photography in some markets. Top Airbnb management companies can cover this service too.
Upload professional photos as soon as you create your Airbnb listing to optimize for the underlying algorithm. Whenever you redecorate the property, refurnish it, or implement major repairs, remember to change the photos with a new high-quality batch. It’s crucial that you highlight the positives of your property and that the rental matches the listing exactly (to avoid negative comments which will hurt your ranking).
5. Research Keywords to Include in Your Listing Title and Description
Keywords are how SEO is done, inside and outside Airbnb. To find the best keywords for your Airbnb SEO strategy, start by looking through high-ranking comparable listings in the area. Airbnb also recommends using tools like Wordstream, SEMrush, KWFinder, and Google Ads.
It's also recommended you focus on the experience that you offer rather than the space itself. For example, something like “Explore the Beaches of Miami with Your Loved One” will do better than something like “A Two-Bedroom Apartment in Miami”. Make both the title and the description are catchy, yet 100% accurate. You don’t want to frustrate your future guests. Remember that scams, discrimination, violence, or other harmful practices are not allowed in content published on Airbnb.
Try to optimize your listing title and description when you first add it on Airbnb. Don’t get desperate if you don’t immediately drive the guest views and bookings that you hoped for. It’s never too late to update these. If you see low interest, test other keywords. Keyword optimization is an ongoing process. The good thing is that the Airbnb algorithm is pretty good at catching updates quickly and re-ranking listings.
6. Optimize Your Airbnb Title and Prioritize for Search
Another thing you can do in your listing title to boost Airbnb SEO is to highlight landmarks. You should not only buy a property in a top location for Airbnb but also show the Airbnb algorithm and guests that your rental offers prime access to tourist attractions. For instance, you can write something like “Experience the Majesty of the Grand Canyon'' rather than writing “Stay in Sedona”. Meanwhile, remember to keep symbols and emojis out of your Airbnb titles. That’s against Airbnb's content policy.
Anything you do with the title of your listing should have an immediate impact. If results are not positive, keep experimenting until you get it right. If you need help, half-service Airbnb management solutions like RedAwning and Evolve offer listing optimization through SEO and content. But keep in mind, you’ll still need to handle the cleaning yourself and at 10% of revenue it might be worth getting a full-service property manager instead.
7. Make Sure Your Description Is Scannable
Organize your listing description in a way that makes it easy for hosts to just scan through it rather than having to read every single detail. You have only 500 characters to optimize this both for Airbnb SEO and guests. Break down the description in short sections with headings in bold, each of which highlights one key feature of your property. Use bullet points and numbered lists. This will allow guests to get all the important info quickly, without getting lost in unnecessary details. You don’t have to use up all the space.
Try to make this scannable from the get go, but don’t worry if it doesn’t produce optimal results. You can always go back and rephrase your description to see if this will boost bookings and occupancy. Other than that, make sure you update your description every time there is a significant change in your property. This is something you should revisit regularly, adjusting for the season, any major events in the area, or simply to improve the listing.
8. Add “Search Suggestions” in Your Listing Description
Another simple yet very effective way to optimize the description for Airbnb SEO is through additional research. Go to the Airbnb platform as a guest and start typing your location in the search bar. See what Search Suggestions pop up in the dropdown menu. These are the most popular and searched attractions in your local area. Once you find them out, include them in your listing description, if it makes sense. The best place to fit them is a few lines down from the top.
Like everything else related to your listing description, this can have an immediate effect and get your listing to rank higher on Airbnb, as long as you do it right.
9. Put Emojis in the Listing Description
While you are not allowed to use symbols or emojis in listing titles, you can use them in listing descriptions. Emojis are an effective way to grab the attention of potential guests and appeal to their feelings and emotions. This can help you get more reservations from guests who land on your listing page. However, just like elsewhere, make sure not to overdo it by using too many emojis to where your description becomes incoherent and annoying.
Similar to other Airbnb SEO strategies related to your listing description, this one can be automated with the help of tools. While using emojis might not improve the ranking of your listing, it has the potential to boost bookings if done right. The impact can be immediate.
10. Add a Call to Action Towards the End of Your Description
Remember that optimizing the performance of your property listing is very much a marketing job. You have to apply various marketing best practices to drive traffic to it and to convert interested guests into bookings. Include a call to action (CTA) at the end of the description. Invite guests to get in touch to learn more or to make a reservation with an option to pay later. After all, the goal of all your Airbnb SEO efforts is to get higher occupancy.
Similar to putting emojis, adding CTAs to your description might not help with the Airbnb algorithm for ranking. But it might appeal to more guests and make them take an action in your favor - whether they get in touch with you (which is favored by Airbnb SEO principles) or directly book a stay at your property (which is beneficial at many levels). You can see the results as soon as you include a CTA.
11. Turn on Instant Book
By default, Airbnb hosts need to approve bookings, while Instant Book is a feature which - when turned on - automatically approves bookings on behalf of the host. Airbnb explains that this helps with SEO and rankings as it means more communication and immediate responses, both of which are important factors in the algorithm. The cool thing is that hosts can use filters to set up the guests that can get automatically approved in case they have any concerns. However, hosts should not be worried as Airbnb has its own procedures to verify guests and their credibility.
Using Instant Book is incredibly easy, so you don’t need the help of a third party. It will increase the exposure of your listing as it will show in results that filter for this option. The Airbnb algorithm favors listings with the Instant Book option.
12. Create a Guidebook to Include in Your Listing
Another way to improve Airbnb SEO is to add a guidebook to your listing. The platform has a dedicated feature, where you can provide personal recommendations to future guests on how to make the most out of your property or how to enjoy the area. You can include lists of top attractions and your own personal favorites and must-dos. Airbnb reports increased booking rates among listings with guidebooks. Remember that it is all about serving guests and their needs.
You can start with a simple guidebook and add to it over time, especially if you’re a remote investor who’s not too familiar with the local market and local attractions. It’s still worth adding some content to the guidebook as soon as you list to get this immediate boost.
13. Set Up Competitive Pricing
Airbnb itself considers pricing as one of the three most important factors for its ranking algorithm. From an Airbnb SEO point of view, the pricing of your listing should not exceed the prevailing nightly rates for comparable properties with similar amenities in the area. Indeed, Airbnb will propose a reasonable daily rate for your property type and market, based on comps. One way you can push up your rate without hurting your ranking is by adding more amenities to your rental to outperform the competition.
So that your revenue does not suffer from lowering your nightly rates, implement dynamic pricing, which means changing rates depending on seasonality, weekdays vs. weekends, public holidays, and local demand and supply. Airbnb offers this option through Smart Pricing, which will automatically adjust your rates daily to accommodate changes in demand and supply. Alternatively, you can also use third-party tools like AirDNA Smart Rates, Beyond Pricing, and PriceLabs.
The impact of this strategy on your rankings can be instant.
14. Opt for Flexible Policies
When listing on Airbnb, the platform lets you choose how flexible you want to be in your cancellation policies and house rules. The general recommendation is to remain as flexible as possible because guests are more likely to book listings that provide more cancellation options. And this means that the Airbnb SEO algorithm prioritizes these listings as they better match the needs and requirements of guests.
Unless you have any particular reasons to limit cancellations, opt for the flexible option. It will pay off.
15. Keep Your Booking Calendar Up to Date
There are two main things you can do to optimize your calendar. First, maximize your availability window, i.e., keep your calendar open for many months in advance so that guests can already book their vacation a year from now. Second, if you plan to use your property for personal reasons, block the calendar well in advance. You want to have your calendar up to date at all times. The more availability your listing has, the more likely it is to show up in a search covering any future time.
In case you list on other platforms too, Airbnb provides you with the option to import existing calendars. Automation tools such as Evolve and Guesty allow you to sync calendars too.
16. Lower the Minimum Length of Stay
Airbnb allows you to set up a minimum stay for trip length in case you’d like to cater to longer-term guests. However, this goes against best practices for Airbnb SEO. After all, you want your listing to apply to as many searches as possible. If you have a minimum stay requirement, you’ll automatically push away all guests looking for 1- or 2-night stays, hurting your occupancy and your ranking. It’s best to have a minimum stay of 1 night (the default).
This tactic can work immediately as your property will start popping up in the searches of short-length stays right away.
17. Ask People to Add Your Listing to Their Wishlists
A proven way to boost your ranking as a new Airbnb host is to ask your friends and family to add you to their Wishlists as guests. Airbnb provides guests with the option to save their favorite places without committing to booking them (though that’s supposed to be the intention). In front of the Airbnb algorithm, this counts as engagement, and the algorithm favors listings with more guest engagements.
While this is something easy to do, the results will not be immediate. You’ll need a good number of guests to add your listing to their Wishlists to get meaningful results.
18. Minimize Rejections and Cancellations
Over and over again, Airbnb highlights the importance of offering great hosting in order to rank high in search results. The more times you reject a booking or you cancel a reservation as a host, the less hospitable you appear to be and the more likely you are to default on your next guest. Thus, Airbnb SEO deprioritizes listings with too many rejections and cancellations. So, work hard on minimizing - or even eliminating - these negative practices.
This is not something that you set up once and forget about. You will need to continue putting effort into welcoming as many guests as interested and keeping your promises to guests at all times. Just keep the availability on your calendar up to date to avoid having to cancel reservations.
19. Get a Lot of 5-Star Reviews
Arguably one of the most important factors for ranking high is to get more 5-stay reviews (and no negative reviews) than your competitors. There is no golden number of how many you need to get to improve Airbnb SEO - it depends mostly on local competition. You need to work very hard on getting more positive reviews by guests than nearby competitors. To do this, make sure your listing and rental are perfectly matched; offer an experience besides a space; maintain your property well; offer good supplies; and be as available as needed (some guests prefer on-site hosts while others don’t want to even meet the host).
After a stay, follow up with the guest, ensure that everything was up to their expectations, and politely ask for a review. In addition, take a few minutes to rate your guests too - it’s all about creating a sense of community and giving to this community. All these factors will have a strong positive impact on your ranking.
The issue, however, is that building a solid base of 5-star reviews takes time as you need to host enough people who are happy and willing to rate you. After all, customers are much more likely to leave a negative review when dissatisfied than a positive one when satisfied in any business, including Airbnb. So, you need to put active efforts into this to get your listing to rank higher.
20. Speed Up Your Replies
How well you communicate with guests is a major determinant of whether the Airbnb algorithm will place your listing high. You need to respond to all queries within 24 hours at max (preferably within an hour, even better if you respond in under 15 minutes), and you should not leave any messages unanswered. Response time and response rate are crucial.
While being constantly available to respond to guest questions can be exhausting, you can use different short-term rental management tools like those already mentioned to automate communication. You can have automated responses which get sent to various types of questions, at check-in, check-out, and during the stay.
21. Strive for an Airbnb Superhost Status
In 2009, Airbnb launched the Superhost program in order to reward good, well-performing hosts. To qualify, you need to achieve a 4.8+ overall rating, 10+ stays, <1% cancellation rate, and 90%+ response rate. The latter two are fully in your control, while you’ll need to put some work into the former two.
But becoming a Superhost is worth all the work as the Airbnb algorithm gives strong preference to listings by Superhosts. If you’ve been an exemplary host until now, the default is that you will continue serving the needs of future guests in the best possible way, so rankings will recommend your property. This is one of the most powerful Airbnb SEO strategies.
Achieving an Airbnb Superhost status might take a few months until you can check all the requirements. But the result will be immediate.
22. Promote Your Property Outside Airbnb
You should not limit your Airbnb SEO efforts to the platform itself. You should promote your listing on other digital channels including your vacation rental website (you should have one), emails you send out to your network, host communities and forums, etc. The more traffic you bring to your listing (even from external sources), the more bookings you might get, which will boost your ranking in the future.
You need to work on marketing and promoting your property outside Airbnb for maximum results. If you have access to any marketing automation tools, for example, for email marketing, you can definitely take advantage of them.
23. Build a Social Media Page for Your Listing
Another external strategy is to create a social media page for your listing where you add photos and a description and also link directly to the listing on Airbnb. The more views you get, the more likely someone is to book.
Building a social media page should not take much of your time, but you should continue updating it and posting on it on a weekly basis (at least) in order to optimize engagement. This is a good place to talk about local events and attractions to get more people to visit the area and stay at your property.
24. Test Paid Advertising
Last but not least, you can try running Google Ads or Facebook Ads of your listing. This will definitely bring a lot of qualified traffic to your Airbnb listing, with all the benefits that this generates. However, the cost of ads can be too high to achieve a good overall ROI.
We’d recommend that you start with a small budget while the ads algorithms learn about your best target audience and start optimizing performance. In a few weeks, you can evaluate whether ads are helping your listing rank higher on Airbnb or not. In this way you don’t risk losing money from promoting your listing, rather than making money.
As a multi-billion dollar business with millions of active listings, Airbnb has put a lot of effort into creating a complex, multi-factor process for ranking listings in guest searches. The two primary goals to focus on improving Airbnb SEO are to serve the needs of guests and to do better than the competition. With the 24 tips above, you are guaranteed to get your listing to rank higher on Airbnb and to increase your bookings, income, and return.