Your top questions about Airbnb Search

Former Community Manager
Former Community Manager
London, United Kingdom

Your top questions about Airbnb Search



Hello everyone,


One of the most popular discussion topics here in the Community Center is on how Airbnb Search works. We brought your most-asked questions to the Airbnb Search team and have gathered the answers for you.


I really hope you find the responses helpful. To read the responses to each question, please click on the 'Read more' buttons! 🙂



 Answers to your top Search questions

You’ve created and published a fabulous listing and now your friends and family want to check it out. How do they find it? And among all the listings out there, how does the Airbnb algorithm decide which ones to show a traveler searching in your area? As we hear questions from hosts, two basic categories of questions emerge: What affects a listing’s ranking, and how can I find my listing online? So we took your most asked questions to the Airbnb Search team and have gathered the answers for you. Let’s dive in.


1. On search ranking, and how to improve yours:


What factors affect my listing’s placement in search results?

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That’s a great question. We have an algorithm that looks at over 100 signals to decide how to order listings in search results.  Most of those signals have to do with things that guests care about, like positive reviews and great photos. If you think guests might care about it, it probably factors into your ranking! The reason is this: you’re most likely to get a booking request (or be instantly booked) if a traveler finds the type of place they’re looking for right away. We get a lot of information from the traveler about what they want for then show them listings that match their needs most closely.


Not every signal is weighed equally, and you don’t need to have a perfect listing or an unbeatable location for your listing to rank well. But there are some really influential signals that make a difference. Some of those include: how often guests click on your listing in search results, how often guests attempt to contact you from your listing page, how many booking requests you accept, if you use Instant Book, and how competitive your listing price is.

Why are listings with Instant Book prioritised ahead of other listings in the search results?

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The main goal of the search algorithm is to facilitate bookings. And if a guest has an excellent experience booking and traveling on Airbnb they’re highly likely to use Airbnb again in the future. This helps travelers and hosts alike. We’ve seen for many years that—all other things being equal—travelers prefer to use Instant Book because they can book quickly, skip the wait time for hosts to respond, and avoid possibly being rejected. Because of the high booking success for hosts and guests, Instant Book gives your listing a boost in searches.


That said, many of you have amazing listings and use a Request to Book approach to hosting. It’s important that you know Instant Book is only one of more than a hundred factors in your listing search ranking. You can absolutely rank really well in searches without being an Instant Book host.

If I’m a Superhost, will my listing get a boost in search results?

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Although we don't give an explicit boost to Superhosts in search, the factors required to become a Superhost do help your listing rank higher. Moreover, we give guests the option to filter their search results to only display Superhosts and occasionally showcase Superhosts on the results page.

How can I improve my listing ranking in search results? Are there any settings I can adopt to help my ranking?

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The best way to immediately improve performance in Search is to enable Instant Book. Our research shows that guests prefer the booking experience that Instant Book provides. Even when they don’t filter for Instant Book listings, they often choose them over others because booking a place to stay quickly means they can get on with planning the rest of their trip. Other ways to quickly boost your ranking:

  • Make a fabulous first impression. Make sure that your first photo is a bright, attractive, high quality, horizontal image of your listing. The more clicks you get from curious travelers, the higher you’ll rank in search results over time. An enticing and realistic photo is the very best way to show off your space in an instant.
  • Price your listing competitively. Travelers are frequently looking for a great value for their trip, and by using tools like Smart Pricing, or setting your own competitive price, you can get the benefit of well informed pricing recommendations.

Is it true that if guests add my listing to their wishlists, my listing will get a little boost in the search results?

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Yes! When travelers add your listing to their wishlist, it does indeed help your search ranking! One individual wishlist may not make a visible difference but over several months, if many guests love your listing and choose to wishlist it, it will rank higher. We also use listings that guests wishlist to better personalize their search experience, so they’ll be likely to see your listing again in future searches.

Is it true that editing and tweaking my listing every day will help boost my listing in Search?

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Repeatedly changing or tweaking your listing will neither help nor hurt your Search Ranking. If you’re happy with your photos, price, and description, feel free to leave it as is and wait for booking requests to arrive!

Can I pay to advertise my listing so it appears on more search results?

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Airbnb does not offer pay-for-placement in Search. This allows us to generate impartial search results for the best matches between hosts and guests. But you can advertise, if you like. We’ve made it easy for you to find, copy, and paste the information needed to embed your listing on social media and your personal blog or website: On your listing page, you’ll see “Share” on the right hand side of the screen. Underneath that, you’ll see the embed icon. It looks like this: </>. If you click that icon, you’ll see the information you need to easily copy and paste your listings code on your personal blog or website.

Why am I on the last page on search? This way no one will ever book my listing?

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It’s important to know that some searches, for example city-level with no dates, are not highly representative of how a traveler looking to book uses the website. Some of those searches can capture many tens of thousands of listings. Travelers that book tend to use specific dates, zoom in on the map, or look for certain amenities using filters. So there will be far fewer listings in the search results than with a general search with no preferences or filters.

If I have to decline a booking because a guest doesn’t meet my House Rules, does this impact my search ranking?

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Because being rejected for a booking is one of the worst experiences for our guests, we do factor this into Search Ranking. However, we understand that sometimes you legitimately need to decline a traveler, and we take that into account. We’re most interested in how you compare to other hosts, rather than just counting your rejections.


A single rejection will not significantly hurt your ranking, but over time, rejecting more guests than other hosts in your market will lower your ranking. We find that a large majority of our hosts are able to accept most booking requests, and our best Request-to-Book hosts accept almost all of them. You can help travelers know if they should try to book your space by writing clear, detailed House Rules and keeping your calendar up to date. Make sure your settings and amenities lists also set accurate expectations.


2. On finding your listing online


I just created my listing and it appears as published on my profile, but when I search for it I can't find it. If other people search for it, they can't find it either. Why is that?

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There is usually a delay of around 6 hours between the time you publish a listing and when it shows up in search results. This gives you time to make final changes to your listing settings before receiving your first booking request. It also gives Airbnb time to ensure every new listing is suitable for the marketplace. If you don’t see your listing within 24 hours, you can contact customer support to find out why.

I haven't received a new booking in awhile, so I searched for my listing and asked a friend to search for it too. Neither of us could find it, and it’s not showing up even when I add specific details and filters. What can I do?

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If your listing is in a popular market with numerous listings, it may be necessary to apply several filters to show your listing. Don’t worry, this is how travelers search and they’ll be able to find your listing too! We recommend using dates on your search, and checking that they match your calendar availability and minimum nights settings.


A common reason Instant Book hosts (or their friends) may not see their listing is that they’ve chosen to require a guest have positive reviews in order to make a book their space. If you’ve chosen this requirement, it means your listing will show up as a Request to Book, not an Instant Book, listing for logged out users or new guests if the Instant Book filter is applied. This is because a logged out or new traveler will not be eligible to instantly book your place.

I can’t find my listing. Does it make a difference if I’m logged in or logged out?

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Most listings on Airbnb should show up in searches regardless of whether you’re logged in or not, although the ranking may appear different. This is because Airbnb search is personalized, and when a traveler logs in we have more information to better match them with listings. One exception to this is for hosts who allow Instant Book but have chosen to require that guests have positive reviews. In this case, if the Instant Book filter is applied, your listing would not show up to travelers who are logged out. This is because we can’t tell if a logged out visitor to the site has reviews.

I can see the listing appearing on the map in the Airbnb app, but when I go to view the same listing (with the same filters) in the desktop version, it isn't appearing. Why is this?

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Airbnb Search is personalized to help travelers find the best listings for their trip. Part of that involves looking at the device and location they’re searching from. This means that you may experience a different ranking of listings on different devices.

I have Instant Book activated, but my listing doesn't come up in the results. Isn't Instant Book supposed to boost my listing on search results?

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Instant Book does give you a boost, but it sounds like there may be another reason you’re not seeing your listing in the results. Make sure that your search criteria match the settings and requirements you’ve established. Anything from minimum nights requirement to date range, number of guests or not having reviews can hinder you from seeing your listing in a search. And of course, if you require guests have previous ratings, then it may be that you haven’t traveled on Airbnb yourself or that you’re not logged in as a guest.

I can’t find my listing when I search for its title. Why doesn’t Airbnb have keyword search? Will it be implemented in the future?

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Keyword search, and especially free-text search, is extremely technically challenging, but an exciting product to build! Rest assured that we have an excellent team that is always investigating how to improve the search experience, and we hope that changes like these will make it into the product in coming years.


The most important thing is this: you’re a unique host who offers a one-of-a-kind experience, because you’re you and your space isn’t like any other. We hope these tips and answers help you understand the sometimes complicated nature of matching unique travelers with hosts. Focus on what you do best, play up your strengths, and don’t worry about showing up first in search.


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424 Replies 424
Level 6
Danville, VA

It seems to me that many of the proponents of Instant Book are people who see themselves as operators of inns and renters of holiday/vacation homes, flats, and apartments -- not all, perhaps, but many.  On the other hand, the people who dislike Instant Book seem more likely to be those who believe in the concept of "home sharing" -- the people who welcome guests into their own homes.  I realize that this may not be a consistent division of the pros and cons, but it certainly seems to cover a lot of the commenters on this thread.  And, in my opinion, it separates those who hold onto the original ethos of Airbnb from those who have entrepreneurially capitalized on the many possibilities that have evolved out of that first experience with the air mattress on the floor.  I think that there really are two different sets of Airbnb hosts, even if the difference is not always totally distinct and clear, black and white.  I am a home sharer; I am not an inn operator.  I want to know my guests.  I want to read their reviews.  I don't want to use a booking medium, and I don't want Airbnb to become a booking medium.  I cannot fathom using Instant Book.  I have enough difficulty with guests who don't read my listing descriptions.  (And I try to be very careful, explicit, and detailed in my descriptions.  I don't like for guests to be surprised when they have to climb into a claw foot tub or use bed steps to ascend onto an antique bed.)  There IS a difference between the sort of people who are more likely to gravitate toward using Instant Book -- both the guests and the hosts who would use it. This thread makes that clear.  People who want a personal experience will take time to book in a more personal way.  I would not use it as a guest, nor will I use it as a host.  If, as Airbnb contends, Instant Booking provides more business, more reservations, more money to hosts -- then that should be sufficient incentive to hosts to start using Instant Booking.  Penalizing hosts who do not choose to use Instant Booking is neither just nor fair.  Moreover, it obviates the entire process of reviewing guests as it turns Airbnb into nothing more than a booking medium.

Level 2
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Very well put.  I'm sure there are varying degrees of hosts, out there, but, I'm feeling the hosts should be getting more respect than the guests.  Guests come, use and split.  Hosts are here for the long haul, and must work harder to stay on good terms with Airbnb and be grand providers as well as polished PR folks for the company.  I think Airbnb is very fair with the commission, and their phone operators have been smart, friendly and as helpful as they can.  Cover our backs, that's what we need and love.

@William284, I do not think that the difference between IB host and personally-vetting-host has to do with being an inn keeper. 

My inn over the kitchen received maybe a hudred IB so far (it's a guess, out of 200) in a shared room listing. You cannot live much closer (but by sleeping in the same room, like some listings offer, or sharing the bed, which exists too. )

I've had one IB over the last days, from a rather distant person. Late arrival, early departure, polite and clean, short review, 5 stars.

The same type of guy and stay on normal booking, nice review 4 stars. Both will return. 

I've had a few IB from really nice people in the same period, a German lady for a few days, with whom I shared the space and chatted like with a family member. A French girl yesterday, on a business trip. We shared a meal, as I had cooked a lot for today, preparation for today, my first IB guest who became a friend over the years. I learned some new things from the girl, as she has a job I had considered at 18. Interesting speculation, where I would be today, if... 

Tonight was very nice, we compared delicacies from different countries. 

In the same week I had a very high maintainance new guest, not on IB. I refused her booking even, but she insisted. The kind of guest who ignores every house rule and discovers at 11 pm, that she locked her suitcase key inside. A tempered steel lock, no less. After trying different tools including a saw in  my pyjamas, I put my clothes back on and fetched a bolt cutter from the garage. It cut the lock off. 3 stars for my trouble. Another normal guest, new, complicated and a lying review. A new version of it: she stayed here but wrote she did not. Two normal nice but four star guests. 

In my experience, IB means that they know at least a bit what they are doing and what other listings offer and cost. I could become a superhost more easily, if I only allowed IB. 

My listing is very unusual, very small, irregular steps to the loft, the shared room. Contrary to expectations, after I adapted the descriptions, the IB guests know what they book. They read a bit and watch a few photos. The others much less so.

As you say "inn operators." Maybe there is something to the tought. If you have an inn, you have dedicated rooms and areas for guests. 

Evidenty, looking at your listings, your rooms are guest rooms, whilst my listing is shared, not dedicated only for the guest. 

But it may have something to do with dedicating things in your mind. 

Reading all those "Never an IB in my house" posts, I get the feeling, that some hosts have a problem to let go of things. You need to be convinced by the guest being nice, passing your judgement, writing a nice motivation letter, that this specific person can be trusted into your house.

Whilst an IB host like me trusts that I made the space rather fool proof and will be able to handle whatever problem may arise. They cannot touch me. Globally. Never. Even if they sleep in the kitchen with all the sharp knives (I just had a self proclaimed psycho asking by sms to share my bed. not IB)

Whilst you seem to fear, that principally somebody could attain you by breaking a rule or a thing. So you have to vet them to be sure that that specific person can be trusted. 

Sorry, late night, but your post made me wonder these things.

Level 2
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

i had some young men, stay three days, during Mexican Independence weekend, and, of course, they partied till dawn, every day, broke a couple of things, but, were, generally polite.  I asked them, daily, if they needed anything and they always responded, graciously, that everything was fine, and thanked me for being so attentive.  I wrote them a good review, wanting to be positive, and was a tad pissed off, when they complained of wanting sheets and towels changed, daily.  I, since noticed that one is of them is even stole a large, nice, coffee table book, on the history of th Queen Mary Cruise Liner.  The sheets became dirtier because they'd sepRated the mattresses, moving them to other rooms, on the floor.  And because of they're bad critique of me, other guests are asking if they need to bring towels and sheets.  Should I retaliate and give you their confirmation code number, call you, or just accept it and move on?

@Thomas546, you have an impressive listing. I did not see the review you spoke about, nothing about sheets. My Spanish is very rusty, but the gist of all of them is good or great. 

People ask about towels all the time, in regions where it is or was common to bring sheets, they ask that too. Even in Paris sometimes. 

If the review is recent, you can answer publicly. something like "We provide sheets and towels and exchange them after x days. We do not change them daily normally, but guests before you did not decide to sleep as a group on the floor either, but profited from individual beds wih comfortable mattresses" - or a similar wording lauding your beds. Make them appear a bit strange, if you want to remove importance from a review.

Level 5
Johnson City, TX

Airbnb should review the criteria for declined bookings.  We have declined bookings for the following reasons. 1. Guest did not read the House Rules or did and asked for an exception that could not be granted. 2. Guest booked open dates and then asked to switch to dates that were already booked! These are the beyond the control of the host and should be excluded from negatively influencing the rank of the listing. 


Level 3
Port Angeles, WA


Instant Book flies directly in the face of Airbnb's song and dance about focusing on security.  It converts the process to a motel mode.  Anybody who has the money can book your home.  We constantly get requests from people who are brand new to Airbnb, have no pictures, have no profile info, have minimal verifications and , of course, no reviews.  Further, the verifications can't be trusted.  This summer, we had 4 separate guests whose verification listed them from Kelleyville, OK.  None of them were.  When I pointed out this obvious problem to Airbnb, the first time, I was told the guests must all have entered their info wrong!  Eventually, Airbnb admitted this was a known issue.  With Instant Book, you have, if anything, even less information, and now the people have booked your home.


Airbnb does a terrible job of explaining to newbies how the system works, and since they don't do the vetting of guests they are supposed to, we end up sending an email to the guests explaining how it works, why we need some info about them, and how the ridiculous 24 hour expiration system works.  Yet Airbnb pressures hosts to use the instant book system, which means you have no idea whatsoever who will be coming to your home.  I suspect much of the impetus for instant book is so Airbnb won't have to make even a token effort to vet the guests.  Penalize me any way you want, I will NEVER use instant book. 


Airbnb is a perfect example of a brilliant concept with a terrible execution.  Hosts are the life blood of Airbnb, and should be their primary concern.  Read all these responses.  What percentage like instant book, and what percentage are opposed?  Now, if you only cared . . .

Personally. I LOVE Instant Book. faster booking..less hassles..more confident guests..ALL my Instant Booking guests have been above average human beings and much more co.operative and likeable folks.

And for those who do not like Instant booking you are given a choice, so you should stop complaining about it.


We are not complaining that it is offered.  Yes we do have a choice.  We are complaining because it affects our rankings because we choose NOT to use it - for a number of reasons.  It is that unfairnesss to which we object.

Blame the victim.  It would be easier to stop complaining about it if Airbnb were not giving preferential treatment to the "inn operators" (as opposed to home sharers) for whom instant book works. If you like the instant booking concept, then a service like should be fine for you.  But what about home sharers -- the original Airbnb people?  What will they do after Airbnb becomes just another instant book innkeeper service?  It's easy to say "stop complaining" when you don't understand the problem or don't want to understand the problem.  Instant booking is a big problem for many -- for those who got into this because they liked the home sharing concept.

Yes, David and Melody, precisely.  Absolutely hit the nail on the head.

Kellyville, OK! I had two guests book with that information, when I asked about it they both cancelled. Seems very strange.

I truly couldn't agree more strongly with this - Instant Book doesn't work for me, because we offer such a personal service. I bitterly resent being constantly reminded that (despite being a superhost with an exemplary hosting record) my listings are "Low Appeal".  Airbnb, WAKE UP - look after your hosts please!