Trying to understand the dreaded search Alogirithim - or - how do I get onto page one?

Thomas746
Level 4
Los Angeles, CA

Trying to understand the dreaded search Alogirithim - or - how do I get onto page one?

Ok this is going to be a little long but I think those who read it will recognize the dilemma.  I put this post into a reply to another post about the pricing and position one gets in a Traveler's search.  How to get on the top of the list.  I thought I would share this with the whole community as I've spent a lot of time testing searches and talking to the folks at Airbnb - to no avail.  So I am putting out a kind of summary of four weeks of regular work on this issue.  I'm writing this as of May 2019. 

I did a number of Airbnb searches from a position of traveler coming to Airbnb for the first time who knows or doesn't know about Plus, Superhost etc.  So I would search no plus, no super host, basic amenities, thinking if someone is looking for something other than a hotel experience they would want a kitchen, wifi, TV, a/c, heating, a private bathroom, and a bedroom - this is a whole house I'm talking about - very very centrally located in LA - a total house for guests only.  I did this kind of search with and without dates.   I also did a deeper amenities search (Superhost, instant booking, price range, dates, almost all amenities - smoke detector, hair dryer etc).

I found my place (I am a Superhost with over a dozen reviews (all 5+),  came up only when I asked for specific days I had available - only those days.  Here's a second hit to that:  if I had a five-day block open and listed all five days in the search, I came up.  If I listed only three of those five days, I didn't.  I called Airbnb and got into a circle dance that of course lead nowhere.   I also changed the price up and down.  Down seems to have an effect but not as drastic as I was hoping - I'm talking going way down.  So I can't figure it out really.  And lastly, why is it I see other places popping up on page one, three, five and seven, when I don't show up on any of the 17 pages of 300 homes?   I see these folks are double listing their places with little tweaks here and there (price, length of stay etc) to make it seem like it's a different place.  (I can't imagine Airbnb can't figure out it is the same place and do something about it - in essence giving the same place a number of hits on a search).  One thing I think might be affecting getting on a search is the amount of positive reviews.  If you have a lot of great reviews it seems to help get you on the first page.  (if it's not a plus or superhost filtered search).  But not getting on at all unless you have a specific block of dates sandwiched between booked dates and it has to be all those days requested in the search to get your place a hit.  One day less, no hit.  Sorry to repeat but I see no rhyme or reason to the algorithm.  All comments, suggestions, and commiseration welcome.

Thomas 

34 Replies 34
Thomas746
Level 4
Los Angeles, CA

Called Airbnb today looking for what happened to the people it was being kicked to upstairs.  The guy it seems didn't kick anything upstairs at all and instead kicked it down the road.  The new agent tried telling me how many times my listing was on a search and I shot back that half of it was me or friends trying to find me and figure out what was going on.   So this guy finally said he was going to refer it up to Product support - I will wait and see if I get some support from Product.   

Thomas746
Level 4
Los Angeles, CA

I meant to say I am right now looking for someone re: FB and Instagram. 

Thomas746
Level 4
Los Angeles, CA

@Sarah977 

Sounds like a good idea.  I'd also like to see Airbnb weed out duplicate listings of the same unit.   I can understand if you want to put it out to folks looking for long term rentals so you have a dupe listing where it's no less than 30 days, but other than that, research keeps saying one of the things looked at in the top five by Airbnb for search position is days, so anything more than one day available research says affects -  how much, I'm not certain.  

Sarah977
Level 10
Sayulita, Mexico

Of course we all need to make sure there isn't something like a map misplacement error that's affecting our search ranking, but let's face it, everyone wants to be on page one, but that's impossible. What Airbnb should be doing is moving placement up by 1 page every day, so it rotates and every listing is given the chance to be on page one at some point, not using some complex non-transparent algorithm.

Azzuri0
Level 5
Ubud, Indonesia

The price is the most important criteria, the rest of the actions you take  are negligible, for some months my place rents out for 150 dollars, for some 200, 250, 300 $, and the more expensive the price the more far I am on the page list, for 150 $ I am on first almost always, for 300$ I cannot find myself.

Mike1034
Level 10
Mountain View, CA

@Azzuri0The star rating is also very important. I have seen two or three houses close together on the map. The one with higher star rating is shown on top while the other ones were covered by the top one. The nightly price of the top one is even higher than the others.

Thomas746
Level 4
Los Angeles, CA

My star rating is full 4.9/5.  I have every amenity save a pool, hot tub or jacuzzi, gym.  My reviews are really stellar though only 13.  Response time etc all less than an hour.  Never a cancel, never a complaint.  l brought the nightly price ridiculously low just to test it.  

Mike1034
Level 10
Mountain View, CA

@Thomas746As Alice suggested above, you may have to check with Airbnb technical team. There might be an issue with the map to recognizing your home address. It seems that your listing does not come up on the map at all after I zoomed in the map to a large extent. Normally a listing will appear even if it is covered by some listings nearby after a large zoom-in on the map.

Thomas746
Level 4
Los Angeles, CA

Mike  Yes, I called Airbnb and they sent it upstairs.  I'm waiting on a call or email.  I will let everyone know how it turns out and thank you for trying to find me!  I wish it was easier!  

 

Thomas 

Alice595
Level 10
Concord, CA

@Thomas746 Definitely something weird happened to your listing. I tried to narrow down to where your home is located on the map. I zoomed in and still could not see your listing. Just wonder how your listing could be booked. I saw that your house were still blocked for many dates in May and in June.

 

Is the location shown on the map in your listing correct? There are a few discussion about the map used by Airbnb has issues with some address. This could possibly be the issue in your case.

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Thomas746
Level 4
Los Angeles, CA

So today I did the same exact search and without dates, I came up after two Plus homes and one non plus home.  Then when I put in dates that are available on my calendar, 17 pages of homes and I am nowhere.  I kept the two pages and called Ab. They kicked it upstairs when I sent them links to the two searches.  Let's see what they say.   Thanks. 

Thomas746
Level 4
Los Angeles, CA

Not heard a word from Airbnb.  

Ian-And-Anne-Marie0
Level 10
Kendal, United Kingdom

Hi @Thomas746 

Your findings of:

I found my place (I am a Superhost with over a dozen reviews (all 5+), came up only when I asked for specific days I had available - only those days. Here's a second hit to that: if I had a five-day block open and listed all five days in the search, I came up. If I listed only three of those five days, I didn't

Are probably the most pertinent!

 

I can quote to you various research thats been done on listing placement resulting in a top 10 of:

Guest Satisfaction

Absolute Price

Listing word count

Minimum stay length

Days since calendar updated

Price/Bed

Description Length

Whether Instant Book

Review Count

Saved to Wishlist

... then 'camping' on your listing making small changes.

 

But that aside, what you found would work best for you.

 

Take what you found, mix it with those top ten and list only the most popular days you book. (Say - Friday, Saturday, Sunday). Then, make those days premium value and add an 'occassional day' at less 40% If those days match your travellers requirements you will be found, the price on your listing will be "from -40%"  then you will win and have the rest of the week off!

 

If your travellers are random, then its a lot more difficult.

 

Thomas746
Level 4
Los Angeles, CA

@Ian-And-Anne-Marie0 

Thank you for your response.  I'm not 100% clear on all of your response so I'm going to ask for clarification, please:

I can quote to you various research thats been done on listing placement resulting in a top 10 of:

 

Guest Satisfaction  You mean reviews here, am I correct? 

 

Absolute Price day rate + cleaning+extra guests?  Is this what you mean?  

 

Listing word count    Not certain about this one.  The pitch at the top of the page? 

 

Minimum stay length  1?  3?  I've just yesterday gone from 3 to 1 to see if that changes anything.

 

Days since calendar updated Updated how?  I go into my Airbnb site every day.  I tweak things all the time.  But how do you update your calendar?  Update to what?  

 

Price/Bed    How does this compare to Absolute Price above?   I've heard have a low price on the daily rate and have it for one person, with 20 or so added for each additional guest.  So if your price is 130 you are most certainly going to get 150 as most times there is a second person.  I don't know if this impacts placement or not?  Any thoughts? 

 

Description Length  Not sure if you mean the paragraphs about "You're going to love your time staying at this charming..." etc or something else.  

 

Whether Instant Book  

 

Review Count  

 

Saved to Wishlist  - someone else saving my listing on their wishlist is what is meant here, correct? 

 

... then 'camping' on your listing making small changes.    Is this referring to the tweaks I do every day?  

 

But that aside, what you found would work best for you.

 

Take what you found, mix it with those top ten and list only the most popular days you book. (Say - Friday, Saturday, Sunday). Then, make those days premium value and add an 'occassional day' at less 40% If those days match your travellers requirements you will be found, the price on your listing will be "from -40%"  then you will win and have the rest of the week off!   Sorry but I'm not quite sure I'm getting this one.  I rent this place all the time.  If you're saying set a price for the weekend and then discount the other four days by 40%    So say a weekend is $200 per night it would mean weakdays M-Th would  be $120 per night?      Am I getting this idea right?  

 

If your travellers are random, then its a lot more difficult.  All my travelers are at this point random as I've yet to get any repeat guests.  Again, is this what you're referring to here?  

 

Thank you so much for responding.  

 

Thomas

Ian-And-Anne-Marie0
Level 10
Kendal, United Kingdom

@Thomas746 

Pm'd you some further info.

Ann72
Level 10
NY, NY

@Ian-And-Anne-Marie0 I had the same questions that @Thomas746 had in response to your post - would you mind answering here, rather than in PM?

Ian-And-Anne-Marie0
Level 10
Kendal, United Kingdom

@Ann72 The information came from research results here:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/tgl2uwdkhe721vq/Hacking%20Airbnb’s%20search%20rank%20algorithm.pdf?dl=0

@Thomas746 's questions were better served by reading through the data. Have a quick look at page 12 then then read through the research as you feel fit.

Alogirithim's can change all the time which is why I thought @Thomas746 's date availabillity searches were so interesting.

Ann72
Level 10
NY, NY

@Ian-And-Anne-Marie0 Thanks, Ian!  I read that last year but it bears re-reading.

 

In the meantime I'm trying to discover how people search.  There is a six-part series of articles on "Think With Google" that I'm working my way through:  https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/micro-moments/get-away-moments-travel-marketing/

Ian-And-Anne-Marie0
Level 10
Kendal, United Kingdom

@Ann72 

Thanks, I'll have a look at that too.

 

Last week I was talking with a friend who managed large hotels as parts of large hotel groups. He had retired but his daughter was involved with a new group and she was managing a hotel with 360 rooms. They need to fill that hotel 360 times a day for 365 days a year. When they play 'google' you don't stand a chance against them. Out there and in ABB the things that really count are the 'little' 'exclusive' 'different' things you do, or the 'twist' that @Thomas746 has found or upselling your listing in some way. 

 

When one listing is difficult, how difficult do think 360 per. day might be ?!

Ann72
Level 10
NY, NY

@Ian-And-Anne-Marie0 You're right, of course.  I'm not interested in doing Mariott-level marketing!  But with all the hosting tips Airbnb gives us, they never tell us how guests search.  What filters do they use, for instance?  I imagine a new user uses fewer filters while a more seasoned user uses more.  I assume they start with date and location and drill down from there.  Number of people for any more than two or three.  How many use the price filter?  InstantBook, SuperHost, entire place, etc.?  I would love to know this.

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