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
Sarah977
Level 10
Sayulita, Mexico

@Ann72   I'd imagine that the price filter is extensively used by almost all guests. The only people to whom price isn't a factor are those who can afford the Four Seasons, which is where they'll be staying, not looking for an Airbnb 🙂

Something I found distressing was when a guest I had last year told me that when searching for a listing here and putting in price range, it took 3 searches for my place to come up, with her upping the max each time. She only saw mine when she entered a max price far higher than what I charge, which leads me to assume that Airbnb is trying to get guests to book a higher priced property, so they can up their booking fees.

I agree, it would be very useful to see stats on which filters are used most often. Certainly would be more useful than receiving emails telling me bookings are down by 8% in my area so I should lower my price. Of course they're down- tourist season is pretty much over here until October.

 

Michelle2137
Level 4
New South Wales, Australia

@Sarah977 I would say you were right Sarah. I've used airbnb extensively for 3 years and it is almost impossible for me to find cheap places. I have on occasion booked a prime spot so Airbnb will just push me to that limit because they know that's what I can spend. It has even given me one low cost option which is a hostel, what a joke! I know because I often have my kids use their phones to find something

 

I've often found cheap rates at the top hotels, but I personally hate hotels, can't breathe in them and want a kitchen even if its just to make my own tea. I always have my coffee in bed before I go anywhere lol. It's my downtime for the day.

 

I will only book a hotel if I cannot find a decent place in the location which is often around airports and popular spots, then hotels are often cheaper.

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

@Sarah977 

I'd imagine that the price filter is extensively used by almost all guests. 

 

I would say the amount of people filter would be most used before the price filter. Whether thats 1,2,4,....people

 

Ann72
Level 10
NY, NY

@Ian-And-Anne-Marie0 I would agree with @Sarah977.  The number of people filter is probably not used when only one or two people are traveling.  Two is probably the most common group size, and every size group uses the price filter.

 

People THINK about price per person, but of course there is no filter for it, nor can one search it to get results.  I recently used Airbnb in London for business.  First I looked at a couple of my favorite hotels, then calculated what two rooms would cost, one for me and one for a colleague, then found an Airbnb that would accommodate both of us and return a much lower price per person.

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

@Ann72 Talking about searches, surely cost per person is far more important to Airbnb than any filter. After the fiters are used how are the listings ranked?

 

"Dear Anne... listings in your area have booked at 18% less than...."  What is really important to Abb ?

Ann72
Level 10
NY, NY

@Ian-And-Anne-Marie0 I guess cost per person is important to them, but I don't see how it can easily be factored into a ranking when a listing sleeps up to 10 but gets anywhere from 1 to 10 people in any given booking.

 

"In those listings presented to a guest the listings at the lowest cost per person would be the first ones offered..." - this isn't true.  I just searched for Savannah by date for 1 person (planning to visit my daughter), and the listings weren't ordered by lowest to highest price.  I think it's more likely that a person's search history and use of one kind of web browser over another and use of a computer vs a mobile device and use of a Mac vs a Windows machine will impact the results.

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

@Ann72  Cost per person wouldn't be the deciding factor in placement. It will help, but as I posted previously other factors are taken into account... 

...combined obviously with the positive review counts etc.. ABB would not promote listings just because they were cheap

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

@Sarah977 @Ann72 

 

Rather than 'price' I would venture to suggest 'cost per person'. Two reasons; My ex-hotel manager friend immediately discussed my place in 'cost per person' and 'cost per person' is often used in some SEO talk.

 

'Cost per person' @ £30pp makes our place hyper-competitive. 'Price' @ £240 per. night makes our place expensive.

 

So rather than comparing 'like for like' 1-1, 4-4, 8-8 maybe 'compared to market' might be more appropriate?

 

Thomas746
Level 4
Los Angeles, CA

Very interesting.  When you have a cost for the house and it sleeps 6.  If the house is 300 per night is the calculation based on the potential 6?  6/300=50?  And if that is correct it should be a part of SEO.  Interesting because I am not looking for someone to shape and develop my FB and Instagram.  Reaching out and getting to guests rather than waiting to get high up on a list to get seen and booked seems a good thing to do.  

Question you might have a sense about, I've been wondering if it's even possible for one unit: Airbnb folks who are pushing their FB and Instagram accounts.  Do you think they are hoping to get direct traffic they book directly from FB or a site they set up or are they looking to direct traffic to Airbnb or VRBO?  

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

@Thomas746 @Ann72 

I may have been a bit inprecise with my 'cost per person'. THAT isn't a price filter as such. What I would expect to happen is a guest would firstly... search for their group size and their dates. If they further wanted to filter down then they would add cost. However, they would definitely search date and group size first. In those listings presented to a guest the listings at the lowest cost per person would be the first ones offered, combined obviously with the positive review counts etc.. ABB would not promote listings just because they were cheap. It would not be in their own interests to do that.

 

What would it be that ABB would like to promote? Good quality listings at good value for money with hosts who have good ratings and who have plenty of positive reviews. The only thing which stings this is the honeymoon period where ABB don't know the listing and host and so they provide a preferential listing for the hosts to prove themselves and their listing.

 

All sites like incoming links. Posting on FB and Instagram will provide incoming links. I do question though to what level does this need to be done?

 

Possibly passive marketing would work best? Rather than specifically posting about "XXX / ABB / TRIPADVISOR / BOOKING / VRBO..." Why not just include a signature including all the links? You could then tweet or Post on FB on 'Toads' and still get those link bonuses.

 

Then, do you link to your listing or to the main portal page? Cynically, I'd say the main portal page would provide more benefit. There is nothing to stop your signature including a personal website however at XXX first, and when the guest searches in your area if you play fair - you'll be there.

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

@Thomas746 @Ann72 

I wrote: Then, do you link to your listing or to the main portal page? Cynically, I'd say the main portal page would provide more benefit. There is nothing to stop your signature including a personal website however at XXX first, and when the guest searches in your area if you play fair - you'll be there.

 

I've thought on this and it wouldn't be right. In normal circumstances with your own website it would. But nn this circumstance some unidentified link made from Twitter or FB would do a host no good. Where a link to the Airbnb landing page would be far more benefit for Airbnb (and they could provide that link by setting up an inbound link management incorporating a hosts member ID) but don't. I've searche all over for this but can't find using any of the searches. It might exist somewhere.

 

However, you need to link to your listing instead. Inbound link benefit and click count benefit on your listing.

Thomas746
Level 4
Los Angeles, CA

Got it, thank you.

Sandra856
Level 10
Copenhagen, Denmark

Hi @Thomas746 🙂

I can explain how I update my calender. I simply block a random date and then unblock it. That's it. I do it almost every day. It will help you up the list as it looks like you have an updated calender. 

Best, Sandra 

Thomas746
Level 4
Los Angeles, CA

@Sandra0,  Thank you.  That makes it very easy!  Apprecated. 

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