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?
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?
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?
How can I improve my listing ranking in search results? Are there any settings I can adopt to help my ranking?
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:
Is it true that if guests add my listing to their wishlists, my listing will get a little boost in the search results?
Is it true that editing and tweaking my listing every day will help boost my listing in Search?
Can I pay to advertise my listing so it appears on more search results?
Why am I on the last page on search? This way no one will ever book my listing?
If I have to decline a booking because a guest doesn’t meet my House Rules, does this impact my search ranking?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.
This is a great FAQ @Lizzie, thank you!
HOWEVER, I am really upset by the barrage of tools and bonuses (search placement & extra host filters) given to "Instant Book." AirBnB says - and indeed it may be true - that Instant Book is preferred by guests...but what many hosts have found is that the calibre of those guests are generally much lower than the general AirBnB user.
The more AirBnB tries to be Travelocity/Expedia, etc, the more the guest will require/expect the things that hotels provide - and that helps no one on this service!
I totally agree with Jann and after a few bad experiences with instant booking I have to take a chance on the other approach. I, too, wish that Airbnb doesn't give so much priority to instant booking and push hosts less to use that fiture. Guests suffer as well if they book fast not even realizing they do it and lots of times not getting a chance to read everything and get their additional answers from hosts. Later dealing with the resulting cancelations takes time and lowers host's grades if not getting the guest to cancel herself or himself.
Thank you for that message. I don't use Instant Book, either. My place is not a hotel; it is a home and sometimes the guests and I are not mutually compatible. Plus, I've noticed that many people don't read the House Rules, so I few e-mails back and forth help create a mutually positive experience.
Your are so right, I totally agree. Hotels dont ask questions becasue they dont care who is staying there. We care becasue its our home which is the whole point of Airbnb!
I agree completely, with regard to Instant Booking! It seems like a great option for some; but I don't want to be pressured to do it. I've been hosting almost 6 years and have never had to cancel a reservation! This despite being a full-time teacher, with several part-time jobs. No, we are not a hotel. I absolutely LOVE hosting, but I need it to work around my life, not vice-versa. There are days when I can accept a very late request, and have the room ready within an hour. But there are some weeks, when I simply can't accept a guest without at least several days notice. Having just started renting an additional space that is self-contained suite with a separate entrance and separate bath, I can see that I may eventually be able to use Instant Booking there, because it doesn't require coordinating with the rest of my house. But even that scenario will require that I am able to pop in and clean (or have someone else pop in and clean), on very short notice. I wish that Instant Booking could be "just another option", like offering breakfast. For the hosts that want to include it? Great! For those of us who need more control of when guest enter our house, we should not be pressured.
I'm glad to read that many other hosts do not use Instant Book. I agree with many of the comments. AirBNB, please don't pressure us to use it.
From some of the comments, you may not be aware that you can set your Instant Book requirements to allow up to 7 days notice. So you wouldn't have to worry about Instant Book guests coming the same day and causng stress for you!
I've been doing Instant Book since it came out and have never had a problem with the guests. If you set your requirements to at least one day in advance you can exchange messages. If the guest is unresponsive, you can cancel if you don't want to host someone who is uncommunicative (try to call him/her before canceling, however, as they may not have Internet access).
WHY DOES'NT AIRBNB KICK OFF PEOPLE WHO POST LISTING MULTIPLE TIMES AND THEY CORNER THE MARKET WITH DIFFERENT PRICES??? THIS IS A HUGE PROBLEM FOR ME AND OTHER PEOPLE IN MY AREA......I SUGGEST PEOPLE SHOULD LOOK AT YOUR COMPETITION AND SEE PICS OF SAME POSTING BUT PUT IN DIFFERENT ORDER.........ALSO YOU MIGHT ASK HOW?? I WON'T DIVULGE THAT INFORMATION BUT AIRBNB NOW KNOWS AND THEY BETTER DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT................THERE COULD BE LEGAL RAMIFICATIONS!!
I totally agree with Rebecca, I have been using instant booking for a year now and clearly show in my calendar that there are days between the bookings for preparing the space. The instant booking helps me get more stays/guests. I like it.
I have an impression that Rebecca missed the key point in the other comments.
This is not the prospect of the guest coming in on short notice.
The biggest issue of the concern from us being hosts is the match of the personality between the host and the guest.
If this is separate property when there is no interaction - no problem I guess.
But the real issue is that many of us run the Airbnb hosting in inseparable part of our house/apartment etc.
And the early communication before making the booking is crucial for the great experience on both sides.
For me, the Airbnb is not only about the income but in huge part about the interaction.
So AIRBNB, please, change the search algorithms and use "Instant Booking" just as another filter option without giving it so high priority.
Happy hosting and happy travelling to all involved
When I joined Airbnb, they suggested blocking out the day either side ofmthe actual booking, which gives you time to get the house or room prepared, and looking good without the stress. It works for me as I have to get in cleaners who need the extra day to do everything. And also time to get all the laundry done.v
I love instant book. I have had only one guest in one year that was not what or who she portrayed to be. It allows me to be less connected to my phone and spend more time with my own life. Our Air BnB space is in our home and it has been amazing. We connect with all the guests that come here and usaullay share meals and or go out to local spots. I love instant bookings.