Airbnb has grown, globally, beyond the expectations of almost everybody, including that of its founders, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, who hatched the idea in 2007 when as broke California students they couldn’t pay their rent, but has a spare room they could let out for a little extra cash. Now there are over 1,000,000 listings worldwide, and renting an Airbnb almost anywhere in the world is becoming the norm for savvy travellers. And a lot of homeowners are supplementing their income in ways that Chesky and Gebbia couldn’t have imagined would be possible 12 years ago.
However, with all those listings to choose from most Airbnb hosts are up against some serious competition. The usual would be guest searches the platform in much the same way most people do Google; they rarely go past the first page of search results. That means that Airbnb SEO is ‘a thing’. And it’s a thing that hosts need to be aware of, implement and then continue to tweak.
Airbnb’s search algorithm is, as most are, somewhat cloaked in mystery, but the company admits there are over 100 factors it takes into consideration. While many of those, as the main website states ‘are confidential’ as is their passion SEOs, myself included – have taken the time to do their homework – lots of it – to better understand how the system works and what hosts – even Superhosts – should be doing to help their Airbnb listings rise to the top of the pack.
What did I discover? Here I am going to share some basics of Airbnb SEO with you.
Airbnb SEO for Your Listings
The Time Trick
It has long been known that keeping your booking calendar up to date is one of the more effective ways to easily increase your Airbnb SEO. The obvious reason for maintaining an up-to-date calendar is to make sure that searchers can book your place when it’s free, but the benefits go further than that.
If you keep your calendar as up to date as possible, the Airbnb algorithms will tag you as active and responsive, and hosts who are labelled in that way see their listings bumped up in search.
So, you say, of course, my calendar is accurate, so no benefits for me here. Ah, but there may be. Here’s a little trick. Block out future dates. Then, two minutes later (as literally as possible) free them up again. It’s a little nudge to the Airbnb search crawlers that says ‘hey, I’m here, doing stuff, being responsive’ that will catch their attention in all the right ways.
According to Airbnb themselves “Hosts who don’t let their calendar get a month or more out of date are 70% more likely to get booked.” So, what if you updated more often, like once a week? Research has shown the trick works even better.
When a host creates a new Airbnb listing, the platform will auto-suggest a price determined by factors like the size of the space, amenities offered and the location of the place in general.
You don’t have to take their advice though, you are more than welcome to set your own rates. But be careful. You need to remain competitive at all times and, if possible throw in as many value-added extras as you can – a coffeemaker and coffee, snacks, free WiFi, that kind of thing – as not only will that help guests feel they are getting great value for money and enable you to get away with charging (a little) more than your local ‘rivals.’
For one night only
Another easy way to boost your Airbnb listing via Airbnb SEO is to set the minimum stay duration to one night. Maybe it’s not exactly what you want, but by doing so, you are demonstrating flexibility, and that is something that the Airbnb search algorithm rewards.
You may also find that agreeing to a single night’s stay is more profitable than you imagine, as there are lots of potential guests out there who just need a place to hang their hat for a night who may love the fact that you are willing to accommodate that when so many of the listings they are seeing are not.
Getting the Listing Copy right
This one is an Airbnb SEO biggie. Photographs are important – we’ll get to that next – but it’s your listing copy that is going to sell guests on your space. It’s also what the Airbnb search bots will be scanning, looking for keywords that match popular searches that they are trying to populate and serve.
One thing to keep in mind. Most searchers will be searching via location and landmark related keywords. Variables like number of guests, room versus flat, are things they will have already filtered. Now they are trying to nail down the location. Or the amenities they are looking for. The more targeted search terms that match your listing’s information, the higher up your listing will appear in the results.
Case in point, this listing for an Airbnb in Fulham. At the time of writing, it appears the first page for a basic search for ‘Fulham’ but also for a number of other searches, including Stamford Bridge, Fulham High Street, Hammersmith, Fulham Broadway and more. Yet it’s not the fanciest listing in the area or the most reviewed. Why is that?
Because this host put some serious work into his listing copy. The host does not waste space describing the space in the headline splash copy; the pictures do that. Instead, he details all the things it’s handy for and does a good job.
His long description is even better. He’s obviously done his homework and included a lot of targeted keywords but in a nice, appealing way. Even though Airbnb prohibits the revealing of an address until a booking is made, this host describes the location so well anyone even half-familiar with Fulham – or can navigate Google Maps – can take a good guess just where it is located, and therefore feel a lot more comfortable about booking it. And he’s also ticking lots of boxes for the search bots, something helping him even more.
Far too many hosts don’t take the time to write this kind of description, because they don’t think people read it. More do than you might think, however, and perhaps more importantly than that, the search algorithms certainly take notice, as they have here by choosing to place this guy’s place prominently in the search results.
Optimize Those Images
Listing images are important in terms of SEO as well as aesthetic appeal. While a great image is a must for wowing prospective guests, an SEO optimized image is crucial for attracting Airbnb search bots. When uploading your images to your listing, there is a space for both a title and an alt-tag. It’s essential you make the most of both.
You can make use of good keywords here too. Instead of titling an image ‘living room’ try ‘Parsons Green living room’. Users won’t actually see that, but search bots will, and it’s just another way to remind them they should show your listings to guests searching for those keywords.
Earn Airbnb SEO Cred With Good Reviews
Reviews – especially positive ones – are another way to boost your Airbnb SEO. Good reviews are the backbone of a top listing and are also a major signal for the algorithm that your listing deserves good placement.
As verified guests can only leave reviews, this is not something that can be manipulated – fortunately – but there is plenty you can do, besides being a good host – to garner as many good reviews from your guests as possible. All the following will help:
- Leave a little note in the information folder asking your guests to leave an honest review when they go. Leave one somewhere else too. One nice trick? A blackboard near the door that offers a friendly (personalized) greeting and a request for a review. If you can’t do it yourself, it’s something that’s easy to assign to your cleaning crew’s list.
- Send a text or message just before checkout time wishing your guests a safe trip home and requesting their feedback – via a review – on just how their stay went.
- Leave a review for your guests quickly. The notification they will get will remind them to reciprocate if they haven’t already.
Airbnb has become a huge, worldwide concern. And lots of people are writing about it. From the likes of big publications like House Beautiful to smaller niche blogs like this one, great Airbnb listings are something writers love to feature.
You can get a great SEO boost in general by appearing in some of these articles, especially as the authors, in order to use your images, will need to link back to your listing. Great for a nice little traffic boost, and that is something that Airbnb’s algorithm will notice as well.
Need help with Airbnb SEO? My company, Pearl Lemon, offers a specialist Airbnb SEO service to hosts from all over the world. And as a company made up of well-travelled SEO experts from all over the globe, we are the perfect choice to help boost the visibility – and profitability – of your Airbnb listing.