We hacked the Airbnb algorithm to get our listings ranking on the first page of almost every search and increase profits for our owners. Our listings are performing 26.9% better than our competition and that is all year round. Keep reading below to learn how to understand the Airbnb algorithm and essentially hack their ranking system so that way you can get the occupancy rate that you want Here at Sunny Vacation Rentals we like to shoot for 60 to 70 percent occupancy rate so it gives us enough downtime to do repairs on homes. This is a balance of not pricing to high or to low and gives us maximum returns without destroying the home. With that said if you think you can handle 100 percent occupancy rate, read below to find the best hacks and adjust your price to keep the bookings coming in.
How AirBnB Ranks You
Did you know that whenever you create a new Airbnb listing you get an automatic one month ranking boost? Yeah, so don’t be intimidated. You have plenty of time to put into play what you are learning here on this article so that way you can increase your occupancy too. So first thing you need to know about the Airbnb algorithm is it’s called an interest algorithm. This is what Airbnb themselves call the algorithm. Now it’s not a trending algorithm per se, but it is capable of picking up listings that are trending so that way it can quickly get ’em up to the top so people book them up and fill their calendars.
Airbnb’s matching system works by essentially trying to find out what guests like and showing them more of what they like because Airbnb’s guest experience determines whether or not they retain on the platform. See, Airbnb doesn’t just care about whether or not hosts get booked. They want to make sure that the users on the platform have the best experience. So there’s word of mouth marketing and there’s retention. Airbnb will silently push to the bottom all the listings that they think aren’t really good for their brand, right? You can still get found on Mapview and you dig deep enough and you can find almost any listing on the platform. But Airbnb at the very front on the first page of search and on their homepage, they want to push all this stuff that looks the best. And so in order for you to hack the algorithm, you need to understand what Airbnb’s motives are as a company and start to give them more of what they want and here’s how we can pull it off.
What does Airbnb look for?
So what is the algorithm looking for? There are four main categories we can control. Out of the hundreds of little things that they look for, there are four main categories that you should be focused on. Occupancy, views, hang time and reviews. Lets dive deeper into each one.
Occupancy: Now, if you’re nearly 100% occupied, Airbnb doesn’t need to understand why. They just need to know that you are nearly 100% occupied all the time. So they make the assumption that your listing is popular and they will push it more based on occupancy alone. This even is like you could say noted in your Airbnb profile, if you stay over 90% occupied down at the bottom below the calendar, it’ll say Rare find. This listing is very rarely available, so book it now kind of thing. So they put these call to actions in there for you if you’re tend to be fully occupied. One hack for this that we don’t plan on deep diving in on this article is pricing strategy. If you do good dynamic pricing, you can get near 100% occupancy by changing your prices and Airbnb will go, Hey, cool, you’re popular.
Views: This is probably the most known one. The more you get clicked on, the more your profile is loaded, the more Airbnb assumes interest, right? You are interested enough in the thumbnail and the title to click on it and that is interest. So Airbnb will bump your ranking up based on clicks. Just total views per month is going to be a number and we’re going to teach you how to access to.
Hang time: Once somebody clicks on your listing, how much time are they spending on your listing? This is actually important. It’s almost just like the Instagram algorithm where you scroll and you stop on a photo. Instagram, Twitter, all these social media companies know exactly how much time you’re spending at a certain point on your phone. So if you’re looking at one photo, even though you didn’t like it or engage with it, they still know that you liked it because you stopped to look at it for an extended period of time and Airbnb tracks the same thing. Now, we’re not going to talk about things like conversion percentage, like how frequently somebody books after they view you. This isn’t actually something that we can really quantify. It is a metric, but we think it’s a small one and the reason why is it’s pretty darn complex. If your calendar’s always full, it’s kind of impossible to get booked. So your conversion percentage goes down the more the calendar gets full. So Airbnb has to make a trade off here. They prefer to see that you’re a hundred percent booked as opposed to having a high conversion percentage.
Reviews: See there’s this backend loop that Airbnb checks on to make sure that your guests actually liked their stay because you could perform really well on the front end, beautiful space, your copywriting’s good, all the stuff that we’ll talk about here, it goes well. But then after a guest stays, they weren’t happy, they weren’t satisfied, you didn’t run a good business and your negative reviews or your suboptimal reviews, Airbnb will say, well, hey, this is kind of a liability. We like that. It’s good on the front end when people scroll, that’s cool and all, but people aren’t enjoying it. And when people don’t enjoy their stays, they’re less likely to rebook on Airbnb. So this negative feedback loop causes you to get pushed down in rankings even though on the front end you did everything right, you still have to run a good business.
How to get clicks
Step one, you need to clickbait people. Now, I know that sounds a little illicit, but trust me, clickbait isn’t all bad. You have a good offering. You need to find a creative way to market it, and what clickbait does is it generates curiosity and curiosity generates clicks. Now your title and your thumbnail will be the two most important parts of generating this curiosity, and one of my favorite things to do is choosing your thumbnail photo, otherwise known as the hero photo on Airbnb.
You want to click or you want to choose a photo that encourages somebody to see the bigger version of it. So you can have a beautiful photo be like, wow, that’s super pretty, but you should always have a detail in that shot that people want to see that thing close up. For example, you could have something in your shot that actually has text in it. You could say like a piece of artwork that has some text, but because it’s so small they can’t quite read what it says and they just have to know what that thing says. That’s a fun one. You can use colors like little accents of red. What’s it red in that photo? Because when it’s small, they don’t know if it’s an apple sitting on a countertop or something else. So they’ll actually click to enlarge things that just seem pixelated and small from far away.
The title, we don’t typically use clickbaity call to actions like check this space out or anything like that, but we will say some things like private pool or king bed, we will always put some of the amenities. We try to put a bunch of benefits in the title instead of saying, look, check this out. You won’t believe this. We’re not trying to get somebody to click on an article. So you don’t do the cliche click bait like call to actions in the title, but you should list things that people go, oh, “I want a place with that stuff.”
Now it’s important that you focus on competitive amenities when you do list out that description or that title because if everybody offers free parking in the neighborhood, then putting free parking isn’t really special. But if you have a gym and no one else has a gym, then you should be putting that you have a gym in your title, right? Competitive or more rare amenities go great in the title.
Now, we mean the total number of guests that you can sleep. We have studio apartments that can sleep with a king bed and then there’s a sleeper sofa or just a really comfy couch and that’s like three, but then we put a rollaway bed and that makes it four. One of those smile back rollaway beds or with a sleeper sofa. That’s five. We don’t expect people to try to cram five into a space. Those rollaway beds are great if people have kids and stuff, that’s typically what they get used for. If there’s small children that they want to give them a bed, they pop this rollaway bed out. You’re not going to have five guys go book a studio that can sleep five if one’s a couch and two or rollaway beds and one’s a king bed. Even though you’re advertising that you can sleep five, you tend to not get those size groups anyway, but what it does for you is it makes you pop up more in searches when a group of four or five is looking for a place, your listing will pop up even though it’s really optimal to sleep three and people will still click on your space because your price points probably competitive compared to the larger listings that can easily sleep them.
So you get curiosity just in general and you get these clicks. So engineering your guest count actually helps you get more views. This actually helps when you get into larger listings. Let’s say you’ve got a listing that really comfortably sleeps 10, but you’ve made it so it can sleep 12 or 13. Now in that case you might get a group that doesn’t really have the option of any other good property because when there’s larger properties, there’s less inventory available at the larger sizes. So if you’ve got a good property with good reviews and stuff and somebody’s got to sleep on a rollaway bed, but it’s their best option, even considering the rollaway bed, you probably still will get a booking from a group that maxes out at 13 even though you comfortably sleep 10 because everything else that sleeps 13 is either way overpriced or just is a trash listing in the upper levels.
This actually works for collecting more money on your listing because if you can sleep 13, you will make more money than if you can sleep 10 in the platform. Searchability becomes the next most important thing for getting views, which of course is generating that interest algorithm to kick up. There’s something kind of nerdy we can teach you here. It’s called a Boolean search, BOOLEAN. Essentially it’s an all or nothing search. So when somebody’s looking for a place, they’re like, I want to be available the six days. Well, if you’re not available all six days, of course they’re not going to show your listing. You can’t host them. But there’s other things like they want something that’s pet friendly with a gym and free parking and they click all those boxes. You might be available those six days, but you don’t meet their requirements for free parking, pet friendly, you’re not going to get shown, and this matters for every little checkbox that they choose. So if somebody wants an onsite washer and dryer, you may have one, but you’ve selected washer dryer, but you didn’t select that it was an onsite washer and dryer. Now because Airbnb has actually added all these extra little mini boxes in their amenities section, like all the weirdest stuff, they want to know if you have the kitchen stuff. So you may have kitchen utensils and everything you need to cook with, but you haven’t gone and updated your listing to check that box that you have a full kitchen, right? So if somebody clicks kitchen, you might get taken out of search even though you qualify for that person because you haven’t updated all those little check boxes. So go back through your listing and make sure that every single imaginable amenity that you offer is selected.
Minimum night Stays
Another thing that helps you get more views is to get rid of your minimum night’s stay and instead offset that with pricing. Allow someone to book 1 night but increase the price by 30 to 40% to make it worth your time. You can also make it so you can only do 1 day stays during the week but weekends require 2 day stays that way someone doesn’t book Saturday and stop the entire weekend from getting booked. The point of the minimum stay rule is to show up in AirBnb’s search results as much as possible.
When people see your listings, they think that your image is awesome and your title is awesome. They click it just to see what your expensive place looks like, right? So you can do a good job of marketing your place but overcharge and then people won’t book it, but you still get the hang time and the view count, which is super important.
Write amazing descriptions
Let’s look at your copywriting, your storytelling ability and your ability to write everything out in your description. Now, truth of the matter is six out of 10 guests, the first thing that they do is they flip through photos. We’re about to cover this here and next, but then people who don’t just flip through photos automatically, they will scroll down in your listing and look at your listing and read it. So some best practices for copywriting is you should story tell. When you write, you should speak in a way that allows somebody to kind of imagine that they are going to be booking your space. When you arrive, you will find this and you’ll experience blank or blank. Don’t say, this listing has this. This listing has this listing, has this. Use the words like you will experience and you will see and you’ll feel right. We’re talking about sensory inputs here and using the word you to really speak to the customer that’s reading yourself. That’s enough that I think you need to know in this video about storytelling best practices because that’ll cause people to continue to read, which increase their hang time, and it might actually increase your conversion because people are like, you know what? I like this. This sounds good. I’m going to book it. So this drives up bookings as well as your hang time. Now that means you also need to clean up the way that you write your sentences. You need to make sure you have good grammar. You don’t have all these run-on sentences where you use a bunch of really junky filler words and you just have one big block paragraph that’s like 2000 words, and that’s the whole description. It’s just one big block of a paragraph. You need to clean that up. There are ways that people tend to read and view things, so spacing out your copywriting. I think there’s something called the F pattern with the way that people read. And then there’s also the Z pattern, which is more for graphics, but if you understand how people tend to read and skip down and read and skip down, you can create spacings to make sure that you accentuate certain key things that you want people to know without overwhelming them with this big forest of verbiage.
And in your description, you should be including your amenities and your benefits and do it in a bullet point format, We like to say included with this space colon. And then down below I’ll say free parking, fast wifi, smart tv with Disney plus Netflix, Amazon prime, hbo max coffee with decaf and tea. And we just bullet point every single thing out that I think somebody will enjoy. And doing it in a bullet point format helps you make what looks like to be a big stack of amenities and benefits that are awesome because a lot of people don’t ever click that amenities button tab thing when they search through a listing. Airbnb does offer this graphic where you can click on amenities and it’ll map it all out, but people don’t tend to interact with that button, but they will read the description. So if you bullet point out and make a whole big stack of all the amenities in your description, that really helps push the sale and then calls to action, you should have multiple calls to action within your copywriting where you say, book this place.
You really actually literally say, book this place. Come stay with us. We’ll be happy to have you. And you can even embed it when you stay here. You can say soft things like that too, but you need to create calls to action where people think in their brain, I’m going to book this place, and you can really influence that in the way that you do your copywriting. So don’t just describe your place, but include assumptive sentences like that when you wake up. That’s part of your storytelling. But then include those call to actions like book today kind of stuff. Step five, you need to glam up that listing, and that’s largely done with the photos.
What one thing is that causes people not the book, is you can have too many photos or too many similar photos that’ll cause people to not book. Or you can take photos of things that you think are important, but the photo just doesn’t look good. See, there’s a concept of overselling here that you have to be careful for. If you could take a photo of your washer and dryer, but your washer and dryer is old and kind looks janky and you don’t have good lighting in that area and you just take this photo that just looks dark and weird, it doesn’t fit with your whole photo reel, don’t put that in there. Don’t take a photo of your pots and pens underneath the cabinets with the doors open. That doesn’t really fit, does it? And that photo is going to be hard to get good lighting. It’s going to look cluttered down there, so don’t do that either. Instead, stage your home, put the pots and pans on this stove, put a cutting board out, put a knife on the cutting board, stage your coffee station so they can see the coffee and the decaf and the tea.
You put that whole thing in playhouse there. Set your table with plates, cups, bowls, wine glasses. Put a bottle of wine on the photo and just even use place mats and stuff. Set the whole place as if somebody’s ready to stay in it and then have the photos taken. You don’t have to take ’em yourself. You can have a professional do it, but if you do, take ’em yourself. Use HDR, do bracketing photos, and I have a photography masterclass video. You can go back and watch that. You just want to make sure that your photos are nice and bright and welcoming, very much like home and garden kind of style, which of course, let me just show you some photos as we’re talking about this, of photos that look great. Money shots are going to be wonderful photos that could all be your hero photo, could all be your thumbnail photo.
You want five thumbnail worthy photos, and they become the first five photos. The reason why is when somebody’s on desktop, they see one photo, they click on you, they open up your listing, and boom, you’re on the desktop. Now five photos are showing the first one that they saw, but then they see four more to the right. Now if they don’t go flip through your photo reel and start to read the description and go up and go down and just forget to click on your photo reel. You want those five photos to do a sufficient job of selling your space. They need to be five diverse photos of all the stuff that’s wonderful about your property. So let’s say you have a four bedroom house with this big living room that’s got two stories and stuff. That’s one great photo. Let’s say you’ve got a kitchen with an island and all the pots and pans and whatever need.
You need a glamor shot of the kitchen. Let’s say your backyard is done up where you’ve got a gazebo and everything looks good. Do a twilight hour shot and twilight hours where the sun is low enough, where it’s gone, that you can see the stars, but there’s still enough ambient light that you can get a good picture of the house of the backyard. Twilight photos are probably the best performing photos for selling houses when you put ’em on the market. So you might as well get a twilight photo outside if you’re going to put it on your short-term rental. Other ones that you could put are like competitive amenities. If you’ve got one of a hot tub, if you’ve got one with your gym, you could do nearby attractions. If you don’t have enough photos of say, like your studio apartment for example, you can go do nearby attractions.
Wrapping things up
You’re going to get people booking. Now, all of that will feed back into the front end and Airbnb will go, people are interested. This is going well, right? And that is even before you even get one review, you can have 10 days, 12 days of positive feedback before you even get your first review on Airbnb, and this will push your listing up and up and up in the rankings. Now, the only thing I have to put on your shoulders now is to make sure you do get the good review. Be a good host, be good to your guests, care about them and serve them well, and you’ll get the five star reviews. This is how we run our business we know AirBnB’s algo’s inside and out its not hard to one-up the competition and that’s why our owners choose us to manager their property. Property management is not for everyone and until you actually try it for your self you will see it much more time-consuming then you thought and picking a property management company like Sunny Vacation Rentals that is experienced and knows what they are doing is worth the investment.