How are search results determined?

We often hear from hosts that they want a better understanding of how Airbnb determines the ordering of search results. Search ranking is a complex process that takes into account many factors. Because we take so many factors into account, comparing listings based on just a few characteristics doesn’t tell the whole story. We’re constantly working on improving search to better match guests and hosts, so the factors we use and how we use them can change over time.

Still, there’s an underlying principle that guides our approach to search: we want to reward hosts that deliver a great experience to guests. This means that as a host, you have control over many of the factors we’ll explain below. The way you list your space and look after your guests can have an impact on where you appear in search compared to other listings. But guest preferences also play an important role in how listings are displayed in search results, so you shouldn’t expect your listing to appear the same way in search for every guest on Airbnb.

At a high level, you can break down the factors that affect search into a few categories:

  1. Quality of the listing. How appealing is the listing to guests and how good is the trip experience the host provides?
  2. Ease of booking. How reliably and easily can a guest book the space?
  3. Guest preferences. How well does the listing match the specific preferences and criteria of the person searching?

Before we go into more detail, it's important to reiterate that we are constantly working on improving the search algorithms to better match guests and hosts. We’ll update this article periodically in an effort to continue being as transparent as possible about how search works on Airbnb.

1. Quality of the listing

  • Booking appeal. Guests want high-quality, accurate listings. If guests see your listing in search and click through to learn more, this can improve your search performance in the future. Similarly, if guests frequently try to book your place after viewing your listing page, this can also have positive effects. Some simple ways you can edit your listing to improve its appeal:
    • Make the title and description attractive and informative.
    • Clearly explain what makes your space unique, including any amenities you offer or rules you have.
    • Put your best photo first—this is the guest’s first impression of your space on the search results page.
    • Make sure your price is competitive with similar listings in your area.
  • Reviews. We are always striving to highlight the hosts that provide the best experience for their guests. Both the quantity and quality of reviews from past guests can impact your search performance. Learn more.
  • Photos. Your photos should be high quality and accurately depict your space. A good guideline is to have at least one photo of every room available to the guest. We offer free professional photography in many locations. Getting professional photography can also help you in search.
  • Verifications. Verifying your account helps build trust with potential guests. The more verifications the better, but at a minimum be sure to verify your phone number and email address.

2. Ease of booking

  • Responding to guests. It’s important to respond to all contacts coming from potential guests. Guests expect a response within 24 hours. The more consistently you respond to guests, the better your listing can do in search. Learn more.
  • Speed of response. How quickly you respond to guests can also play a role in search. Travelers often contact multiple hosts, so a quick response can make the difference between getting a booking or not. Learn more about response rates.
  • Updated calendar. It’s important to be sure your calendar is up to date and accurately reflects your actual availability, so guests don’t contact you or attempt to book for dates that aren’t available. Learn more.
  • Acceptance rate. Frequently pre-approving and accepting your booking requests can improve your performance in search. If you can’t accept a request, doing your guest the courtesy of officially choosing Decline can have a better effect than simply sending a message or not responding at all.
  • Cancellation. Having a trip canceled is a very negative experience for a guest, so we encourage hosts to avoid canceling if at all possible. If you do cancel on a guest, it can negatively impact where your listing appears in search. This negative impact can go away over time if no further cancellations occur.
  • Instant Book. Turning on Instant Book may help you in search because guests won’t have to wait for a response or worry about getting rejected. It’s also a great way to simplify the process of managing your inquiries.

We understand that new hosts may not have had a chance to get many inquiries and bookings yet, so we also take this into account.

3. Guest preferences

  • Location relevance. Guests can search broadly at the city level or narrow into specific neighborhoods, so we try to show search results that are most relevant to their location preferences. We may use past booking information to determine which locations are most relevant for a given search.
  • Social connections. If a traveler has friends in common with a host or went to the same school, we may show that host more prominently to that traveler. This is because they may have more in common and are more likely a good match. In order to benefit from social connections, be sure to connect your Airbnb account to your Facebook account.
  • Personalized results. We try to understand a guest’s preferences and trip characteristics, so search results may vary depending on the person or the specifics of their trip.
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