Updated: Feb 22
There are ways to improve your visibility on short-term rental platforms like VRBO and Airbnb when guests run searches for rentals like your own. This is also known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Knowing how to leverage SEO on your listing can make a big difference and maximize your chances of being seen - and booked - by guests looking for their next place to stay.
What’s great is you don’t need to be a technology whizz. All you need to know are the most important things to include in your listing, and how the algorithm stacks up the data it collects to influence search results. If you apply the three key factors that influence search results highlighted in this article, you’ll be well on your way to improving your visibility and overall occupancy rate.
Three key factors that influence search results:
While there are many factors influencing how well your listing may rank on a short-term rental platform’s search results, these three tend to carry more weight than others and have a big impact on results.
For this reason, it makes sense to start with these to improve your listings performance. #1: Overall listing standard
When your listing is well put together and of a high standard, the short-term rental platform’s algorithm will pick up on this and show you favor. Things you can focus on to improve and optimize the quality of your listing include:
∙ Your listing photos
∙ Your listing description
∙ Guest reviews and ranking
So be sure to have a scroll-stopping cover photo and plenty of professional looking pictures of each space your guests have access to, both inside and outdoors.
Spend some time and perfect your listing description for your short-term rental. Check it for accuracy and be careful not to miss anything important. In addition, if you don’t trust your writing skills it may be worth hiring a copywriter to write your listing description for you. It should be clear, and written so it easy to understand. Also take time to read guest reviews on other listings too and you will quickly get a feel for what guests want that you can include in what you offer.
Amenities listed in your description can help your search rank a lot. To stand out, it helps if yours includes specific amenities that certain guests will value.
For example, guests with babies or young children may appreciate that your short-term rental has a crib or a basket of toys for their toddler to play with; whereas another kind of guest may be attracted by step free spaces low on perceived hazards due to age or physical limitation.
Guest reviews also have a strong bearing on search results. As a host in a very competitive short-term rental market, it’s important that you serve your guests with excellence so you achieve five-star guest reviews and really great feedback.
Short-term rental platform algorithms steadily collect data on your listing. From this, it is able to determine how popular your short-term rental is by how much engagement your listing gets.
If the data reflects that guests are resonating well with your listing, you will see an uptick in your listings search performance.
Other things that help are would-be guests saving your listing to their wish list, as well as your short-term rental getting frequent bookings - and you as its host, getting messages from interested customers.
Pay attention to inquiries and try to reply to messages fast because the algorithm also takes into account your speed of response. If you take your time getting back to people or if you as the host regularly cancel bookings – or reject requests to book – this won’t reflect well in the data and will count against you.
These days, algorithms can even pick up on the emotional quality of your language and tone using what is known as a sentiment-score. Use helpful, warm sounding words and it will add up to more favor from the search engine gods!
To this point, if the way you work with potential and actual guests over time shows you are doing an outstanding job and delivering amazing hospitality – it will absolutely add up to positive performance of your listing over time.
#3: Asking price
Short-term rental platform algorithms will also work out how competitive your listing price is by filtering it by a range of price data. It will compare your asking price to similar listings situated in the same zip code or general location, which have more or less the same kind of guest capacity, features and amenities as your property.
If it turns out that your price is much higher than other short-term rentals in your area for the time of year - or just in general - it could really hurt your search rank.
A simple way hosts can directly impact how their listing performs in search is by changing the price - or by offering reduced pricing. Some hosts will offer discounts in slower seasons, or if their listing is new and the host may do this to attract their first guests.
My advice is to take the time and put in the effort required to focus on the areas covered, above. Not only will you position yourself well in guests’ search results, but you’ll achieve a lot more bookings over the short - and long term.
If you feel like you’ve been doing all these things but are still disappointed with your overall results and aren’t quite getting the volume of bookings you’d like - then I can help. Reach out so we can find the issue and get it fixed.