Why Your Airbnb Search Rank Does Not Matter (and What Does Matter)


If you’re a host tracking your Airbnb search rank, you’re wasting your time.

I used to work at Airbnb. A few years ago, I took what I learned while working there and wrote a book called Optimize Your Bnb that sold 50,000 copies by word of mouth alone. Recently I wrote Profitable Properties, which is more applicable to the short-term rental (STR) industry in general.

Profitable Properties is now a program designed to give you the mindset, tools, skills, and knowledge for long-term success in any STR market.

Program outline for Profitable Properties program

Profitable Properties Program Outline

In this blog I’ll be sharing some inside information from this powerful program. So, if you want to know how to increase your Airbnb search ranking, I’m going to show you why it doesn’t matter, and I’ll share some secrets about what does matter.

Why Your Airbnb Search Ranking Doesn’t Matter

Optimizing information to improve your search rank on Google is standard practice these days because everyone wants to be ranked number one, of course. For information about SEO optimizing for Google, see my case study. Airbnb is different from Google. Like Google, everyone still wants to be ranked number one. But it can take months of intense analysis and strategy to get on that first page.

The Airbnb ranking algorithm is reliant on so many different elements that your Airbnb search ranking is just not knowable.

The Airbnb Ranking Algorithm

Let’s say you could know your Airbnb search rank. Then what?

In order to make the Airbnb ranking algorithm work for you, you would also have to know what your rank is for each set of days, each one-day period, each two-day period, each three-day period; with one guest, two guests, three guests; each two-day period with one guest, two guests, three guests; each three-day period with one guest, two guests, three guests, all the way up until your maximum.

You’d also need to factor in the new listings that are coming in, cancellations, alterations, taking listings offline, whether the listing is a private room or an entire property. All of these factors add listings to or subtract them from the total search rank.

Your search rank for pricing would also be essential information. Are you going to know your position against all of the listings in your area? In your market? Let’s say your listing is priced at $75 a night. Are you also going to know the rankings for your listing plus or minus $25?

If you could know your Airbnb search ranking, it would be beneficial if they then allowed you to pay to boost your listing. By paying for a better position, more people would see your listing, and more people would book with you.

But the bottom line is this: you can’t pay on Airbnb. So, even if you did know your rank, there’s nothing you can do to affect it—besides the things that you would do anyway.

What Affects Your Airbnb Search Rank?

Quoting from Profitable Properties, chapter 1.7: “Airbnb says, ‘our search rank model is responsible for ordering the listings available according to the guests’ likelihood of booking.’”

Booking and VRBO booking.com both say the same thing. I interpret that to mean that your Airbnb search rank depends on how much money you’re making for them.

Profitable Properties Program

I released the Profitable Properties program recently to take participants through everything they need to know to be successful in the short-term rental space. In this program I share all my tips and tricks so that you can be the expert.

Program participants have access to a private forum where they interact with me and a community of like-minded STR hosts.

I used the forum to run a search experiment. I had eight different people submit their results to the forum, and the results were so surprising that I’m going to share them with you here.

Static vs Dynamic Search

In online searches there’s a difference between static and dynamic search. Google generally has static search. That means that whoever you are, and wherever you’re based, you will get the same results for the same search. As an illustration, if you Google “Daniel Rusteen” or “optimize my Airbnb” you’ll find my book website, the Amazon book page, and my website. These are the results you will get at the top for those search terms, wherever you are.

On Airbnb, that’s not the case. The search is dynamic. What that means is that is any two users on Airbnb making the same search will get different results. You can read more about the dynamic search on my blog.

Results of Search Experiment

For this search experiment, we focused on Portland, Oregon. All eight of the experiment participants used the same filters in the same city, and then I had everyone take a screenshot of their results. The results were different to such an extent that of the eight screenshots, only two listings were common in any of them. There was just no comparison.

Airbnb search experiment results

Airbnb Search Rank Experiment Results

In many cases, the map was even the same, but the listings presented were completely different. Some results presented individual rooms while others showed entire homes.

What the experiment showed, yet again, is that it’s impossible to reverse-engineer the Airbnb search rank.

Program Pricing

If you want access to my forum and information like this experiment, I’m making it easy for everyone to benefit from this effective program. You can choose one of three pricing options: lifetime access, payment by quarterly installments, or monthly payments.

What to Focus on Instead of the Airbnb Search Rank

Part of what I teach you in my Profitable Properties program is what you should focus on instead of the unknowable Airbnb search ranking.


One of the things that you should be focusing on is occupancy. Occupancy is a known variable. You can find out your historical occupancy and what it will look like for the next 30 days. The future occupancy is a key metric because if you know your occupancy, that information feeds into your pricing strategy, which is essential to your success.

Listing Optimization

Another important element is a three-step troubleshooting process that all hosts will face eventually. In each of those steps, I offer strategies for re-optimizing your listing to improve your position.

Super Host Optimization

Does your listing make it obvious to your future potential guests (FPG) that they should choose your property? Highly converting listings rank well in the Airbnb ranking algorithm, so doing what you can to improve your conversions will also help your rank.

My most popular product is the Super Host Optimization. I work on your online listing to make it as attractive as possible so that it is highly converted.

Airbnb superhost listing optimization program outline

Airbnb Search Ranking Listing Optimization Program

As a guest of 2000 nights, I know that all the listings in a market look the same. My product will help you, as a host, make your listing stand out and make it easy for FPGs to choose your property. To see how this works in practice, have a look at this case study showing how one host’s revenue doubled from one month to the next.

Until next time, happy hosting!


About Danny Rusteen

Starting in 2012, Danny has been an Airbnb employee, Superhost, and Airbnb property manager. Danny lives in Airbnbs (2,000 nights). As a guest, Danny has traveled to 36 countries and sifted through thousands of Airbnb listings, so he knows what makes a listing stand out and how to offer a world-class experience to your guest. Follow his journey.


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