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Your click-through rate, or the percentage of users who click on your property listing on websites like Airbnb and HomeAway, can make or break your success as a vacation rental host. Even if you have an awesome property that’s worthy of “MTV Cribs”, you won’t generate cash if you lack visibility on these booking platforms. Here are the factors that determine click-through rates on short-term rental sites and how you can make travelers click on your listing to improve conversions.
Booking platform search engines are complicated beasts. Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO use super-clever algorithms to decide which properties appear in a prime position on their search pages. While it seems like these listings are arranged haphazardly – an assortment of various priced condos, apartments, and townhouses appear when you type in “Seattle” into Airbnb’s search box, for example – there’s a method behind the madness.
Airbnb personalizes results based on a user’s preferences but favors listings with “booking appeal” and quality photos. Optimize your listing with a detailed description, location information, high-impact images and a killer title to entice more guests to your property.
Vacation portal search results share similar characteristics with search engine giants like Google or Bing. Research shows results near the top of the page receive more interest: Websites that occupy the first position on Google generate 33 percent of traffic; sites that hold the second position yield 18 percent. If your listing appears at the summit of Airbnb or HomeAway search pages, expect an influx of click-throughs.
As your listing skyrockets to the top of a booking platform’s search results page, the more people click on your listing, producing a self-fulfilling prophecy. High conversions won’t necessarily keep your listing at the top, though. On Airbnb and HomeAway, preference is given to listings that convert click-throughs into bonafide bookings.
With 550,000 Airbnb listings in the United States alone, travelers can pick from the cream of the crop: properties with desirable features in a central location. A host’s status also sways prospects. Superhost status, which is awarded to hosts who show excellent standards of hospitality, tells guests that a property owner has top-notch customer service and a speedy response time.
The Superhost badge appears on profile pictures underneath listings on the search results page. Guests can also filter search results to show properties from Superhosts. “Business Travel Ready” badges – given to hosts who fulfill criteria such as 24-hour check-in and provide business amenities like Wi-Fi and a workspace – attract more bookings, too.
Once prospects have entered their destination on Airbnb, photos do all the talking. With only a short title to catch the attention of users, images are significant conversion drivers. On HomeAway, search terms might be more flexible than Airbnb — guests can enter a property number, destination or keyword — but good photos still drive bookings.
Rates are just as important. Price your property too low and you could lose out on revenue; price it too high and you’ll likely scare off guests. The average night’s stay in an Airbnb property is $80 per night, though this could be higher or lower depending on the city or neighborhood. Check out the pages of other hosts in your area to ascertain whether your prices are competitive.
Factors that shape your conversion rate, like your search position on rental sites, might seem like they’re predetermined. However, making a few small changes to your listing could transform your booking rate and enhance your bottom line.
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