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5 Keys to Ranking Higher on OTA Sites

Visibility is what search engines look for when an inquiry is made about a vacation or short-term rental property. Properties that are positioned to be seen catch the attention of Google and other search engines more than those who are in the shadows.

When travelers search for their next vacation spot, they are most likely to book properties that show up at the top of the list. To get to the top of the list, properties have to be seen. And if they look good, are competitively priced and satisfy expectations of travelers, they are more likely to get the business.

The better your property ranks, the better chance for getting the bookings, say leading online travel agencies. High rankings not only mean more business when travelers search but also for the future as long as top-level positioning is maintained.

Getting to the top isn't hard, say Booking.com and Airbnb. Properties just need to know what makes them the most visible.

Booking.com notes that every guest is unique and their needs change over time. The platform’s ranking algorithm constantly moves based on guest preferences and website traffic patterns. Properties that meet the criteria and show it rank higher.

Also, if a search engine sees a high booking rate for a particular property, that venue usually gets extra billing. These and other factors contribute to property ranking status on online travel agencies (OTAs).

If your property is not on an OTA's radar, it likely won't show up when guests look to those sites for accommodations. Booking.com and Airbnb make that clear when offering tips to rank higher on their sites.

Improve property visibility

A consistent ranking trigger for Booking.com and Airbnb.com is property visibility.

Your property's visibility depends on how well you understand your audience, and that comes from knowing their shopping patterns. These can be very basic and relate to pricing, comparing amenities and booking ease. Booking.com also factors in the property's availability, perception among travelers and competitiveness.

The site recommends "regularly checking your price quality score, the flexibility of your policies, guest reviews, promotions, property page score, and inventory." By doing this, you are providing guests with the right offerings at the right time.

Create great property descriptions

Strong property descriptions are a must to being seen. This doesn't require any magic but needs some thought. To help your listing stand out, make sure your property title and description are attractive, detailed and informative, says airbnbsecrets.com.

Also, list any exceptions or special rules.

And a big one: Post quality photos. Photo quality has become ultra-important in booking any vacation rental property. Quality in this instance is defined as content. A picture may look magical but if the subject matter is stale it won’t get much a look by visitors and search engines.

For example, many travelers have already seen the brilliant aqua blue of the Caribbean (either in person or by photo), so spare them just a shot of the water near your property. Post photos of the kitchen, balcony, patio, hot tub and other amenities and living spaces. If you must show the water, have a view from inside the house to offer perspective.

Maintain an updated calendar

To appear in Booking.com searches, your property simply needs to be available when guests are searching for it. If the listing doesn't show availability, guests won't pause their search for a look.

What can convolute the process is if your booking calendar is not up to date. You may have an available property but if it isn't listed it won't stand out when guests are searching. It's important to keep an up-to-date calendar.

Don’t delay and possibly lose the stay

Airbnb and Booking.com say being responsive is important to getting a good ranking. Failing to reply to a guest inquiry in a reasonable amount of time likely will result in a lost booking and drop the property out of favor.

The ability to respond quickly is improved by having mobile access through your property management system and also responding the way guests want to be reached. Many guests prefer to communicate via email, text, phone or chat. The more ways you can respond, the faster you'll be able to answer questions and acknowledge interest.

Reviews matter

Quantity and quality of reviews increase search performance, and the more positive feedback your properties receive, the more Airbnb will showcase you as a host. The platform recommends creating a good profile that invites guests to explore its offerings.

Also, while negative feedback is not always attractive, it is an opportunity to be responsive and understanding, which ranks high with guests. Use bad reviews to learn how to be a better host, says Airbnb.

If improving rankings seem like a lot of work, don’t worry. Just follow the leads of OTAs, and also empower Kigo’s vacation rental software. Kigo helps optimize your property listings and distribute data to the top of OTA channels.

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