Respectfully, that’s not what Airbnb’s own site says. While it’s true that most factors affecting search placement aren’t within the control of the host, IB absolutely influences placement.
Listing details: We consider things like the number of five-star reviews, price, location of the listing, if Instant Book is turned on, how quickly the host of the listing responds to requests, and many other factors.
Why are listings with Instant Book prioritised ahead of other listings in the search results?
The main goal of the search algorithm is to facilitate bookings. And if a guest has an excellent experience booking and traveling on Airbnb they’re highly likely to use Airbnb again in the future. This helps travelers and hosts alike. We’ve seen for many years that—all other things being equal—travelers prefer to use Instant Book because they can book quickly, skip the wait time for hosts to respond, and avoid possibly being rejected. Because of the high booking success for hosts and guests, Instant Book gives your listing a boost in searches.
That said, many of you have amazing listings and use a Request to Book approach to hosting. It’s important that you know Instant Book is only one of more than a hundred factors in your listing search ranking. You can absolutely rank really well in searches without being an Instant Book host.
They seem to have stopped doing it now, but for a time Airbnb was filtering all search results for IB listings only. The guest had to manually turn off this filter.
Anecdotal, but I’ve toyed with turning IB on and off. With it on I’m usually on the first page. I’m buried without it. That indicates to me that it’s a pretty heavily weighted item in their algorithm.