Removing all categories can fix search results problems

Last fall I noticed a steep decline in bookings and viewings and found that my listing was suddenly not coming up in search results as it had in the past and was not coming up in location searches - other listings far outside my area were coming up above mine. I explored all of the possible causes and asked Help desk but there was nothing wrong they said. I traced the cause to the May 2022 update. I realized the search algorithm was not transparent but was adding criteria that the user was not aware of.

Finally others in my area encountered the same issue and one host had all Categories removed and voilà- bookings and viewings returned and she was back in the search results.
The Help support personnel I had encountered had been unable to remove categories but today they have told me a special team will now do this for me - it will take 3 weeks. Fingers crossed!

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What do you mean by categories? And where are the located in the listing?

Thanks.

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It’s those things on the top of the guest search page like view, tiny homes, off grid. As previously discussed, this is something hosts don’t control. You can’t put yourself on or off a category. As I recall one person here wanted the off grid designation but couldn’t get it or was trying to get it.

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You can see your categories under the Listing - Details - at the bottom of the page. I don’t know if these were always visible. You can apply to have your categories changed. I had some added but it didn’t help. I think problems arise in different ways with categories. Some people just don’t fit in existing categories very well. In other instances certain listings that may be unique for their area seem to fall down a long way in search results for all searches whether or not a category has been chosen by the user. My listing certainly dropped way down for every search, including searches in which I specified only a particular location. No one could find me anymore. I could find my listing with a Google search much better than going directly to Airbnb to search.

I strongly dislike that the host doesn’t have the opportunity of classifying her/his own listing. Airbnb had me under the category of “cabin.” After back and forth with customer service it was changed to “lakefront” which is still incorrect. I give up! LOL

I’m glad you were able to resolve the issue with your listing. Hopefully, customer service will improve.

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I have a lakefront property and it took me months to get it listed in that category on the Airbnb search bar. That was frustrating enough.

But I also found that our Airbnb listing, after 7 years, is no longer showing on a GOOGLE search!!! A Google search returns the direct site, yelp URL and four or five others, but no Airbnb. I researched it and found that it was Airbnb meta that had changed and asked Airbnb help for help.

The reply was that not all listings are included in the tags for Google searches…grrrr. Nothing they can do about it. My comment back was it’s poor business to do something for a host/customer for 7 years and then just take it away with no explanation, no warning.

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I have learned not to accept what one help desk person tells me because they often don’t know as much as I had assumed they knew. The only reason I was able to get through this last time was because I knew that someone else had got through. I had to push with several follow ups before the contact person understood what I was saying. If you have a real or unique issue then chances are they won’t get it right away.

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Yes, I had to go through 4 CS reps earlier this year to get an answer to a simple question before getting a rep who actually understood the question, because it wasn’t some standard question they are familiar with.

All I was asking is why Airbnb lumps the various taxes guests are charged together, instead of showing the VAT and occupancy tax separately, which makes it difficult for my accounting.

The first reps kept sending me links to articles about how Mexican taxes are charged (which I totally understand) how I have to enter my tax information on my account (which I did 2 years ago), and that they couldn’t communicate with me about “sensitive, private tax information”, when all was asking was how and why Airbnb displays the taxes as they do, in general.

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I can’t find that Details area…

In the top tool bar you should find the link: Menu
Under Menu you should find - Listings
Under listings if you have multiple listings you will have to choose which listing
When you have chosen the listing
The top toolbar should have a link called - Listing Details
At the bottom of that page you will see the categories

This is wonderful - thanks! I’ve had exactly the same problem after 6 years of hosting. I thought it was a post-pandemic issue but my problems started later. I rent seasonally (May - October) and had a lot of bookings early this year for May and June but then things came to a screeching halt around April or so. In fact July was relatively quiet even though it’s historically a very busy time for the cabin and this area. When I did incognito searches to get to the bottom of it, I found that it was nearly impossible to find my listing with a search or on the map view and finally figured out that a search for “cabin” in my area automatically defaulted to “cabin with hot tub.” The AirBnB logic is beyond me. Anyhow, I’m going to make a request to remove the categories for my cabin too. Thanks for the tip @debflak!

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Are you using the desktop or the app? Using desktop (I don’t use the app), “Listing Details” appear in the bar on the left, but are just a list of what you see on the screen. There are no “categories” at the bottom of the page for me, either.
Maybe because they haven’t put me in a category? (Although I should be in the Private Rooms category)

I am using the Desktop because not everything appears on the mobile app.

Listing Details is the page where you can edit your listing photos, description, amenities, etc.

Categories shows up near the bottom of the list of choices and shows which categories have been applied to your listing. They are things like Amazing pools, Play, Farm, Lakeside, etc.

Unfortunately, the categories have unexpected and nonsensical repercussions like @COCabin found with the cabin category including hot tub. There is something like this happening to many hosts so that their listings just drop out of sight for all searches - not just searches that have applied a category.

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I really hope this fixes the problems for you @cocabin and for me! It has for others and it has taken me months of digging around to get to this answer. I tried every possible fix and refinement I could come up with and nothing made a difference. I am interested to hear that the cabin category defaulted to cabin with hot tub - this explains part of what may be going on. In my area it’s mostly cottages or cabins on lakes. I am an equestrian farm with a huge pool so I am unique and somehow the category approach caused my listing to drop like a stone even though I have always been highly rated.

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Yes, I understand, but I was trying to explain that on my desktop, the Listing page doesn’t show “Listing Details” on the top bar (which appears the same as when I am not on the Listing page), but on the side bar, and does not show any categories at all when I scroll down.

This has been helpful.

It turns out that we’re in the categories of ‘amazing pools’ and ‘cabins’.

The pool is like 60 years old, nothing really amazing about it other than amazing it’s in an Airbnb in Worcester MA, maybe we could say it’s vintage.

Being in the ‘cabin’ category when it’s a brick home in a typical city neighborhood might be under-promising so we can over perform. Maybe the occasional groundhog makes it a cabin, or Airbnb felt sorry for us.

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That’s interesting because you normally have to apply to get a category like amazing pools applied.

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I see. Well maybe you have no categories applied for some reason although it’s strange that some get random inappropriate categories and some get none applied. On the other hand, I’ve had a number of situations where things don’t appear on my screen when they should.

I don’t find it particularly strange. That’s what happens when you let AI loose to do things on its own. And AI is only as good as its programming. Judging from how many glitches there are on the Airbnb site, I can imagine that programming the AI in how to put listings in categories wasn’t done with the brightest of human intelligence.

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Not always. We have amazing pools even though it’s a simple 15-by-20 foot rectangle. The “amazing” part of it is our view (see my avatar).

AIrBnB actually has our categories correct - Amazing Pool, Amazing View, Tropical, and Beach.

We just barely make it into “Beach” because it’s a 20-minute walk there - all downhill. Back up isn’t so fast - we’re more than a mile from the beach and at 550 feet elevation!