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How Airbnb Created An SEO Moat That Seems Invincible

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Inspiration can come from many places.

In fact, I think those who have the ability to find inspiration by connecting random concepts to one another are those who can find the interesting opportunities. Constant curiosity and a genuine thirst for knowledge can lead to ideas and breakthroughs that someone who is focused on one sole concept will never identify. Sure… There’s value in going deep on a topic.

But the more things you know, the more dots you can connect that are often overlooked in an industry or new space. This is why diversity and hiring people with niche skills/hobbies often works out so well. Diverse perspectives and unique skillsets coming together under one roof can uncover dots that are typically overlooked in rooms without them.

One of the Foundation teams’ favorite places to go for inspiration is B2C. We work with B2B brands on a daily basis but love to geek out about the strategies being embraced in B2C and the ways some of these brands create cultural movements, industry buzz, raving fans and leave people so inspired that they’re willing to tattoo a company logo on their arm.

I mean seriously….

Talk about passion.

Could you imagine a CMO getting the Hubspot logo tattoo’d on their arm?

It just wouldn’t happen… (Side note — if you know someone who has… plz, let me know)

But this happens with brands like Supreme, Harley Davidson, Nike & Coca Cola all the time.

B2C is fascinating.

A B2C brand that I’ve enjoyed studying over the last few years is Airbnb. The brilliance behind their ability to scale SEO templates for locations is something that every brand can take inspiration from. It’s a masterclass in understanding both SEO and the power of optimizing content for search intent. At first glance, it has nothing to do with B2B but I think there’s a lot of lessons in their SEO approach that we can learn from. That’s what I’m going to talk about today.

NOTE: This essay was originally published exclusively to subscribers of our Foundation Newsletter. If you want to get insights and essays like this delivered to your inbox before your competitors read it on our blog – Subscribe today and ensure you have that competitive edge.

Lessons From Airbnb’s Search Driven Templates For Global Domination

So, I pulled out the whiteboard for this one.

Let’s get to it…

Whether you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Manhattan or a place to stay in Rome — Airbnb has you covered. A quick Google search for “Airbnb in Manhattan” will take you to a page that looks very similar to the page you would find if you typed “Airbnb in Rome”.

Airbnb Uses Templated Landing Pages To Scale SEO

The landing page starts with an H1 that reads “Vacation Rentals in Manhattan” or “Vacation Rentals in Rome” with a search tool for you to use. Scroll a bit further and you’re met with a curated list of the “Top Rated Rentals” for the respective regions. You click on one of those listings and you’re immediately taken to a page that is optimized for generating sales and bookings. In most cases, that listing is also going to have an H1 that references Manhattan or a surrounding area.

Airbnb has location templates across 128,317 different locations.

These pages are generating more than 2.8M visits a month.

Airbnb has been able to build an SEO moat right in front of our eyes.

Airbnb Uses Clean URLs To Improve Usability

And the URL structure across these pages is cleaner than a Windex bottle.

The standard URL is Airbnb . com /city-country/stays which translates to a URL like:

Airbnb.com/rome-italy/stays or Airbnb.com/manhattan-new-york-ny/stays

Most tourism search sites make the mistake of having long and messy URLs like:

/nyc/manhattanny/pwlasucje31os/new-listings/stays/22

Yuck. Airbnb is putting on an SEO clinic…

Clean URLs make it easier for people to share content, make it easier to guide Google through a site hierarchy and offer SEO benefits when keywords are added appropriately.

So…

What can B2B brands learn from Airbnb beyond the importance of clean URLs?

Well, if your buyers have some type of location-oriented search intent — the strategy above might work wonders for you. For example, in service industries, someone searching for “Best Accountants In Manhattan” could be a highly valuable page to rank for… Developing templated yet relevant landing pages for multiple locations could be the start of something special.

If you’re a SaaS brand, a key piece of your business model is the benefits that come from not being geographically limited. Thus, the strategy above might not be that relevant.

But remember what I said earlier.

Look for inspiration everywhere.

What Can B2B Brands Take From The Airbnb Strategy?

Let’s say you run an Email Marketing SaaS. It’s rare that someone is going to conduct a search for “Email Marketing for Manhattan companies” but it’s likely that someone is going to search for “Email marketing for Lawyers” or “Email marketing for SMBs” or “Email Marketing for Dentists”.

In SaaS → The riches are in the niches.

So rather than creating a series of landing pages that are meant to go after locations – create landing pages that speak to the various niches that love your product. Let’s say you run a product called Airmail (it turns out this is actually a real product) and want to build a moat like Airbnb.

You start creating a template and landing pages with the URL “Airmail . com / Niche” each page has a focus on variations of “Email Marketing for XYZ”. You start to build a collection of extensions like…

  • Email marketing for Hotels
  • Email marketing for Non-Profits
  • Email marketing for Doctors
  • Email marketing for Small Businesses
  • Email marketing for Realtors
  • Email marketing for Consultants
  • Email marketing for Freelancers
  • Email marketing for Startups
  • Email marketing for yada, yada, yada….

You get the point.

You can take inspiration from Airbnb’s brilliant SEO strategy and apply lessons to your own:

This is just one of the many SEO lessons Airbnb is showing us.

I talk about the value of templated landing pages and understanding search intent in the piece “Canva’s Backlink Empire” where I discuss the brilliance behind their approach.

Eventually, all of these templates with simple variations will combine to build your SEO moat (for Airbnb there’s over 128,000 of them). Investing in SEO is exactly that…

An investment.

Brands that view it as an investment are brands that will win long term. Brands that understand how to make bets on growing keywords and leverage research to better understand search intent will have a lasting advantage for years to come. We’re all witnessing it.

But most marketers are treating an investment in SEO exactly like the B2B marketers treat B2C…

Blinders on.

Luckily. That’s where your opportunity lies.

Go get it.

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