Online travel agencies and metasearch engines are pushing airlines out of Google search engine results.
In fact, digital marketing agency EveryMundo reckons airlines are so out of the picture when it comes to their placement on SERPs that they are missing out on the opportunity to establish a better relationship with travellers.
Nothing new in an SEO company arguing for a particular sector in the industry to up its game when it comes to search marketing, but EveryMundo raises a few issues.
The US-based company's president, Seth Cassel, was speaking this week at the Aviation Festival in London when he shared some data-points and other details about the current state of search engine marketing from airlines.
EveryMundo's analysis has shown that travellers searching for flights on Google behave in the following way:
- Approximately 20%-30% of clicks go to pay-per-click ads (combination of top of the page and the right side-bar)
- Approximately 10%-20% of clicks go to the Google Flight Search module at the top of the page (when it appears)
- Approximately 60%-70% of clicks go to organic search results
Obviously airlines are playing in the Google Flight Search and PPC worlds (though not on the deep pocket scale of Expedia which spent $2.8 billion on marketing in 2014
But in organic search the airline industry is often completely absent or has very low visibility in SERPs.
This is especially worrying, according to EveryMundo, because its analysis has calculated that 94% of traffic to organic search results for flight queries goes to the top three results on the page.
Cassel illustrated the general low visibility that airlines have in SERPs in a series of slides showing how metasearch engines and OTAs have on average more than 80% of organic placements in Google.
Such analysis does beg the question as to why it is perceived to be such an issue again, given that airlines - alongside every other sector in the industry - have now been learning about and implementing SEO tactics for years.
Cassel's answer is simple: airlines, with their huge focus on ancillary sales, have a far bigger opportunity to drive that revenue further if they "own the customer".
That strategy, he argues, is hampered when many customers are lured away in Google and are searching and booking their tickets on online travel agencies or metasearch engines (which then pass off the customer to another OTA).
Here's the big stat:
EveryMundo's research has shown that ancillaries add around 5% to 12% to overall revenue when a fare is bought direct on the carrier's website. This is compared to 2% to 5% to revenue when a ticket is bought through an OTA or metasearch engine.
So, some reminders as to what airlines should be doing at a basic level to improve SERPs (or, realistically, improving on):
- A landing page for every "product", such as routes, aircraft, facilities
- Replicate for every language
- Replicate again for every market
- Dynamic content for destinations (including images and videos)
- Regularly updated news pages
image via Shutterstock.