Google is sending almost equal levels of traffic to airline websites as Kayak, following a massive increase for the search giant over the course of the last 12 months.
Figures released by web monitoring service SimilarWeb show that the share of referrals upstream to the top ten airline sites in the US by Google Flights in July 2018 has reached 25% - just a percentage point less than flight metasearch rival Kayak.
In July 2017, Google stood at 9% and Kayak 33%. Total traffic to many of the leading airline brands has dropped between the three months May to July 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.
The data collected by SimilarWeb covers only desktop-based traffic.
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According to the company, Kayak's loss appears to have been Google's gain on some of the U.S.'s main carrier websites.
For example, the same three-month period in 2017 saw United receive 32% of its traffic from Kayak, with Google behind with 26%. Fast forward 12 months and Google sends 37% and Kayak 26%.
Frontier Airlines was already taking more referrals from Google during May-July 2018 (32%) compared to Kayak (25%), but the gap between the two search brands has grown to 25% - Google now provides almost half (48%) of Frontier's meta traffic.
One of the main drivers of the switch in traffic, according to SimilarWeb, is the agreement signed between Delta and Google earlier this year.
Until February this year, Google Flights provided no referrals to Delta, whilst Kayak was the leading provider at 49%.
In six months, Kayak's volume of referrals has dropped to 28% and Google is sending 41%.
Alaska Airlines has also seen a massive jump, with 0% coming from Google Flights in the period May-July 2017 and 24% by the same period in 2018 (Kayak is 23%).
SimilarWeb claims that the overall "quality" of the traffic to Delta has also improved over the last 12 months.
Bounce rates on the site from referral traffic have dropped from 28% in July 2017 to 9% in the same month in 2018.
Pages-per-visit have climbed from an average of 8.9 to 10.5 over the same period, as well as duration of user visits now at 711 seconds per session from 643.
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