There's lots of insightful stuff in Epiphany's report into the travel sector so we'll just dwell a while on three conclusions from the study.
While these might be obvious to some seasoned search engine marketers they could help others make some tweaks with real benefit.
Starting with one of the more obvious - travel companies aren't taking advantage of images and videos in search. That's the press release line and the following Epiphany chart paints the picture.
Recent posts on Tnooz have also illustrated the importance of rich visuals in driving traffic and generating travel bookings.
Anyway, with the exception of a few companies, namely TripAdvisor and Monarch, the majority of online travel companies are performing poorly when it comes to incorporating images and video as part of the search engine strategy. Enough said.
The second take away is around organic search visibility with data in the report drawn from Searchmetrics.
In the age of the long tail, travel companies know relevant keywords are, well, key so the visibility rank and number of organic keywords used is interesting e.g TripAdvisor ranks first with almost 730,000 but TravelSupermarket is 3rd with almost 76,000.
As Epiphany concludes it's difficult to compare companies with different activities or a wide product offering with other more niche suppliers but it's also good to observe that thousands more keywords doesn't mean higher visibility.
Some of the smaller players are achieving a good ranking through various techniques such as keywords with high volumes and generally effective SEO.
The study goes on to show the spread of organic keywords from page one to 10 and how by moving keywords up a few positions travel companies could drive visibility and more traffic.
EasyJet, for example, has 19% of its keywords on page one and 20% on page two while Skyscanner at 53% has the highest percentage of keywords on page one, probably, says Epiphany, because of a targeted SEO campaign around content creation and links.
The final take away is on social media visibility and while the travel sector is making a lot of noise it doesn't seem to be translating when it comes to rankings for social visibility.
Epiphany concludes social sharing metrics are not yet impacting organic rankings but search and social should not be kept apart as consumers are increasingly influenced when making travel decisions by what others are saying.
For the following chart, Searchmetrics social visibility score has been used to show the websites' presence in key social networks.
For overall visibility, TripAdvisor and lastminute take the top two spots with the UK's big two operators as well as the likes of booking.com and Expedia in the top 10.
Also, noteworthy is that two thirds of the top 30 most visible sites are online only players.
The full Epiphany Travel Sector 2012 report can be downloaded here.
NB: Super hero image via Shutterstock