Study reveals impact of SEO from leading brands on flight searches

UK-based research from Greenlight Search into the most visible sites in Google natural search has revealed a clean sweep for cheapflights.co.uk in the flights category.

The study found that a selection of 3,200 generic and destination-specific key terms generated 5.5 million searches in March. The rankings are based on a site’s presence on the first page of Google for the term.

Cheapflights achieved 100% visibility across all categories of key-terms – generic, domestic, short- and long-haul terms. Skyscanner.net and travelsupermarket.com achieved 80%+ visibility and comprise the top three.

Lastminute.com was the most visible online agent at 59%. Dealchecker.co.uk is the only other site to be visible on more than half the 5.5m searches.

By category, there were 643,000 searches for  14 prominent destinations in the UK and Ireland.  The top three overall sites all achieved 100% visibility, with Ryanair coming close to a clean sweep with 95%. “Dublin flight” was the most popular term, with Greenlight suggesting St Patrick’s Day as the main reason. 

Short-haul is the largest destination category, accounting for 48% of specific terms. The term ‘Alicante flight’ accounting for 12% of short-haul searches. easyJet, whose primary airports network covers the main short-haul key terms, achieves visibility of only 13%. Ryanair gets 8%.

The use of long-haul based keywords is more evenly spread than in generic, domestic and short haul, with the three most searched terms accounting for 3% each.

Around 1.5m searches for long-haul flights were carried out. The five most visible sites are the same as for the overall ranking, although the gap between cheapflights’ 100% at the top and second-placed lastminute.com is significant – the online agent is only visible on 53% of the pages.

The most concentrated key terms patterns occur in the generic category, which generated 1.5m searches. Two terms ‘cheap flights’ and ‘flights’ account for  75% of all generic searches. Flightsdirect.com, part of Scottish independent retail agency chain Barrhead Travel joins cheapflights, travelsupermarket and skyscanner with 100% visibility in this category.

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