Expedia and lastminute.com make natural search gains

Natural search performance from Expedia and lastminute.com showed a marked improvement in December, according to digital agency Greenlight.

The agency’s regular look at Google results for natural and paid search across a number of sectors concentrated on the last month of 2009 for its Q4 Flight Sector report.

Greenlight looked at search results from 3,200 keywords, and found these terms accounted for a total of 28.1m flight-related searches in the UK in December. It ranks brands according to how often they appear on the first page of Google results when the terms are used.

Skyscanner was the most visible brand in December, with a visibility rating of 89%. It came out top on Google for 45 of the 3,200 terms, including “flight” which was the most commonly used word.

Greenlight said that flight alone accounted for more than 59% of searches in December, equating to 16.6m.

However, leading OTA brands Expedia and lastminute.com appear to have worked on their SEO and recorded big improvements since September 09.

Expedia appeared on the first page 57% of times compared with 22% in September;  lastminute.com had a visibility rating of 48% in December compared with 23%.

Ryanair, on the other hand, almost disappeared from Google natural searches. In September, it had a visibility of rating of 61%; in December this crashed to only 2%. Cheapflights also saw a big drop, losing 25% but still ending December with 68%.

For paid search, Greenlight uses a different methodology, and looks at where brands appear within the sponsored links section of Google’s search for the top 120 of the 3,200 terms.

The paid search rankings offer an indication into which brands are buying traffic. Overall, ebookers and Opodo took the top two slots with “a share of voice” ratings of 88% and 55% respectively.

The study breaks the searches down into generic, domestic, short and long haul keywords. For domestic terms, flybmi came out top; for short-haul it was easyJet with Flight Centre topping the table for long-haul.

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