Google AdWords change hits BA and Ryanair searches

Ryanair and British Airways have lost ground in online consumer flight searches following changes to Google’s AdWords keyword tool, a new study shows.

There were 2.2 million searches performed in September – with long haul destinations accounting for almost half as consumers looked for winter sun options.

According to research by search marketing agency Greenlight, this level of overall search volume for flight-related terms in September was “considerably lower” than July and August as a result of the introduction of a new AdWords tool that calculates searches based on alone.

Ryanair and BA lost a “significant” share of voice – 28% and 27% respectively – since June. Ryanair’s visibility stood at 22% while BA’s was at 19%

However, comparison site Cheapflights achieved 89% visibility, up by 28% since June, through ranking at the top position on Google for 1,580 of 3,200 keywords analysed.

SkyScanner and followed Cheapflights in the top 60 most visible flight websites in natural search in September, with a “marked gap” between the top three and other flight-related sites, the Greenlight research found.

“Since our June sector report, there has been a notable difference in our league rankings due to the change in the Google AdWords volume calculations,” the report said. “This is because the allocation of percentage share of voice is directly linked to the search volume attained for keywords.

“A number of websites lost visibility as overall search volume was spread across a greater number of keywords, rather than a few core terms, such as ‘flight’ and ‘cheap flights’.”

The term ‘cheap flights’ was searched for 301,000 times in September, accounting for 57% of all generic searches.

In paid search, EasyJet was the most visible advertiser in the month, rising from 13th position in June with a 31% increase in share of voice. It bid on fewer keywords – 59 compared to 63 – at an average position of three but it bid more often on high volume driving terms, according to the research.

DealChecker came in second in the top 60 most visible advertisers in paid search followed by Travelrepublic and Cheapflights.

EasyJet was just one of two airlines in the top ten advertisers in paid search, the other being BA.

Opodo lost 35% visibility, leading to a drop from second position to 12th, while ebookers lost the greatest share of voice (42%), Greenlight said.

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