Just 13 keywords dominate travel search, Stickyeyes study finds

Half of all online travel search is driven by 13 words, with search terms dominated by ‘cheap’ and ‘discount’.

The finding, by digital marketing agency Stickyeyes, forms part of the UK Online Travel and Tourism Intelligence Report presented at the Travolution Summit in London.

Stickyeyes chief commercial officer Glen Conybeare, said: “Thirteen words drive 50% of search volume; 46% of top keywords contain ‘discount’ or ‘cheap’.”

Conybeare gave the summit a flavour of the report, focusing on the top search terms for holidays, flights and hotels and the brands which come out on top.

In the ‘holidays’ category, Tui Travel brands Thomson and First Choice topped the list by volume in ‘natural search’ with 32% of what Stickyeyes calls click share – the number of clicks a company achieves against a keyword.

Thomson came top with close to 19%, with Travel Supermarket second, First Choice third and Thomas Cook fourth.

On the Beach came top in paid search with almost 18% of click share. The OTA made the top 10 for 90% of generic search terms and 70% of location terms, leading Conybeare to declare: “They are paying to be there.”

Thomson was the winner across natural and paid search combined.

In natural search for ‘flights’, only three airlines made the top 10 – Ryanair, Jet2.com and Flybe. Cheapflights came top with close to 28% of click share, ahead of Skyscanner and TravelSupermarket.

Ryanair was the top airline, in fourth place, but with just 7% of click share. Ebookers and Lastminute.com had below 5% each.

Cheapflights also topped the paid search top ten for flights on 22.6%, ahead of ebookers on 15%.

That left Cheapflights the clear winner across paid and natural search combined, with double the click share (30%) of its nearest rivals – TravelSupermarket and Skyscanner. Cheapflights was in the top 10 for 90% of generic terms in paid search.

Conybeare noted: “British Airways was the only airline in the top 10 for paid search, but it was 20th in natural search. That is at the foot of the second page and no one scrolls that far.”

In the hotels category, Conybeare reported Lastminute and Late Rooms as equal top in natural search with 44% of click share. Budget hotel brand Premier Inn was third and Travelodge fourth.

However, Booking.com came top for paid search with 65% more visibility than second-placed Trivago.

Conybeare said: “That is a very dominant position. The question is whether it is buying market share. The top three [in this category] is 50% of the market.”

He told the summit: “Single generic terms drive big volumes. However, ‘cheap’ can be expensive. People at the top of the list are paying tens of thousands of pounds a month to be there.

“Being on page one [of search results] is critical and becoming more so [because] fewer people are going to page two.”

Conybeare added: “Are big generic search terms good value? It depends. It is more for big companies.”

The Stickyeyes report also examines brands within social media, assessing their ‘reach’ and ‘engagement’.

It places Virgin Atlantic top across these criteria, with Thomson fifth in reach, or volume, but first for engagement while BA is first for volume but seventh for engagement, leading Conybeare to question: “Are BA doing the right thing?”

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