Ryanair’s website was sent tumbling down the Google results rankings for important search terms following a revamp that was meant to boost the airline’s brand image and make it easier for customers to book flights.
Ryanair had top ten positions in Google’s search rankings for terms such as “flights to France”.
But in recent weeks it has tumbled down the rankings, and searches for many relevant terms no longer include Ryanair in the top 100 results, according to data from web analytics company Intelligent Positioning.
Internet analysts believe the search problems are an unintended consequence of the revamp of the website, the Financial Times reported on Friday.
“They’ve screwed up big time,” said Sam Silverwood-Cope of Intelligent Positioning, a web analytics company told the FT. “There’s going to be a hell of a lot of traffic that they’re missing.”
When Ryanair restructured its website in March and April, it created a new set of URLs, but failed to correctly redirect the old pages. This resulted in Google seeing the defunct pages, and awarding a lower ranking, according to the report.
In response, Ryanair said that most of the 1.2 million hits a day on its website were from direct visitors, rather than those who came via search engines. It said bookings this quarter were about 5% higher than the same period last year.
According to Hitwise data provided by Intelligent Positioning, Ryanair gets about a fifth of its web traffic through search engines.
Ryanair said it was in the process of migrating various old website pages to its new site and it expected to be able to regain first page rankings on important search terms once completed.
“Until the site settles down, there will be a temporary drop in organic search positions on certain key search terms,” the carrier said. “We anticipate that it will take a week or so for things to bed down properly.”
The website overhaul was a central part of Ryanair’s strategy to rebrand itself as a friendlier, more caring airline and win back lost custom. It unveiled a preview of its new-look website a few weeks ago – highlighting that the number of clicks needed to book a flight had fallen from 17 to five.
Gerald Khoo, transport analyst at Liberum, told the FT that struggles with search engine optimisation could have a financial impact.
“There clearly is an issue that they don’t appear where they’d like to [in the search rankings],” he said.