Search still plays a major role for some travel brands

There is no doubt that Google search result pages have changed beyond recognition in recent years – with the search giant’s motivations for doing so regularly irking the rest of the industry.

The classic “ten blue links” have been shoved further down the page to make way for Google’s own services, such as Maps, Hotel Finder, Flight Search, etc, etc.

Depending on your point of view, this is simply free market capitalism in action or grossly unfair because Google still has the temerity from advertisers at the same time.

Over the years, many travel brands have slowly weaned themselves off the need for ultra-engineered SEO tactics to get traffic – but many haven’t.

A new report from SimilarWeb, examining web traffic trends for airlines, accommodation, intermediaries and cruise lines in the US, shows just how much some brands are still reliant on SEO to funnel in their much-needed traffic.

For example, according to the report, TripAdvisor between April 2016 and March this year got around 70% of its traffic from organic search (i.e. Google).

No other mainstream brand in the US comes close to this figure, perhaps with the exception of car rental giant Enterprise which relies on about 45% on traffic coming from that direction, or the Royal Caribbean cruise giant with nearly 35%.

Amongst the leading accommodation brands, Airbnb comes in at 25%, whilst Expedia and Kayak – OTA and metasearch engine leaders respectively – also both have around 25%.

So what about that other element of the Google ecosystem, paid-search?

Airlines are not relying too much on PPC (although Delta has altered it strategy over the last year), but both and Expedia see around 10% of traffic coming via paid-search.

Car rental brands such as Enterprise and Hertz have similar datapoints.

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