5 years ago

Generic search terms and who comes out on top for organic and paid search in travel

More insight into which brands are winning the organic and paid search game in the UK travel sector comes from Stickyeyes.

Last month an Ayima study revealed the state of SEO in the UK and US travel sectors and there are parallels.

For example, both studies clearly show how price comparison sites and online travel agencies are grabbing share making it difficult and expensive for the more established brands especially airlines and hotels to shine through.

In fact it is only in the package holiday and all-inclusive category where traditional travel agents outstrip the aggregators.

Of the top 1,000 key words entered into Google, 13 account for 50% of the volume demonstrating that most people still search using very generic terms.

Stickyeyes commercial chief Glen Conybeare says:

“This is not unique to travel. The majority of people are not particularly savvy and just start using generic terms and I suspect that has not changed in recent years. People think ‘I want a holiday’, they trust Google and refine it from there if they need to.

“If you typed in ‘holiday’ five years ago 80% of what you received was junk but now at least 80% is relevant because it has changed the algorithm and how it works.”

The UK Online Travel & Tourism Intelligence Report also shows that 46% of searches contain the word cheap or discount or something along those lines.


Thomson takes first slot within the organic search holidays category based on the top 10 generic and location terms attracting the most clicks with sister brand First Choice coming in third for a combined share of 31.65% and Travelsupermarket slotting in between the two.

When it comes to paid click share however, Thomson is pushed down to fourth place with On The Beach taking the top slot and 17.90% of clicks followed by Sunmaster and Icelolly. According to the report On The Beach dominates with 90% of the generic terms and 70% of the location terms.

Aggregated click share reveals Thomson as the overall winner with its blend of organic and paid search giving it about 15% of the volume followed by Icelolly, Teletext Holidays and On The Beach.

Overall organic and paid click share


The top 10 generic and location terms for organic flight search show airlines themselves hardly get a look in with only Ryanair, FlyBe and Jet2 making an appearance. Cheapflights dominates with about 28% of click share followed by Skyscanner with 23% and Travelsupermarket with about 17%.

Lastminute is the one to watch in organic, according to the report, because it has managed to increase its average ranking by 10 places over a 10 month period.

For paid click share Cheapflights also dominates and is in the top 10 for 90% of the keywords and similar to Thomson’s aggregated affected, the price comparison site is achieving a combined click share of 30% across organic and paid.

British Airways is the only airline to make an appearance in the top 10 paid category with the airline possibly trying to make up for its lack of visibility in organic rankings.


Only the budget chains Premier Inn and Travelodge appear in the hotels organic click share category but it is Lastminute and Laterooms which dominate with more than 20% each. In fact 80% of the total share is taken up by aggregators and it’s the same story when it comes to the paid segment.

Booking.com leads by quite a long way in paid click share, more than 10 percentage points ahead of Trivago for the top 10 generic and location terms.

The report also throws up some interesting findings on social media engagement and Stickyeyes uses both volume and engagement metrics for its index.

Virgin Atlantic, Thomson and Thomas Cook are leading the way in terms of engagement through image sharing, competitions, reviews, travel guides and customer support.

Thomson is first when it comes to engagement score (brand engagement, retweets, Facebook talking about) but fifth when it comes to the volume score (views, likes, followers etc) while British Airways leads the volume score but falls into seventh position for social engagement.

Findings from the study were revealed at the Travolution Summit in London yesterday.

NB: Search image via Shutterstock

NB2: Contact hello@stickyeyes.com for a copy of the report.

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About the Writer :: Linda Fox

Linda Fox is managing editor for Tnooz. For the past decade years she has worked as a freelance journalist across a range of B2B titles including Travolution, ABTA Magazine, Travelmole and the Business Travel Magazine.

In this time she has also undertaken corporate projects for a number of high profile travel technology, travel management and research companies.

Prior to her freelance career she covered hotels and technology news for Travel Trade Gazette for seven years. Linda joined TTG from Caterer & Hotelkeeper where she worked on the features desk for more than five years.



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