A new report into search visibility within the travel industry shows that aggregator sites are outspending and outperforming brands in search results.

Stickyeyes’ report focuses on the top mainstream online travel and tourism keyword markets with an emphasis on cheap and last minute deals.

The methodology looks at both paid and organic search results, tracking the number of times a brand appears in the SERPs (search volume), as well as the number of times it is clicked (click share).

It analyses the most common generic search terms for several different types of holidays, including flights, hotels, package, city breaks, skiing and coach holidays.

Obviously it’s too much to cover in a blog post, so here’s a summary of the findings for flights and hotels.


Generic keywords within this subvertical are dominated by short-tail keywords; 93.78% of all search impressions are driven by the phrases cheap flights and flights.

However the volume is spread across a wide range of location terms. For example there is only 4% difference between the second highest volume phrase (cheap flights to India), and tenth highest (flights to Barcelona).

The organic click share index is headed by travel aggregator sites Cheap Flights (27.83%) and Skyscanner (22.97%).

Cheap Flights’ position is underpinned by a strong average ranking across all the primary generic and location type terms, such as cheap flights, flights, cheap flights to New York and cheap flights to India.

It’s interesting to note that the only airline brands that make the top 10 are budget airlines such as Ryanair and Flybe, while there’s no room for the likes of BA and Virgin.

Cheap Flights also dominates the paid click share index. The report found that it has deployed an aggressive PPC strategy that ensures it ranks in the top 10 for 90% of all keyword variations.

When aggregated across both paid and organic search, Cheap Flights has a click share of 30%, putting it 15.14% ahead of its nearest rival TravelSupermarket.


For this category, generic search terms are made up of a blend of phrase types such as hotels, cheap hotels, last minute hotels as well as a range of plural and singular variations of these phrases.

72.25% of search impression volume for location terms comes from the phrases 'hotels in London' and 'London hotels'.

The organic click share index is led by Lastminute.com with 21.91%. However it’s only 0.3% ahead of second placed LateRooms.com. 

Stickyeyes says that this is indicative of the fact that both sites have strong top 10 coverage for 80% of both the primary generic and location keyword phrases.  

Overall the hotel keyword market is dominated by travel price aggregators which account for 80% of the total click share.

Booking.com dominates the PPC click share as its strategy is heavily geared towards maximising its visibility.

Its paid click share across both generic and location terms is 10.07% ahead of its next placed rival Trivago.

Looking at the aggregated results, Lastminute.com and LateRooms comes top as they have developed an effective strategy to maximise their exposure across both organic and paid search results.

The benefits of this strategy are borne out of the fact that both operators have a greater total aggregated click share when contrasted to Premier Inn and Travelodge, whose primary channel of activity is organic search.

David Moth

Published 6 December, 2012 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (2)


James Crothall, Digital Content Specialist at Hargreaves Lansdown

Hi David,

For me this is an unsurprising, nonetheless interesting report and post. I say unsurprising from an organic standpoint - higher rankings and CTRs for aggregators/OTAs (online travel agents) is to be expected considering the time, effort and budget that these companies will have been putting into SEO for probably the best part of a decade. Indeed, their focus is (and always has been) online business.

I'd say that whilst some more recent entrants into the market, carriers and operators of travel services like Ryanair and Premier Inn have had a focus on online business, they were still late in when it came to competing with the SEO might of some of the major players. Moreover, the suppliers who relied on the more traditional models of agent based generation over the years are now playing catch up from a long way behind.

The question for me is, with Google's semi-entry into aggregation over the past year or so, when will flights and hotels enter the mix in the UK and what effect on these business will it have?

over 5 years ago


Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum Ltd

James - you're asking when will Google compete directly with travel, with aggregation?

It must be something weighing heavily on the travel aggregator market; certainly I know some who are really focused on maximising ROI with performance optimisation projects in various parts of the website.

Are they just trying to show the best corporate profit this year, in order to sell the company quick before Google becomes too strong!

Or are they hunkering down for a tougher existence competeting alongside Google?

Interesting times for travel aggregators!

over 5 years ago

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