A report out today by Greenlight, the UK’s leading independent specialist search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay per click (PPC) consulting firm, reveals that UK consumer online searches for flights to short haul destinations in March 2010 totalled 24.4 million, almost five times greater than December 2009 totals, which stood at 5.3 million. Based on data gathered in March, the report, ‘Flights, March 2010’, which covers domestic, short and long haul flights, found that searches for flights to Barcelona and Alicante were the most queried. Surprisingly, London followed, superseding Malaga. Combined, these three routes accounted for 20% of the total 38 million flight-related searches performed online in March - a four million drop on February’s total.
Greenlight’s report also assessed and ranked the top 60 airlines, flight operators and aggregators that were the most visible in both natural* and paid search** results (and hence had the greatest share of consideration) when UK-based searchers went to Google in March to look for and book flights around the world.
Some key findings reveal:
* Consumer search behaviour in March was a reversal of that seen in December 2009. Short haul keywords accounted for 64% of flight-related searches in March, compared to 19% searches in December, while generic keywords accounted for just 6% of searches, compared to 63% in December;
* Since December, search volume for long haul flights increased from 2.9 million to 4.3 million searches. Consistent with Greenlight’s December report, ‘Flights to New York’ was the most searched for long haul term in March, accounting for 201,000 queries;
· Interestingly, UK consumer online search for domestic flights over the course of the first quarter (Q1), grew from 1.9 million in December 2009 to 7.2 million in March;
* In natural search, CheapFlights increased its visibility most since December (by 53%). However, Jet2 and DealChecker also increased their visibility by 26% and 10% respectively. MonarchAirlines also made a notable move, from position 23 to position seven as it increased its share of voice by 19%;
* In paid search, EasyJet was the most visible flight advertiser. It attained 55% visibility across the top 120 keywords, which was a considerable increase of 50% since December. Interestingly, just four of the top 10 advertisers in Greenlight’s December report (eBookers, Opodo, Travelzoo and CheapFlights), featured in the top 10 in March, indicating the fierce competition in the paid search space for flight-related keywords;
* Expedia featured the most visible individual ad creative across all flights keywords, achieving 14% share of voice. The ad creative was destination-specific, focusing on ‘Alicante flight’
* The top three most visible flight websites in integrated search (both natural and paid search) were CheapFlights, SkyScanner and TravelSupermarket. DealChecker meanwhile made huge strides moving up to fourth position having ranked twentieth in Greenlight’s December report.