Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Joy of SEO

Search engine optimisation can be a fickle business at times. Indeed, travel companies up and down the land are known to agonise long into the night about where they appear on that Official Gateway to Instant Traffic, Google.

Digital marketing agencies are appointed; months are spent on designing Google-friendly landing pages; complicated keyword folksonomies are created – all in the hope that the consumer will chance upon seeing an entry in natural search listings for a company, product or destination.

And then some upstart comes along and shows them how it’s done, without any special investment.

Type “flight search engine” into Google and appearing in first place, as you might expect, is a high profile meta search engine – Skyscanner, in this case.

But what is this? In second place is that pesky Travel-Rants consumer blog.

In fact, the US version of Sidestep, IfYouSki, GooFlight and VisitBritain are the only pureplay "flight search engines" to appear on the first page.

So, well done to Mr Cronian of Travel-Rants – a developer by day with a passion for travel, writing his blog purely as a hobby.

The message here is simple: good content – or content deemed important by others on the web – can be as valuable as any investment in a digital marketing strategy.

NB: If anyone doubts whether “flight search engine” is a phrase in demand (it not being destination specific, for example), just check out the number of companies bidding against it in Google’s pay-per-click listings.

TravelSupermarket, Travelzoo, Opodo, Ebookers, Airline-Network, Kayak, SkyScanner (again), DialAFlight, Expedia and Travelocity obviously consider it worth paying money for every click.

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

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Shahin Fard said...


With all due respect I'd have to disagree with you. The main reason why there is a lot of google ads is due to broad match on "flights" and "flights search".

Looking at the title of the ad creatives you'll notice that none say "flight search engine", which means advertisers are not targetting that phrase, if they were it'd show in the title with the dynamic keyword replacement Google uses.

Furthermore, if you use an exact match i.e. search for "flight search engine" you'll see only 57k pages relevant for the term. "Flight search" has 1.2 million.

Kind regards

Darren Cronian said...

Good point Shah, the blog is only on the 2nd page for 'flight search' something I obviously need to improve ;)

Wouldn't flight search engine be a long tail keyword term though? It's generating traffic, even though I wouldn't like to say how much! :)

Travolution Blogger said...

Shahin: Fair comment. The broad point we are trying to make is that a blogger has made it to #2 on Google search for - what is, as you suggest - a reasonably popular key phrase.

Nick Jones said...

Kevin - Shah is right on this one. this is the June result from the Overture -

KW tool Searches done in June 2007
Count Search Term
122 flight search engine
39 cheap flight search engine

Even if you 10x this for Google its only 1000 searched (which I doubt it would be) Actually this is an example of how a niche site can compete against the big guys on low volume terms.