Airline search visibility crashes

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Ryanair has lost almost 60% of its visibility online since September 2009, according to search marketing agency Greenlight which has just published its research. The report, Flights Sector Report – Issue 4, analysed key search terms used by UK consumers looking on the Internet for a flight and profiles search behaviour, assesses which brands, aggregators and websites are the most visible in natural and paid search results, and hence have the greatest share of consideration when UK-based searchers go to Google to look for flights. The report is based on search volumes for the last quarter, with a focus on December to give a more in-depth analysis.

Greenlight identified more than of the most commonly used search terms, cumulatively delivering more than 28 million searches for flight-related terms in December 2009. The research determined the best positioned, and hence most visible websites, in the flights sector based on the volumes for each keyword.

The term ‘Flight’ accounted for 59% of all flight-related searches. Short-haul destinations, largely within Europe, accounted for almost 5.3 million searches in December with queries for flights to Palma and Rome cumulatively accounting for 16%. Long haul flight search volumes meanwhile fell 43% since September although when compared to domestic and short haul, they decreased the least. New York, Bangkok and Australia were the most popular destinations.

But when you look at the online flight brands things get really interesting. Ryanair held fourth position in the visibility stakes in Q3 2009, but everything changed during Q4 with EasyJet landing in at number 4 and Ryanair crashing to 32. Ryanair was not the only casualty according to the report, with CheapFlights experiencing a 25% decrease in search visibility and dropping from number 2 down to number 8.

The reason for the change in airline flight search visibility for the last quarter of 2009 remains unclear.