2019 - 2020 Travel Industry Report

We have researched 3,000 of the top commercial keywords in the travel industry across five key sectors, hotels, holidays, flights, car hire and travel insurance.

This is a simple example of the kind of advanced SEO reporting you can perform in Google Big Query and Google Data Studio.

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    How do you set your SEO and content strategy when you work in a competitive industry that has been heavily targeted and disintermediated by Google in recent years?


    We looked at mobile and desktop SERP results. We have published our findings about the travel industry in the Google Data Studio report. We have updated these details up until June 2020.

    This Google Data Studio report demonstrates the top searched terms, users behaviour and season changes in the industry which we share in our Travel Industry Report.

    This is the first of many industry sector reports we plan to build and publish ‘live’ via Google Data Studio.

    What we found during our research, was that with 98.3% of all keywords carrying paid ads, if you are not the top organic ranking result, then you are going to be struggling for organic traffic and left targeting the scraps of Universal Search traffic from Featured Snippets, People Also Ask results, Images and Videos.

    This is because we found more than half of consumers are using their mobile to research these categories and most results are below the fold:

    • 57.7% of consumer demand across the top 5 categories Hotels, Holidays, Flights, Car Hire and Travel Insurance is from mobile devices.
    • 95.1% of No.1 Ranking Organic Results are below the fold of the page on Mobile.
    • 98.9% of No.2 Ranking Organic Results are below the fold of the page on Mobile.

    So, if you are not the top ranking result then you are going to get a lot fewer clicks! Even Google, which is the dominant force across the market, sees its own SERP features pushed below the fold of the page:

    • 59.4% of No.1 Ranking Organic Results are below the fold of the page on Desktop.
    • 76.7% of No.2 Ranking Organic Results are below the fold of the page on Desktop.

    What's inside:

    In the report, we’ve highlighted some of Google’s vertically integrated SERP features including People Also Ask (PAA), Organic FAQs, which are disrupting and dominating many niches in the market. This doesn’t spell doom and gloom for SEOs worldwide; it just means we have to be more selective, strategic, analytical and even creative in our approach.

    Some of the new Universal Search features continue to give us opportunities to grab as much relevant SERP real estate and traffic from our competitors as possible.  Focusing on answering consumers most relevant and pertinent questions makes good business sense anyway.  It’s also a great way to prepare for the advent of Voice Search, whilst winning Featured Snippets, People Also Ask results, Organic FAQs (and no doubt Organic HowTos – as surely a new Schema driven search feature is on its way soon) and more. It does mean however, that only the very highest organic ranks are going to get any visibility at all.

    Search Volume Trends from the Google Data Studio Report - Travel Industry

    Search Volume Trends from the Google Data Studio Report – Travel Industry

    Our SERPs API

    To get the very best keyword ranking results, our SERPs API utilises real browsers running JavaScript when collecting SERP data from search engines.  This allows us to render the page and analyse the HTML (for mobile and desktop) and record the top left and bottom right x, y coordinates of every different element of page 1 of the SERPs for every keyword.  By comparing this to the browser dimensions, we are able to calculate whether an element is visible on screen and whether it is above or below-the-fold of the page.

    The SERPs in the Travel Industry

    Google’s travel related new SERP features have changed the rules of the game and now dominate the playing field, placing an even greater onus on search marketers to carefully structure and target their SEO and Content marketing to succeed across the multitude of paid and organic Universal SERP features that now exist.

    • Google is the dominant player across 4 of our 5 categories (car hire, flights, hotel, holiday and travel insurance).
    • The Travel Insurance category the only area where it is yet to monopolise the search results with a vertically integrated new SERP feature.
    • Google’s dominance comes from its introduction of these new travel related SERP features; a trend of vertically integrating in an attempt to monetise better in valuable key niches whilst providing a better user experience (in their opinion anyway).  It looks like this strategy is set to continue across all markets – we should all be worried!
    • 100% of the keywords we checked in our analysis still display Organic Results on the SERP!
    SERPs landscape in the Google Data Studio Report - Travel Industry
    SERPs landscape in the Google Data Studio Report – Travel Industry


    Featured Snippets

    • Featured Snippets (AKA Direct Answers) appear for 27.3 of all keywords  (interestingly down 4.7% on May 2019 – we’ll keep an eye on this as penetration has dropped across all categories) and appear at the top of the organic SERP just below the Ads.
    • Research tells us that Google usually chooses the Featured Snippet from the top 4-5 organic ranking results, so concentrate initially on pages and keywords where you are already performing.  Once you have had some success you can focus on up and coming pages.
    • Travel Insurance (61.2% of keywords on desktop and 53.9% of keywords on mobile have Featured Snippets), Holiday (32.9% desktop, 27.5% mobile) and Car Hire (16.4% desktop, 14.2% mobile) are good categories to focus on.

    People Also Ask

    For 78.3% of SERP requests in our study, Google is returning a nice 4-pack of People Also Ask results. This is as high as 91% in Flights and 97% in Travel Insurance, and is lowest in Hotels (~40%) – probably due to the lack of space because of Google’s Hotel Finder feature.

    travel finder people also ask questions
    Car hire places results for twickenham


    • We found that 18.6% of all keywords (down 2.4% on May 2019) generated Places results in the SERPs.
    • As expected, Google Places prominence varies considerably across categories – with significant penetration in Car Hire.
    • It’s understandable that the penetration is practically 0% in Flights and Travel Insurance, however, it’s interesting to see how in ‘Hotels’, Places results almost never appear for desktop users having been replaced entirely by Google’s Hotel Finder.

    This industry report has data until June 2020, if you like these reports then why not get in touch and find out how they can be used to report on your SEO work!

    Background image source: Gaddafi Rusli on Unsplash