Search Engines Drive 21% Of Traffic To Travel Aggregators
But search terms (including the often higher-priced branded keywords) didn't always nab the sale--shedding some light on the hit-or-miss gamble that marketers take with paid search advertising.
Branded keywords routed nearly 15% of all searchers to travel aggregators, with the top three terms--"Travelocity," "Expedia," and "Orbitz"--driving almost half of that traffic. In comparison, the top three generic keywords--"airline tickets," "hotels," and "travel"--combined for only about 3%.
Since the top three travel aggregators have a strong on- and offline brand presence, it's no surprise that customers can recall their names to type into a search engine. "Simple brand-awareness remains a critical part of the mix," said Compete.com's blogger, Matt Wainwright.
That is not to say that generic terms were ineffective at driving traffic. On the contrary, travel terms accounted for about 70% and 85% of the search visits to Orbitz.com and Cheaptickets.com, respectively. What's interesting is that the increased traffic did not automatically correlate with increased conversions.
When it came to hotel bookings for example, search visitors to Cheaptickets.com were 44% less likely to convert than overall visitors. And searchers who found Orbitz.com were 20% less likely to book a hotel than non-search visitors--posing the question of how effective purchasing a branded keyword like "Orbitz" (which ranked in the top three) was for driving sales.
For Travelocity.com it did, as search visitors were 4% more likely to book a room than overall visitors--but Compete.com's analysis seems to point to the quality of specific search words--and how well they draw in a consumer who's ready to buy, as opposed to someone who's "just browsing."
Travel advertisers may benefit from using psychographic research and demographic data from conversions to gauge the right keywords.
Wainright wrote, "The most popular (or expensive) generic search term is not necessarily the best investment for a travel site. A savvy marketer needs to connect with target markets, not create window-shoppers."