Travel is one of the most competitive verticals.
Travel brands not only compete against themselves directly but also against a plethora of other business models vying for the same users.
Competing for the same users are the travel giants, such as Booking Holdings (who reportedly spent $1.3 billion on “performance marketing” in a single quarter), versus smaller outfits with more modest marketing budgets, and Google itself.
The travel sector is also one of the most data-rich sectors, thanks to what is relatively inelastic and stable supply coupled with what is user-demand and seasonality that is predictable.
What makes it challenging is that the user journey isn’t linear.
The common user goal in travel is to go from A to B and complete an action or set of actions.
The complexity is that on offer within the market place, each facet and option possible is available either incomplete packages, such as guided coach tours or as individual elements that a user can piece together themselves.
A user may also conduct research on individual sites, before using an OTA to compare options and prices before booking.
There is the argument that Google favors larger brands within search results (which to an extent is true).
In order for smaller travel brands with lesser budgets to be competitive, they need to be more strategic with their efforts and resources and start to do SEO in the way right for their business model and offerings.
It’s also important to note that advancements in Google, such as BERT, don’t actually change the overall goal and objective.
Over the years, we’ve had to adapt our SEO approaches based on:
Google cracking down on some practices through algorithms such as Penguin.
Changes in user behavior such as the big shift to mobile – and not other IoT internet-enabled devices.
In order to do this, travel brands need to be smarter with data available to them and focus even more on creating user value and experiences rather than core commercial messaging.