A headline-making study by Icrossing highlights the performance of Fortune 500 travel companies in natural search. The report notes that airlines (especially Fortune 500 cos) trump hotels in natural search visibility and travel portals overpowered resorts/hotels anyday with a 63% share of the top 100 ranking sites. While hotel sites or direct supplier sites are increasingly doing a better job of grabbing market share from the big portals, their visibility in natural search for the top 110 most-used keywords could do with improvements. Perhaps, hotels need to play up destination content on their key pages without distracting from amenities and prices. Airline websites do a better job of getting straight to the point through clean destination content and effective copy. Icrossing’s report clearly points out that hotel sites have not focussed on natural search optimization as a strategy and have fallen behind in developing local content. Another insight – imitation may not be sincerest form of flattery in search as a poor optimization strategy copied across the industry will perpetuate the bad practice.
Investing in professional natural search optimization is a good strategy for hospitality companies pursuing online growth. With PPC advertising getting highly competitive, hotel sites might be well advised to pursue the left-hand-side of search result pages as aggressively as they do the right-hand-side!