Following last weeks post regarding the importance of owning the user experience in the Web 2.0 era the question arose on whether search engines will in fact continue to be relevant into the future?
Two factors will ensure that the role of search engines will expand over time:
- The fragmentation of travel inventory; very few travel suppliers sell more than their own products through their websites.
- The low cost of search for the user: pragmatism is still a greater force then loyalty. Nearly one-half of online travel consumers will compare more than 2 air and hotel travel providers when they book their next trip. Brand loyalty remains on the critical list Ã¢â‚¬â€œ less than 23% of North American leisure travellers view themselves as brand loyal when buying leisure travel.
As the role of search engines continues to grow in dominance so to does the spending on paid listings (the results that appear on the right hand column of a Google search) rise. Paradoxically, the return on investment of these marketing campaigns is declining and will so more and more, as more travel suppliers enter the search bidding process. Greater appreciation of analytics will also drive a greater understanding of the keywords that generate business and therefore a greater pressure on search results and the cost per click of advertising.
The only solution is to invest more heavily in sustainable search engine initiatives, which, when done right, will have a longer term impact on your organic search engine rankings and hence sales on a more profitable basis. All businesses should be striving to developer richer user experiences that make the most of available data to build up a sustainable competitive advantage over the rankings positions of their competitors.