Search Marketing – Rank + Relevance = Success

Sarah Reinertsen, Senior Manager, Product Management
November 4, 2015

How much time do you have to grab a shopper’s attention? Not much, according to a recent study by Mediative, which reveals searchers spend around 1.17 seconds viewing each listing on a page. In 2005, it was just under 2 seconds. That’s more than a 60% drop in the past decade!

Short attention spans aren’t the only obstacles to successful search marketing. Eye-tracking studies from 2005 and 2014 reiterate that location matters. No matter how great an ad is, placement on the page is key to winning consumer engagement. 

Google Heatmap Data 2005: Engagement Pattern is Triangulated

Google Heatmap Data 2014: Engagement Pattern is Vertical, but still focused at the top of the page

Translating Trends into Actions for a Travel Marketer:

A travel marketer could take these trends to mean they must be at the top of the page, no matter the cost. That’s not realistic since most budgets are finite, and top of page placement is often expensive and competitive. So what’s a marketer to do?  

  1. Bid competitively within your budget to achieve the highest rank possible for you. Depending on your budget, that might mean position 1, or it might mean position 3 or below. Studies show that even if you end up in the 2–4 positions, you’ll still drive significant engagement because mobile device usage has increased users’ willingness to scroll for information (albeit slightly—remember the attention span data). Bottom line, this isn’t an “all or nothing” game. Place as high as you can within your means.
  2. Make your ad as relevant as possible. This will help protect you from misdirected clicks, and will make sure you capture the attention of the shoppers you want most. You can also impact relevancy by appearing in targeted search results. If you’re paying for placement on a search engine or OTA, you want that audience to be as qualified as possible. Utilize remarketing products, bid on destination-specific keywords (g. New York Hotels), and look for marketing products that offer targeting tools such as bidding by length of stay or booking window.

Want more tips to achieve Search Marketing Success for your Travel Product?

  • Use urgency messaging in the bottom of the funnel. Traditional ad copy phrases like “Book now!” or “Act Fast!” don’t work in the travel vertical when the shopper is in the exploratory phase. Travel is an industry dedicated to the idea of delayed gratification. Shoppers move slowly and research for months prior to booking and you risk sounding out of touch if you try to force them to act before they are ready. Instead, emphasize how smooth the booking process is in your upper funnel placements (such as search engines), and switch to urgency messaging for a remarketing audience or a highly targeted OTA audience as they close in on the final booking stage.
  • Leverage organic and sponsored listings. When a brand is in the top ad placement and top organic placement, their brand recognition increases by 16% and their purchase consideration increases by 8%.
  • Dust off your branding efforts. But wait, isn’t this post about search marketing? Stay with us on this. Brand recognition is a key part of grabbing a shopper’s eye in search results. The better known your brand is through your display or offline efforts, the better your search marketing campaigns will perform. The travel landscape is competitive, and shoppers respond to brands they know best.


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Picture of Sarah Reinertsen, Senior Manager, Product Management
Sarah Reinertsen
Senior Manager, Product Management
Product, portfolio and sales manager with 14 years of experience in performance-based marketing for the travel, technology and financial services industries.
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