In a resent look at the car hire market, in terms of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), some very interesting points were brought to light. Anything in the motor business, whether it’s dealing with the new sales, second hand sales or rental is hugely competitive. The foreign car rental business is massively competitive and it’s on this we are going to concentrate.

Just as a small aside, and one that as a country we have to be able to capitalise on: Hitwise recently released their Travel Quarterly Review – an overview from a search perspective of the travel and related markets. This quarter they analysed the UK searches for ‘flight destinations’. By Flight destinations searches it means search phrases that have a fight slant to them and a specific city destination. So, this could be expressions like “cheap flights Dublin” or “Dublin Flights” etc.

“Flights/Dublin” ranked 4th (up for 11th in the same period last year) of all the city destinations searches from the UK. It’s not a bad showing for the Capital being forth on that list of potential destinations.

travel_destinations_seo

Anyway, once all the bookings have been made there is always the issue of Car Hire. Sticking, for the moment, with the Hitwise research their fastest moving expression in the first quarter of 2011 was “car hire Spain”.

“Hire” being the appropriate term here in this neck of the woods. If you are optimising for the visitors from the USA then that has to be amended to “rental”. Really the numbers are split equally so this means you have to optimise for both.

Of the top ten clicked sites for that and related expressions (both organic and paid) of ‘Spain car hire’- the majority of them receive 70% or more of their traffic from paid search. If we take that further it suggests that the ratio, for Spain car hire terms, is about 1 to 2 organic to paid.

Sticking with the ‘Car Hire Spain’ we had a look to see how well covered the number one site was in the UK in terms of that expression. I wouldn’t call it empirical research by any stretch of the imagination but it does show where they may have just edged ahead. These are only on page factors and don’t take into account any factors such as external links and page rank.

Item:

#1

#2

In URL

P

O

Body Text

P

P

Page Title

P

P

Links

P

P

Image Alt

P

O

Description

P

P

Headings

P

P

Finally to our own parish, and a fairly perplexing, if not worrying item.

Site

Car Hire in Spain

Car Hire Spain

Hire a car Spain

www.carspain.com

1

3

1

www.carrentals.co.uk

2

8

23

www.arguscarhire.com

4

-

27

www.carjet.com

5

5

5

www.economycarhire.com

6

7

-

www.argusrentals.com

7

1

2

www.rentspain.com

8

6

3

www.rhinocarhire.com

9

-

13

www.carhire.co.uk

10

-

-

www.autoeurope.ie

-

4

6

www.all-in-car-hire.com

-

9

22

www.amigoautos.com

-

10

-

www.easycar.com

10

The introduction of the fairly innocuous word ‘in’ throws the whole search standings into disarray. Without the ‘in’ our own Argos Rentals is displaced to #7 for the expression. With the ‘in’ it moves to the top slot!.

A site search on Argus Rentals using a strict search on “car hire in Spain” returns only three pages. One page has the expression in its title – so that’s fair game. The other two pages don’t have the expression in their pages whatsoever! So why, one muses, are they indexed under that expression?

Just like the way Disney ranked number one for ‘exit’, it’s most likely the same thing. The external links pointing to the site are most likely driving that particular expression.