Kevin May explains that there are many in the travel industry who look back fondly on the Glory Days of SEO – the era beforeGoogle starting making changes to its search pages. The apparent golden age of digital marketing let travel brands focus solely on two things: optimising pages based on their content, so they could appear as high as possible in natural search results; and bidding against competitors on keywords so that their text ads would appear on the right-hand side of the organic results.

This period actually lasted a fairly long time, at least in web terms, but things started to change at the turn of the decade. A flurry of additions to SERPS (search engine results pages), especially on travel-related search queries, saw the appearance of elements such as maps, local information, images, videos and Wikipedia data. And then came Google’s own services, such as modules for Google Flight Search and Hotel Finder. Later items include Twitter cards, Google News-sourced articles and the Knowledge Graph. Google’s search results pages, in short, have changed dramatically (albeit gradually) from how they looked half a decade ago.

Digital marketing software provider SearchMetrics recently analysed page one of Google SERPS for half a million frequently searched terms to understand how much the real estate has changed.