Airlines - Digital Marketing Benchmark Report, Q1 2024

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The Q1 2024 benchmarking report for airlines has just been published. Learn how the top 12 airlines perform across the digital space.

The latest Q1 2024 benchmarking report for airlines has just been published. It covers the largest 12 airlines, including Virgin Atlantic, EasyJet, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, and Jet2 Holidays, Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Air France, Wizz Air, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and American Airlines.

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The research gives an inside track on who is winning the biggest share of voice online, and quantifies the gaps, risks and missed opportunities for other airlines to win brand exposure, drive online enquiries, and generate flight bookings. The report highlights year-on-year digital performance, plus winner and loser comparisons across 20+ online performance metrics and quantifies the gaps, risks and missed opportunities for airlines to win brand exposure, online growth and sales.

To see a preview and contents page of the Q1 report, click here. To get a copy of the full report and the key takeaways, please complete the enquiry form or schedule a call.Airlines - COVER


For a glance into just 6 of the metrics, we evaluated these top 12 airlines on, check out our quick-look table below;

Airlines W&L Nov23

Continue reading for further detail on this quarter's best and poorest-performing airlines or request a copy of the report for the full review.

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What The Industry Research Report Covers

The 70+ pages of research benchmarks each retailer based on 50+ metrics and indicators of successful digital strategy, including organic visibility, domain authority, paid media ads, conversion performance, technical performance, site speed, universal search, content, social ads, accessibility, and mobile performance.  

Driving Optimal ROAS from Paid Media Channels

Some of the leading players in the space are high spenders on paid media channels such as Google, Bing & Facebook - but have a poor or sub-optimal conversion improvement strategy. Without an optimised, sophisticated conversion strategy that maximises the conversion rate, the return on investment is unsustainable or will underperform. Scaling spend on paid media is not achievable unless the conversion rate delivers optimal performance in the sector. Some in the space have paid media spend levels from 30k+ per month but dedicate minimal resources and budgets to conversion testing.  Given the cost per clicks on ad networks will continue to rise, we recommend spending at least 10% of your paid media budget on ongoing conversion optimisation testing schedules to ensure your paid media ROI maintains long-term viability, competitive advantage, and sustainability.

Technical Website Compliance

Savvy digital marketers know that having a technically sound website is an essential component of a successful fully integrated digital strategy - plus a site capable of maximising conversion performance. 

Though airlines have the benefits of not needing to maintain a large range of products (which sites usually trip up on when it comes to technical compliance), they will need to present a large amount of information to both prospective and existing customers. They'll therefore want to ensure that key information such as routes, customer service details, and airline policies are easy to find, clear to read, and not hidden behind broken links and 404 error codes.

Jet2 have over one thousand 4xx errors, putting itself at the bottom of the leaderboard. It must assess its internal linking structure to check that it’s not sending customers down a dead end, which could cause them to resort to competitors.

Site Speed & Conversion Rate Performance

When  62% of consumers are less likely to convert if they have a negative mobile site experience, ensuring that your site is quick and easy to load makes a significant improvement on your overall conversion rates. No one wants to research funeral providers, so funeral and cremation services need to ensure their customers have as positive an experience as possible on their mobile site, providing answers quickly with minimal frustration.

In our last audit, Ryanair reported 2,001 4xx errors, and it’s since reduced this figure to 8. and Jet2 Holidays is the airline to watch, as it flagged 1,431 4xx errors — though this is still a reduction from our previous report. Both airlines should assess their internal linking strategy to ensure they’re not sending customers down dead ends.

Building Competitive Advantage with Domain Authority

Domain authority is an essential metric for measuring the effectiveness of SEO performance, and helps create a reliable overall gauge of how effective your site is at achieving organic traffic, i.e. ‘free’ traffic that isn’t gained through sponsored ads. Airlines could look to collaborate with, and outreach to, local & national publications, and travel sites, in order to build their backlink profile, as well as improve referral traffic.

A ‘good’ DA really comes down to how your competitors are performing, however it’s generally considered average between 40 and 50, good between 50 and 60, and excellent above 60. The DA range for this quarter ranged between 87 and 54, with all airlines scoring above the minimum 40. Though, since no brands scored 100, they can improve their DA rating by looking for ways to increase backlinks from high-authoritative sites and devising a content strategy to increase organic traffic.  

Organic Performance – Mobile & Desktop

A strong organic performance is strategically important as it ensures your site ranks above competitors for key, transactional keywords. When 93% of your customers won’t go past the first page of Google, your absence or lack of targeting for essential keywords will cost you conversions. Though you may expect traffic across the travel sector to shrink, in response to the cost of living crisis, we've found all holiday sectors we specialise in have grown over the past 12 months. This could be down to consumers forgoing day to day treats in order to prioritise a holiday, or from customers heading straight to airline and provider websites in search of a cheaper deal from booking directly.

Eight of the 12 airlines saw a loss in organic mobile traffic, and seven reported a loss in organic digital footfall on desktop. Ryanair saw an increase of 67%, which has dropped to 6% in this quarter. American Airlines reported a 22% loss, which is an improvement from its previous 46% reduction.

Universal Search Opportunity

Google Universal Search Results is an evolving opportunity to make your pages visible on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Universal results often appear before traditional listings and are eye-catching for users. Universal search results refer to rankings on a SERP that are not the traditional ‘blue line’ Google link, and a retailer can appear for universal search results without being strong in standard rankings. 'Reviews' and 'people also ask' results are a great opportunity for airlines to improve trust, and answer key questions, without users even needing to (initially) leave the SERP.

British Airways saw the most Universal Search results (145,748), with most of these in the ‘image’ category (80,500) followed by ‘reviews’ (44,900). However, none of the other airlines had an appearances for ‘reviews’ and they should ensure that customers have the ability to leave online reviews, which will help to get them into the SERPs.

The Longtail Keyword Opportunity

Longtail keywords are often considered high intent and potentially more likely to convert as a searcher is being more specific. Optimising for longtail keywords also puts your content strategy in a strong position to rank for retailer new search terms as they enter Google’s index. Airlines should take particular care to optimise for longtail keywords including high conversion-intent phrases, such as 'last minute flight New York' or 'fly to Boston via Dublin'.

British Airways remains at the top for all positions, with a total of 23,755 appearances in positions 3. While and Jet2 Holidays isn’t at the top of the leaderboard in positions 3, it’s ranking high in positions 4–10, demonstrating it has an effective keyword strategy as ranking high in this position makes it quicker and easier to rank in positions 3.

Facebook Adverts

With the number of Facebook users in the United Kingdom (UK) hitting over 44 million users in 2023, it is not surprising that companies have jumped at the opportunity to advertise on the social media platform. Facebook’s UK digital advertising revenue has been estimated to have breached 2.6b GB pounds in 2019.

Below, we’ve provided examples of EasyJet’s sponsored Facebook posts. All three posts include vertical videos to cater for mobile users (a successful approach as most Facebook users are using a mobile). It could look to diversify its text, as videos and text are practically identical across all posts, implying it’s not testing engagement with different media.

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Top Social Shares & Content

When it comes to social media and on-site content strategies, it is important to release content that has a longer shelf life. An article is considered 'Evergreen' if it has maintained its relevancy to an audience for longer. It's great for your retailer engagement, but great for Google too, who will recognise content which achieves traffic over a long period of time. Airlines can create content based on flying, general travel information, or even about popular destinations that are likely to grab attention from social media users.

All airlines favour Facebook, and United Airlines has took the number one spot for the total engagement (208,787) — beating Aer Lingus from the previous quarter. Furthermore, Air France has the largest Facebook page (7,200,000 Likes). After taking a look at its Facebook page, this airline regularly posts content to inspire consumers to book a holiday — a persuasive strategy to help increase sales.

Website Readability & Accessibility

20% of people in the UK have a disability – 2 million of which are people living with sight loss. In addition, 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women have some degree of colour vision deficiency. When websites are not designed to meet these needs, retailers lose customer interest as they turn elsewhere. Airlines must be accessible for all, as poor digital accessibility on their sites may suggest to users that their flights themselves may be an uncomfortable experience.

In Q1 2024, Alaska Airlines reported the most accessibility alerts of all airlines (54). Eight of the airlines had zero contrast errors, while and Jet2 Holidays reported 81. All airlines should aim to score zero for accessibility alerts and contrast errors to cater to those using a screen reader or those with a colour deficiency.


To get a copy of the full report, please complete the enquiry form. If you want to talk to us about accelerating your digital performance, please call us on 01543 410014 or schedule a call with Mike Movassaghi.

Photo by Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash

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