Among the top 10 most prominent sites, four of the top five are not retailers in their own right but holiday price comparison sites.
These include Teletext Holidays, Travelsupermarket.com, Holidayhypermarket.co.uk and the recently established Icereamholidays.com, a brand owned by Manchester-based Comparethebigcat.co.uk.
The Stickyeyes analysis shows the strong performance by the price comparison sites comes down to a focus on high-volume generic search terms like ‘cheap holidays’.
Among the top 10, the final five places are taken by firms that actually produce, retail or operate holidays: Lowcostholidays.com, Firstchoice.co.uk, Thomascook.com, Lastminute.com and Expedia.com.
Stickyeyes said the online holiday market is unusually diverse with a strong high-volume medium tail of keywords, something Thomson exploits to establish its dominant position.
Stickyeyes said: “This expansive structure within the market makes a ‘catch all’ organic search strategy that much more challenging for brands, often forcing them to target a specific range of keywords that focus on a destination or particular holiday type.
“Despite these market challenges, there are a few brands that have managed to achieve greater levels of success with their strategic approach.”
When high-volume extremely-generic terms are stripped out the top 10 for short-haul and long-haul, terms takes on a very different complexion, with brands coming more to the fore and Icecreamholidays.co.uk falling from grace to last place.
A trend map of market share over the last six months shows Thomson remaining fairly consistent throughout that period while Holidayhypermarket.co.uk has made a late bid to claim second spot and Icecreamholidays.co.uk has come on the scene from May.
Stickyeyes looked at two factors that determine ranking, comparing the top two with the top three average and Thomas Cook which has a similar strategy but has been less successful.
An external link comparison found Thomson and Thomas Cook have far more than the industry average, although volumes have decreased since March, while Holidayhypermarket.co.uk has far fewer.
Stickyeyes said this suggests holidayhypermarket.co.uk has a higher proportion of keyword focused links and that sheer volume was not a significant indicator of rank.
Data on the anchor text type showed the more prominent brands of Thomson and Thomas Cook had much higher levels of brand links whereas holidayhypermarket.co.uk had more broader keyword links.
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