Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Problem / Goal

In 2008 when Skyscanner employed just 3 people, the landing pages were very basic and contained almost no content. They looked like a collection of links and there was a very high risk that such a structure would be banned by Google. The website was also not optimized for markets other than English, i.e. for other search engines like Bing, Yandex, Baidu, Seznam.

The positions of Skyscanner’s landing pages in search engine result pages (SERPs) was pretty poor, very often they appeared on the 2nd page or not at all.

Solution
We started search engine optimisation work at Skyscanner in the spring of 2008. We analysed the existing website and developed a strategy for new webpages. The main guideline for the solution was to make use of geographical hierarchy (continents, countries, cities, airports) to build an appropriate structure to link all SEO pages. The content and layout of new SEO pages were also designed.

As Skyscanner offered the site in 20 languages, optimisation of SEO pages for each country and language posed a non-trivial problem. As a result of the analysis of the main markets on which Skyscanner operated, a decision to start country-specific domains was made. An algorithm for building a webpage hierarchy was also modified to be specific and unique for each market on which Skyscanner operated.

After 6 weeks of design work, implementation was started, which finished in summer 2008 after another 6 weeks of work.  A number of Google Analytics profiles were created to monitor traffic.

Innovation
We developed an innovative localisation solution on a global scale for Skyscanner, which allows for creating translations that preserve proper grammar forms. This solution was first implemented in Polish, and partially in Italian and French. Later it was introduced into many other languages. It was one of the major contributors to growth of SEO traffic in localized languages.
Results
The results achieved were very satisfying. The phrase “cheap flights” and its longer variations and localized substitutes turned up in the first three results in Google for most languages. The share of users visiting the site in languages other than English increased from 20% to 50%. Despite the economic crisis in the autumn of 2008, Skyscanner enjoyed a record-breaking increase in visitors to the site, which resulted in a huge turnover and revenue increase in 2009.
Next steps
Skyscanner did not stop with the SEO pages’ success for the basic phrases. Over the next years we developed additional pages and optimised the linking structure building algorithm. We made use of various techniques (including pagerank sculpting) to maintain the position in search engines for existing phrases, as well as to improve the position for new phrases. We often employed Google Analytics to gather information about the site traffic.

Apart from building SEO pages, our team dealt with other tasks, which indirectly affected the position of Skyscanner web pages in search engines. These actions included:

  • implementation of SEO widgets,
  • creation and running of the News service, aiming at hosting content linking to the main site,
  • creation of CMS, based on Drupal, to build a system joining static and dynamic content, and
  • marketing actions (e.g. advertising campaigns in social networks).

TEAM

Wit Więch
Co-founder and CEO
Robert Pelczarski
Co-founder and Senior Developer
Tomasz Marcinek
Co-founder and Software Architect