airTRFX SEO Strategy & Best Practices

Airline-Specific Search Engine Optimization 

A Search Engine Optimization Strategy (SEO) is the process of planning and implementing a series of tactics to improve a website’s search engine rankings and traffic.

Although airTRFX handles most of the technical SEO functionalities required to excel in organic search, it is not a hands-free solution. In fact, there is no plug and play solution in SEO. SEO is a multifaceted discipline that requires collaborative efforts to execute best practices and tactics. 

This is why, in this guide, we put together the timeline of the SEO Strategy for airTRFX pages, along with a comprehensive list of tactics you can implement, as an airline, to contribute to the organic success of airTRFX. 

The airTRFX SEO Strategy also comes with a companion spreadsheet that lists actionable items to expand the digital footprint of airTRFX pages. 

The global SEO Strategy for airTRFX is split into 4 phases:

Phase 1. Planning and Preparation

The purpose of this phase is to define expectations, define the requirements, agree on timelines, and deliver the necessary documentation about leveraging SEO for airTRFX pages.

1. Definition of KPIs and baseline

With so many variables at play in a typical SEO campaign, defining the real KPIs that airTRFX can contribute to improving becomes critical to track what is working and what needs to be done to move the needle further. 

To properly assess how the SEO efforts through airTRFX pages will impact performance, we recommend setting up a baseline or target for the following SEO key performance indicators:

  • Site Impressions (as measured by Google Search Console)
  • Site Clicks (as measured by Google Search Console)
  • Organic Sessions (as measured by Google Analytics)
  • Organic Revenue (as measured by Google Analytics)
  • Organic Transactions (as measured by Google Analytics)
  • Number of pages receiving organic traffic (as measured by Google Analytics)
  • Visibility Percent (as measured by Advanced Web Rankings)
  • Number of Keywords on First Place (as measured by Advanced Web Rankings)
  • Visibility of Keywords Ranked (as measured by Advanced Web Rankings)
  • Indexing rate (as measured by Google Search Console)

Action items:

  • Define target for the proposed SEO metrics with the guidance of EveryMundo’s SEO and Customer Success team

2. Keyword cannibalization assessment

Keyword cannibalization occurs when almost identical pages compete for the same keywords and search engines can’t determine which page to serve for such keywords. 

This issue is very common to airlines’ websites where there usually are separate pages with very similar content, such as:

  • Page 1: Promotional offers to [Destination]
  • Page 2: Travel guide to [Destination]
  • Page 3: Cheap flights to [Destination]

When the site does not use consistent canonicalization and site preference signals, keyword cannibalization may result in a myriad of negative effects:

  • It can cause an undesirable page to outrank a desirable page.
  • If cannibalizing pages convert worse than the airTRFX pages, you will be losing potential sales when users land on the cannibalizing pages. 
  • It can effectively drag down the rankings for all the competing pages.
  • It can dilute the authority of the desirable page because internal and external links may point to several versions of the same content. 
  • It can cause inefficient crawling since search engines spend more time crawling the same content and leave less time to discover new content.

Merging content and implementing 301 redirects is the most effective way to prevent keyword cannibalization issues. 

If the existing pages have a great potential to rank for the same keywords that the airTRFX pages can rank for, you should consider consolidating the similar pages and content into the most relevant airTRFX page. For example, a page showcasing “flights deals to Madrid’ has a high chance to compete in organic search against the airTRFX page targeting “flights to Madrid”. That’s because search engines are likely to serve both pages when users search for “flights to Madrid”.

Merging content is especially important if the cannibalizing pages contain highly useful information about the airline destination. This will not only consolidate the value of similar pages but will also enrich content on a single optimized airTRFX page. 

Keep in mind that content consolidation requires the implementation of 301 redirects from the cannibalizing pages to the airTRFX pages. 

By consolidating content and implementing 301 redirects, we will:

  • Serve users and search engines with the preferred page. 
  • Improve the site’s conversion rates by serving the better converting page to users.
  • Prevent the dilution of link equity, page authority, and rankings. 
  • Serve unique content targeting unique search queries.  
  • Direct search engines to a single optimized page rather than to multiple similar pages, which could help search engines optimize their crawling resources. 
  • Funnel the backlinks impact to a single optimized page. 

As part of the airTRFX implementation program, our team will identify and provide you with the existing pages that have great keyword cannibalization potential. We will gather the pages in a Redirect Mapping spreadsheet, which maps out the potential redirects. At this point, we will discuss the plan to execute the content consolidation strategy. 

Action items:

3. Interlinking planning

Internal links are certainly one of the most critical factors to improve Google’s crawling and indexing of airTRFX pages. They help Google and other search engines discover, crawl, and index the pages in a timely manner. 

Thus, creating internal links from the airline’s core website to airTRFX pages is key to maximize the SEO performance of the airTRFX pages.

Because we can’t make changes to the airline’s core website, we will need to work with the airline’s implementation team to deploy interlinking from three priority link placements: the header, footer, and homepage body. 

Our customers who implemented links to the top route pages from the header or footer menus have experienced impressive results. 

Action items:

4. On-Page Optimization

Optimizing for keywords still matters. Actually, Google states that: “The most basic signal that information is relevant is when a webpage contains the same keywords as your search query. If those keywords appear on the page, or if they appear in the headings or body of the text, the information is more likely to be relevant.”

Of course, ranking it’s not only about keyword matching. There are multiple factors that help Google assess whether a page contains an answer to a search query. However, creating keyword-rich content still is a best practice in SEO.

Therefore, we suggest you choose from the SEO-optimized labels. airTRFX Control offers a set of SEO-optimized variations for page titles and headings. These page titles and headings were carefully selected by our SEO and Content teams and they follow the best SEO practices. Also, make sure to follow the best practices when writing meta descriptions!

If you want to create custom SEO-optimized options, please contact our Customer Success team to license custom optimized on-page elements. 

Action items:

5. Advanced Web Rankings setup

Advanced Web Rankings (AWR) is a keyword tracking tool that reports the position of web properties for search queries in search engines. We use AWR to monitor the position of airTRFX pages on Google for our target keywords.

The target keywords, also known internally as “keyword permutations”, are templated search queries that represent the most common search patterns users type when searching for flights. For example, when searching for flights to a destination, users tend to use “cheap flights to [destination]” rather than “plane offers to [destination]”.

Based on our extensive keyword research, we know that the main keywords that users use to search for flight pages on Google are:

  • When searching for flights to a destination: “cheap flights to [destination]”, “cheap [destination] flights”, “flight tickets to [destination]”, “cheap airfare to [destination]”, and more. 
  • When searching for flights from an origin to a destination: “cheap flights from [origin] to [destination]”, “[origin] to [destination] flights”, “plane tickets from [origin] to [destination]”, and more. 
  • When searching for flights in general: “cheap flights”, “cheap airline tickets”, “flight deals”, and more.

Using the main keyword permutations, our team will set up profiles in AWR following the below configuration:

  • Search engine: Google Desktop
  • Country: top markets.
  • Destination: top routes.
  • Updates: baseline plus quarterly updates. 

Action items:

  • Read our guide Advanced Web Rankings Overview.
  • Create your own profiles in AWR if possible. Having your own AWR account will allow you to track the target keywords more frequently in more devices and locations.

6. Optimizing the airTRFX implementation settings

airTRFX offers immense flexibility for airlines to personalize the implementation. From choosing colors to installing custom code, the customization capabilities of airTRFX are almost unlimited. 

However, there are certain default settings that we recommend keeping because they are proven to be SEO best practices. Some of these implementation options are critical to SEO and our team will encourage you to adopt them. We can also provide additional documentation that explains the value of these default configuration settings.

Action items:

  • Keep the default URL structure. The default URL structure of airTRFX pages are optimized for SEO because it is short and clean, targets the primary keyword, it is easier for users to navigate, and it is consistent across all pages. 

  • Avoid mega menus. Generally, header menus can be classified into two types: a) single-bar navigation, b) dropdown navigation. We vouch for single-bar navigation over large dropdown navigation, also known as “mega-menus”, because a lean menu is better for SEO and for user experience. Read our guide The SEO Case for Single-Bar Navigation for further details. 

  • Create keyword-rich anchor texts for static links. Anchor texts send relevance signals to search engines. Therefore, they should “hint” what the linked page is about. We recommend using keyword-rich anchor text on airTRFX Breadcrumbs and Related Flights modules. For example, use “Flights from New York to Miami” or “New York to Miami flights” rather than just “New York – Miami”. Read our guide SEO-Friendly Site Architecture for more information. 

  • Create the right hierarchy level for navigation breadcrumbs. Navigation breadcrumbs are a hierarchically structured menu that indicates the path from the homepage to the current page. Breadcrumbs are widely used in e-commerce websites because they result in good user experience and they are extremely beneficial for SEO. Specifically, breadcrumbs help search engines crawl and understand the structure of a website. As a bonus, Google can show them in the actual search results! Here are the recommended breadcrumbs paths for each page template:
    • From City: Airline’s Home > airTRFX Hub > From Country > From City
    • From City to City: Airline’s Home >  airTRFX Hub > To Country > To City > From City to City
    • To City: Airline’s Home >  airTRFX Hub > To Country > To City
    • To Country:  Airline’s Home > airTRFX Hub > To Country 
    • From Country: Airline’s Home > airTRFX Hub > From Country
    • From City to Country:  Airline’s Home > airTRFX Hub > To Country > From City to Country
  • Activate the Product schema. Structured data is a standardized format to provide information about a page and classify the page content. It helps Google and other search engines understand the content of a page. We suggest you activate the Product schema available in airTRFX Control so the airTRFX pages are eligible for rich snippets! Read more about in our guide Structured Data Implementation

  • Minimize sitewide legal content. To avoid duplicate content issues, try to cut the sitewide legal content as much as possible. If necessary, provide a short snippet of the legal content with the link to a dedicated page that fully addresses legal topics. 

  • Optimize your images. To improve page speed, optimize your images, including using the right format, choosing a proper right file name, writing descriptive alt text, resizing images, and reducing the file size to less than 100kb. Learn more about image optimization in our guide Content Optimization for SEO

7. Pre-Indexing Audit

The Pre-Indexing Audit is an internal technical SEO audit of airTRFX pages before they are submitted to the search engines index. Once airTRFX is in the Production environment, our SEO team will conduct the Pre-Indexing Audit to identify roadblocks to search engines crawling and indexing in these five areas:

  • On-page optimization
  • Fare modules
  • Interlinking
  • Schema markup
  • Hreflang

Action items:

If you notice unwanted behavior on airTRFX pages that may impact indexing, please create a ticket in our Product Support Desk so we can address the potential issues.

Phase 2. Launch and Indexing

During this phase, with your collaboration, we will handle the most important processes to ensure a proper launch and indexing of airTRFX pages: submission to Google’s index, interlinking, and redirects. 

1. Indexing process

Technically speaking, indexing is the process of storing web pages in a database stored in a vast network of computers. Practically speaking, a page is indexed when it appears on Google search results.

We recommend indexing airTRFX site editions only when the final content is already placed on airTRFX pages of the site editions. Do not launch site editions with dummy or temporary content. It is better to index a handful of completed site editions at a time with certain week intervals rather than indexing thousands of pages with provisional content or no content at all. By content we mean: headings, metadata, fare modules, and ancillary content. 

Indexing priority site editions gradually will also help you gather data about how Google indexes and ranks your airTRFX pages. This can be helpful to identify improvement opportunities to implement in soon-to-be launched site editions.

To make sure that the airTRFX pages will appear in search results, our SEO team will conduct an indexing process that entails:

  • Setting the meta robots tag to index,follow.
  • Configuration of the robots.txt file.
  • Generation of XML sitemaps.
  • Creation of Google Search Console properties for each site edition.
  • Submission of XML sitemaps to each Google Search Console property.
  • Setting International Targeting for each Google Search Console property.

Action items:

  • In some cases, we need access to the Google Search Console property of the airline’s domain. Please, find out what is the procedure to add users to your airline’s Google Search Console property. 
  • In case of a subfolder implementation, we will ask you to add the main airTRFX’s XML sitemap to the airline’s robots.txt file and the parent XML sitemap. Start the initial conversations internally to assess the feasibility of doing this. 
  • If you plan to use custom JavaScript to load content on airTRFX pages, make sure that the scripts are not blocked to search engines in the robots.txt file.
  • Read our guide Google Search Console Reporting Overview

2. Interlinking implementation

As discussed during the Planning Phase, implementing the recommended internal links from the core’s site header, homepage, and footer to airTRFX pages is the most reliable way to increase the indexing rate and speed, and SEO performance of airTRFX pages.

Action items:

3. Redirect Mapping Implementation

If during the Planning and Preparation phase we identified keyword cannibalization potential, we likely put together a Redirect Mapping. A Redirect Mapping is a spreadsheet file that maps out redirects from the cannibalizing pages on the core site to the corresponding airTRFX pages.

By implementing the Redirect Mapping, we will achieve the following:

  • Serve users and search engines with the preferred page. 
  • Improve the site’s conversion rates by serving the better converting page to users.
  • Prevent the dilution of link equity, page authority, and rankings. 
  • Serve unique content targeting unique search queries.  
  • Direct search engines to a single optimized page rather than to multiple similar pages, which could help search engines optimize their crawling resources. 
  • Funnel the backlinks impact to a single optimized page.  

Action items:

Phase 3. Maintenance

This phase involves making changes in airTRFX Control to improve the airTRFX performance and prevent potential implementation issues. 

1. Indexing of new languages

Whenever there is a launch of new languages, create a ticket in our Product Support Desk so we can submit them to indexation. This will ensure that search engines can crawl and index the new custom pages and site editions, which will translate into more organic traffic and better rankings. 

Action items:

  • Create a ticket in our Product Support Desk for our SEO team to conduct indexing of new site editions.
  • Implement the recommended interlinking from the core site’s header, homepage, and footer to airTRFX pages.
  • Implement the recommended redirects included in the Redirect Mapping.

2. Redirects implementation after route list changes

If there are changes to the route list that include disabling origins, routes, or destinations, make sure to implement redirects of the affected pages! Otherwise, search engines will encounter 404s, which can significantly affect the SEO performance of airTRFX. 

Whenever the airline decides to remove routes from airTRFX, you can set a 301 or 302 redirect:

  • Permanently removed routes should be set  a 301 redirect so airTRFX. 
  • Temporarily removed routes (e.g. seasonal routes, airport restructuring, etc) should be set to a 302 redirect. It does not matter for how long a route is disabled. If the plan is to enable back the route at some point in the future, use a 302 redirect. 

Action items:

  • Always implement a redirect when deleting a route. 
  • If the route is permanently removed, set up a 301 redirect type. Otherwise, implement a 302 redirect type, which indicates a temporary redirect. 
  • Read our documentation about adding and removing routes from airTRFX Control

3. Keeping the sitemaps updated

XML sitemaps are critical to helping search engines discover, crawl, understand, and index the airTRFX pages. Actually, Google said that it receives XML sitemaps “in the form of an energy drink”. 

Therefore, search engines should always find updated XML sitemaps listing the airTRFX pages that you want in the index. 

Create a ticket in our Product Support Desk so we can regenerate the XML sitemap whenever any of the below actions are taken:

  • Changes to the route list.  
  • Addition or deletion of Custom Pages with SEO value.
  • Changes to the location alias that will rewrite existing URLs. 
  • An http to https migration.
  • A subdomain to subfolder migration. 

Action items:

  • Regenerate the XML sitemaps whenever: 1) there is a change to the route list; 2) custom pages are added or deleted; 3) changes to the location alias rewrite URLs; 4) there is a http-to-https migration or a subdomain-to-subfolder migration. 
  • Read our guide to XML sitemaps

Phase 4. Enhancements

There are many actions that we can implement together to take airTRFX’s SEO performance to the next level. This phase is all about it. 

1. Post-Indexing Audit

After 3 months of launching airTRFX, our team will conduct a Post-Indexing Audit. A Post-Indexing Audit is a technical assessment of the implementation and includes:

  • Index coverage analysis in Google Search Console.
  • XML sitemaps checkup.
  • Verification of interlinking implementation from the core site.
  • Verification of redirects implementation from the core site. 

Action items:

  • We may provide additional recommendations to improve interlinking and redirects from the core site, as well as to increase the indexing rate of airTRFX pages. 

2. Interlinking from top authoritative pages

Maximizing the opportunities to implement internal links to airTRFX may significantly improve Google’s crawling and indexing of airTRFX pages. 

That’s why, after launching airTRFX, we will identify the top authoritative pages on owned subdomains or external sites where an internal link to the airTRFX pages is recommended. Our team will summarize the findings on a spreadsheet, known as Interlinking Mapping. 

Action items:

3. Content enhancement for top priority route pages

Google is unlikely to index pages with low-quality or thin content. Thus, creating valuable and unique content on airTRFX pages is one of the most powerful tactics to improve indexation. Here are some content ideas to enhance airTRFX pages:

  • Tips for booking flights.
  • Origin or destination airport information.
  • Destination travel information.
  • Flight facts.
  • Frequently asked questions about flight.

Keep in mind that should not reuse the same content across different page templates. For example, if you destination content on the to-city page, don’t use the content on the city-to-city page. This way, you will avoid content duplication issues!

However, we understand that creating high-quality content for a vast network of airTRFX pages is indeed challenging and probably requires a lot of resources. 

Therefore, you should focus first on enriching the content of the airTRFX pages that target the most important airline’s routes and destinations. 

If you need help in finding out ways to create more quality content for airTRFX pages, please reach out to your Customer Success team to provide you with content packages that EveryMundo can create for you. 

Action items:

  • Create better content for the top priority airTRFX pages. 
  • Don’t use the same content across different pages. 
  • Read our guide Content Optimization for Airlines

4. Leveraging Custom Pages for SEO

Custom Pages are a powerful airTRFX tool to capture traffic from additional highly searched keywords that the standard airTRFX pages don’t target. Basically, airlines can create an unlimited number of Custom Pages to cover topics with high search interest, which can bring incremental organic traffic and revenue. 

Here are some content assets that you can create with Custom Pages:

  • Landing pages for deals and promotions.
  • Flight to state pages.
  • Flight to region pages.
  • Travel information content that is not suitable for standard airTRFX pages.
  • Travel alerts and notices pages.
  • FAQ and help pages.
  • Flight policy pages.
  • Landing pages for loyalty programs.
  • Landing pages for ancillary products, such as vacation packages, car rental, etc.
  • Landing pages for route maps and flight tracker tools. 

Reach out to our Customer Success team to get training and examples on how to create these Custom Pages. 

After creating the Custom Pages, don’t forget to set them to index in airTRFX Control! Once done, create a ticket in our Product Support Desk for our SEO team to regenerate the XML sitemaps where these Custom Pages should be listed. 

Action items:

6. Improving the core site

According to Google, the overall quality of a site can affect the rankings of specific pages and parts of said site. It means that a website with sitewide low-quality signals can effectively drag down the rankings of site sections that may even have high-quality content. 

This is why fixing low-quality signals on the airline’s website can be beneficial for airTRFX too!

Here is just a sample of sitewide technical issues that may negatively impact the SEO performance of airTRFX pages:

  • Indexing bloat.
  • Crawl budget issues. 
  • Sitewide canonicalization issues (e.g.: indexable variations of the same page, multiple versions of the homepage, mixed content, indiscriminate use of URL parameters, etc.)
  • Trending 404 errors. 
  • Poor JavaScript rendering of valuable content and internal links. 
  • Lack of efficient interlinking structure. 
  • Poor site architecture. 
  • Server denies search engines access to critical pages, scripts, and files. 
  • Lack of XML sitemaps or XML sitemaps with errors. 
  • No hreflangs for localized site editions or flawed hreflang implementation.

Action items:

  • Conduct a technical SEO audit to identify the sitewide SEO vulnerabilities that may also affect airTRFX pages. Read our Ultimate SEO Guide for Airlines to make sure that the airline’s website follows the best SEO practices.