Not too long ago, Dragonair and Cathay Pacific did a site revamp that featured better interface. But I had to stop my complements at the point because all the beauty the new site presented was overshadowed by some glaring disregard for search engine optimization. While airlines in Europe and America are in a strongly competitive market that basic SEO won’t do the trick, airlines such as Dragonair and Cathay Pacific couldn’t capitalize the power of their newly revamped websites.
http://www.dragonair.com/da/en_HK/ b45876bd1d78e010VgnVCM100000e6ce1c39RCRD? refID=bdf9c29c801a1110VgnVCM32000011d21c39____
In the last four years, new players such as Oasis Hong Kong Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Hong Kong Express Airways have joined Hong Kong’s aviation industry. Although offering a different value proposition and stiff competition from the traditional ones, their presence creates complications for the big boys. In some cases big boys lose out for various reasons. Let it be known that Northwest Airlines and Delta Airlines filing for bankruptcy reminds us that big airlines can fare badly in this type of business. Competition is pushing everyone to be extra creative in every marketing effort, proper page optimization for these websites certainly helps.
We are not only looking at the airlines themselves as competing entities for flight bookings in and out of Hong Kong. Relatively new players such as Sidestep, Kayak, Mobissimo and Farechase enter this competitive industry because it is believed to be a profitable business amid growing portion of the population choosing to fly than hit the road for vacation trips.
I believe Adaptive Path built the Cathay Pacific website. Nothing against the company because I think they have done a brilliant job of elevating Cathay Pacific’s online presence into the next level, same as the way HSBC did in its last website revamp.
Personally, I think Cathay Pacific has done the job well in its optimization efforts. Its careful use of anchor text, CSS-based suckerfish dropdowns and URL structure helps search engines jump from one page to the other while identifying the important page themes crucial to determining a page’s importance.
On the other hand, Dragonair layout seems to be a good copy of the Cathay Pacific website, which isn’t a big issue to me. Using the same methodology as its big sister’s website brings wonders when done in the right way.
Having said that, there is still room for improvement in SEO.
What more can Cathay Pacific and Dragonair can do:
- Be consistent on linking practices on menu structure (absolute or relative?)
- Allow bots to crawl more pages using instead of combo boxes as what Cathay Pacific uses in its Offers page.
- Check on spellings and grammar error. (Fix that concourse spelling at Dhaka’s Lounge page if it isn’t yet).
- If possible, minimize the use of parameters especially if they are linked far from the homepage (I’d suggest up to two). Online Check-In may be an exception because it’s linked directly from the Sitemap despite carrying three parameters.
- Structure of page title can be improved. (See this example from Marriott on using keyword prominence on its title.)
- Canonical issues must be addressed. (www and non-www pages must exist.)
- Improve the 404 Error page. People can’t wait to receive an e-mail from Cathay Pacific as what’s shown on these pages. They want to know where the should go; provide a sitemap-like structure in place.
- Make sure spelling is corrected not only in page content but also on URLs. (Dragonair spells it “dinning“)