Advanced strategic SEO is key for car rental companies as customers transition online to find the most attractive deals on their rental cars. Competitive analysis is a necessary and valuable exercise that should be used when devising SEO strategies so that decisions are based on real data and not guess-work.
It’s also very important to track your competitors and regularly analyze their performance online – are they gaining or loosing market share? What are they doing in SEO, paid advertising and social media? Can anything be learned from these insights?
In SEO, the competitive edge is gained by out-ranking your competition for the phrases that convert (turn visitors to customers). This means you need to know where they are positioned in search compared to you and what are they doing similarly and differently to you that may account for differences you observe.
It’s also important to realize that in the car rental space, it’s not only the direct car rental brands that are your competition, but also price comparison websites, and travel providers that can come between you and your potential customer. This means that if the competitive SEO landscape returns an abundant market share for comparison websites and travel providers, you may need a more elaborate strategy to gain customers in that vertical such as a broker or affiliate partnership in order to reach your potential customers.
The data I report below is from a 2013 white paper where the researchers analyzed the rankings of carefully selected keywords commonly used to search for car rental across a number of different markets. There is a link to download the original white paper at the bottom if you would like to read it.
United Kingdom Car Rental
Although the volume in the UK is still relatively lower than neighboring markets like Germany, the UK has seen significant growth in car rental in recent years. 8 top 10 players are direct car rental providers and only 2 are price comparison websites. Here is a snapshot of the top 10 players in 2013:
Germany Car Rental
Germany paints a very different picture. The car rental market is dominated by Germany’s leading car rental comparison portal followed by Sixt as a clear leader in the car rental provider space. Other top 10 players are left trailing the leading 2 players. Here is a snapshot of the top 10 players in 2013:
United States Car Rental
In the US, Enterprise is the clear leader followed by travel provider and comparison site expedia.
France Car Rental
The French market is dominated by Europcar with a distant second Hertz. There are a number of branded and generic players within the French market making it a very competitive landscape for number 3-10.
The white paper also covers what car rental companies were doing in paid search also, however, with paid search strategies changing rapidly from year to year this data is likely outdated. SEO for car rental however, since it’s a slower organic growth is still relevant today and worth the retrospective look.
You can download the white paper here: Searchmetrics Whitepaper on Car_Rental in 2013.