Concentrate Search Analytics Blog

Uncovering Cruise Search Trends for Wave Season

Wave Season is as big as the holiday shopping season for the cruise industry.  Exploring search trends can help you optimize and expand your campaigns to maximize impact during this important shopping period for cruise travelers.

What is Wave Season?

The beginning of a new year brings an end to the big Holiday shopping season in retail and the start of the big cruise shopping season in the travel industry.  The cruise industry calls its equivalent of Black Friday “Wave Season” and it runs from January through March.  Cruise and travel marketers put out their best marketing campaigns during this time.  With search contributing 40% to 50% of traffic to cruise websites, exploring search trends and keyword patterns is well worth the effort.  You can uncover new opportunities to optimize and expand your search marketing program.

Wave Season is Huge

It’s clear from data that Wave Season is huge, as Internet traffic to the cruise industry’s websites skyrockets in the first three months of the year.  Last year was bigger than 2011 and early indicators show a similar bump in 2013.  According to Experian Hitwise data, the cruise category saw 160 million visits during 2012’s Wave Season compared to 140 million visits in 2011.  That’s a lot of search traffic for cruise marketers to capture.

Wave Season traffic trends

Wave Season Internet Traffic 2012 vs 2011. Source: Experian Hitwise.

Discover Keywords

The travel category is one of the most heavily searched, and cruises are no exception.  Start your keyword discovery process by pulling data from competitive intelligence tools like Experian Hitwise, SEMRush, or Searchmetrics.  With Hitwise’s Search Intelligence tool, you can quickly find the top websites gobbling up search traffic.  During last year’s Wave Season, Carnival led the pack with a 24% market share in paid search.


Paid clicks market share

Share of Cruise category paid search clicks. Source: Experian Hitwise.


Once you’ve found the major sites you want to focus on, use your keyword research tool to see keywords driving traffic to a particular site or a whole category.  In SEMRush, type the domain name of a competitor to see a list of organic and paid search keywords. SEMRush Dashboard

SEMRush Dashboard for

Uncover search trends and patterns

If your search intelligence tool has trending information, take a look at keyword activity over time.  Are there certain keywords that peak during Wave Season?  Use your keyword tool’s date filter to see how keywords change by month. organic search rankings in Searchmetrics

Organic search rankings for in Searchmetrics


Sometimes it can be difficult to see patterns among thousands of keywords.  That’s where Concentrate can help.  I like to take a category’s or website’s keywords and upload them to find patterns I might not have discovered otherwise.  Simply download a list of keywords from your tool of choice and upload into Concentrate.  Within a few minutes, you’ll have a list of keyword patterns and a word tree to explore for new opportunities.


"Cruises from X" keyword tree

Word tree showing related words for the "cruises from" search pattern

Explore paid ad copy

One of the great things about competitive research tools like SEMRush and Searchmetrics is the ability to view paid ad copy.  Earlier this month, SEMRush expanded its historical data to 12 months.  That means you can see paid ad copy for every month of last year’s Wave Season.  View ad copy from multiple competitors to find gaps in messaging or new ideas to improve your own ads.


Paid search ad text for

Carnival paid search ads in Google. Source: SEMRush.

Apply lessons to your campaigns

After you’ve examined keywords, patterns, and ad copy, you’ll have a better sense of what others are doing in the market.  Use the lessons learned to improve your campaigns.  I often find there are whole patterns of keywords that have gone unnoticed or undervalued.  Use the information to your advantage to grab organic rankings or increase ROI in paid search.  I’m sure you’ll find numerous ways to improve your campaigns for a prosperous Wave Season.  It’s well worth the effort.


Disclosure:  Concentrate is an affiliate of SEMRush and may receive compensation as a result of links to its website

Kindle Fire and iPads – The Top Holiday Gifts of 2011

The Kindle Fire, iPads, and other tablet devices were among the most wanted holiday gifts in 2011, according to data released Thursday by Hitwise in their annual “Holiday Season” webinar.  Each year, Hitwise provides a recap of online marketing trends for the Holiday season.  It’s a great overview of online behavior during the important Holiday shopping period.  If you missed it, take a look at Hitwise’s webinar archives – they’ll post 2011’s recap soon.

Key Takeaways

Besides tablet devices being highly searched, a few other takeaways are worth noting:

  • Cyber Monday emerged as the top day for traffic, overtaking Thanksgiving and Black Friday for the first time
  • Search remained a key driver of traffic – making up 29% of all traffic to retailers
  •, Wal-Mart, and Target were the top searched retail websites

Fastest Growing Holiday Gift Keywords

Here at the Concentrate Search Analytics blog, we’re mostly interested in the keywords people search for, so we took a deeper look into holiday keywords and search patterns.


Hitwise's fast moving holiday keywords - 2011

The fastest growing keywords among Hitwise's Retail 500


Tablet devices had the greatest increase in search traffic, with “kindle” keywords leading the pack.  Compared to last year, searches related to “kindle” spiked 199%.  Good job  The new Kindle Fire is — on fire!

Kindle vs. Nook – Searchers Weigh Their Options

While digging into “kindle” keyword patterns, we discovered a lot of comparison shopping. Many shoppers weighed Barnes & Nobles’ Nook tablet against’s Kindle by searching for keywords like, “kindle vs nook”. While the Kindle currently has the lead in e-readers, should take note of the fact that searchers see Nook as a suitable alternative.


Kindle vs Nook Word Tree

Concentrate word tree showing comparison searching for "kindle". Data Source: SEMRush 1/12/2012.

Things for my iPad

After people buy the iPad, they search for products to go along with it.  The word, “for” appeared in more than 10% of iPad keyword variations.


iPad Keyword Tree

Concentrate keyword tree showing "for iPad" search patterns. Data Source: SEMRush 1/12/2012.


It should come as no surprise that apps are the most searched iPad companions.  They are followed by stylus pens, books, accessories, software, and keyboards.

Apple, are you listening?  While the touch interface is great, people want to write on their iPads with pens and type with keyboards.  Bake this functionality into the iPad 3.

All Other Tablets

Other tablet keywords chart

Top brands within "tablet" keywords. Data Source: SEMRush 1/12/2012.

Android was a major hit among other tablets.  The word, “android” appeared in 25% of “tablet” keywords.

Samsung’s Galaxy tablet was the most popular brand.  However, searchers were split on what they called it.  “Samsung” showed up in 5% of “tablet” keywords, while “galaxy” showed up in 3%.

Surprisingly, people are still searching for HP’s discontinued TouchPad tablet.  The keyword, “hp” accounted for 4% of “tablet” phrases.

It’s clear from search data that consumers want to write on their tablets.  The Wacom pen tablet made up 5% of “tablet” keywords.  This should be a signal to device makers on features to include in next generation tablets.