Best travel blogs cover image of people hiking in South Africa

Bestsellers in the New Online Travel Bookstore

Travel blogs are the guidebooks of today’s online world.

Instead of printing thick books, travel blogs’ guides come in the form of blog posts and, instead of distributing through bookstores, they distribute through search engines, but the game remains the same:

The bestsellers, i.e. the top travel blogs, are the ones who attract the largest audiences to each guide they publish.

The way to measure that is simple but, until now, completely overlooked:

Views per post.

Here are the top 25 bestselling English-language travel blogs according to views per post per month, followed by some explanation, warnings, and an extended list.

Top 25 Travel Blogs, Ranked by Views Per Post

Explanation

How was this calculated?

Total pageviews are estimates from SimilarWeb for the previous month. In future updates I will do running averages to account for the effects of one-time spikes in traffic.

The number of posts is extracted from each site’s sitemap. I did my best to exclude content like category pages that are not intended to attract traffic.

Why views per post instead of total pageviews?

A high number of total pageviews is impressive, but just as bestselling book lists aren’t based on an author’s library’s total sales, we shouldn’t measure blogs that way either.

Look at it from a marketing perspective.

If you ran a travel business, say a hotel, which would you prefer to be mentioned in:

  1. A post on a blog with 100,000 readers a month spread across 2,000 posts, or,
  2. A post on a blog with 10,000 readers a month spread across just 20 posts?

B, right?

That A gets more total readers than B is irrelevant to your hotel. All you care about is the number of people who read the guidebook your hotel is mentioned in. B, who attracts an average of 500 readers compared to A’s 50, is much more likely to deliver the best results.

Why not consider domain authority?

Using the online bookstore analogy, domain authority is the strength of the relationship a blog has with the bookstore owner: Google.

Google is more likely to place any new post from a blog they have a good relationship with closer to the front of the bookstore as soon as it’s published. This certainly helps attract an audience.

But it only matters so much.

If a new blogger who is unknown to Google comes out with an amazing post and a couple of readers find it buried in the back, read it enthusiastically, share it with friends, and the audience grows, Google will notice.

Google will eventually put it up front, replacing the post by the more-established blogger. That’s because Google’s priority is to satisfy readers, not make friends with publishers.

Why not consider social media following size?

In today’s online travel bookstore, social media networks are the magazines, so using social media following to rank the best travel bloggers is like ranking books based on magazine sales because

Like magazines, social media is full of pretty photos that readers love to flip through mindlessly for entertainment and inspiration. But travelers generally don’t go there for information. For information, they go to the guidebooks.

Social media is great for creating broad awareness, targeting specific niches, and promoting one-time events, but it’s a different game than blogging with completely different rankings.


Measurement Flaws

Because of the following flaws, this travel blog ranking is only roughly indicative of bestsell-ability:

  • Imprecise total pageviews. I don’t have access to the actual Google Analytics data for each travel blog, so I rely on third party estimating tools for total pageviews.
  • Outliers. One or two posts can make up a significant percentage of a blog’s total traffic. (I’ve seen as 40% or more.) Removing those outliers would provide a more representative average, but I do not have access to the data to do so, which skews the results.
  • Gameable. Any travel blogger who wants to jump up in these rankings can simply remove their lower-performing posts from their site. Arguably, bloggers should remove stale content from their site anyway, but that’s a different discussion.
  • Different upsides. The number one bestselling blog post on an obscure destination may get a lower audience than a middle-of-the-pack post on a more popular one. This unfairly penalizes bloggers who create a lot of amazing content about places and topics with smaller potential audiences.

Watchouts for Marketers

Any marketer looking to partner with one of these top travel blogs should clarify the following beforehand because, while views per post is a good indicator of a blogger’s ability to attract an audience, it’s certainly no guarantee:

  • What is the guide going to be about? Having your a backpack brand mentioned in a blogger’s “things to do” post isn’t as valuable to you as being recommended in their “packing list” post.
  • What audience is the blogger targeting? A luxury hotel likely isn’t helped much by being recommended by a budget blogger.
  • How heavily will your business be featured? Being featured in the post with your own section full of beautiful photos is likely more valuable than being listed aside your competitors.
  • What’s their true traffic data? Request access to the blogger’s analytics to get a much more accurate indication of the value they can bring. If you might need guidance on this, contact me.

Extended List of Top Travel Blogs

If you’re missing from this list and have more than 400 views per post, let me know in the comments.

Thoughts and Opinions Welcome!

My goal with this is to promote the value of audience-attracting, evergreen content and reward the top travel bloggers who consistently create it.

So, even though this ranking is far from perfect, hopefully it helps.

If you have any thoughts, disagreements, or questions about anything, please let me know in the comments.

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