A New Bestsellers List
Travelers are increasingly turning online for information so search engines like Google are the new travel bookstores.
In these online bookstores, thousands of travel blogs compete as mini Lonely Planet or Rough Guides-like publishers. Their goal is to get their guidebooks, in the form of blog posts instead of heavy printed books, in front of readers.
The winners thereby become bestsellers.
The traditional publishing industry compiles bestsellers lists based on the number of copies each book sells, so I propose we use a similar measure for ranking the top travel blogs: The number of people who see each post every month.
In other words, average monthly views per post.
Top 25 Travel Blogs, Ranked by Views Per Post
How was this calculated?
Total pageviews are SimilarWeb estimates for prior month site traffic. In future updates, I will do running averages to adjust for 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 and old weekly/monthly updates that aren’t 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, I don’t think we should rank 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:
- A post on a blog with 100,000 readers a month spread across 2,000 posts, or,
- A post on a blog with 10,000 readers a month spread across just 20 posts?
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, which 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?
Domain authority is the strength of the relationship a travel blog has with the owner of the biggest bookstore: Google.
If a travel blog’s relationship is strong, Google is more likely to place new posts from them closer to the front of the bookstore as soon as they’re published. This helps attract an audience, but ultimately the audience, not Google, decides which blogs posts they read.
And since Google’s priority is to satisfy readers, not to maintain friendships with publishers, if Google sees audience the audience is preferring a guide from a lesser-known travel blog, it will move it towards the front.
Why not consider social media following size?
In today’s online travel bookstore, social media networks are the magazines.
They are full of pretty photos that readers love to flip through for entertainment and inspiration, but travelers generally don’t go to them for information. For information, they go to the guidebooks.
Using social media following to rank the best travel bloggers makes no little sense. It’s akin to ranking book authors based on their magazine sales.
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.
Because of the following flaws, this travel blog ranking only roughly estimates 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.
- Outliers. One or two posts can make up a significant percentage of a blog’s total traffic. Removing those outliers would provide a more representative average, but I do not have access to the data to do so. This 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 sitemaps 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 “bestsellers list” is to promote the value of audience-attracting, evergreen content and reward the top travel bloggers who consistently create it. 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.