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There Is No Best Travel Blog…
If you ask a hundred people which the best travel blogs are you’d get a hundred different answers.
Actually, that’s a lie.
You’d get three answers:
The most popular answer would be, “What’s a travel blog?” Second most popular would be, “I don’t know any.” And one poorly-dressed dude would nominate his own travel blog.
Point being, ranking the best travel blogs is A) irrelevant to most of the world and B) completely subjective. Any online list you find is some other blogger’s list of their friends or, worse still, ranked based on social media following.
But there is a way to rank the bestselling travel blogs…
(And it’s still 100% irrelevant to everyone…)
…But There Is a Bestselling Travel Blog
Just as the New York Times ranks its bestselling books, we can rank the bestselling travel blogs.
The difference is instead of books, bloggers write posts. And instead of distributing posts in bookstores, bloggers distribute them through search engines like Google.
But at the end of the day it’s the same game.
Travel blogs are competing as mini Lonely Planet or Rough Guides-like publishers and the best of the bunch is the one that can get each post in front of the most readers every month.
Unlike “best,” we can measure “bestselling”. It’s a simple calculation:
Average monthly views per post.
Here are the top 25 travel blogs according to this measure, followed by:
- Explanation of the methodology and rationale
- An extended list list the bestselling travel blogs
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 try 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.