Greetings friends to the first Reader Voracious guide of 2021 – all about evergreen content and book bloggers. The book blogging niche is a quirky one and it’s no secret that a lot of “tried and true SEO ‘musts'” just don’t work for us due to the nature of our readership and content. But that doesn’t mean we can’t tweak these tools for our niche.
It’s been so long since I’ve released a new guide into the world and let me tell you… I finally feel like myself again. This post and its follow-up coming next month have been in my drafts for literally months. I’ve worked on them off and on as time allowed, but the scope kept growing exponentially as I have a lot of Opinions…. because today I am here in defense of the book review. Let’s get into it!
What is Evergreen Content?
Evergreen content is any post on the internet that is continually relevant and stays “fresh” for readers over a long period of time. These posts do well over time and require little maintenance to stay “relevant.”
Timely Content is the opposite: posts which are relevant for a short period of time but will likely attract a large number of search results and views in the short term. Typically these posts get a lot of views when first published and go down over time. In my experience, book tags, awards, and my monthly anticipated reads series fall into the view pattern for timely content.
SEO Basics Guides
Evergreen Content and Book Bloggers
Have you ever had a post suddenly start getting a bunch of views and you’re not sure why? That’s SEO, baby! (SEO = Search Engine Optimization). When thinking about SEO, it’s easiest to consider what people would enter into a web search to find your post and work from there.
💭 Related Post: Proper Use of Headings for Book Bloggers | SEO Basics
We need to rethink how we as book bloggers conceptualize our content, particularly our reviews. I think oftentimes we get caught up in that first week of a post’s life, as a new post only stays “fresh” on readers for so long, but a post has a much longer life expectancy than that… and there is one common misconception that I’m here to dispel: book reviews aren’t popular.
I can hear your gasps from over here, but let me explain!
- It’s true that within our community, book reviews initially do not perform as well as discussions and other kinds of bookish content. That’s because our followers are made up of primarily other book reviewers and we all have our processes. For instance, I don’t read other reviews if a book is already on my TBR to ensure that my opinions are my own.
- That being said, I’ve found that my book reviews consistently receive views long after the post in reader is “stale.” In fact some of my best performing posts overall are book reviews (same for Soph!)! Don’t believe me?
In Soph’s statistics above, you can see that not all of the posts were published in the same year either, showing that book reviews do gain more views over time for more than just me. Book blogs being evergreen content is a hill both Soph and I will die on.
What this means is that book reviews are evergreen content and will bring new people to your blog via web searches. The pivot table to the right shows the average all-time views per type for Reader Voracious’ top 70 posts (6 out of the top 20 are reviews).
Bookish Banter, Anticipated Reads, and Adventure Logs are the most popular posts the week that they are posted. But data doesn’t lie… besides my guides/templates and Flapping Pages, reviews have the biggest piece of the pie in the long run.
My Top Three Reviews (in my top 20 posts):
- The Fever King by Victoria Lee (February 26, 2019)
- Wilder Girls by Rory Power (June 30, 2019)
- Finale by Stephanie Garber (May 16, 2019)
There are countless reasons a person might search for your opinions about a book months beyond a book’s publication day. Film and television show adaptations are announced, a book hits the NYT/Indie Bestseller list or is nominated for awards, an author visits your favorite late show host to discuss their books, or maybe they read the ending and were confused (seriously, this is one of my search terms!). Whatever the reason, the limit does not exist when it comes to people searching for book opinions beyond it’s publication day.
SEO Tips for Book Reviews
SEO is most certainly an ever changing beast, and one shrouded in mystery as Google keeps the exact details of it a secret. But there are plenty of ways you can improve your book review’s SEO performance that isn’t stuffing your posts with keywords that stick out like sore thumbs.
There are a lot of ranking factors, but ultimately SEO is based on how readable your post is for the visitor (as I discuss at length in my Proper Use of Headings for Book Bloggers SEO Basics guide).
- Be sure to use the book title and author in the post title (starting easy!)
- Edit your permalink to make sure it at least includes the book title. Shorter and descriptive URLs have a better click-thru rate. My naming convention is review-title-author for book reviews.
- Make sure to mention the book’s title in the Meta Description and within the first paragraph of the post.
- Use post headings as the reading & SEO tools it is rather than a formatting tool. Read more in this in-depth guide on post headings. My Book Review format has an H2 saying “My Review of Book Title” to lead into my review.
- When uploading the book cover graphic, be sure to use the book title as the file name and include the title in the alt tag. (And be sure to always set alt tags for all of your post’s images as it helps with post accessibility.)
- Make an effort to include internal links whenever possible. For book reviews, this can be a link to reviews for earlier books in the series, a discussion post you have about a trope at the center of the book, or even a listicle where you featured the book.
- Include external links to Goodreads, etc.
SEO Plugins for Self-Hosted Blogs
An SEO plugin analyzes your post to see how well you’ve optimized it for your focus keyword (the book title).
- Rank Math is the SEO plugin that I currently use for Reader Voracious as it also includes a Heading analysis and the ability to set up post redirects.
- Yoast SEO offers powerful and free tools to boost and improve your SEO, as well as having some of the best free online guides to learn about SEO.
Ultimately, I don’t spend a lot of time trying to optimize my posts beyond setting my Focus Keyword (the book’s title for a review) in Rank Math and ensuring the post has a rating of 80 before publishing.
What does this mean for you?
It’s easy to be disheartened when the book reviews you write and publish do not perform as well as other posts when initially published, and I think it is important for us as book bloggers to read & comment on reviews for books we find interesting whenever possible. Many of us got started because we wanted to share our reviews and discuss our passion for books with others, but get discouraged along the way. I hope this post has proven that reviews still have their place!
My biggest recommendation though? Only write posts that you want to! Ultimately the purpose of this post is to let you all know that you don’t have to start writing guides to drive traffic to your blog (and really, you should only do so if that’s something you enjoy). Book reviews have their place at the table and it’s time they get the recognition they deserve!
This post, along with all my other guides and discussions, was released early to my Patrons with some additional statistical breakdowns of my stats not included in the full post.
Allison | Cassie | Rea | Meeghan | Vicki | Bex | Haley | Michelle
If you would like to support my work for as little as $2 per month, check out my Patreon or maybe buy me a ko-fi!
💬 Do you read book reviews? Why or why not?
💬 Have you noticed certain reviews getting traffic months or years later?
💬 Do you have a strategy for your content types? What questions do you have for me?
In my older blog, my book reviews were one of the best performing posts. Bad reviews (that barely had any formatting, honestly) from two years back would suddenly get a ton of views from search engines! I agree with you: while book reviews initially don’t perform very well, they are evergreen content that can blow up anytime.
It’s so weird how almost universally this winds up being the case! We are bummed because day/week of views & engagements are low compared to other kinds of posts, but don’t notice they bring in the views for all time! I wonder if my older review style (less detailed) is what I should try to return to haha
Yesha Soni says
I recently went to self-hosted and I’m learning all those SEO tricks. This points helped me as well. Thanks for sharing.
Congrats on making the move to self-hosted! It’s a little daunting at first but goodness, I don’t think I could go back. I’m glad you found this post useful, Yesha!
Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy says
This was so interesting. I wrote a scathing book review about four years ago and I literally have had 10-15 views of this review every single day since then. And I don’t think its because I hated the book, its a very popular book in Europe and I suspect most of the viewers are from there. I also have my top ten most popular posts showing on my sidebar and that helps boost reviews too. Its fun for me to see which older reviews are suddenly getting more love!
Gotta love those popular books driving views to your blog, and how funny that it’s a scathing review… I don’t see you write those often. Having the top 10 post widget is a great idea!
This helps me out a lot Kal, thank you. I’ll read book reviews after I’m finished with the book to see what other people thought compared to my impression of the book, but I won’t spoil books for myself. Since you have been blogging longer I do have a question though are there seasonal lulls in when you have people visiting your blog, I’ve seen it in like early spring and early fall (Northern Hemisphere). I just don’t get as much traction on views when I make posts.
Ahh, I’m so glad to hear the post is helpful to you Solara! I also don’t read reviews until I’m finished with them, I feel like my goldfish brain retains some things without noticing and I wind up taking on other people’s opinions as my own lmao. I do make an effort to read reviews for books not yet on my TBR (dangerous) when they go up though!
Yes to the seasonal lulls! There are definitely times of year where generally there will be more traffic, although with the pandemic the last year has been… kind of unpredictable. Usually when spring hits people are outside more and have less time to hop, plus end of the year stuff for school. And of course periods following high activity always drop because people burn out lol
Clo @ Cuppa Clo says
Aaah I adore this post so much, I honestly still need to properly sit down figure out SEO but it also feels a wee bit pointless when I’m still on a free WP plan 😔 still it can’t hurt and I will read reviews but I’m picky. If I’ve read the book I’ll likely read a review of it if it’s someone I follow reviewing it. If I’ve not read the book then it really depends on if I’m interested in said book and the book blogger who’s reviewing it. That’s just a me thing though as I’ve always preferred to go into books without reviews bobbing about in my head. But for some books I will read the reviews for trigger warnings and to see what my friends think since at this point it’ll take me a year or more to get round to it 😅
Alsooo yes to book blogs being evergreen content, it’s funny one of the posts I posted last year (my journey with astrology, tarot and moon) didn’t perform super well in that first week. I was expecting that since its a niche topic that not everyone is going to be interested in. Now though it’s one of the posts that is consistently getting views from what I can tell and I’m just baffled 😂 baffled but grateful that it’s interesting for people.
Eeeep thank you for your time and energy into creating this guide kalkal and I can’t wait to read the next one when it’s out next month 💜
Yea the good thing about the free wordpress plan is that it does SEO really well for you already! But there are plenty of tricks you can use to help your post’s readability and therefore search ranking, like proper use of headings and not stuffing keywords.
Yup, me too. MY brain is impressionable! But I do read reviews from my faves for books I wasn’t interested in reading or hadn’t heard of before, and I sometimes skim friend’s reviews to see if they liked a book with no detail.
and YES! People really need to realize a post’s life is more than just the first few days in a reader. And I think those kinds of passion things that bring in views are so fun.
Caro @ bookcheshirecat says
Thank you for this very informative post, it really helped me understand things better!! ❤ I don’t post that many reviews but it’s a relief to see that they might not be ‘unpopular’ as I thought. Sometimes a review will do surprisingly well, which might be because it’s of most interest or more well-known/popular, I think 🙂
Book reviews ARE popular and valuable, this is a hill I will die on lol!
Another informative post, Kal. It’s piqued my interest to check out my stats for those older reviews. Thanks.
I’m so glad the post sparked interest for you, Flora! (Nice to see you again btw!)
Yes to all of this! I’ve stopped writing reviews ever since I moved to self-hosted, but my old reviews were always evergreen. I also used to review TV shows back when I first started blogging and even in 2020, one of my most popular posts was a review of a French mini-series (??!) from two/three years back. Thanks so much for this in-depth guide, Kal! <3
I think TV show reviews are so underrated! I know Soph gets a ton of traffic because of Meteor Garden as well. So weird the old reviews that pop off!
While I never really plan or conceptualize my posts based on what would be evergreen, I do try to think about how a person would find it on a search engine to try and title the post and work in some headings.
Shruvi Karande says
This is a super helpful post! Especially for new book bloggers like me. Getting noticed in the vast blogosphere is a difficult task and SEO basics are very confusing. Thanks, Kal for simplifying the basics and for the practical tips.
Ahhh, welcome to book blogging Shruvi and thanks for stopping by; I’m glad you found the post useful! I agree it is so hard to get noticed because there are so many of us, but the book blogging community is rather small, so checking out other blogs and commenting on them is a good way to start… that and building friendships on Twitter if that’s your thing. I loooove my bookish Twitter account.
Hopefully these SEO tips will treat you well!
Off The TBR says
I’ve been thinking about doing more along this line so thanks for this!
You’re welcome and I hope these tip help!
Sam || Fictionally Sam says
Please tell me a day and time I can come of over and be a sponge to your wealth of knowledge. Literally have been trying to understand SEO better since waddling to self hosted (a year and some change) and have yet to tip the ice berg of understanding–UNTIL TODAY!!!! FOLKS I FINALLY SAID “OHHHHHHH” WHILE READING THIS!
You are a wealth of knowledge! Bless you for explaining this to me/us! <3
YOU ARE WELCOME ANY DAY AND ANY TIME! I’ll even have cookies prepared for our time together. Truly I am so touched & glad to hear this helped you understand the beast of SEO, Sam!
Julianna @ Paper Blots says
KAL I LOVE THIS POST and even though i started blogging a while ago… i never really thought that hard about SEO!!! that’s super interesting and helpful and i never really thought about book reviews receiving more views later?? VERY COOL, i’ll definitely be encouraged to write more reviews now lmao
I’M GLAD YOU FOUND THE POST USEFUL, JU! I don’t think many of us think about SEO and fall into the review sadness from less reviews… but most of my top performing posts tend to be reviews over time. Super interesting!