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.
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.
💬 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?