Goodreads Reviews Can Outrank Your Blog Reviews

Like many bloggers, I cross-post my reviews. I post them on Nose Graze, Goodreads, and sometimes Amazon. A few months ago, someone asked me if cross-posting book reviews will hurt your SEO. At the time, I did a lot of research before answering that question. My conclusion was: it’s very difficult to even get Goodreads reviews to show up on Google. SO DIFFICULT! It’s like they weren’t there. For at least my blog, I reckon Google was recognizing it as duplicate content (one on Nose Graze and one on Goodreads) and picking one to display—the one on Nose Graze. My blog beat Goodreads every time.

Because my blog was always winning out, cross-posting wasn’t hurting my SEO.

For me, that is no longer the case.

It seems one day Google woke up and decided to fuck me over and do a complete 180. First, they decided to remove my star ratings from search results. There is nothing technically wrong with my markup; I can even validate it with Google’s structured data testing tool:

Validated star ratings on Google's Structured Data Testing Tool

But the stars no longer show up in real Google search results. There are a few reasons they may have been removed:

  • I was showing my ratings in meta tags, since I prefer to actually use images for star ratings rather than text. But meta tags are “hidden content”, which Google doesn’t like. When you use hidden content, Google is afraid you’re lying about your ratings/reviews. However, Goodreads uses meta tags, so I’ll be pissed if they get to keep their rich snippets and I don’t. Update: I experimented with text ratings for a while so I could remove the meta tags and my star ratings haven’t returned. So I don’t think this is the problem.
  • There was never a GUARANTEE that Google would show your rich snippets. They’ve just been experimenting with them and can pick and choose who they want to show them for. But it’s weird that they were working on my site for months, then suddenly stopped.
  • Apparently Google has been doing more experimenting lately. I think they want to be more strict/exclusive with who gets rich snippets. At least that seems to be the word on the Google forums.

Either way, it’s kind of annoying.

But the real kicker is that Goodreads is starting to beat out my own blog in search rankings. It’s like Google did a total 180 on me. Instead of only showing my reviews in search results, it’s now only showing my reviews on Goodreads and not the ones on my blog. If I Google nose graze review, I would expect to see the reviews on nosegraze.com. Instead, I get this:

Google search for 'Nose Graze Review'

Goodreads is DOMINATING! I can’t even search for my own freaking blog without being beaten by Goodreads.

Time for a new approach

I’m taking steps to win back my SEO from Goodreads.

The first step was removing “Nose Graze” from my Goodreads display name. I’m hoping this eliminates “nose graze” from the keywords.

I finish my reviews as soon as I finish the book. Previously I would post my review on Goodreads immediately, then schedule it on my blog (often for days/weeks/months later). I think it’s time for a new approach because my SEO is suddenly getting butchered.

My new plan is to post on Goodreads with an immediate reaction. I’ll post maybe a paragraph about the book and what I thought—but not my review. I’ll give quick reasons about why the book sucked or rocked. Then I’ll schedule my real review to go up on my blog..

I’m hoping that by doing this, Google will no longer see my reviews as “duplicate content” since the content of the reviews will be completely different. And by removing “Nose Graze” from my display name, those reviews should no longer rank highly when paired with “nose graze” and “review”.

When you Google “[your blog] review” who wins out: your blog or Goodreads?

Have you ever had major SEO problems?

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I'm a 30 year old California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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45 comments

    1. Yeah my results yield a lot other websites that mention my name once or have me in their blogroll.. kind of weird that those would come before reviews on my own blog.

    1. I thought about that but could never implement it for my own blog because I personally don’t like the reviews that do that. I tend to skip over them on Goodreads because when I specifically read reviews there, I don’t want to be taken off-site.

      I understand why you do it though. It would certainly avoid any SEO issues.

    2. I do something similar. But instead of just re-using the first paragraph with a “Read more,” link, I’ll post a quick, short review on Goodreads with a link to my full thoughts on my blog. After all, the main goal is to get people to read and interact with the blog (where they can opt into an e-mail list, click on an affiliate link, etc). Goodreads is just a means to that end.

    1. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In short, it’s how high your website ranks in search results. 🙂

  1. When I Google my blogs, all my stuff shows up (and where I am on BookBlogging ;] haha), but I think it may be because I don’t crosspost my reviews. I do pretty much what you plan to – vent a brief reaction to the book as soon as I finish it on Goodreads – or, sometimes, maybe an important line from my review if it’s already written. S’worked well for me, I guess? haha.

  2. “Review” is the problematic keyword it seems. For me, as long as I type my site name and a title, I’m first in Google Search and GoodReads is not anywhere to be seen. As soon as I add “review” or “book review”, GoodReads show up. At the moment, still after me if I put a title in the search.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if GoodReads (who was bought by Amazon) has an extremely aggressive SEO for those keywords (“reviews”, “book”). So it might become hard to compete with those 🙁

    Also, you probably already know it but did you make your search in private mode? Most browser, especially Chrome, keeps your preference and search result can be very, very different. Since you’re a user of GoodReads, all your search will tend to have GoodReads higher (in non-private mode).

    1. Yeah for all my tests I tried in private browsing, different browsers, different devices (phone, husband’s computer, etc.).

      And that’s a good point about Goodreads having aggressive SEO for ‘reviews’ and ‘books’. 🙁

  3. My blog does come up first but it is the one and only link on the page. My name was unique enough until Once Upon a Time became a hot TV show and a clothing chain store opened called Once Upon a Child. Now I’m fighting with them for rankings.

    Once I get my blog whipped into shape, I fully plan on learning all about SEO and how to make my blog and posts higher ranking.

    Stephanie @ Once Upon a Chapter recently posted: Discussion: How Do you Write Your Reviews?
  4. Damn, I still don’t even know WTF SEO is or why it’s important. But I did just try to google my blog name like you did and my goodreads reviews don’t even show up. Not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing. Oh well. I think I have my GR under Nereyda1003 so that helps…

    Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed recently posted: Waiting On Wednesday (114)!
  5. This is a really interesting post. I’ll admit that I don’t think about SEO’s or stats as much as I probably should. I really need to put some effort into learning more about this. In fact, I’d never even really searched for my blog on Google! I was happy to see that my blog entries are mostly what appeared (plus a few mentions of my blog by other people that I hadn’t even realized were out there, so that was good to know!). My blog name isn’t associated with my Goodreads account, though I do always post a line at the beginning of my reviews that states that this review and many more can be found on my blog – with a link, of course.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction recently posted: Review - Your Perfect Life by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
  6. So my blog dominates my “on starships and dragonwings review” search results, but I don’t have my blog name in my goodreads name since it is way too long. One thing that might also help though, is that I noticed both you and I don’t put “Review” in blog review titles whereas many bloggers do. Through only minor experimentation, I’m seeing better results for “blog name review” for blogs that put review in the title of the blog post. I can’t quite think of how to work it into my review titles, but maybe it would help yours. It’d be a fun experiment 😀

    1. I do edit “Review” into my <title> tags, so they show up with that keyword in in search results. But I am starting to put it into the actual post too, to see if that helps. 🙂

  7. When I Google “Books Keep Me Sane reviews” my site appears along with other book blogs in the result but my Goodreads doesn’t appear. Hmm my blog isn’t so great with SEO, but my it’s hosted on the free WordPress so that’s probably the cause. When your blog is hosted on a free blogging platform do you have to worry about your blog’s SEO or let WordPress do the work?

    1. You definitely still have to worry about your own SEO. Most of what SEO is cannot be done by a machine. It’s something that you have to both code and write into every single post, making appropriate use of keywords and HTML heading tags (<h1>text here</h1>)

  8. Interesting post! I’m actually not that surprised something like that might happen, because some people are more popular on GR than they are on their blogs. Me, though, I’m really not that active on Goodreads other than to update the books I’m reading/have read/have reviewed and to keep track of what books I need to read and review. I don’t participate in forums or messages with other users, so I guess that’s why my blog’s SEO is still higher than my Goodreads account. In fact, the first page of results when I type those search words in doesn’t have ANYTHING GR-related. First result is my blog, second is my category of book reviews on my blog, and the rest are comments on popular posts I’ve commented on, lol. I think I’m probably not in any danger of my GR dominating my search results, since I’m so inactive there. 😛

    Megan (Adrift on Vulcan) recently posted: Where I Try To Fix My Habit of Not Finishing Series
  9. My blog wins out over goodreads, but surprisingly enough, one of the top results–basically after my blog home page–is my tumblr, which I find odd. Then there’s a mix of my reviews and places I’ve posted on other sites(guest posts, interviews, etc) or places where I’ve commented.

  10. TBH, I don’t really do much for SEO..I know I’m terrible LOL typing in keywords with my blog name results in one of my blog reviews, and one GoodReads review. Me thinks I’ll just take out my blog name from my GR and see if that helps solve the problem..Especially if crossposting my reviews aren’t helping with SEO

    1. It’s kind of an annoying thing to juggle. On the one hand:

      1. Cross-posting reviews can hurt your SEO (as demonstrated here).
      2. Posting your reviews on Goodreads can bring more traffic to your blog (as people see your reviews, like them, and follow your blog).

      It’s hard to know where the best middle ground is.

  11. I haven’t thought too much about SEO except to use the SEO tools in my widget because the widget for some reason controls the image I send out in my Open Graph. I didn’t think about the duplicate content though. I probably should not be cross posting my exact review. My username in GR is not exactly my blog name. It’s RantingReadingAddict, while the blog is rantingsofareadingaddict.com so that may help with those blog versus Goodread standing in the results. I also noticed that the blurb in my results mostly pulls the “Enter your email address” text instead of anything out of my actual post. I thought that was weird.

    Tanya @ Rantings of a Reading Addict recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday ~ The Darkest Touch by Gena Showalter
  12. Have you tried just posting an excerpt of your review on Goodreads with a “Read more” type link back to your blog? I haven’t tried that with my book blog, but with my marketing blog, I do that with LinkedIn and Quora and not only does it prevent duplicate content, it can bring traffic back to the blog.

    Brittany Berger recently posted: 5 Personal Branding Tools for PR Professionals
  13. I hadn’t thought very much about this until I read this post, and it turns out that after the result for my blog’s main page, my tweets about new reviews are beating any reviews on my blog or goodreads. I’ve been playing around with how to post things on goodreads myself. At the moment I post the goodreads review after the blog review and put a link to the blog page at the beginning of my post, but I’ve been thinking about trying something else…

  14. On Bing I’m in fantastic shape. On Google life sucks. A book “Kansas City Lightning” has a review by the NY Times that beats me. GR beats me. My blogs Pinterest page beats my blog. I believe when all is said and done my blog comes up in 6th place. Oh dear.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that, Char. 🙁 Especially because Google far outweighs Bing when it comes to market share.

  15. Hi Ashley, thanks for this post.

    I see that you’re still very active on Goodreads and I’m wondering how you have dealt with this dilemma in the four years since making this post. I have kept my blog (technology + entrepreneurship) and Goodreads totally separate for years, but now I am getting such a high volume of interactions on Goodreads that I have just started cross-posting my most popular reviews to my blog.

    Even for technical people like you and I, duplicated content and SEO seems to be a very, very convoluted issue with no definite resolution aside from try-it-and-see-what-happens. As you’ve said in the comments here, this isn’t duplicated content as much as it’s your taking ownership of your own content from one site (Goodreads) to your own personal blog.

    Have you ever speculated as to how much search engine traffic your Goodreads reviews actually get? Before I read this post, I never even considered search to be a source of traffic at all. In researching top reviewers, it seems that few post duplicate reviews between sites. It seems like perhaps you have moved on from book blogging, but I would really appreciate a response.

    1. Hi Tim 🙂

      I stopped posting my full reviews on Goodreads. Now I just post initial reaction thoughts on Goodreads right after finishing the book, then I write a different, more detailed review for my blog. Even if my general thoughts are the same the content is different so I no longer worry about ranking issues.

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