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:
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:
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”.