Book reviews have become increasingly unpopular in book blogging during the last two years or so as bloggers have noticed they often attract less traffic than other types of posts. This trend has resulted in some bloggers cutting back on the reviews they write while others lament the loss of a type of post they still enjoy reading. It is notable that in these discussions I have never seen any blogger provide exact numbers or any type of detailed evidence to support their statements. However, I assume that the statement, “Book reviews attract less traffic” often means something like, “Book reviews attract less traffic the day they are posted.” This fact alone may be not enough reason to scrap book reviews altogether.
Book blogs seem unique among blogs in that their primary audience is other book bloggers. While food and lifestyle blogs seem to find more followers from Internet searches, book bloggers work hard to find and comment on other book blogs to grow their audience. This means that their followers, the ones most likely to click on a post the same day it is published, are a niche audience who will often click most on posts about how to improve their own blog. Or they may prefer tags, memes, and other other posts they can skim quickly so they can comment quickly and go on blog hopping. Reviews are mainly of interest to those who have already read or heard of the book, so the number of followers who click on them the same day is often lower. However, the types of posts most likely to attract clicks from fellow book bloggers are not necessarily the types of posts that will rank high in search engines.
Book reviews can provide your blog with a steady stream of traffic from outside sources, preventing the need to publish a high-interest post every single day in the hopes of attracting transient clicks from other bloggers. The initial popularity of a review may not even matter when you begin to think of attracting traffic over the long term. For example, Briana’s review of Nerve, published on the blog on Sept. 10, 2012, initially received only 13 views by the end of the year. Stats were a bit stagnant after that with nine people viewing it in 2013 and three people in 2014. But the numbers climbed to 53 and then 1,791 for 2014 and 2016. In 2017, the post had 726 views. In this case, no one read the initial review because Nerve was not a big title in the book blogosphere. However, when Nerve became a movie in 2016, Briana’s review was there waiting for search hits--because apparently very few others had reviewed it.
As increasingly more bloggers choose not to review books in the pursuit of stats, reviewing books may ironically become a very effective way to gain views from search engines. While it is true that not all of these views may result in comments (the searchers not having WordPress or Blogger accounts), simply knowing that others are still reading their content can be very cheering for bloggers. It is disheartening to write a blog post that lasts one day–it makes writing seem disposable and can tempt bloggers to write trendy content with little lasting value. So if you still love writing book reviews, rest assured. There are people out there who are still reading them. And they may be only a search away.