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Welcome back to The Ultimate Guide to Book Blogging! If you’ve never been here before you can catch up on previous posts in the series here.
This week we’re going to be talking about how to organize your blog to improve SEO and make it easier for visitors to find their way around. First I’ll tell you about the four pages every book blog should have, and then we’ll talk about how to tag and categorize your blog posts to make them easy to find.
4 Pages Every Book Blog Should Have
- An about page. Having a well written “about” page is critical to every blog. Tell your readers a little bit about you, your blog, and your reading tastes. I recommend including links to your social media profiles (even if they’re already in your sidebar) your contact page (which we’ll talk about next), and a subscription form for your email list. People like to put a face to the blog, so include a headshot as well. For inspiration, see my about page.
- A contact page. Make it easy for readers, authors, publishers, and potential advertisers to contact you by creating a page with a built-in contact form. If you have a self-hosted WordPress blog, you’ll need a plugin to embed a contact form in your page. There are a number of free contact form plugins available, but I recommend Gravity Forms, which is included for free with my theme, Foodie Pro. Normally it costs $39 and it is far more attractive than most of the free form plugins. Your theme may come with a good contact form of its own, so check before you buy.
- A review policy. Every book blogger should have a review policy, even if you’re just starting out. Having a review policy makes you look professional and helps authors and publicists decide if you’re a good fit for the book they’re trying to promote. Include information such as what genres you like to read, what formats you will accept (ebook, audiobook, ARC, final copy etc.), whether or not you’re open to reviewing self-published books, and whether or not you guarantee a review of every book you receive. For ideas, see my review policy.
- A book index. I recommend creating an index of all the books covered on your blog for two reasons. First, linking to posts within your own blog is great for SEO, and second, it makes it super easy for visitors to find books they want to read about. Some bloggers even have multiple indexes categorized by author, title, and genre. I used to have multiple indexes, but cut back to one because it was too much effort to update all of them every time I posted something new. Fun fact: the Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin will automatically create and update a review index for you. This is great for most book bloggers. The reason I don’t personally use it is because I rarely post book reviews anymore. Instead I usually mention books in the form of a listicle or article of some kind.
What’s the difference between tags and categories?
Tags and categories are both ways to organize your blog posts for easy navigation and SEO, but they serve different purposes. Categories function as the outline to your blog. They are hierarchical and break down your content by subject matter. If you scroll down to my footer you’ll notice that I have a dropdown menu that lists all of my categories. I have categories for author interviews, blogger interviews, Book Riot posts, posts about film & television, etc. These are some of the main subjects that my blog covers. I also have a category for genres with subcategories for each individual genre (romance, sci-fi, YA, biography & memoir, etc.). You have to decide which categories will outline your blog best.
Tags are non-hierarchical and serve as a way to highlight keywords from your blog post. If you scroll down to the bottom of this blog post (right above the subscription box) you will see the category that this blog post is filed under (The Ultimate Guide to Book Blogging) and the tags I’ve added to it (blogging, book blogging, blog pages, etc.). On book reviews or book listicles, I tag the book’s title and author, along with any other relevant information. For example, I tagged my review of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas with the title, author, publisher, genre, and relevant keywords like “concentration camp,” “World War II,” and “Holocaust.”
When I first launched Parchment Girl, before I even hit publish on the first post, I sat down with a pen and a piece of paper and made a list of categories that I thought would fit the content I had planned. Over the years, I’ve had to modify those categories as my content has evolved. I’ve even had to go back and re-categorize or re-tag individual blog posts to fit my new outline. Doing that is a pain in the butt, but it’s a necessary part of maintaining a good blog. The good news is, the more time you spend thinking about how to effectively categorize and tag your blog posts in the beginning, the more time you’ll save later on. Good luck!
Questions? Leave them in the comments section below.
Check out The Ultimate Guide to Book Blogging for more tips and tricks on how to become a book blogging wiz!