Anime Blog Shop Talk

Four Easy Steps to SEO: Readers First!

Why Listen to Me about the Steps to SEO?

Look at that title! Sounds all authoritative and stuff. Sounds like I’m trying to be an expert or something! With all the real experts like Neil Patel in the world, why would you want to listen to my advice? Why would you want to use my four steps to easy SEO? I can give you two reasons.

First, the “secret” I’m about to share is something you either should or are already doing.

Second, you can measure whether or not my advice is working easily and directly. You don’t have to take it on faith. The impact this “secret” will have on your blog is easily measurable. I’ll talk about how to measure it in the next installment.

Amazingly, there are only four steps to implementing this approach to SEO!

So, what’s the “secret?”

The Secret to SEO Isn’t a Secret

I remember in the early days of search engines how some sites would pack keywords into metadata to boost their scores. For a while, that worked, but that approach had two fatal flaws. First, it was something the Googles of the world could identify and block, meaning that a technique some sites invested in was wasted. Second, even when it worked, readers would get to the page and find it didn’t have what they wanted. They’d been tricked, and even if they didn’t consciously realize it, they resented it.

That’s not the way to build an audience!

The secret to good SEO is not to use a gimmick. The secret to SEO is not to fool your readers. It’s actually the opposite.

The secret to good SEO is simply this: Write stuff for your readers.

No, seriously. That’s it. The rest is just measurement.

Four Easy Steps to SEO: My Campione! review for episode 12 ranked #1 in Google. I was happy!

Does this “secret” technique work? This is a capture from the first page of Google’s search results for “campione episode 12 review.” I’d say that counts as a success!

But please think carefully about what “for your readers” means. It means you put them first. When you site down to write, you ask yourself what you have to offer that would most interest them. You ask yourself how you can format that material in a way that would delight them.

All of the techniques that Google search uses are designed to measure precisely that. Google wants to show people pages that they love so they continue to use Google. You want to tie into that so that when Google prospers, you prosper.

I can offer you four steps to put your readers first, which is the same thing as saying I’ll offer you four steps to better SEO.

Four Easy Steps to SEO

I was frankly shocked when The Lost Otaku DM-ed me in Twitter back in January this year. The message said my little site here had some of the best anime-related SEO they’d seen. I didn’t know it at the time, but has some free tools you can use to measure that kind of thing. Google also offers a plugin, also free, that’s called LightHouse. You can use those against your own site to see where you stand. But I just had to check!

I am still amazed that what The Lost Otaku said was true. My site’s SEO didn’t suck. In retrospect, though, I’ve been writing for years, and writing for my readers was always part of my writing philosophy, so that played right into SEO.

Four Easy Steps to SEO: My review for the more recent series Listeners was still on page 1. I'm still happy!

But wait, you might say. Campione! is an old title. Does this approach work for new series? This is a screen capture of where my review for Listeners episode 12 shows up. It’s still on page 1 of Google’s results. But you’re right — it’s not as high. I think it’s because there’re more competition that have either higher traffic, better links, or both.

We can break down the factors that helped into four easy steps to achieving better SEO.

SEO Step 1: Focus Your Site

I try to focus this blog on the theme of celebrating anime. I want my readers to have an have an idea of what the site’s about. If it’s something that appeals to them, I want them to know they can come back for new content that’ll be similar, at least in theme. I want them to know they can trust the site to deliver the content that interests them.

This is part of branding, but that word has become too overloaded. I prefer to think of it as building trust.

Put another way, when people think about celebrating anime, I want them to think about this site, and I want that association to be a positive one.

SEO Step 2: Organize Your Posts

Second, I try to organize the material in a way that people can read in a hurry. We can lament how little time people spend reading. I know I do! But it just is what it is. If we ignore how our readers want to read, they won’t visit us. So, I try to lay things out in a way that they can tell at a glance what they want to read.

I’ve refined my post style over the years. Currently, I’m publishing mostly Best in Show reviews, like this one for Tower of God Episode 13. The post has three sections that are clearly labelled:

  1. Quick Summary
  2. Best in Show Moment
    1. Setup
    2. Delivery
  3. Other Posts about This Series
    1. Other Sites
    2. This Site (Crow’s World of Anime)

Four Easy Steps to SEO: I've recently added quick-navigation to my reviews.

Recently, I’ve tried to add a quick navigation menu to the top of my posts. That reflects the three main sections and subsections. It also plays into SEO Step 3, below.

The readers know exactly where to go to read what most interests them. So does the search engine.

SEO Step 3: Make Site Navigation Easy

Once someone’s on my site, I hope they thoroughly enjoy the post. For example, if they read my review of Campione! episode 12, I want them to think, “Wow, I loved that! I want to read more!”

I want to make it profoundly easy for them to find more Campione! content on my site. That’s why you’ll see the third section called “Other Posts about This Series” and the subsection called “This Site (Crow’s World of Anime).” I list all of my other review of the same series. In all honesty, I used to feel self-conscious about that. It felt like I was tooting my own horn.

Which is a strange phrase if you think about it. Wouldn’t grabbing someone else’s horn and trying to toot it be considered rude?

That aside, it’s not self-aggrandizing. It’s helping the reader find what they want to read. Remember: we’re trying to be reader-centric here!

SEO Step 4: Make it Easy to Find Others’ Content on the Same Topic

I started adding links to other bloggers’ posts about the same series I was reading. Why? To help my readers find similar content on other sites. That might seem unusual. I mean, do I really want to send people away from my site?

I think it makes perfect sense for two reasons.

First, I want to give the reader a great experience. If they read my content on Fruits Basket Episode 2 Episode 12 and exhaust all of my content, I don’t want them to feel disappointed. I’d rather provide links to other sites that also reviewed the series or episode.

Four Easy Steps to SEO: I even offer links to other bloggers' sites. A rising tide and all that!

If my goal is to give my readers the best experience, then I want to point them to other bloggers who also have great content. I want my readers to associate the feeling of “hey, this is cool!” with my site, and this seems like a good way to add to the experience.

Second, I honestly think the posts to which I’m linking are interesting and valuable in their own right. I want to draw attention to them. This is not a zero sum game, after all. If a reader leaves my site to go to another, I haven’t lost a reader. I honestly think this is a case of a rising tide lifting all boats.

It turns out there’s another reason this is a good idea, and it’s something I didn’t realize until I started trying to measure how I’d achieved good SEO. I’ll write more about that in the next installment.

TBH, These Should be Called the First Four Steps

For the first several years of Crow’s World of Anime, I used these four steps to better SEO to produce articles. It was accidental, but my SEO wasn’t terrible. I reached a readership quite a bit larger than I’d anticipated, and I really hope that those readers were happy with the content and come back to visit.

Then I started trying to measure how these things contributed to my success, and I realized that “Oh, those four steps to better SEO are a good start.”

In the next post, I’ll tell you what I learned from my wife, who is very wise in the ways of social media and methods of attracting an audience. The good news is that since my focus was already on the readers, the additional steps I needed to take were simply refining what I was already doing. Everything I changed represented a natural progression that improved SEO while also improving the reader’s experience.

Which just makes sense, since that’s what SEO is trying to measure.

And the bad news? Surprisingly, there wasn’t any. It was all good news!

What have your experiences been with SEO? Do do four steps I presented seem sensible to you? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Other Posts about This Series

Other Anime Sites

This Site (Crow’s World of Anime!)

  • None Yet!
Copyright 2022 Terrance A. Crow. All rights reserved.

28 thoughts on “Four Easy Steps to SEO: Readers First!

  1. There’s that advice to never link to anything off your site because it draws people away.
    I think that’s a huge mistake. Maybe it’s good advice for selling widgets, but not for something more informational.
    It’s a lot more fun having a community of bloggers, finding new series, and seeing what they noticed that I missed.

    1. I agree with you!

      There’s supposedly an SEO benefit if the site you link to allows linkbacks, but I like your interpretation even better. Building a community is to our long-term benefit as bloggers. It’s the same for our readers!

      Fostering community just helps everyone!

  2. Great advice, and thanks for talking about it! I am not going to say I am an expert on the subject, but this lines up with my own experiences. In 2022 I wrote quite often, but often about disparate subjects – in 2023 I refocused on the personal posts about games in particular, and that focus reflected in the views and engagement. I do not write for stats, it is my hobby – but I like being able to spark conversations in the comments and make people think. So in that respect, it worked. šŸ™‚

    1. Thanks! Sounds like you connected to your readers, and that’s exactly what this is all about. Very glad you found a solution that’s working for you!

  3. I think a lot of this stuff intuitively makes a lot of sense, but probably something worth revisiting to see if Iā€™m ACTUALLY doing it or not. Much appreciated Mr. šŸ¦ā€ā¬›

    1. Thanks!

      When I first encountered the term SEO, it was in the context of “experts” trying to show how to game the system — like the meta tag stuffing I mentioned in the post. So from the start, it felt like something shady to me.

      It was only after my wife (patiently!) explained that no, it’s really just making sure readers who are interested can find your stuff that it made sense! So I try not to think of it as SEO and just think of it as writing to my readers with some technical overhead to make sure they can find it!

  4. Speak to nabe, she gave a good post on SEO, she mentioned domain and page authority. I checked my blog ranking xDD, page authority is 20, domain authority is a 10 xDD

    1. It looks like you’re talking about these two posts from Geek Nabe?

      Both of those posts are packed with good information! In fact, they both address topics I didn’t plan on addressing. I think I’ll add them to the Other Posts section for my series.

      Thanks for pointing them out!

    1. I used the new WordPress editor’s blocks, then I added HTML anchors to the headings. So, for “Quick Summary,” I added just the word “quick” to the Advanced -> HTML Anchor field. In the reusable block, the link is just “#quick”.

      I also use a plugin called Duplicate Post to create a template for my review. Then, I just copy it to get a shell for each review. If I didn’t do that, I can guarantee you I’d forget half of the formatting pieces!

      Took about 30 minutes to setup once. Now, I don’t even have to think about it. That’s a big plus! Let’s me focus on the writing, such as it is.

      1. Makes sense you are using a template. It would for sure take too long to copy paste the blocks from an older post every time you make a new one.

  5. I agree that quality content is king when it comes to improving search rankings. Search algorithms like Google Panda tends to not like thin content or pages with less than 150 words. Granted, most people write posts with at least 250 words, but if one can’t come up with 150 words, they should probably shouldn’t publish it or probably not have it indexed so you won’t get penalized.

    Yes, linking to other pages is a good idea as it increases the likelihood of others linking back and building reputation, which will improve SEO. Not sure how trackbacks work with this, but it probably works the same way, providing the author isn’t approving trackbacks to spammy websites. This is why good anti-spam is a must to protect your SEO.

    Also, I don’t think users have to go deep in SEO as plugins like Yoast SEO and some premium WordPress themes like Studiopress Genesis Framework are optimized for SEO. Sure, a plugin and/or a theme will do the work, but without quality content, one won’t get far. I highly advise people to not only check for spelling and grammatical errors, but also make sure the content is readable. That means avoiding passive verbs, reducing long sentences, not have paragraphs that look like a wall of text, etc. This is probably a good idea to write posts in Microsoft Word first so you can use spell and grammar check.

    Google also check for HTTPS and mobile friendly websites as they rank higher in the search results than those that don’t. A lot of people uses mobile devices to browse the web and they don’t want to read a website that is not mobile optimized. WordPress themes these days come with responsive design that takes care of this. Genesis Framework has this built in in their child themes, but also some of the more recent themes that come installed with a new WordPress installation. Also, Let’s Encrypt generates free SSL certificates. If one uses shared hosting, it’s easy to set up. It’s more complicated on an unmanaged virtual private host, which I use, but it’s not too difficult since it only takes one terminal command to generate a certificate. There is another command line command to renew them.

    Lastly, page load times also affect SEO. It’s probably a good idea to use a caching plugin, use a lightweight and secure theme, and most importantly, not activate a lot of WordPress plugins.

    1. You bring up some good points! I hope to touch on some of them in future posts. I thought it was important here to start with the basics, because too often, I’ve read SEO discussions (outside of our community) that seem to loose sight of the most important aspect, which is the reader. I hope I got that idea across here!

  6. I’m terrible at self promotion, but there are some good tips in here. I need to really work on getting my work out there and possibly doing some collaborations with other bloggers. Unfortunately, my natural inclination towards being an antisocial git has made that a.more tasking process than it need be.

    1. “Iā€™m terrible at self promotion”

      Me, too. I’ve found if I focus on the main goal of finding my readers, the work feels better. I don’t feel like I’m “self-promoting.” I feel like I’m trying to find my readership.

      “I need to really work on getting my work out there and possibly doing some collaborations with other bloggers.”

      Highly recommended if you can find someone who’s professional and dedicated to their craft. I’ve been profoundly fortunate that way.

      “Unfortunately, my natural inclination towards being an antisocial git has made that a.more tasking process than it need be.”

      I feel like I’m looking in a mirror!

      Seriously, the best thing I ever did was think of the process as finding my readership. The cast everything in a writer-centric light, and that’s my solitary profession.

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