I hate Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I don’t imagine I’m the only one.
When I started my blog three years ago, I knew nothing about it. I just happily wrote away the way I wanted to write.
I was six months into my blog. I had gained a reasonable following. Then SEO arose like a Leviathan and stood before me. I guessed I needed to know something about it, at the very least to find out what it was.
I read a lot. Other blog posts, Medium articles, books, and newspapers. I subscribe to numerous newsletters. SEO cropped up all the time so I dived in.
I didn’t realise that I was about to get so frankly, obsessed about something to the extent that my anxiety spiked and my confidence plummeted. I’d always been fairly confident in my writing ability. Suddenly I wasn’t.
How it happened
In March 2020 the world turned upside down and suddenly we were in lockdown. Having MS I was vulnerable and had to shield. I’m pretty much housebound anyway so it wasn’t so different. But because nobody could visit so everything was quiet.
I thought it was a great opportunity to hone my writing skills and learn about SEO. So I started reading. And reading. And reading. Then I signed up for a free course. I got totally mired in the swamp of SEO.
When I think about it now I see myself as a wild witch hunched over a book of spells desperate for an answer to what it all meant! Because I really didn’t understand any of it.
But I was certain my blog would not survive without it.
What had happened
I realised that I was writing for SEO. Changing my titles and headings. Trying to get keywords in the right places. It was difficult to write freely when these things were in the back of my mind.
I was doing it all wrong. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong, I didn’t know what I was doing at all.
After I had been blogging for a year I took the self-hosted route. I haven’t regretted that, but it made life even more complicated. SEO was in my face, on my blog dashboard, on my drafts. I wanted to throw in the towel.
What could I do?
The sad thing is that I burned myself out. I became so anxious about everything to do with blogging. I suffered from major procrastination, and super imposter syndrome (is that a ‘thing’?). Then a tragic family event happened and I was done.
I wrote in my journal but I couldn’t blog, let alone worry about SEO and all that stuff.
I desperately wanted to get back to where I was at the beginning of my blogging journey.
So I took a break. I thought a short break would be enough. A month turned into six months, six months into a year. I still wrote sporadically in my journal but even that became too much.
I had done what I always do. I became excited about starting my blog and I put my whole being into it. I rushed everything at the expense of my creative writing and mental health. This is why I hate SEO.
Where I am now
So here I am in November 2021. Three years after I set up my blog. I can see the light again through the darkness. I am ready to begin again.
And I’m going back to where I started. I have a plan and that instantly makes me feel better. I have learned a lot from this experience. I don’t need extra anxiety or negativity so I’ve learned to approach things in a calm, more measured way in my creative life. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Whatever happens on my blog you can bet your life that if SEO exists it will have happened organically without me even noticing.