This is a blog about reinvention and re-starts, so I’d like to talk about something that was making me feel stuck and stalled: SEO fatigue.
A blogger’s principal goal is to be read. I get that. I want people to see and find value in my words, so I use the Yoast plug-in to help me improve my posts for SEO. But the snippet preview I see when I scroll down to the bottom of my WordPress post editor can abruptly halt my creative process if I don’t use it correctly.
If focusing on SEO sounds like a creativity killer to you I’m not surprised. As writers, we’re supposed to be free to tell our stories without worrying about how they’re going to rank on Google.
Well, the first piece of good news is that SEO has evolved and it’s no longer just about keywords and links. You have to create good, useful content if you want your writing to be read and shared. The second piece of good news is that you can be creative in your writing, even if you begin by placing a framework around it.
I think I may have found a way to fight SEO fatigue. This three-step approach allows me to be both creative and SEO-savvy:
- Post organization
Before I write, I make sure I know what I want my readers to take away from a post. I’ll write it down because that helps to clarify my objective.
Based on my writing objective, I begin to think about keywords. What might a reader be searching for that would lead her to my post? I write these words down and file them for later use.
I also research the topic to see what others are writing about. That will help me in my own writing phase. I’ll bookmark those sites I used for research and may use them later as links in my post (Yoast is always recommending links.)
Now is the time to write with no holds barred! I will have my mission statement in mind as I type, but I’m not going to wonder if I’m including enough instances of my keyword or stop to insert links. I want to pour out my ideas without censorship.
I read through my post and edit not only for grammar and clarity but also for SEO. Can I change the voice or length of my sentences? Maybe. If not, I’ll move on. Can I find a way to include my keyword a few more times? I’ll try, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I can’t. Can I break up my post into meaningful subsections? If so, I should do that because those kinds of posts are more easily scanned. Are there links I can include? Probably. It’s easy to add these now because I’ve already bookmarked them.
Bottom line: I’m winning the battle against SEO fatigue because I consider SEO before I start writing. I can spend less time wondering how I can rearrange my post to include the elements that will help to get my piece read.
I’ve found that by using this method I don’t need to compromise much on creativity. Every writer needs structure and editing, right? Giving some thought to SEO at the outset of the writing process can help you find more readers for your thoughtful ideas and lovely words. That’s not such a bad bargain!
Here are some articles you can read about SEO and creativity:
An older entry but still relevant:
Are you a blogger and have your own method you’d like to share? I’d love for you to tell me about it in the comments!