When it comes to SEO, I’ve been throwing words at a fan. My words scatter. They are lost to the search engine wind. I have no idea where they land after I publish them.
To be honest, I don’t know if I want to give up the spectacular fun of throwing words at a fan.
That being said, I still want to learn more about SEO because this skill is important for freelance writing.
Part 1: SEO and Creative Psychology
To sort through the role of SEO in my online presence, I’m bringing in a long-form analogy from my distant past - my simultaneous love and hate for pop songs.
As you’ll see, I’m in no way qualified to give advice on growing a website. But I like writing songs that can appeal to people other than me. Maybe I can take my knowledge of songwriting and apply it to writing "hit" articles?
Either way, creative psychology's connection to business is fascinating, so let’s dive in.
What is SEO?
A rough definition of SEO (search engine optimization) is behind the scenes work done to increase the visibility and organic reach of a website.
- Maximizing keywords in an article’s title
- Increasing trustworthy inbound links
- Expanding image searchability with effectively worded captions
- Adding proper tags to an article
The above tasks are small examples of backend work that can help a website gain organic unpaid traffic.
For me, the online product I am promoting is music (which probably sounds like financial disaster to many of you). Logic says I should probably put some time into spreading myself around the internet to increase my product’s visibility.
As a busy parent geared toward creativity, I'm also trying to maximize my skills.
Is learning SEO the best use of my time?
Will SEO Zap My Creativity or Enhance It?
If increasing my online visibility means I don’t sound like myself, then where does that leave my writing voice? Most people follow musicians long-term for their personalities, their signature tones, and the unique “it-factor” only their original presence can bring to a project.
Using SEO tactics in a traditional way immediately starts my writing process off in a different place. (This place probably doesn’t involve pure emotional expression.) In fact, it’s probably calculated, involves data, and could become… dare I say… a little contrived.
Considering this, I find myself asking… is a pop song contrived? It’s certainly a formula. Does anyone listen to their favorite pop song and think, “Well, what a boring pile of predictable patterns! What a formulaic bore of 12 notes!”
That’s why I think SEO could be made more tolerable for creative thinkers by blending it with reasoning styles and approaches known in creative psychology.
Let's start by defining some thinking patterns you use every day.
Inductive and Deductive Reasoning Defined
Inductive reasoning starts with something specific (like SEO data on what could be the most popular topic to write about) and then moves to a more generalized conclusion (or an actual finished piece of written work).
Deductive reasoning, however, starts with something general (like a writing topic you are genuinely passionate about) and moves to something specific (such as choosing an actual niche based on SEO and sticking to it).
Deductive reasoning is top-down while inductive reasoning is bottom-up.
Inductive and deductive reasoning styles are great to be aware of as a writer (whether you use SEO or not).
Now, let's consider a question:
- Could operating with limits like those imposed by keywords (or the patterns imposed in a pop song) increase creativity in certain circumstances?
Anyone who navigates a creative project by naturally zooming in and zooming out knows the answer is yes. The flexibility to work forwards and backward multiple times while working on a creative project is what makes truly great works possible.
Setting parameters and knowing when to deviate from them can have a similar positive impact on creative projects.
Convergent and Divergent Thinking Defined
Convergent thinking is systematic and represents thinking in a straight line towards the "best" solution. When you are asked to fill in a blank on a test (or reduce something to a simple and obvious answer), you are using convergent thinking.
Divergent thinking, on the other hand, is open-ended, web-like, and thrives on making flexible connections. Both thinking styles are needed while writing, but it’s great to know which one you prefer along with the strengths and limitations of each.
(If you’d like to learn more about convergent and divergent thinking, check out this video.)
Self-Imposed Rules: A Solution For Chaos?
Knowledge about inductive and deductive reasoning (along with convergent and divergent thinking) is one of the reasons I like to write concept albums.
(Here’s an example of a concept album I made about mental health.)
The act of narrowing in on a topic offers rules to work with while providing necessary guidelines for rapid-fire abstract connections. When I made the decision to write about inventors in history (the album I’m working on now), I set similar limits on my subject matter. And I loved the structure those limitations provided.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but sometimes, the more ideas you have at the beginning of a writing project, the more limits you need to set. If you are a massive brainstormer overwhelmed with options, parameters could help you find a place to start.
Concerning SEO, restraints could help you narrow in on something the “majority” of people may enjoy (or at least find useful).
This could be a win-win situation.
In Part 2, I’ll explore some terminology for a pop song, some terminology for SEO, and the history of pop songs in general.