Overcoming SEO Burnout


“Uck, I’ll do it later”

We’ve all been there.  Ever go through those periods of days, weeks or months where you just can’t “get in the zone?” We’ve all been there, and the more I start talking to people in the industry, the more I see that this is a problem that a lot of people feel.  Here are some common symptoms of SEO Burnout

  • Not wanting to go to work
  • Inability to focus on the task at hand
  • Getting sidetracked by senseless social media groups and forums (reddit.com/r/**)
  • Irritability and moody
  • Email inbox piling up, not responding to emails
  • Not sleeping enough, sleeping too much
  • Poor diet
  • Feeling stressed and fatigued
  • Loved ones telling you to take a break, “you don’t look so good”
seo burnout from stress

Cycle of Burnout from Work

If you are currently experiencing any of these symptoms or have felt these in the past, then you may be experiencing SEO burnout.  There are a variety of reasons why this might come about.  The main reason why most SEO’s get burnt out, is by not taking breaks/vacations and weekends.  We’ve all read great books and motivational posts by our peers that say things like “Work hard today, your next good idea is right around the corner” or “Weekend warriors make the big bucks.”  While quotes like this can be very motivational, they can also lead to unwanted stress and fatigue.

In addition to this, there are a number of work conditions that can lead to stress, including:

  • Poor management – poor communication and in general having a “bad boss” can cause stress
  • Workplace environment – working in a place that isn’t condusive to a positive lifestyle.  Other things such as a dangerous environment or poor ergonomics can cause stress
  • Your Role in the organization – having too much responsibility or not knowing what your role is can lead to stress

I remember about a year into my SEO career, when I first felt SEO burnout.  I was working a 40-60 hour work week at a normal non-SEO job, coming home and working all night on PPC campaigns, buying domains, and building backlinks all night.  I rarely rested at all and took no time for myself.  By that time I was completely exhausted and felt no motivation to complete any of the projects that I had half done.  I think I re-watched LOST 2x during that month and although I was “trying” to work, I got nothing done.

Moving Forward

This industry is full of pioneers.  We all have the ability to become millionaires overnight, provided we come up with the next “big idea” or put together a plan of action. The thing most of us have to realize in this industry, is that we need to rest and take care of ourselves if we ever want to achieve these goals.  The past few months I’ve finally submitted to coming up with a “normal” schedule and trying to remain more stable.  I try to keep my week on a normal balance, such as:

  • Normal 8-10 hour work days (split into 2 periods) with time for me, and time for my family.
  • 1-2 Saturdays per month dedicated to an extra work day.
  • Every Sunday off for “me time” or family time.
  • Ever other Saturday dedicated to a “grind hard” day
stess free SEO

Another pattern I’ve seen happen after a period of time, are small periods of incremental burnout. This may not mean being burned out for weeks at a time, but at least 1-2 days a week you would go to work and be shot.  Several of my co-workers would report the same symptoms, and I started to see it in their work performance as well.

Regardless of how it happens, or why it happens – it isn’t good.  The Center for Disease Control has shown that stress can lead to really bad things, such as cardiovascular disease, psychological disorders, injury, suicide, cancer, and ulcers.  (“Oh my ulcer is acting up from the STRESS”)

In our office, every single employee of ours has a side internet business going on, be it an eBay store, SEO service, affiliate, or eCommerce site – so we regularly have talks about time management and stress management.

Another tip that has helped out tremendously has been using project management software.  Project management software such as Basecamp can reduce workplace stress considerably.  Having files, documents and contracts spread out across email, local file servers, and your desktop can create an overall feeling of disorganization and can lead to stress and SEO burnout.  This can especially be the case when your client load gets heavy and you start to manage many different client cases.

Take care of yourselves people!  Your husband/wife/boyfriend/loved one/child/children is the most important thing, at the end of the day. They are the ones we are doing this all for.

At the end of blog posts I normally say “if you have any questions, contact me @ etc” but in this case, if you have any questions, you should probably contact a professional mental health counselor.

Patrick Coombe
Patrick Coombe is the founder and CEO of Elite Strategies Llc. Patrick takes a hands on approach to managing Elite Strategies and loves to get involved with technical projects relating to clients inbound marketing needs.
Patrick Coombe
Patrick Coombe

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