I have a long-time interest in habit development. To help myself with it, I developed a personal habit tracking wiki about a decade ago and then ported its essential parts to the iPhone in 2008 (check out Habits if you are interested).
Along the way, I took BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits course, a one-week semi-automated email course, where you learn his technique for developing habits. His key observation is that you need to start from a tiny change that you attach to a trigger that you are sure to encounter at the same frequency of the habit you want to develop.
And tiny means very tiny—you should be able to accomplish it in seconds with no cognitive effort. The idea is that once you are sure you will always do it, you can work towards growing it (keeping it small enough to make sure you do it).
The template of a tiny habit is “After I (something you are sure to do), I will (do a tiny, tiny act)”. To that end, here are some tiny habits that will help you with SEO.
- After I hang up the phone, I will write down the name of a person or company that could link to a page on my site.
- After I come back to my desk after lunch, I will Google an important search term and write down my rank.
- After I Google anything and see my company’s URL, I will look at the title and description shown and write down the URL if it needs improvement.
Don’t underestimate the power of a tiny act. Your attention to these habits will grow over time.
Don’t force it. For example, with the first habit, you only need one name, but if you can think of a few names, write them all down. Just don’t expend energy trying to come up with names once your write down the easy ones. And don’t edit—write down a name and get on with your day.
Habits are a good way to build up a backlog of work that you can schedule to do. For example, once you have a page of people to contact, you can set aside an hour or so to call them.
The key is the tininess and the trigger, so pick ones that work for you. And if it takes 30 seconds to do the act, make it smaller.