ADHD and SEO: Why This Field is Great For People With ADHD

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In this article, I wanted to highlight some of the experiences I’ve had with ADHD, and why I feel like this field can attract others with this disorder.

When people describe me, they say I’m often either overly enthusiastic about random topics or downright disinterested. 

When it comes to SEO, I’m as passionate as can be when talking about it. 

While some might find it weird (and I will admit it is weird), I’ve learned over time that my passion might partially stem from ADHD, a neurological disorder I’ve had since I was 4 years old. 

ADHD comes with a lot of misconceptions, but it’s a condition that has been diagnosed in over 366 million people worldwide.

With this article, I figured it would be a great opportunity to really dive into that passion with SEO and highlight where it stems from. 

And how ADHD might play a part in it.

What People Commonly Think ADHD Is

So there are a bunch of common misconceptions when it comes to ADHD.  

People commonly think of it as a trait for bad children rather than an actual neurological disorder. 

A few misconceptions can be that:

  • ADHD isn’t a real condition
  • People with ADHD just need to try harder
  • All kids are hyperactive
  • Kids will just outgrow it

And don’t get me wrong, it is common for people with ADHD, specifically younger kids to act out, but it’s usually for reasons most people don’t consider.

Source: Calm Sage

Some even think it’s a condition only kids have and they grow out of it once they get older. 

I was one of those kids, especially with people all around me telling me it was a made-up condition and it was just me who was the issue.

Kid me believed this for the longest time, and it actually caused me to ignore my ADHD from ages 12-23, thinking I “outgrew” it.

While you can grow out of ADHD – depending on the severity – 60% of kids carry ADHD into adulthood.

What ADHD Actually Is

So now that we have the misconception out of the air, let’s talk about what ADHD actually is.

It’s a neurological disorder that can affect people, regardless of age.

The less severe form of ADHD is ADD which stands for Attention Deficit Disorder

ADD is a term used to describe people with concentration issues without the severe symptoms of ADHD.

ADHD stands for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, so we’re now adding hyperactivity into the mix. 

The National Institute of Mental Health describes ADHD as being “an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.”

What people also don’t realize is that there are 3 different categories of people with ADHD:

  • Inattentive Type
  • Hyperactive-Impulsive Type
  • Combined Type

 

Source: Neurodivergent Insights

Even with these categories, ADHD is still like Autism where our conditions typically fall along a spectrum rather than an identified set of conditions.

No case is ever the same. 

The Mayo Clinic lists these as common symptoms of people with ADHD:

  • Impulsiveness
  • Disorganization and problems prioritizing
  • Poor time management skills
  • Problems focusing on a task
  • Trouble multitasking
  • Excessive activity or restlessness
  • Poor planning
  • Low frustration tolerance
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Problems following through and completing tasks
  • Hot temper
  • Trouble coping with stress

So, already off the bat, we know that ADHD isn’t a one-size-fits-all disorder.

Judging from the symptoms listed out above, ADHD is much more than just a “crazy or misbehaving kid.”

The misbehaving part is somewhat of a byproduct of untreated ADHD.

Since ADHD has so many different parts to it, it can often be misdiagnosed. 

And it happens a lot too. 

In fact, ADHD is very similar to other conditions such as:

  • Autism
  • Bi-Polarism
  • OCD
  • SPD

Source: Neurodivergent Insights

A recent study even found that 1 million children are misdiagnosed with ADHD yearly.

I was even diagnosed when I was 4 years old, which is kind of impressive when you think about it.

I must’ve been one chaotic kid apparently. 

But in all seriousness, that’s how I was only labeled growing up. As a problem child.

Even with the ADHD label, we were still automatically assumed to be misbehaving children. 

Even the ADHD label became synonymous with that.

Because of the mislabel, I thought the condition itself was mislabeled. 

I grew up thinking ADHD wasn’t actually real and maybe I was just a problem kid, and I just needed to grow out of it.

Because of this, I actually went most of my life with untreated ADHD despite having an official diagnosis when I was younger. 

It wasn’t until I started drinking coffee and energy drinks in college, that I realized that was the only way to stimulate myself to focus. 

After consulting with a doctor, it was pretty easy for them to connect the dots. 

They even described my stubbornness with ADHD as being a person with poor eyesight refusing to use glasses. 

Before getting my re-diagnosis, I genuinely thought something was wrong with me (before attributing that to ADHD):

  • I couldn’t focus
  • My brain was constantly cloudy
  • There were a million thoughts racing through my brain at once
  • My brain just never seemed to be organized or work right

The best way I can possibly describe this is by using this Spongebob meme below.

How Does That Have Anything To Do With SEO?

You might be asking yourself what any of this has to do with SEO. 

In my experience (and research), actually quite a bit.

Whether directly or indirectly.

So for ADHD, the H (hyperactivity) translates to a fair amount of areas. 

So it’s not just hyperactivity in terms of your energy, but it also translates to hyperfocus.

Healthline describes ADHD hyperfocus as: 

The experience of deep and intense concentration in some people with ADHD. ADHD is not necessarily a deficit of attention but rather a problem with regulating one’s attention span to desired tasks. So, while mundane tasks may be difficult to focus on, others may be completely absorbing. An individual with ADHD who may not be able to complete homework assignments or work projects may instead be able to focus for hours on video games, sports, or reading.

So when we genuinely enjoy things, we are 100% invested. 

The same goes on the flip side; if we aren’t interested, then it’s very easy for us to be disengaged or distracted.

That’s why kids with ADHD commonly get mislabeled as “problem students.” 

It’s not that these kids are bad or misbehaving; their brains are just wired differently to the point where they can’t even control their focus on topics they aren’t interested in. 

The science behind this hyperfocus/disengagement is pretty interesting too. This comes down to our dopamine receptors and how our brain is wired.

Source: Unlocking ADHD

We have a higher volume of dopamine transporters in the prefrontal cortex of our brain so less dopamine is produced. 

Source: Numo ADHD

Healthline describes this as:

Dopamine allows us to regulate emotional responses and take action to achieve specific rewards. It’s responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward. Scientists have observed that levels of dopamine are different in people with ADHD than in those without ADHD. Some researchers believe this difference is because neurons in the brains and nervous systems of people with unmedicated ADHD have higher concentrations of proteins called dopamine transporters. The concentration of these proteins is known as dopamine transporter density (DTD). Research shows an association between ADHD and lower levels of dopamine, as well as higher levels of DTD.

If you are familiar with how dopamine works, it’s basically our brain’s reward system. 

Dopamine affects our:

  • Memory
  • Motivation
  • Mood
  • Movement
  • Attention
  • Pleasure and reward
  • Sleep
  • Learning
  • Behavior
  • Cognition

Let’s say it’s Friday and you finally finish your last task of the day; that sense of accomplishment you feel is a surge of dopamine. You feel rewarded.

And with the prefrontal cortex, this area is responsible for:

  • Controlling Behavior
  • Directing Attention
  • Inhibiting Impulses

Source: A Heart For All Students

So it’s all right there in front of us…literally! 

One small area of our brain can change so much of our behavior.

So how does low dopamine apply in this scenario? Especially with SEO? 

That’s why you came here after all.

People with ADHD tend to seek out more intense stimuli to get that dopamine rush, since we’re biologically wired to have a more complex reward system.

That’s why we tend to see people with ADHD more enthusiastic about certain areas than those without ADHD.

Source: ADDept

While some areas/topics may seem normal to most, people with ADHD take a whole new meaning to engagement/passion. 

It shouldn’t be a surprise then that an estimated 29% of entrepreneurs have ADHD, with the most common reasoning being that work is “often found too constraining or boring.” 

With the added bonus (or con) of impulsiveness, meaning they’re less averse to taking risks.

So, in the case of SEO, there are plenty of areas that offer stimulation, which we’re constantly looking for. 

Using what I touched on earlier, I’m going to attempt to tie in why I think SEO has been such a great field for myself and others with ADHD.

There’s Really No Ceiling to Learning/Progressing

With ADHD, it’s a blessing and a curse with how we take in information. 

If we aren’t passionate about a subject, learning can feel like an absolute chore.

But if we are passionate about a subject, we are fully hyperfocused on it.

I feel like with SEO, it’s come in two parts. 

  1. I do find the field to be genuinely fascinating, so that’s what causes me to genuinely invest in myself to continue learning
  2. There’s so much to learn in the field of SEO, that it also encourages me to improve myself in whatever way I can. The feeling of it being limitless ties into the reward system of always wanting to achieve more. It’s a blessing and a curse. A blessing in the sense that it always challenges me to keep moving forward and a curse in the sense that I can never feel comfortable with where I’m at. It’s like an anxiety that causes us to be productive. 

So if you have a genuine interest in SEO, learning and progressing can feel limitless, especially when it comes to feeling rewarded. 

Link building is a beast of its own, content is a beast of its own, and even technical SEO is a beast of its own. 

Source: Ahrefs

Even learning about search engines’ work is an insane beast to tackle.

Source: Medium

There’s really no limit to the amount you can learn when it comes to SEO, so that engagement for someone with ADHD can be the right kind of stimulation you’re looking for.

How Challenging (and Rewarding) It Can Be

The real benefit that I can tie SEO to ADHD with is the reward system from it. 

Since our brain is wired to have a more complicated reward system, we seek out different stimuli to get that feeling of being rewarded.

Truthfully, that’s why I can never stay engaged with other marketing channels.

To me, most of them felt like I was plugging and chugging work without much room for growth, whereas with SEO, there are so many moving parts that if you genuinely succeed, it’s worth the reward.

Plus, it’s not like PPC where you see direct results from your work. 

SEO takes a lot of work, and it can take upwards of 1-6 months to see results so that payoff is worth it when it comes.

No Approach Is Ever The Same

This is partially what gravitated me towards the B2B space. 

With local SEO, it felt more like a plug-and-chug approach, where every strategy was always the same.

In B2B, every strategy requires a unique approach to:

  • Learn the product
  • Learn the industry
  • Learn the buyer
  • Learn what motivates the buyer

It’s the element of psychology mixed with strategy that is engaging and worth the challenge.

Source: Gartner

A big element of ADHD is boredom

Since we require more stimulation than most, it causes repetitive/mundane tasks to feel especially tedious.  

Continuing On In SEO

I’ve been in SEO for 4+ years now and while the constant changes can feel chaotic, it’s overall been a journey that’s kept me the most involved in my field.

I don’t know if I’d attribute it entirely to ADHD, but I do believe it plays a part in how I see the field and why I tend to be so engaged with it.

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