Search engine optimization can be a fickle mistress. It might feel like you are working your tail off for months to create, create, create and optimize, optimize, optimize just to find that you’ve only risen a few spots in the rankings.

That can be disheartening, to say the least, but do not give up. There are some simple things that you can check on and incorporate to make sure that you are helping (and not hurting!) your SEO rankings.

Know Your Keywords

This first tip is two-fold: using an adequate number of keywords and using the right keywords.

Keyword Quantities

Google likes to see you incorporate unique, valuable content into your website because that gives Google bots information on your company and its expertise and ideals. Gone are the days, however, when using as many keywords as possible (aka, keyword stuffing) was a worthwhile SEO strategy. If you shove as many keywords as you can into a short space, it gets distracting, and, frankly, annoying to your readers.

Here’s a good example of shameless key word stuffing:  “Fishing gear is a perfect gift for the outdoor lover in your life. Fishing gear such as fishing poles, fishing waders, and flies for fly fishing are all good, yet distinct directions to go as you’re shopping for that special fisherman in your life.” Ugh!  Notice how deliberately redundant this sounds?

Good SEO Strategies

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Readers will be onto you, and they might bounce off of your site never to return.  Google bots are programmed to pick up on keyword-heavy writing like this, too, and will ding your rankings accordingly.

Keyword Qualities

Before you can determine if you’re targeting the right keywords, you have to nail down your audience. Are you shooting for a local market or a global one? Are you trying to reach millennials or their parents? Do you understand the language that your audience will use as they search for your product?

Plugging in keywords that are either too broad or generic will end up hurting you in the end. You need to spend some time thinking about who you are selling to and how they will look up your product. Be as specific as you can when you determine your keywords because getting a lot of hits from the wrong market is far worse for your business than getting a few hits from the right market.

If you are trying to sell to everyone in the world and having little success, narrow your keywords to a more local demographic (ex: memory foam mattresses for sale in Los Angeles vs. mattresses for sale).

Rethink the Link

Once again, this tip has a couple of different facets.

Backlink Quantities

As you optimize your website, keep in mind that links from other website (“backlinks”) in and of themselves aren’t enough; you need variety. Backlinks, navigational links, anchor text, hyperlinked images – all of these links are different and add that special something to your website.

Backlink Quality

External links are essential to your SEO success, but before you go hogwild from the last bullet point, remember that relevancy is critical.

As Google bots crawl through your website, they are going to be following links and determining if the information is relevant or just a piece of fluff. Too much fluff and they Google will penalize your site, but not enough links and you won’t get very good rankings. It’s a pretty delicate balance, but if you take the time to pursue quality links; quality will beat quantity at the end of the day.

Content is Crucial

This one should be a no-brainer, but it can’t be overstated: your content matters. You need to be adding new, quality content on a regular basis to stay relevant to the online world. Your goal should be to generate content that is share-worthy so that people want to link to your site. Spending the extra time and money to create quality articles, infographics, and images is worth its weight in gold if it means that you get more authentic traffic to your website.

Even if your company is in a technical industry, avoid jargon and stay away from terminology that is too industry specific. People would rather hit up another website than spend half of their time looking up the definitions of words you used on your website.

Play the Waiting Game

Even if you are doing everything right, there’s no shortcutting the optimization process.  Don’t be surprised if it take months to show up higher on search engines.  The best thing you can do, besides consistently working to improve, is to be patient. If you are following sound SEO principles and have a well-defined target audience and a rockin’ website, you should start seeing results before too long.