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SEO 101 – What is Search Engine Optimization?

Somewhere along your business journey, you’ve probably wondered “what is search engine optimization?” and “why does everyone keep mentioning it?”

Search engine optimization (SEO) is essential for every business website in today’s competitive market. When used correctly, SEO will help your business rank well in search results and establish the legitimacy of your business. In this article, we’ll dive into the terminology and how tweaks to your website strategy can improve your ranking.

What is SEO and why is it so important?

SEO Defined

SEO is a set of rules and guidelines used to rank sites in organic search results. Businesses that follow SEO guidelines can be easily discovered in Google and Yahoo searches to draw in new customers, rather than potentially losing out to competitors who appear before them in the search results.

Key SEO Terms

In addition to SEO itself, there are a handful of terms you should learn to gain a deeper understanding of how SEO works. When you hire an SEO expert, you don’t need to grasp the jargon completely, but having a basic understanding will help you make the best decisions for your business.

Ranking position

This is the position (or place) that a site will appear in a search, based on provided search terms.

For example, if you search “Commercial Lenders in Baltimore,” the first few results that appear in that search will be businesses that have taken efforts to optimize their site’s SEO for that keyphrase. Several pages later, you will start to find lower-ranking establishments that have not taken these measures yet.

They will appear to the potential customer as less successful than those who rank ahead of them, even if they are more successful. It’s all about perception.


These are words or phrases chosen to accurately represent a brand, services, productions, and location, based on how commonly they are searched. Keywords and phrases should be chosen thoughtfully since they can impact how a search engine indexes and ranks your site.

An SEO expert can steer you in the right direction for keywords and phrases, so your website is optimized to increase your rank in search results.


These are links to your site that are present on sites other than your own. Search engines view backlinks as a “vote of confidence” from other sites, which allows your business to increase its ranking position due to this perceived authority.

Targeted Traffic

Google Analytics — User Demographics
Google Analytics — User Demographics. 100% of Users 35-44 years old. Almost 50/50 between men and women.

The goal of targeted traffic is to use SEO guidelines to attract customers. While attracting traffic is beneficial, converting those visits into actual sales is paramount. Working with an SEO expert can target and attract those types of visitors to your site, turning clicks into clients.

How to Implement SEO

When you hire an SEO expert, you won’t have to worry about learning how to implement SEO but understanding the first steps can help you get started today.

1. Look at your website analytics

Google Analytics — User Device Statistics
Google Analytics — User Device Statistics

Your website analytics will give you an idea of how your website is performing – what is doing well and what needs work. Look for specific user behavior patterns. How are people finding your site? How long do they spend on your site? Are they clicking on the things that you want them to?

2. Research keywords and keyphrases

Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner

There are a few online tools you can use to research keywords and key phrases that are relevant to your industry and business. Google Keyword Planner and UberSuggest are two great tools that can help you figure out what your customers will type when they want to find a business like yours.

3. Create valuable content

Blog articles are one of the best ways to get keywords and key phrases onto your website. Long-form blog articles typically perform the best, but they aren’t always necessary. Check a few competitor websites and aim to create blog content that is about the same length. This will tell you what type of content your target audience wants to read.

4. Optimize your website copy

Your keywords should appear in the headlines, body text, metadata, URL slugs, and image alt text. You want to avoid keyword stuffing (this can actually hurt your ranking) and make the text flow as naturally as possible while implementing your keywords and key phrases here and there.

<h1>Name of the Page, ie: About the Company</h1>
<h2>Header of sections on the page, ie: Our Values, History</h2>
<h3>I'm also an important subheader! I'm smaller than an H2!</h3>
<p>Paragraph text would go <strong>here</strong>.</p>

5. Optimize your website for mobile

Harford General Insurance Agency - new website by Harford Designs
Legitimate Insurance Website by Harford Designs

Grab your cell phone and type in your website. Is everything laid out correctly? Do all the links work? You can check the mobile version of your website in your website builder to make sure everything translates from desktop to mobile.

Optimize and Enhance Your SEO with Harford Designs

There are many nuances to effective SEO, and we’d love to help your business get optimized! To get started increasing your site traffic and SEO rank, give us a call at 410-855-4499 or email info@harforddesigns.com.

Jessica Valis, CEO & Owner
Jessica Valis, CEO & Founder

Create first-class digital experiences your clients and investors will love to use.

From brand redesigns and website upgrades, all platforms are infused with UI/UX that is aligned with the latest marketing trends and is optimized for best results.

You get strategy building, targeted branding, and website design & development from a single agency.

From brand redesigns and website upgrades, all platforms are infused with UI/UX that is aligned with the latest marketing trends and is optimized for best results.

You get strategy building, targeted branding, and website design & development from a single agency.