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Difference between positioning and optimization

November 18, 2003

A question we keep getting all the time is: "What is the actual difference between search engine optimization and search engine positioning"? Search engine positioning is actually the exact keywords and key phrases or search terms used that your prospective customers will typically write in the search box when looking for a particular product or service. For example, if we go to Google and type in "new houses", that is a typical two-word search query.

To get targeted traffic from search engines, you need to know exactly what your users are searching for and just wich companies you are effectively competing against. This may sound pretty basic to most people but it's so important if you want your web site to rank high in the engines. Search query determination really gets down to finding an almost perfect balance between keyword targeting, popularity and direct competition.

For example, car dealerships could be tempted when they find out how many people search for "new cars" to believe that this is a perfect set of keywords, but instead, experience has shown us they are often misled by this. "New cars" could very well be a very popular search keyword in itslelf, but unless a specific car dealership sells new cars all over the world, it is not specific enough to seriously reach a targeted audience.

Certain individuals can come up with very good and targeted keywords in their search terms using basic common sense but it is always better to prepare for the "unexpected". At Rank for $ales we have specialiazed tools that help us do that, combined with research we do for that particular industry or market segment.

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Search engine optimization
Search engine optimization is the process of putting selected keywords and key phrases into a given web site, using proper placement techniques and carefully using the correct wording, in direct response to what was said earlier on positioning. That's all it really means basically. In most SEO circles right now, there is a great deal of confusion on this subject so, in order to clear this uncertainty, let's start by clearly defining search engine optimization.

Search engine optimization can be defined as the rather "less complicated" part of the whole process. The first thing you need to understand is we only use one or two search keywords to optimize each individual page on any given web site. Once we have selected a page to optimize and the exact search keywords and key phrases we are going to use, all that is left for us to do is insert these keywords in their proper places and we have pretty much completed the optimization process.

Now you may ask: "Where is the best place to place our keywords"? Here is the answer to that question:

     The page's title
     The keywords & description META tags
     In the 1st paragraph of the body text
     In the text of any links that point to the page
     In a heading tag such H1, H2, or H3 at the top of the page

This is the true difference between search engine positioning and search engine optimization.

Article written by Serge Thibodeau,
President & CEO,
Rank for $ales
Copyright (c) Serge Thibodeau 2003

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Rank for $ales strongly recommends the use of WordTracker to effectively identify all your right industry keywords. Accurate identification of the right keywords and key phrases used in your industry is the first basic step in any serious search engine optimization program. The keywords you think are the best may be totally different than the ones recommended by WordTracker. Click here to start your keyword and key phrase research.

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