If you are trying to get your website ranked on a search engine, it can be extremely beneficial to understand how that search engine works.

All search engines work in basically the same way: they crawl websites and then, when someone enters a search query, generates a list of websites, based on relevancy.

The majority of people use Google (though my father, for some inexplicable reason, uses Yahoo), but there are lots of other websites available to you, including Bing, Ask, and, yes, Yahoo.

The same tactics will generally work for all of these search engines.

Here’s what you need to know about how search engines and how search engine optimization works:

Crawling Websites

Each webpage has to be crawled in order to be recognized by a search engine.

All this means is that the search engine has to be aware of that webpage and to read the code of that webpage, storing a little bit of it so that when someone enters a search query, the engine can decide whether or not that website is relevant to that query.

In some ways, the internet is like a city and a search engine is its taxis.

Each webpage is a stop along the way that the taxi can make. It can stop anywhere, but only if it knows where that location is.

A search engines uses a spider to visit every webpage—every single webpage that has ever been created—to then store information about that webpage.

It does not do this just once, either.

This spiders are continually crawling and then re-crawling webpages, to see if changes have been made or to find new links to new web pages that it might need to crawl.

Indexing Websites

Once a website has been crawled, information about that website is then sent to a database where it is stored. This is comparable to an index at a library (but much, much larger).

If you were to go to the index in a library, you would find a list of every single book in that library, who wrote it, and a little bit about the book’s subject.

This is the same type of information that search engines will index about webpages.

It stores all this information so that when someone makes a query, the engine has all of the information on hand that it needs to provide that searcher with the most relevant links.

Ranking Websites

This is what you, as a dealership, will actually care about.

The biggest tasks that search engines do are the crawling and indexing of websites.

The ranking and then retrieval of websites is the last step of their work and essentially the easiest for that engine.

In the very early days of search engines, websites were ranked simply by how many times the searched keyword appeared on that website.

The higher the frequency of that keyword, the more relevant that website was deemed to be.

You can guess how quickly and easily this was exploited, which is why search engine algorithms have since become extremely complex, with hundreds of ranking factors used to determine where exactly to place which webpage in their search results.

Some of the most significant still have to do with keywords, keyword placement, age of your domain, and age of your content, but there are specific protections against keywords stuffing and other tactics that are more likely to be used by scammers and spam websites than by actual websites trying to sell something.

Today’s rankings systems are largely based around trying to find the very best content to match the needs of the searcher and preventing webpages from gaming the system.

Most search engines will actually build protections into their algorithm to downgrade websites that try to game the system or exploit some advantage that they have over other websites.

There is also a heavy emphasis on linking today, including on the authority that links on the webpage give that webpage and links on other websites back to that webpage and what light they cast the original webpage in.

No search engine has explicitly stated what is and what is not considered when ranking a website.

Most ranking factors are inferred from which techniques do and do not work at the present time.

Links appear, right now, to be extremely important, but they can also be trick.

If done incorrectly, they can seriously harm a website’s standing.

When done correctly, they can help a website quickly clime the ranks.

SEO

Automotive SEO basically does this: it helps your website first, be easier to crawl and index and second, ensures that your website has all of the necessary factors to climb the rankings of relevant search queries. Your website is being optimized for search engines.

While there are slight differences when it comes to what works this year, versus what worked last year, there are still plenty of solid SEO strategies that are as old as the search engine itself.

These include writing and post relevant, informative content, linking to outside resources, building links on outside websites back to your webpages, and using relevant keywords in your content.

Search is only becoming more and more sophisticated, and some people will think that means that SEO is only going to become more and more complicated, and while there are changes ahead, getting a grasp on and keeping a hold of the basics can ensure that your dealership’s website finds its foot and maintains it.

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