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Monday, January 09, 2006

Google Dance..tra ...la...laaa...

Many of us often hear referals to the Google Dance and what it can do to search engine rankings. It can be a frustrating time for search engine optimization experts as well as their clients. So, what exactly is the Google Dance and what does it mean for our Web site?

As we know, Google's spiders are constantly crawling the Web looking for new information on millions of Web pages. Roughly once a month, Google updates their index by recalculating the page rankings of each of the Web pages they have crawled. Search engine optimization experts commonly refer to this update period as the Google Dance.

To ensure complete accuracy, these calculations must be performed multiple times. Additionally, because Google's index is enormous, the calculations will take several days -- or even months, as we recently witnessed -- to complete. During this time, PageRank and ranking will fluctuate, and sometimes wildly. With the blink of an eye, you can go from a ranking of three to a ranking of six. Consequently, the name Google Dance emerged, denoting these fluctuations. This crazy dance usually occurs towards the end of the month.

Granted, you may see mild fluctuations in your search engine ranking at other times of the month, but they are merely a result of Google's daily crawl, known as "fresh crawl". The fresh crawl occurs almost continuously to locate frequently updated sites already in the Google index and then add the new content to the Google database.

For anyone interested in seeing the dance in action, it is fairly easy.

Google has two other searchable servers (www2.google.com and www3.google.com) in addition to their main server (www.google.com). Typically, the results on all three servers are the same. However, during the Google Dance, the search engine ranking results will be different. Once the Dance is over, your new ranking will be visible on all three servers.

During the Dance, if you go to either of the two servers mentioned above, you can see the new rankings that will eventually appear on Google's main server once the Dance is over. Do not focus too sharply on watching the Google Dance take place. It can be extremely frustrating, especially if your site accidentally gets dropped from the index altogether. Yes, this has been known to happen.

So, tread lightly where the Google Dance is concerned. My advice: Leave the worrying to the search engine optimization experts, sit back, and enjoy your new-found ranking.

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