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We Need to Talk About the ‘Google Dance’ in SEO

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Google Dance Infographic
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The Google Dance - Video Summary

The ‘Google Dance is an interesting term used in the search engine optimization industry to describe the volatility of Google’s SERP rank. It applied during a time when Google’s algorithm updates were far more disruptive to the system, throwing off the ranking of websites for several days.

In the past, Google updated its algorithm on an almost monthly basis. This was a period in which rankings would change, sometimes dramatically when a new algorithm was launched.

Google still implements algorithm updates, on a more frequent yet far less disruptive basis. Digital marketers should nevertheless be aware of ‘Google Dancing’ and what it could potentially mean for your website.

What is the Google Dance?

The Google search engine is inundated every day with the creation of new links, web sites, pages and updated blogs.

Search engines deal with an almost never-ending influx of new content they must index and rank. Google bots are constantly crawling the internet to discover these new links.

When Google updates its rankings by adding new links to SERPs, the search results may undergo the dance Google is well known for. Following an index update, pages may jump within the rankings as they are evaluated and sorted by Google. Google dance refers to this volatility in Google rankings.

This dance Google undergoes is informally considered by some webmasters to be a ‘random ranking factor’. When you change an aspect of your website, you will likely notice changes in the rank of this website within SERPs.

A search for your keyword may bring up a totally different set of results than a search you had carried out the previous day, for the same keywords. There is seemingly no rhyme or reason that influences why this is happening. It’s simply considered to be a feature of the algorithm.

When Does Google Dance Happen and How Long Does it Last?

In the past, Google would alter its rankings dramatically due to large updates in its algorithm. This means, for example, that webmasters could find that when they searched for their keyword, their usual page 1 ranking link may end up on page 7.

The rough timeline Google followed in the past comprised of an update to their algorithm approximately once per month. This meant the Google database changed so often that it was difficult for webmasters to rely on the ranking factors, to stabilize them within SERPs.

Currently, Google changes its rankings and algorithms on an almost daily basis. However, the updates to this constant ‘dance’ Google carries out are now far less noticeable.

Do I Need to Change My SEO Practices for Google Dance?

An important fact to remember about the Google dance is that, while the volatility of your site rank can be scary, most changes are only temporary. The Google dance can impact your business by resulting in more or less traffic to your site or articles.

Keep in mind that while it is normal for your rank to fluctuate slightly over a period of time, you will find your web pages eventually stabilize within their rank.

When you notice these fluctuations, avoid immediately making changes to your website. This can affect the Google ranking for your keyword searches even further.

Continue to maintain the SEO for your website as you normally would. Continue to make an effort in promoting your recent posts, create content on a particular topic your audience would enjoy and maintain your backlinks portfolio.

A sign that your page rank is recovering is when your position within SERPs stabilizes. The Google Dance can seem intimidating at first and many creators immediately jump to alter their website, for example adding a new page or editing an existing course offered on their site.

If you overreact to a negative fluctuation in your rank caused by the Google dance, this may be picked up on by bots and you run the risk of reducing your rank even further.

Positive SEO strategies and link-building efforts are what will help you climb the Google search engine results pages. Have patience, and don’t allow the Google dance to impact your decision-making.

Google Algorithm Examples

At a point in history where the Google dance was a popular term, the Google algorithm was so disruptive and made such radical changes, that web creators couldn’t help but react to this by changing their SEO techniques.

However, we know that the changes Google makes to its algorithm in more modern times are now far less disruptive.

Some Google updates made such an impact that they even garnered names for themselves. You may know these as Panda’, ‘Penguin’, or ‘BERT’.

Panda

The Google Panda filter is an update to the algorithm that searches for new pages with low-quality content or poor SEO tactics. Google doesn’t want this content ending up in search, so it will invariably reduce its position within rankings.

Google will post updates to the Panda filter every so often, which has an impact on the Google dance and changes the position of sites within SERP ranking.

Penguin

The Google Penguin update is run periodically, targeting black hat SEO techniques and webspam.

Much like the Panda update, Penguin has been adjusted by Google to become smarter at catching spam websites. It is crucial that the algorithm knows the difference between a genuine site and a spam site.

BERT

Google released the BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformer) update in late 2019, and it allowed them to understand the context of a page much more easily.

Google has a great blog post all about this update, found here – https://blog.google/products/search/search-language-understanding-bert/

Final Words

There is no true way to know what updates Google is applying to its algorithm and when these updates take effect. All sites will be impacted in one way or another by the Google dance.

The important thing for website creators to remember is that overreacting to the Google dance will likely cause more harm than good. This dancing of search results can’t be avoided and should be embraced by webmasters.

Focus on creating great site content, use positive SEO techniques, and allow the Google dance to run its course. Your website rankings will likely perform better in the long run.

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