The Google Dance: Welcome to one of the most annoying (but exciting) things in SEO.
The Google Dance refers to the high amount of volatility that a new asset (website, webpage, etc.) on your website experiences while Google is trying to determine what position to ultimately place it on its index.
Simple as that.
Put another way, the Google Dance is when Google is beginning to notice your page & gives it a chance in the SERPs (SERP = Search Engine Results Page).
I like to think of it like Google coming up to me and saying (in its best Captain Falcon impression) "Show me your moves!"
What this means practically, is that your newly published page that starts very low in the search engines (maybe like position 100?) will get bumped way up overnight to a higher position so Google can see how its users react.
If Google's algorithm sees that people are clicking on your page, spending time on it, and enjoying the content they see, it will give you some kudos on that page and factor that in to its final determination on where to rank you.
Another way to put this, is Google changes the rank of your page (without any other ranking factors being affected) just to see what happens.
Aka Google lets you have your day in the sun.
And then usually after a day, it will come crashing back down the SERPs.
Then it will come skyrocketing back up.
Then back down.
And the cycle continues for a while.
Your page bounces up and down the SERPs very volatilely until Google can determine where it should "fairly" rank it.
And then it will either stay there or slowly trend up/down depending on what your competitors are doing.
Here is an example of a site we have been tracking for a while that was doing a crazy Google Dance before finally stabilizing:
What this means is that at the beginning of any new asset (new site, a new page, new link building campaign, new anything) volatility is normal.
Let me say that again.
Volatility = Normal.
Didn't think you were gonna have to do math while reading this post did you? Well, you did. One simple equation.
Volatility is normal, and it's actually volatility is GOOD.
It's a sign that your website is getting some attention from "The Big G".
In the rest of this article I am going to go more in-depth about history, examples & strategy - but don't feel like you need to keep reading to understand what the Google Dance is, because it's really quite simple:
The Google Dance refers to the high amount of volatility that a new asset (website, page, etc.) on your website experiences while Google is trying to determine what position to put it in in its index.
Historically, Google would update its algorithm periodically.
These days, Google claims the algorithm updates are pushed in real-time.
So, the "old" Google Dance was the period right after an algo update (usually 3-5 days) when Google would push a major update of its new algorithm into the live SERPs and watch the entire index dance around.
This would be a period of high volatility.
Like Google musical chairs.
Or for some reason, I instantly imagine that scene in the Disneyland Haunted Mansion where all the ghosts are dancing.
But as the saying goes, out with the old in the with the new.
For the rest of this article, we are going to discuss the "new" Google Dance.
This is what I described in the intro: "The high amount of volatility that a new asset (website, page, etc.) on your website experiences while Google is trying to determine what position to put it in in its index."
The Google Dance, from our research & experience, is caused (and amplified) by the following factors:
Similar to the "why" of the Google Dance, the "how long" depends on the same factors.
More competitive terms seem to dance more, and dance (bounce) more drastically.
Similarly, if your page dances for a while and then stabilizes but does not land in the position you want (like if the Google Dance stabilized and you end up on Page 2) then you can re-dance later when you start building links again to try and get to page one.
Scan through the images below to see the story of a "Google Dance" for the keyword "los angeles marketing company"
Up to this point, we have already provided some interesting examples of the Google Dance (maybe even very interesting, if I do say so myself).
But, we wanted to give you a few more.
To hammer home the notion that the Google dance is normal. It is expected.
So when your website starts Google Dancing, and you inevitably get that sense of "oh sh?t what's happening to my website?!" and you look like this in front of your computer:
You can take a deep breath, calm down, and remember all these examples we gave.
Oh, and by the way, these are ALL examples of a website we have ranked (either for ourselves, or our clients) that gave a heartstopping Google dance, but then ended up in the top spots of Google.
When the Google Dance happens, just continue to do all the normal things you would do according to best SEO practices, and don't panic.
Don't panic. And never leave home without your towel.
Now get out there and Google dance like nobody's watching.