Actually it's not a mystery with Google per se, but more with the venerable Google Page Rank. My own site's, to be more specific. Fluctuations in said rank, to be even more specific than that! It shouldn't matter to me so much, I suppose, but this morning I've been sitting here for over an hour researching to improve my understanding of the way in which Google calculates a page's rank and I'm stumped. Not that people don't find my site using Google. In fact, they do on quite a regular basis. Even by searching the most obscure phrases.
I'll give you some examples. As of this writing, when I put in the word "squarespace" without the quotation marks, my site appears as result 32 "out of about 919,000" which I think is fairly cool. Likewise, someone else found my site by searching "advantage living in toronto" (again, sans quotation marks,) in google.ca and my site appeared in position 15 out of about 4,530,000. And another page in my site appeared at position 23. Hello! I'll take it, thank you very much! These results may not have been what the person was looking for or not. I was writing about my time there as a mere visitor which certainly might factor into someone's search of a city's value, although my own experience there was decidedly not the same as that of someone living there day after day. But my blog entry might have shed a bit of light, nonetheless, on such a search.
My point is, Google can find me. And I'm talking about searches that include things that are not my name. But my page rank on the Google toolbar might lead someone to think otherwise. No, folks, we're not in middle school here and so I'm not concerned with popularity contests. "They don't know the cool crowd likes me because the Google toolbar says I'm not valuable." I'm oversimplifying. Stay with me.
When a website owner starts to work toward increasing the value of her site, one of the routes she can take is to increase inbound links. Sometimes this happens "organically." Which is to say people naturally link to my site when they feel the urge. In their blog, when I built their site and there's a link mentioning that...reasons such as this. But at other times, site owners might want to find other sites created by like-minded individuals and trade links. (I don't do this yet...I'm only still deciding how I want to handle my own links page, see. I might, though.) And some website managers (webmasters and etc.) aren't inclined to link to a site that has a zero Google PageRank.
Well, my home page used to consistently appear as 4/10 in the page rank scale. Then suddenly it was 0/10. But occasionally I saw the "4" again. So I started doing an unscientific little test of my own. I captured a "screenshot" of the area of the page that sported the 4/10 (kind of like taking a picture of your home page, only without a camera,) and cropped it, added the date and time, filed it away, and went on about my business. Sure enough, it dropped back to zero. Then I saw it again. As of this writing, since January 8, I have seen it hit 4/10 (going directly from zero to four, not passing "go" nor two nor three, just four and zero,) on two other specific occasions. And each occasion, I find when I check my handy dandy screenshot sample, happens to occur on a Sunday afternoon.
Sometimes when I want to see what's appearing I check out the Google Datacenters at SeoChat (SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and those folks sport a whopping 7/10 as of this writing,) by putting my site's url into their little search box. Today the results tell me that I have a rank of 4 in two of those centers and my site doesn't seem to appear at all in the others. Many sites I queried for comparison purposes had more consistent results. All 5's and 6's on another site I manage, which makes Momma proud. And all 4's for a friend's site (I didn't build it...won't take the credit for that!,) across the board. A search of Slate.com sports all 8's, hands down. You can see how someone with Attention Deficit Disorder should set a timer before she embarks upon such an adventure, no?
So I'm still working through the online fodder, seeking out related queries in the webmaster forums and google forums and in other avenues. But frankly, I thought it couldn't hurt to blog about it, either. Maybe someone will stumble upon my post and have just the answer I'm looking for. That'd sure save me more hours of research and free up my time for other things. Like finishing the web page revision of the site I worked on so diligently yesterday before the Super Bowl.
But not yet. I've now spent an hour and a half on this morning's leg of this journey and I seem to have missed my shower. So that comes first. Then I'll resume the checking off of items on that endless to-do list that got such play yesterday.
It occurs to me, after writing this, that I may have insinuated that "squarespace" and "toronto" were obscure searches and they're clearly not. Lots of other things that lead people to my site only yield a few hundred results. Those are the obscure ones. The samples I used were instead meant to show that actually my site shows up fairly prominently in the results even when high-yielding searches are attempted. But I didn't say that very well when I was writing the blog entry. Okay. On with it...