'Santa tours' is a search keyword that I track on a daily basis. It's one of a basket of 40 keyword phrases that I follow to see how the site is performing on Google (and by comparison, Yahoo & Msn). 'Off the map' means that it has fallen below position No. 50 at which point the software ceases to look for it.
Most of my 40 keywords used to be 'on the map' until Sept 05 when Google started its 'Big Daddy' infrastructure changes. Now only a handful are on the map and they tend to come & go. 'Santa tours' is one of those.
A search for 'Santa tours' should find my page Travel List : Tour Operators of Santa Tours / Father Christmas Breaks.
The graph of where it appears in Google's search engine results pages (SERPS) is very interesting...
- From June 14, 2004 to October 1, 2005 Google thought it was the most relevant/important page on the internet to anyone searching for 'Santa tours' and continuously listed that page right at the top of the pile at position No.1 (apart from a couple of weeks when it dropped to No. 2 and then returned).
- Then on October 1st, 2005 it disappeared off the map.
- It re-appeared on Jan 27, 2006 at position No.17 and then remained fluctuating about between positions 17 - 12 until March 18 when it disappeared again.
- On April 28 it re-appears in position No.2 where it remained... until today.
The question is, regardless of how important the page actually is or how important Google thinks the page is, how many searchers are aware of just how inconsistent Google's results are?
It's not the page that has changed. At least, not materially. It is updated periodically but remains broadly the same. Google is in flux.
Of course if there's just one change, that's fine.
For example. One of my other test keyword phrases is 'tour operators to Estonia'. All keywords fluctuate a little but this one used to be the most stable of all. It returned my page Travel List : Holiday, Travel and Tour Operators to Estonia in position No.1 right up to Sept last year when it disappeared from the Google SERPS and never returned. That's fine. You could argue Google thought it was important, then changed the criteria it uses to judge and now considers it isn't an important page for that query.
The problem comes when pages keep appearing and disappearing.
If Google thought that my list of Santa tour operators should be brought to the attention of Searcher A in February or Searcher B yesterday, why shouldn't it have been shown to Searcher C in late March or be shown to Searcher D today?
Undoubtedly two of those searchers are being given poorer search results. Which two is not important.