Google is amazing (and frustrating)
This is just a general comment to those that might be interested in some technical info about our site and how Google interacts with it.
Their programmers are very curtious when it comes to their spiders and how they interact with various web sites. Apparently, they are sensative to the load that their spiders place on a web server and do a darn good job when it comes to not overloading a server.
Another major search engine is not quite so nice. If you don't tell them to leave you alone, they will hammer the heck out of your site and potentially bring you to your knees.
Over the past vew days, we have been doing a massive system backup to a couple new off-site backup servers. Normally, this process is pretty quick but because these were new servers they required fully syncronization. Well, I forgot to take into account the drain this could place on our server and I let more than one backup run at a time.
This caused our main server to experience a high load for several days. Google detected this load and backed off its crawling process which was very kind of them. The only bad thing is that when Google backed off, our monitoring process (mostly manual at this point) assumed everything was only slightly higher than normal.
Google may be awesome, but it can be frustrating some times too.
This cool and wonderful feature that Google has in place to prevent overloading a server had an unexpected side affect. Because Google thought our site was super busy (which it was) it reduced the number of people it was referring to the site too. DOH!
As we noticed the visitor count slowly drop we got very confused because the system load was still very high. And we noticed Google wasn't visiting as often as usual and then we saw it... The backup process had overloaded the system. Not to the extreme but enough to make Google think there was a problem. We still actually had plenty of bandwidth for real users just not as much for the bots that visit (which we limit when bandwidth is limited).
Anyway, it was a good learning experience and we are now seeing the referrals climb back up and the Google spider is picking up its pace again too.
We had to force a couple other bots (including that othe big search engine) to play nice because they were trying to take more than their share of our data.
All in all, Google is AWESOME and very powerful. So THANKS GOOGLE for playing nice with others!