Free-flowing beer, live music, karaoke and arcade games kept the party raging at the Googleplex the other night, but the real action was unfolding inside a sterile conference room at Google Inc.'s headquarters.

That's where the cunning Internet entrepreneurs who constantly try to manipulate Google's search engine results for a competitive edge were trying to make the most of a rare opportunity to match wits face-to-face with the company's top engineers.

Google's code-talking experts, despite putting on a show of being helpful, weren't about to reveal their "secret sauce" — Google's tightly guarded formula for ranking Web sites.

But that didn't zap the energy from the "Google Dance" — an annual summer party that's become a metaphor for the behind-the-scenes twists and turns that can cause Web sites to rise and fall in Google's search results.

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