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Cloaking Forum

    
Cloaking and A-B testing
would a-b testing be considered 'bad' cloaking
SimplyMarketing




msg:676461
 2:46 am on Jan 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

Our company is looking to do some market research on two different product lines.

The idea is that as traffic visits our site, 50% are shown one site with a product line, and 50% are shown a completely different site with a different product line.

The goal is to measure sales conversions to see how well our new product will be accepted by the market as compared to an existing product.

My question is; how will Google, Yahoo and MSN interpret our intentions? What kind of risk is there in being de-listed?

I've done lots of reading but I can't find any material for this specific case, and the stuff I have read on cloaking is not definitive enough for me to make a conclusive risk assessment. If anyone has an example I would love to show it to our marketing dept to ease concerns of being de-listed.

Thanks in advance!

 

volatilegx




msg:676462
 2:15 pm on Jan 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

While technically, what you're doing doesn't fall under the category of "cloaking", its consequences might be similar.

This would be a good question to bring up at a WebmasterWorld PubCon (such as the upcoming one in Boston), where you could get the direct opinions of Matt Cutts from Google and Tim Meyer from Yahoo!.

My gut feeling is that you'd be OK doing this, but who knows for sure?

SimplyMarketing




msg:676463
 4:24 pm on Jan 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks, that's kinda what we thought.

Our main concern is that when google comes today they see site A. When the come again, there's a 50% chance they see site B. No big deal; it may think we just launched a new site. Then when it comes yet again it may see site A again. This is the scenario that worries us. Is it duplicate content? is it an indication of black hat stuff?

I argue that Google wouldn't consider this bad for the following reasons. As I understand it, the bad cloaking works like this:

->request made for page
->examine request for page
->if from SE serve heavily SEO'd page
->else show real page that is user friendly (or perhaps on a different topic)

In this scenario, Google *always* sees the same page, it's just maybe not representative of what a user sees.

In our example, we make no attempt to dupe the engine, and as such, it will often see different material. However the two versions would be very similar from a site metrics perspective:

-the material is on-topic
-use same keywords
-we will use similar KW counts
-linking structure will be comparable if not the same
-and all the other *nice* SEO stuff you'd expect to see.

-we will however use different graphics, product write-ups..

The real question is how Google might examine a page to determine if cloaking is in effect. Will they use a bot that doesn't advertise it's a bot? Perhaps some other crawler that looks like a browser.... If so and this other bot compares what the googlebot sees to what it discovers, we'll be busted.

How about this for a work around:
It would seem that geo-cloaking is acceptable, so what if we say all traffic from Googles 'geo-location' goto one site always, while the remaining sites get the 50-50 split. While it will perhaps skew our data, would it minimize our risk of being de-listed?

volatilegx




msg:676464
 2:56 pm on Jan 26, 2006 (gmt 0)


How about this for a work around:
It would seem that geo-cloaking is acceptable, so what if we say all traffic from Googles 'geo-location' goto one site always, while the remaining sites get the 50-50 split. While it will perhaps skew our data, would it minimize our risk of being de-listed?

That might end up backfiring on you. I'd stick with the original plan.

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