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Is it dangerous to hide ads from Googlebot?
Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4535447
 8:44 am on Jan 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

Think of a forum setting in which you display member ads but only to logged in members. Googlebot and non-members don't see the member ads section of the page.

Could this be a cause for rankings concerns? Is showing members slightly different content than to non-members a dangerous thing in general?

- googlebot: "we know that visitor left this page and went to that site but we don't see a link for that site, hmmm"

 

flatfile




msg:4535493
 2:42 pm on Jan 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

Are you disabling ads specifically for Googlebot?, that should answer your question.

raymondcc




msg:4535494
 2:58 pm on Jan 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

That don't really consider as cloaking.
Agree with flatfile.

indyank




msg:4535514
 4:37 pm on Jan 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

very tricky and indeed this had always been in my mind as well. When we disable ads (this can infact be extended to any content) for all bots and not just googlebot, will it be considered as cloaking?

raymondcc




msg:4535590
 3:23 am on Jan 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

From Google Webmaster Tools Help:

Cloaking refers to the practice of presenting different content or URLs to human users and search engines.

- Serving a page of HTML text to search engines, while showing a page of images or Flash to users
- Inserting text or keywords into a page only when the User-agent requesting the page is a search engine, not a human visitor

TheMadScientist




msg:4535591
 3:31 am on Jan 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think the entire purpose of having a login system is to show different things (in some way - links, content, ability to engage in something, etc.) than to people who aren't, so any type of login could probably be considered cloaking if we 'push it to the extreme', but that would be silly ... GoogleBot's not logged in while visiting and their visitors (unless they're already members and surf logged in to your site) see exactly the same thing when they visit initiall, so there's no cloaking there in my opinion.

Out of sheer curiosity...
we know that visitor left this page and went to that site but we don't see a link for that site, hmmm

How do you think their Search Algorithm would know?

indyank




msg:4535646
 10:31 am on Jan 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

Yes i agree with TheMadScientist and it certainly cannot be cloaking.

Out of sheer curiosity...
we know that visitor left this page and went to that site but we don't see a link for that site, hmmm


How do you think their Search Algorithm would know?


In theory they wouldn't know, since they loose access to what is behind the login. But when a user from a search engine lands on a page, logs in, does some activity on pages (behind the login) and then say leaves clicking on a member ad. They can probably track the sequence thro. cookies. Even if not cookies, I guess there are other advanced methods available to track.


Cloaking refers to the practice of presenting different content or URLs to human users and search engines.


@raymondcc, thanks for this. But my question was what if I show different content to human users and bots? In that case I would't distinguish bots as search engine bots and others. I wouldn't even be showing extra content to those bots in the form of keyword stuffing or others cited in those examles. All I would be doing is to restrict all bots to certain content which I want only human users to see. This could be ads or some other content. Would this qualify as cloaking?

flatfile




msg:4535649
 11:38 am on Jan 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

very tricky and indeed this had always been in my mind as well. When we disable ads (this can infact be extended to any content) for all bots and not just googlebot, will it be considered as cloaking?


I remember one of Matt Cutts' videos. He mentioned something along the lines of: "If somewhere in your code you detect Googlebot, and then serve different content. Then that's cloaking."

Showing different content for all bots is something that can be done via javascript or Ajax. Matt mentioned that it's a bit of a grey area. You will be okay if you're not doing something extreme e.g on a page about cars: If you were to hide content using javascript and load pron via ajax calls.

topr8




msg:4535650
 11:53 am on Jan 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

i show users differnt things to bots, have done for years...

things like - links to recently visited pages etc

it isn't cloaking.

in any case if you are serving ads with js for instance the bots wouldn't see them anyway

bumpski




msg:4535662
 2:12 pm on Jan 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

There's the other side of the coin.

Some bots are causing false ad impressions. This is theft of services. One would think a webmaster should do all in their power to prevent false ad impressions and thereby "legally" justifying providing different results to bots than they do to legitimate users of the site.

Google's preview, for instance, generates ad impressions, corrupting impression counts, etc. Sure its not much, but still the advertisers are paying for these impressions! (At least for pay for impression ads.)

Unfortunately Google has their own perspective (on the world) and Yes it probably is dangerous to hide ads! So it's the Scorn of Google, or, Theft of Services? As I said; the other side of the coin!

Oh by the way Google's preview, and probably other preview bots, use a fixed width format, which of course very few "legitimate" users would be using.

ZydoSEO




msg:4535675
 3:07 pm on Jan 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

If you're showing Googlebot and non-logged in users the same thing, there should be absolutely no issues. Googlebot is not going to log in so it has no way of knowing that logged in users are being served different content.

However, if you're showing Googlebot one thing and non-logged in users something different this "could" be considered cloaking. I say "could" because it really revolves around your intent for rendering different content.

If you're simply personalizing a user experience based on a cookie you set in a user's browser, their past history on your site, and this results in something slightly different than what Googlebot sees then this should withstand any type of manual review by a Googler. They know that Google is not the only company on the web which does personalization.

However, if you're showing Googlebot one thing in order to rank for some popular keyword phrase (Katy Perry, Britney Spears, etc.) and then serving up something totally different (for example, #*$!) then this is not going to stand up to a manual review. You may go undetected indefinitely, but should you get reported, such a technique will likely result in a penalty.

In regard to hiding ads from Googlebot while showing them to non-logged in users, you might "argue" that this is personalization. But I think hiding such ads is very risky. Google might argue that by doing so, you are trying to manipulate their search results to gain higher rankings and avoid filtering due to one or more of their updates like Above the Fold.

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