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Yahoo! Caught Cloaking
Cached Auto Pages in Yahoo and Google illustrate aggressive SEO tactics.
jcoronella




msg:3345530
 4:42 pm on May 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

Check out the Google Cache [72.14.209.104] of this Yahoo Auto's page [autos.yahoo.com]. Yahoo's cache has it as well.

It will be interesting to watch if Google takes any action as well.

From:

[agerhart.com...]

 

Brett_Tabke




msg:3346216
 10:13 am on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

rats - getting the exact same page here that is showing in the cached page. Switching agent names makes no difference.

anyone else?

rustybrick




msg:3346319
 12:14 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Looks fine to me also. Maybe they switched back, when they saw your blog post?

Brett_Tabke




msg:3346341
 12:42 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Was this a simple change to the page that took awhile too show up?

The alleged keyword stuffed page is just a directory page as far as I can see. Although it looks kinda iffy at first - it does indeed lead down into quality content with listings for used autos.

jcoronella




msg:3346414
 1:38 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

The user used to see just the city name "Alaska" instead of what they showed the user "Alaska Used Cars". The page looked a lot cleaner, and wasn't cluttered with repetitive words - there for just anchor-text pop. They also added some more competitive cities to the bottom.

Andrew has the screen shots on his site with this highlighted.

Looks like Yahoo acted fast, and changed the live page to the one that was cached.

This is a problem webmasters run into all the time - do you show the user a natural looking list of pages, or do you show them the ones that is good for searching. Yahoo found a solution that I would never dare.

well, ok I guess I would.

Key_Master




msg:3346424
 1:48 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

I checked the page against a number of user-agents yesterday and the page was definately cloaked for bots.

Brett_Tabke




msg:3346491
 2:46 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

> definately cloaked for bots

But the page that is up now is the one that was alleged to be keyword stuffed cloaked. So that doesn't add up.

I wonder if it was a dueling split a/b page test before flipping to the new version full time and AG just caught it in the middle of that flip over.

Andrew, what was the page a month ago?

Yahoo, Google, MSN, and ask all four custom feed se's to avoid geo/psycho/daypart/local/browser/host/isp/platform targetting issues.

agerhart




msg:3346556
 3:56 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>>>I wonder if it was a dueling split a/b page test before flipping to the new version full time and AG just caught it in the middle of that flip over.

I suppose this is possible, but I HIGHLY doubt it. My guess is that someone at Yahoo! noticed the discussion and removed the agent delivery.

>>>Andrew, what was the page a month ago?

Unfortunately I don't know if they were serving the different page to the bots, but I do know that the non-keyword stuffed page was up a month ago. The one that is currently being served with the large number of "used cars" references was not up.

agerhart




msg:3346562
 4:04 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

From SERoundtable.com [seroundtable.com]:

Update: Tim Mayer of Yahoo! has confirmed on May 22nd edition of The Daily Search Cast that Yahoo Autos has changed the page since this has been reported. So, Yahoo Autos was cloaking.

Brett_Tabke




msg:3346753
 6:41 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

What is strange is that they changed it to the page that was alleged to be cloaked and "stuffed". Which is clearly a better page than was there from both a usability standpoint and a seo standpoint. So where is the beef?

agerhart




msg:3346761
 6:52 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

You really believe that page is better from a usability standpoint?!? Come on.

The only reason they changed it is because they were caught.

The beef is that they're not following the rules they set forth for everyone else to follow.

Brett_Tabke




msg:3346779
 7:08 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

The page that is there now, is the one I thought you said cloaked?

agerhart




msg:3346781
 7:10 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

That's correct.

oddsod




msg:3346788
 7:21 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google cache [72.14.221.104] (also on the live Yahoo site [yahoo.com] at present)

.a11y,legend{position:absolute;left:-5000px;width:100px;}
.....
.....
<h3 class="a11y">Popular Yahoo! Properties</h3>
.....

Brett_Tabke




msg:3346797
 7:31 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

This page [autos.yahoo.com] (the current page) is better than the old page [agerhart.com] I think. The old page poor usability because you don't know what you are clicking on states for - now, it is clearer.

I never did check it with IE - they weren't browser delivering too were they?

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 7:32 pm (utc) on May 22, 2007]

agerhart




msg:3346798
 7:32 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

In what way is it better?

Brett_Tabke




msg:3346801
 7:33 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

The old page was poor usability because you don't know what you are clicking on states for - now, it is clearer. That was especially true in a mobile browser.

agerhart




msg:3346806
 7:38 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Seems like a stretch to me. Although they are also adding "real estate" to the end of every state and major city here - [realestate.yahoo.com...]

If this is truly for usability then they would want to add "personals" after every state here right? [personals.yahoo.com...]

Key_Master




msg:3346826
 8:04 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

I never did check it with IE - they weren't browser delivering too were they?

I tested for different variations of both IE and FireFox browser user-agents and I also tested to see if the page was language cloaked. The same page was delivered in each case. I could only get the cloaked page using bot agents. They weren't just cloaking for Googlebot but apparently a number of bots.

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