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I had a quick question I wanted to get some clarification on from
Google but as usual they won't answer it so I thought you may have some insight?
We want to allow Google to crawl and index our paid members' pages of
our website which has a lively forum in it. It is has controlled access via cookies so only people that are paid and members can access it.
We see www.webmasterworld.com run a similar setup whereby Google is
allowed into their site and index's it even thought it is a paid,
cookie controlled forum.
Do you know if we are allowed to show Google these pages
and get them indexed even though when the generally public click on
them in the SERP's they will be taken to the homepage if they don't
have the correct cookie.
Is this classed as cloaking? It would be pretty easy with my script to set it via useragent to let Google crawl my members forum, and then set the nocache option - but isn't that against your TOS or is this ok to do?
If it is can you please comment on how Webmasterworld.com get away with it and what method they use to make this legal thanks (a simple search of webmaster world + linking) will show indexed pages but when you click on them (assuming you don't have their cookie set) you will be taken to the "pay up" page.
Look forward to your response if you can help me :)
It is a type of cloaking.
Whether or not it meet's Google's webmaster guidelines is unclear, and I doubt you'll receive a straight answer from them.