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different landing page for Googlebot - cloaking?

Is a different landing page for uncookied visitors considered cloaking?

     
5:43 pm on Feb 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Hello webmasters!

I would appreciate your advise on following case:
My website, http://www.example.com doesn't have particular and conversion oriented landing pages. Both Googlebot and organic visitors can access at the same way the whole site content and we have brilliant Google rankings for very important non branded keywords.
Now, my business wants to show an ad hoc landing page for organic and direct new "uncookied" visitors: Basically when you access the website there will be a cookie check-->
- if you have no cookies you will be redirected to simple landing page (i.e. http://www.example.com/uk if your IP address is UK) where we will show only the registration steps and call to actions with nice graphic and the main site menu on a side. If you sign up, we store that information in a cookie
- If you have a cookie that shows you already sign up, you will never see the ad hoc landing page again but you will access directly to the real website.

According to this process, when googlebot comes to crawl my website, it will be considered a new user and it will be redirected to i.e. http://www.example.com/us for each page of my site. this is something I'd like to avoid.

My question: Can I implement a user agent check for let only Googlebot (and other search engines bots) pass freely through the normal websites pages instead of being redirected to the simple landing page? Or is this considered cloaking and google will penalize me?
I hope the case study is clear enough ;)

Thanks a million to anyone has experience on cases like this and is able to advise.

David
6:20 pm on Feb 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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What you're describing is actually fairly common. You see it in Allow/Deny directives (or Require, or equivalent in other servers) that boil down to "visitors must either have login credentials, or come from a recognized search engine".

But look at it from the human user's POV. They do a search, and arrive at a snippet that suggests suchandsuch content. Then, when they click, they are instead taken to a generic landing page that doesn't seem to have any of the desired content. Are they likely to stick around long enough, and jump through enough hoops, to reach the page their search told them they'd be seeing? (Speaking strictly for myself, the answer tends to be: Oh, hell, no. Same as when a site asks me to turn off the ad blocker before I've seen even a single page to determine whether the site is worth whitelisting.)
12:18 pm on Feb 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Hi Lucy,

thanks for your reply. I do agree with your considerations about the human point of view and the visitors expectations and indeed I will push for have a button "take me to the website" so visitors can skip the "prospect page".
But what about from a mere Google rankings point of view? Is Google going to penalize me because I serve to uncookied customers a different home page? Will google realize that I am serving that the content I serve to customers is different if I put in place a redirect based on the Googlebot user agent name?

And what about a javascript redirect? will it be a signal in order to say that the landing page is only an alternate version of the real home page?
6:38 pm on Feb 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member topr8 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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>>Is Google going to penalize me because I serve to uncookied customers a different home page?

if you serve (first time, including anyone who has cleared cookies from their browsers) a different page to what you serve googlebot then i think you can expect a penalty.
i suggest you implement something like the london times does ... show a teaser of the page with a login to see more

>>we have brilliant Google rankings for very important non branded keywords.

good luck with keeping them.
6:42 pm on Feb 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Is Google going to penalize me because I serve to uncookied customers a different home page?

Will they know? Only yesterday (really) I did some search or other, and one of the top ten results was a page whose snippet said, in full, something along the lines of "cookies must be enabled for this site to work". Don't remember exactly, but it was obviously something other than what an ordinary human would see.
10:29 pm on Feb 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member topr8 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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yeah lucy, spot on ... i've seem snippets in the serps just like that!
 

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