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My second question is what is the most secure way to cloak? I'm assuming if I did it, I would check the user agent if it read Googlebot with php and redirect accordingly. Does googlebot have aliases or are there any serious concerns with the strategy over IP cloaking?
What gets me is that a lot of name brand websites use this form of cloaking all the time, where you see the site content in google page listing, but you are prompted to login when you follow the link.
It's not a real security issue, so I wouldn't worry about spoofed user agents. By chance do you know if google uses humans to ban and/or punish sites that cloak, or automated programs? If it is the latter, I would be a little worried, because the content would change for a disguised googlebot cloak detector.
Do you know how they determine when sites are cloaked? Mere content change can't be that valid, because sites change content all the time (ftp updates, random algorithms like ad banners, time sensitive dynamic content, database dynamic driven content, custom content for browsers, referrer tailored content, location tailored content, etc..).
because when i'm looking for information in the search engine content results, i don't want to land on a page that requires subscription to have a look at the snippet i've been searching for.
i want the information directly in my face.
otherwise, the webpage in question is blocking other free pages with its presence.
p.s.: wth is legal cloaking? about the only thing I can think of is if you install something and WITHOUT intent the install does something which MIGHT appear to be cloaking but if you're aware of this, perhaps this dissolves the intent, yes?
I mean lets get real, either you're cloaking or you're not.
i don't want to land on a page that requires subscription to have a look at the snippet i've been searching for
When I ended up at WebmasterWorld I was searching for something about CSS. Guess what, in order to participate I actually had to register. And you are correct that I could review the snippet in question. But there was much more than that, I soon discovered. And, to participate I needed to register.
To be honest, I almost didn't. I detest registrations on the web in general. Mostly because I find it hard to keep track/remember all of them.
Allowing any SE to get a peek behind the registration form means to me that you should at least have compelling content. Otherwise it is a waste of time and bandwidth. Want a good example of what I mean by compelling content? Look at this page [webmasterworld.com]and you'll likely see several entries pointing to the Supporters Forum. I swear, it's almost enough to make me want to subscribe.