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Cloaking to let google bypass cookies

Is it ok to let google see what regestered members see?



7:46 pm on Aug 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have a section in my website that is only available for regestered users, but google can't crawl it because it requires a login cookie, which google can't use. I want google to crawl my membership content, I just don't want to alienate it because I engaged in cloaking. Is this the type of thing that annoys google, and could possibly hurt my page rank?

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?


1:45 pm on Aug 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

You're probably in safe territory as far as penalties go.

User Agent cloaking should be adequate for your purposes, although that will make it possible for people to spoof the Google user agent and gain access to content without logging in.


4:20 pm on Aug 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks for the response.

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..).


12:24 am on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Google hasn't released this information. All we have are a bunch of theories -- no solid data.


12:49 am on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

i too see some websites which use cloaking to put their restricted content on the google index.
this should absolutely be banned, as it gives no benefit for a user to click on a result and then being offered to subscribe or to pay for looking at the page they wanted.
it should not be in googles interest to have this kind of sites in their index.
content of snippet does not match content of landing page -
clearly against tos and lately i have reported one website of my area with no success so far.
at the moment, it seems that google does not ban for this unfair practice.

bloke in a box

1:08 pm on Aug 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

That makes no sense.

The site in question has the content the user is looking for (although it may require a subscription / registration) but nevertheless the site does provide the user with the information he/she is looking for.

Therefore how is it an unfair practice?


4:18 am on Aug 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

unfair practice, if this page is crawled and ranking in the serps.

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.


10:58 pm on Aug 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

there are a lot of alternatives to cloaking that are legal and brigs even more benefits.


3:45 am on Sep 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

If you are cloaking, you are in violation of Google's rules. Just install whatever you install and do what you gotta do so your visitors are right, let google worry about the rest because that's their job, not ours.

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.


4:35 am on Sep 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

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.


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