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Does Negative Cloaking Cause Problems?

Hiding links that Google doesn't need to crawl.



12:35 pm on Mar 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Cloaking: I do "negative" cloaking - not showing certain things to google that I show to people.

For example, I have a bar at the top of each page that links to my other sites - I think they are relevant and of use to visitors - google may think they are not and that I am overlinking between domains it MIGHT consider unrelated. So I don't show that bar to google.

I also have many links on each page to other pages on the site (it is a magazine, so this makes sense as I want to link all the articles in a given issue) I don't show these to google as it MAY think the pages are "not different enough".

Is this likely to cause problems? I know ADDING things just for google will cause problems...

I really want to be free to design my site in the way that makes most sense for humans, without having to worry that google will penalize me for it.

[This topic may have been covered extensively already - if so, I would appreciate a link to the discussion if anyone can come up with one...]


8:49 pm on Mar 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

There's no difference between 'negative' and 'positive' cloaking - the definition of cloaking covers all actions resulting in showing a different content to user than to spider. So if you're hiding some links or content from Googlebot, you qualify to cloaking penalty the same way as someone who stuffs additional keywords.

You shouldn't hide from Google things you find useful for users - Google purpose is to reward everything user-valuable, isn't it?

You can block some links using javascript, of course, and it would be much safer than hiding them, but you'd better redesign linking structure such manner that it will be good both for users and Google - if your other sites are really related, don't hesitate to link.

But remember about PageRank while linking, do it such way that most important pages will get higher PR.

If some less important pages will trigger duplicate filter, they will be gone from search results, but it won't hurt rankings of more important pages, and they will keep helping them with PR, even if they will be hidden from results as duplicates.


5:05 am on Mar 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

there is nothing wrong with cloaking as long as you present the content and not try to trick google into beleiving your pages are about something they are not.

if your really worried about it then make a "for cellphone" version of your site and present it to the google engine and cellphone browsers.


5:12 am on Mar 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

>You shouldn't hide from Google things you find useful >for users - Google purpose is to reward everything >user-valuable, isn't it?

Thank you for your response.

To answer the question above: I doubt it. Google's main purpose seems to be to make money for google. Hence the huge and unpleasant conflict of interest at the centre of its business.

Just because something LOOKS like a spamfarm doesn't mean it isn't there for the convenience of the user.

My concern is inadverdantly doing something that google might regard as an illicit attempt to increase pagerank. By simply not showing google those links, I thought I could get around the problem. On the faq on the google site, the restriction noted isn't about cloaking as such, just cloaking to distort ranking.

From what you are saying - that isn't so... (no particular surprise there...)

I guess I could leave the links in and just use the "nofollow" attribute. This won't HURT the site link is too, will it - it just won't help it...

Thanks anyway.

Best wishes


3:41 pm on Mar 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Dear Muck:

Here's a thought: How about avoiding all that rel=nofollow stuff,
(I think its hazardous) and NOT cloaking in any form whatsoever.

You might sleep better. -Larry


3:48 pm on Mar 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I'm in the same boat, and I don't sleep any better. I put links on my high traffic pages to my newer domains to spread some traffic around, NOT for page rank. Yet I'm afraid this will get me caught up in Google's cross-linking penalty.


4:01 pm on Mar 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

you guys are paranoid

cloaking is judged on intent. If you main body of content is still there then you have nothing to worry about. There are lots of reasons cloaking might be an appropriate solution. As an example... I run a forum, Cell phone users don't want to see all the poster information they just want the poster name and the thread. They don't need a link to the user profile, a link to "report this thread", a link to "view this users pictures". And hey guess what neither does a bot.

Am I presenting the same content? Yes
Am I trying to fraudently fool a bot into thinging I have a site on "highpaying keyword"? No

and rel=nofollow dangerous?

I have only seen an increase in rankings since I used it.


4:11 pm on Mar 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I see this as a tradeoff.

I just did my taxes, as an example.

I finished off the mortgage (fireworks please!) but this made for
a hard decision: whether to itemize deductions or not.

As it turns out, I could have saved a few bucks by itemizing,
BUT the time it would take to do so, plus the cost of aspirin tablets
etc. made this silly.

I filed with the standard deduction, the only deduction
that has never been challenged in court.

I value my sleep, and my conscience. A few bucks ain't worth
the mess. - Larry


4:17 pm on Mar 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

If your site already uses a good template system its not really hard to set up.

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