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Redirect Users, leave SE alone

Want to redirect user from a doorway page without effecting Search Engines

     
2:33 pm on Dec 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

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As the subject suggest I'm looking at redirecting normal users away from a door way page and leting search engines stay.

Is this advisable?
Will they pick up on it and ding me for it?

I'm asking cause I know a competior is doing this for specific regions of the US(that header check in the CP is a nice utility). For example you do a search for widget in XYZ. One of the results is for a company in ABC because they have door way page with XYZ related key words plastered all over it. Clicking link to door way page in results takes you to root page of site, clicking cache link shows what they fed search engine.

I know that I would have to do it via .htaccess using mod_rewrite with User Agent and probably ip address.

So my final question is can someone start me in the right direction?

I can get google and a couple other engines UA's from my logs with corresponding IP's.
Does anyone have a more recent list than [webmasterworld.com...]

6:51 pm on Dec 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

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aodonline,

> Is this advisable?

That depends entirely on what the purpose of the redirect is: If the purpose is to serve your visitors better, then it's OK. If the purpose is to pander to search engines, then that is "cloaking" and most search engines, including Google frown on it [google.com] (See quality guideline #1).

While it's not a foregone conclusion that Google will discover your cloaking automatically, your competitior who cloaks could easily spot your cloak using the same methods you used, and might then report you to Google using their spam report. If Google then subjected your site to human review and confirmed the cloak, you could be out of the index -- perhaps permanently. This human review and intervention is rare, but they undoubtedly take these reported techniques into account when making algorithm changes and setting development priorities.

To cloak by IP address, you'll need to keep up-to-the-minute records on spider IP addresses. You might want to use several other high-ranking sites to keep track of new spider IP addresses, to make sure that your cloaked site is never the first one to be spidered from a new IP address.

Redirecting by user-agent is an alternative, but might not be entirely reliable (I am not an expert on this).

I can't tell you to cloak or not to cloak, or whether it is 'safe' in absolute terms; You have to decide whether your domain is a throw-away domain or not, such that it would not hurt you to lose it, and whether the gain you seek is worth that risk. An alternative is to invest in the long-term, expanding your site by adding content that is useful to human visitors and other webmasters looking to link to useful content, and attractive to search engine spiders. Never forget that the long-term goal of search engines is to present the best content to their users, and not the site that uses the cleverest tricks -- Their long-term goal is to neutralize the effectiveness of all the usual 'tricks' like keyword stuffing, cross-linking, doorway pages, hidden text, and cloaking. While some are currently much better than others at doing this, it is undoubtedly their goal; Their success depends on showing the highest-quality sites to their visitors, and the successful search engine company and webmaster never forget this fact.

The technology of cloaking is fairly straightforward; You'll need to use the RewriteCond and RewriteRule directives of mod_rewrite [httpd.apache.org], or perhaps use SSI (Server-Side Includes) on your page to selectively serve content. For RewriteCond, you'd use the environment variables %{REMOTE_ADDRESS} and %{HTTP_USER_AGENT}, and perhaps %{REMOTE_HOST} if absolutely required (it requires an in-line reverse-DNS lookup and is therefore very slow). The RewriteRule would then redirect your cloaked page based on the values of these variables. For an SSI solution, conditional SSI code on the page would test the same environment variables, and then select which part of the page to serve, or which content files to #include in the page. Scripted solutions using PHP, ASP, PERL, etc. are also possible, but are beyond the scope of this forum.

Ref: Introduction to mod_rewrite [webmasterworld.com]

Jim

<added> Don't forget to add code to the page to disallow search engines from archiving (caching) it. </added>

4:53 am on Dec 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Thankyou for your honest oppion. I will consider all sides before I actualy do something like this, but wanted a better understanging of how it was done.

<added> Don't forget to add code to the page to disallow search engines from archiving (caching) it. </added>

If google actualy paid attention to that tag. The competitor that I found had that tag in there meta tags and it didn't work. That is in fact how I figured out what my competitor was doing.

 

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