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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

WebmasterWorld Cloaking?

The WebmasterWorld discussion board often appears in Google search results, e.g. it’s on top when searching for php-based cms. However, when you click on the result, you’ll get to a login box, the text you searched for – the text that was showing in the snippet – nowhere to be seen. Isn’t that cloaking? (The Google webmaster guidelines read, “Don’t ... present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as ’cloaking.’”)

Update: Technically, this may not be cloaking because the registration page is on a different URL than the content page. However, Google in their webmaster guidelines specifically also warn of using “sneaky redirects”. To end users, it’s all the same: sometimes they are not seeing the text from the result snippet on the page they are being redirected to, causing a search result that sucks, and Google so far doesn’t do anything to prevent this.

Update 2: Google and WebmasterWorld have reacted on the debate.


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