The Great Debate About Cloaking: Webmasterworld, New York Times In The Dock

Mar 5, 2007 | 2,423 views | by Navneet Kaushal
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Some issues in SEO never seem to die. Cloaking seems to be one of the favorite ones. Recently, Matt Cutts posted about the issue after Philipp Lenssen raised a few concerns. The issues centered on Webmasterworld and New York Times who were accused of cloaking.

As per Webmasterworld, Philipp pointed out that for a certain search on Google, the forum came on number one. But the page actually had a registration form. New York Times, on the other hand, provided content to the bots which required registration from the readers.

The debate following Matt Cutts’s post has gone up to 119 comments and no conclusions have been drawn yet. According to Matt Cutts:

Cloaking is serving different content to users than to search engines. It’s interesting that you don’t see all that much cloaking to deliver spam these days. If you see people doing spam, they tend to rely on sneaky redirects (often via JavaScript) more than cloaking.

However, Matt concludes saying that:

when a Google user clicks on a search result at Google, they should always see the same page that Googlebot saw. It will take me a little time to check out, because it’s a report of behavior that often meets our guidelines (e.g. cookies, referrers, IP addresses might all come into play), but I do intend to investigate this issue when I get the cycles.

Danny Sullivan, who has lost patience with the repeated debates on the issue, has a great post on the issue.

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Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
4.thumbnail The Great Debate About Cloaking: Webmasterworld, New York Times In The Dock
4.thumbnail The Great Debate About Cloaking: Webmasterworld, New York Times In The Dock