Google Likes Your Content First-Click Free

    June 3, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

Punishing a visitor from Google with a subscription login page, where the visitor expected to find content based on the search result, could draw a penalty from the search ad company.

Quality guidelines are on the minds of advertisers in particular this month, as Google continues to tweak what it thinks is and is not a quality experience for the arriving visitor. Much has been made of the advertiser side of quality guidelines, but they certainly apply in other ways on Google.

The company’s Maile Ohye talked about serving pages and their indexing by Google’s crawler as part of her post at Google Webmaster Central. The post comes in response to webmasters interested in a discussion of certain webserving techniques.

Webmasters who use geolocation or IP tracking to deliver content based on location need to be careful not to accidentally “cloak” their pages. In cloaking, a site delivers one type of content to the Googlebot crawler, and by extension to people finding the site in Google Search, and much different content to an arriving visitor.

Google doesn’t approve of the practice. “This is a violation of our webmaster guidelines. If the file that Googlebot sees is not identical to the file that a typical user sees, then you’re in a high-risk category,” said Ohye.

Google likes the first-click free approach to web content, just as it does for content showing up in news results. Someone arriving at a page from Google expecting to read a story, and slamming into a login screen instead, won’t care for the experience.

Worse, since Google sent the person to the page in question, the person will more likely blame Google for the poor experience, rather than the cagey webmaster hoping to pull a conversion this way.