Cloaking Not Cloaking

Discussion thread at SEW about whether NY Times is cloaking or not. Naturally, IHY has one as well.

I think the answer is pretty clear. The NY Times is cloaking content – i.e. a technique in which the content presented to the search engine spider is different from that presented to the users. The fact that some users can see the same content is a red-herring. For example, if I changed my agent to GoogleBot, and accessed a site that used agent cloaking, then that site wouldn’t be cloaking on the basis that some users (i.e. all those with agent = Googlebot) can see it? In any case, cloaking is mostly about the practical effect, which is that a SERP does not show me the same page that was indexed by the spider.

It is a good example of how cloaking can be beneficial to search engines, although, in this case, I find it annoying as a user. I’d prefer Google informed me that the content is only available via subscription, in which case I wouldn’t click on it.

  1. Inetzeal NetworkInetzeal Network06-20-2006

    There is one example of BMW. google removed few weeks ago.. but soon it was included again. i don’t think same happen with NYTimes.com.. they have PR10 Yet

  2. Peter Da VanzoPeter Da Vanzo06-20-2006

    I think that Google is fine with the NY Times approach. It may be a different story if you or I tried it, however 😉

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