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Cloaking

Google gives important advice on HTTP “cloaking”

Cloaking

Google gives important advice on HTTP “cloaking”

The process of using different HTTP status codes for Googlebot and human users is known as “cloaking”, but should you use this or could it mean that your website’s performance on Google could be affected?

During a recent Google SEO Office Hours, a website owner asked one of the analysts at Google, Gary Ilyes, whether you can serve different HTTP status codes to Googlebot to those you give to general users of your website.

What is Google’s position on cloaking?

Cloaking is classed as a “black hat” SEO technique by Google, which means it’s a technique used to manipulate search engine results rather than deliver quality content and a good user experience. For this reason, it is against the guidelines of Google.

If your website is found to be using black hat techniques, this could result in your site being de-indexed from Google, which would then mean that your site wouldn’t be shown to people searching for related queries to your business.

Although black hat SEO techniques are still seen, and it is possible they can deliver short-term results, it’s a high-risk strategy and not one we recommend at Engage Web, because it’s likely to result in de-indexing and other SEO penalties in the long run.

The best practice in this case is to use the “noindex” robots meta tag, which tells search engines like Google that the URL and content shouldn’t be crawled or ranked within search results.

As a tip, one example of a page you would want to “noindex” is the “thank you” page for your contact form. You don’t want people going directly to this page as they would be tracked as a conversion on Google Analytics, giving a distorted picture of your conversion rates.

If you’re looking to grow your understanding of digital marketing, why not join EngageWeb.Club for only £5 per month, where we cover a wide range of topics ranging from business growth to SEO? Join the club today!

Jonathon Roberts

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