Busted: Google And Cloaking Scandal

Oh boy.

2005 is not shaping up to be the Year Of The Google now is it? First the Autolink scandal and now this flat-out-jaw-dropping-eye-popping newsflash:

From ThreadWatch: Google Caught Cloaking And Keyword Stuffing?

What’s all the fuss about? Cloaking is a method of manipulation used on search engines. You show one page to your visitors, and another to the search bots. One way to catch this is to monitor the pages cached in Google for your competitor. What’s shown in the cache is the page that ‘google’ sees, not what the human visitor sees. Sometimes webmasters use cloaking to stuff keywords, remove outbound links, and other tricks so that google will rank their page more favorably.

Is cloaking fair play? Legal? An approved method of SEO? Nope. Not according to Google:

Cloaking – Google FAQ

What is cloaking?

The term “cloaking” is used to describe a website that returns altered webpages to search engines crawling the site. In other words, the webserver is programmed to return different content to Google than it returns to regular users, usually in an attempt to distort search engine rankings. This can mislead users about what they’ll find when they click on a search result. To preserve the accuracy and quality of our search results, Google may permanently ban from our index any sites or site authors that engage in cloaking to distort their search rankings.

Question is: Will Google ban its bad self now? ๐Ÿ˜•

So who got caught doing what where?

Look at the Title (top of browser) on Google’s page here:

Google Adwords Support

Google AdWords Support: Why do traffic estimates for my Ad Group differ from those given by the standalone tool?

Now visit that same page using the FireFox browser with the user agent switched to googlebot (the extension can be downloaded here: User Agent Switcher – Firefox Extension)

Since you’re visiting that page with the googlebot user agent, you’ll see that the Title is now different:

traffic estimator, traffic estimates, traffic tool, estimate traffic
Google AdWords Support: Why do traffic estimates for my Ad Group differ from those given by the standalone tool?

The keywords: traffic estimator, traffic estimates, traffic tool, estimate traffic were stuffed in.

You can view screen caps here:

Google Cloaking Pics

Wonder how Google is going to explain this?

admin

I’ve been trying to find my way online for more years than I care to admit.