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Bending The Black Hat SEO Rules

A typical situation when “bending the rules” may be useful is when a site already exists and presents a flaw that cannot be overcome without a complete redesign. Usually a complete redesign, in the context of a functioning web site, is a complex and arduous undertaking. At best, it cannot be done within the time limits prescribed. At worst, it is completely impossible either due to budget or internal politics.

Perhaps the site is designed entirely in Flash or it employs a URL-based session-handlerthat could throw a spider into a spider-trap of circular, or infinite references. If a total application rewriteis not an option — as is usually the case — cloaking may be employed. Cloaking implies delivering different content depending on whether the user agent is a human or a search engine spider. In the former case, an HTML-based version of the site could be presented to the search engine spiders instead of the Flash version. In the latter case, when the user agent is a spider, the site could use cloaking to remove the session ID and other potentially confusing parameters from the URL, hence removing the spider-trap.

A well-known example of cloaking is that employed by the New York Times. Essentially, the New York Times web site requests users to create (and pay for) an account with them for certain premium content. However, this restriction isn’t imposed on search engines. Indeed, the New York Times allows search engines to browse and index its content without an account, which most probably gets http:// a lot of incoming traffic from search engines.

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