There’s a terrific and ongoing discussion at Search Engine Watch debating whether or not the NYT method of allowing spiders free access to crawl and index subscription content while redirecting searchers to a log in page is actually cloaking.

Cloaking, as defined in the Wikipedia is…

Cloaking is a search engine optimization technique in which the content presented to the search engine spider is different from that presented to the users’ browser

The NYT is presenting the same content to the SE spiders that they have available to the users. However, the users must either sign in, and in some instances, pay for a subscription before they can access the content.

Personally, I loathe having to sign in or sign up in order to find what I’m looking for and will look elsewhere when I’m stonewalled by having to do so. I’d much rather such pages in the SERP’s be “labeled” so that I can avoid them if I wish.

At any rate, Google doesn’t seem to mind since the pages are being indexed just fine.

Monetizing content in the 21st century or another disaster in the making? Can you imagine a search query that produces links to nothing but paid or login content pages as results? That would most certainly be enough to make me “cranky”.


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