Matt Cutts of Google Discussing SEO: Session 5
Matt Cutts answers questions regarding the use of 301 redirects to merge existing sites, using directories to theme from keywords, feeding Googlebot static pages on a dynamic site, and the potential dangers of A/B testing.
Reference: Session 5 Video
Will Google apply a penalty for using 301 redirects to merge to existing sites?
As long as the sites are closely related in content type, doing 301 redirects “should be no problems whatsoever.” Redirecting to or from obvious spam links, however, would be bad.
(Cutts does not give details on how Google determines if two sites are closely related in content.)
What is the best way to theme a site using keywords? Should each keyword be a separate directory?
Cutts says that the webmaster should not worry about this too much. If you wish to categorize using directories into a natural tree, that is certainly fine. People typically and naturally will categorize by keywords anyway.
He does state that “it really doesn’t matter” in Google’s algo if the keyword is in the directory or in the html file name. Keywords in both places are treated equally.
In a site with dynamically created files and URLS, is it okay to feed the Googlebot static pages instead?
Cutts restates that showing Googlebot one thing and showing users something else is cloaking and is evil. He suggests reworking the site to show the users and the spider the same, easily index-able urls.
How do you use A/B split testing on a static site without getting penalized for perceived cloaking?
Having the Googlebot falling into this type of A/B testing is not good. He suggests performing this type of testing somewhere the spider can not find.
He states that he would not use a php redirect. Instead, he would use something server-side to actually serve up the two pages in place.
If you are ever sending something to Googlebot that you are not sending to your users, you are at risk of cloaking penalties.
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