Google’s Matt Cutts: Redirecting Users by Location is Not Spam
October 10, 2013
In a recent video, Matt Cutts stated that geo-location or redirecting users based on location is not considered spam. However, cloaking and showing Googlebot content that is not visible to users is considered spam.
Geo-location is when a website uses geo-detection techniques to show users specific information based on their location. An example would be redirecting a user with a German IP address to the German version of a webpage or the German domain for a business. In fact, Cutts says that Google themselves use this practice by altering the information returned by SERPs based on a user’s IP address.
Using geo-location to redirect users to geo-specific content can be beneficial as it can create a better user experience for that particular user. In the case of a German user, redirecting them to the German language page of your website makes logical sense. Redirecting to a German language page would most likely be a much more enriching experience to that user than taking them to a page in English or a language other than German.
Cutts says that it’s best to make sure that you don’t treat search engines any differently than you would a regular user. In other words, the best practice is to make sure that the Googlebot is redirected along with the user. The cloaking issue comes into play when you are trying to show a user “x” content and the Googlebot “y” content. This would be considered a deceptive or spammy practice. Cutts also advises against using special code that looks for the user agent or IP address of Googlebot, as his is considered cloaking, too.
So the bottom line is treat Googlebot as you would a regular visitor and you will be in good shape.