Is Amazon.com Cloaking : Serving Google Different Content?

Jan 13, 2010 • 7:58 am | comments (4) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search Engine Cloaking / IP Delivery
 

A WebmasterWorld thread has someone asking if what Amazon is doing, is considered cloaking. First let me show you what they are doing.

Go to this page on Amazon.com. Notice, at the top right of the results is a "Sort by" drop down. Here is a picture:

Amazon Cloaking?

Now, go to the Google Cached version of that page:

Amazon Cloaking?

Yes, it is not there. It seems like Amazon served Google the page without the sorting feature, which technically is a form of cloaking. But is this done with intent to artificially boost their rankings?

The content seems exactly identical, minus just the sort by feature. The sort by feature can produce duplicate content and make it harder for Google to index the incredibly large site. Is this being done in a way that is trying to hide something?

If they really want to be white on white - they could now keep the sort by there and use the canonical tag for all the sort by options. But this might be something Amazon has doen for years prior to the canonical tag coming out?

Personally, I wouldn't consider this against Google's cloaking guidelines, but I am not Google.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Comments:

No Name

01/13/2010 01:12 pm

Well, just take a look with the firefox addon "Default User Agent" you will be surprised ;)

Erik Dafforn

01/13/2010 01:48 pm

Barry, Not exactly the same stuff, but about four years ago, I did a similar post about how Amazon was integrating a user's external organic search query into its landing pages: http://seoblog.intrapromote.com/2006/03/amazon_and_the.html Then, as now, it's probably cloaking by the letter of the law. But I doubt it's anything that anyone would (or should) get worked up about, since it's very user-focused.

Alistair Lattimore

01/15/2010 01:39 am

What if what you're seeing is a split test ?

SEO Consult

11/11/2011 10:15 am

More important is the fact that the left navigation changes on Amazon.com when you change your user-agent to Googlebot. They're displaying a collapsed menu to users and an expanded menu to Google. Google say there is no such thing as 'white-hat cloaking', so...

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