Blocking US Users But Not GoogleBot - Solutions

Aug 31, 2011 • 9:11 am | comments (11) by | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Ever run in to a situation where you cannot legally or practically show your web site's content to U.S. users? Did you know that if you block U.S. users, you are also blocking Google from accessing and crawling your web site. GoogleBot travels from the U.S. and if you block U.S. users, you are technically blocking Google from accessing your web site.

That is the question one webmasters asked in a Google Webmaster Help thread. His suggestion, which he asked Google for approval on, was as follows:

1. When user from Europe visits the page - he sees it normally

2. When user from (for example) US visits the page, the page contains exactly the same content - the difference is that this content is dimmed with black layer and on the top of it there is a notice that this page is not available in his country.

I've seen this on some sites, the effect looks like this:

Lightbox effect

Is this solution acceptable for Google? Yes!

John from Google said:

If you can do it like that, then that would work as well. One thing to keep in mind is that the Instant Previews will also reflect that state (dimmed content with the notice). Maybe that's better than nothing, and ultimately, it's a decision that you need to make on your side (especially if there are legal reasons involved).

The one thing that would not be ok with regards to our Webmaster Guidelines would be to show Googlebot different content than other users from that location would see. As long as you're showing Googlebot the same thing as other US-based users see, then that's fine.

Got it?

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

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