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Does Google allow server-side PHP bot detection for Flash web sites?

Posted on 2010-09-13
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Last Modified: 2012-08-13
Hello,

I have a Flash-based home page with HTML body pages. Previously, I simply wrote out the text and links of the Flash page inside of a <NOSCRIPT> tag so that the search engines could index the content. I recently discovered that the search engines do not pass as much (or any) authority (PageRank) to links within a <NOSCRIPT> tag. As a result, none of of my body pages are receiving a PageRank, even though the home page has a high PageRank.

I am contemplating detecting search engine bots with PHP and writing out an HTML page (with no <NOSCRIPT> tag) for the search engines, and the Flash version of the page for normal visitors. This is not an attempt to mislead the search engines, as I will be writing out identical content. I'm simply trying to get the content of the site properly indexed with the links passing appropriate authority to the HTML-based body pages.

Does anyone know if Google would frown upon this approach? It's certainly doable, but I don't want to do anything that may penalize me with Google, or otherwise harm my rankings.

Thanks!
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Question by:Spiderstave
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rem1010 earned 250 total points
ID: 33666061
You are referring to a term similar to cloaking.
Google does not like you to present data that is different that what a user would see int their browser.

If there is a suspicion that your site is violating the Google policies, then yes it can affect your ranking.

However if your  site  provides essentially the "same" content to a web bot or spider as it does to your humans, then it should not adversely affect you.

It is virtually impossible to detect all spiders, so use a spider database based upon IP addresses to be sure to get most of them, and before directing them to the new pages, CHECK YOUR LOGS and validate that the visitor is in fact a valid spider.

PHP can detect many, but be ready for the FRAUD bots that claim to be a spider, when in fact they are not and they are looking for the deviations of the pages which are based upon browser identifications rather than spider IP addresses.

There are many "Fraud" spiders that will identify themselves as a BOT of Google or Bing or others, and in fact they are just set out to get pages that are presented differently for bots rather than humans, so do not base your PHP solely upon browser ID or you will get demoted very quickly!

It is best that the first visit by a spider sees the HUMAN content and then when you inspect the logs and see that it is in fact a valid Googlebot, then redirect it to the <nono Script> pages
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by:renov8r
renov8r earned 250 total points
ID: 33666141
Fundamentally this question is about Search Engine Optimization, and the best way to create the content of your site. 

Personally I believe in making a site as "universally accessible" as possible regardless of what impact this has on SEO.

The most common way to set content flags is probably with JavaScript. Here is one way to accomplish that: http://knol.google.com/k/joseph-chambers/seo-tips-for-flash-site/3fm2wxy7kf7g0/2#

Google itself tries to publish a consistent set of guidelines, one of the best bits of advise is to view your site in lynx to verify that all info and navigation results in a good representation of whatever ulitmate display you choose: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35769
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Author Closing Comment

by:Spiderstave
ID: 33675468
Thanks, both comments very helpful!
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