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How to restrict access to pages but still have my content indexed by Google?

Posted on 2016-10-17
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Last Modified: 2016-10-18
I am building a guitar instructional website. It will have lessons, and quizzes to make sure you understand the lesson. I won't let someone move onto the next lesson until they have demonstrated that they understand the concepts that will be important later on, as music theory is cumulative.

How do I restrict their access to future lessons they haven't achieved access to yet while still allowing Google to index the page?
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Question by:burnedfaceless
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Ray Paseur earned 2000 total points
ID: 41847401
The question is a bit of an oxymoron, since Google does not "understand" pages - it simply indexes them and derives relationships between the content and the visitors.  But that said, why not look at the larger picture through two lenses -- one lens will be the view of the clients who are studying guitar, the other will be the view of Google and (if there are any left) the other search engines.

If you're studying guitar, you will want to know of a predictable path through the lesson plan.  This is well-embodied in Jeffrey Way's excellent Laracasts web site.  Laracasts shows you the lessons by name, and even allows you to take some of them for free.  The lesson names are very skillfully constructed to have a lot of semantic meaning.  Check it out.

If you're Google, you just need to be able to tell searchers that guitar lessons are available "over here."  To see this in the Laracasts analogy, make a Google search for "Learn Laravel" and see what turns up.  Once you start reading the Laravel lessons on Laracasts, you will bookmark the page, and you won't need Google to tell you where to find it any more.

Google will index a page on the basis of the HTML page title tag, the H1 tags, and a few other things, such as relevant text near the top of the page.  If these things are on target, your pages will be indexed and will be shown in response to related keyword searches.

Parenthetically, there is no substitute for buying Google AdWords to bolster your position in the search results!

To restrict access to the pages that should remain behind the firewall, for whatever reason, just password protect the pages.  Your authentication plan can be multi-level.  For example, a paid client automatically gets access to lesson #1.  And a paid client that has completed lesson #1 automatically gets access to lesson #2, etc.  Lather, rinse, repeat as your students move through the collection of lessons.
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by:Terry Woods
ID: 41847408
There are ways to determine if the viewer of a page is a robot or not, but it is possible for the viewer to provide false information in that regard so you likely can't be completely sure. Given that limitation, will you be satisfied with a technique for robot detection?

There's some code here that does it, though I'm not sure how old it is: http://www.cult-f.net/detect-crawlers-with-php/
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Author Closing Comment

by:burnedfaceless
ID: 41847514
Thanks Ray, I'll learn Laravel when I'm a little better at OOP.

My website will be nonprofit, I'll accept donations to cover hosting costs but I want to be a developer. I was a Jazz Studies major though and I see a lot of problems with some of the guitar lessons that are out there.

Anyways I'm hoping this website will help me get a job.
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Expert Comment

by:Ray Paseur
ID: 41848512
learn Laravel when I'm a little better at OOP
Ha!  Me too.  But more on point for your question, forget about learning Laravel and instead just look at the way Jeffrey Way (no pun) has set up his courses.  It's really a good design and I think it would work well for guitar, too.
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