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Indexing Password Protected Content


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35 replies to this topic

#16 Jill

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 08:36 AM

I also think that converting people to a subscription would be more effective if an abstract were presented, rather than a page with only a login/password/registration required.


I think that is a key point to this discussion.

One might purchase a subscription or an article if they have a pretty good idea of what it contains. But with no way to know that at all, other than it somehow matched a search query, I find it hard to believe anyone would purchase it sight unseen.

I once purchased an article from Northern Light, but they had a short abstract. I was actually searching for my name, and NL came up with something that I could tell was about me, but I didn't recognize what it was. Turned out it was an old article from a magazine where a reporter had quoted me. Was worth the buck or two to find out what it was. However, had there not been any abstract, there's no way I would have spent the few bucks to find out what it was. Could have been something that had nothing to do with me.

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#17 Mel

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 10:32 AM

Everyone seems to be under the impression that password = credit card, NOT SO.

There are lots of places where you have to log in to view the content (including a couple of SEO forums) but you do not have to pay to register. This is also commonplace with many companies who want visitors interested in their technical literature (for instance) to register in order to view the content. This is usually so that they can follow up to find out how the content was received, or if they are interested in buying whatever is on sale there, or many other reasons.

#18 Alan Perkins

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 12:25 PM

I think that is a key point to this discussion.

It's a key point.

IMO a more important point is that search engines want searchers to see what the spider saw.

Also, I contend that requesting an e-mail address is a form of requesting payment, and the provision of an e-mail address (i.e. registration) is a form of payment. It's an electronic exchange of value, which is a nice simple definition of e-commerce. :cheers:

#19 dragonlady7

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 12:43 PM

But no matter what the login is for, free or not, people are shy with their contact information and with going through a hassle to access content.
If I know what it is, I'll register. I registered here, didn't I?
But I'm not going to if I don't know what it is. I need something to go on.

I'm just not seeing any reason not to put up the abstracts. It seems like the only answer to me.

#20 Alan Perkins

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 12:57 PM

IMO the delivery of password-protected/subscription-only/paid content to spiders, without at least the approval of (and probably some kind of commercial arrangement with) the search engine, is a very bad idea. Forget usability and user shyness, the technique doesn't even pass go IMO.

Search engines want to see what the searcher will see. This is why the abstracts answer is a good one, all ways on.

#21 Mel

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 12:11 AM

"Search engines want to see what the searcher will see"

Yep thats right Alan and since the searchers can see the content after they log in why shouldn't the spiders see it too?

The reason to spider the web is to obtain the maximum amount of information for the USER not for the search engine.

If we stop thinking only in terms of what the search engines want us to do, we just may get more information into the hands of users. IMO of course.

#22 Alan Perkins

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 03:13 AM

Yep thats right Alan and since the searchers can see the content after they log in why shouldn't the spiders see it too?

Because the spiders see it without logging in. So that's what the searcher should see too.

If we stop thinking only in terms of what the search engines want us to do, we just may get more information into the hands of users.

If you stop hiding information behind logins, you may do the same. :lol:

#23 Mel

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 04:20 AM

Because the spiders see it without logging in.  So that's what the searcher should see too.If you stop hiding information behind logins, you may do the same. :lol:

LOL Alan :lol: I do believe you think search engines are more important than users.

I guess we will just have to agree to disagree on which is most important search engines or users.

#24 Alan Perkins

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 05:40 AM

LOL Alan :lol:  I do believe you think search engines are more important than users.

How can you justify that statement based on what I said?

I think search engines, searchers and site owners all deserve equal respect.

#25 Mel

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 06:31 AM

Because of your comment that users should only see what spiders can see. Now that would be Ok if spiders were quite a bit more educated, but as of right now I would like to be the judge of what I want to see.

#26 Alan Perkins

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 06:43 AM

I'm having real trouble understanding what you're saying, Mel. Is this it?:

1) There's no problem requiring a user name and password to access information
2) Search engine spiders can't/won't supply a user name and password
3) Therefore it's OK to let search engines see the information without requiring a password from them.

If that's it, I agree with 1 and 2 but disagree with 3. I also would not recommend 3 to anybody else. And you're right, it is a difference of opinion between us. :rofl:

#27 Jill

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 07:08 AM

Alan, I'm just curious if you've ever spoken to a search engine rep. about this scenario? I'm real interested in their opinion!

Jill

#28 Alan Perkins

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 07:30 AM

One or two. :rofl: I can't speak for the engines, though. I've given my interpretation of what they said at the time I asked them.

For the engines that offer PFI, either don't do it, or do it with PFI and check first.

For the engine that doesn't offer PFI, don't do it.

Why is this important? Even if the engines could index a password-protected site, the fact that content is password-protected influences whether they would like to index it and where they would like to rank it. By hiding from the engine the fact that the content is password-protected, the content ends up being ranked inappropriately. Which is not good for the engines or for searchers or, therefore, ultimately for site owners, IMO.

#29 dragonlady7

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 08:14 AM

I just don't understand how the spider is supposed to access the content it needs to log in to see. That's what's beyond me. You'd have to use cloaking to do that, which means providing a different page to the spider than to the user, which means -- bingo-- that the spider is seeing something different than the user.
Red flag.
That'll get you banned.

So, write up an abstract already so that you don't have to cloak, and the problem is solved. That's just the way to go. There's no way to do what you're suggesting without breaking Google's guidelines and those of several other SE's as well.

#30 Mel

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 12:22 PM

Why would I have to use cloaking to do that??

Why can't I use another method like providing a link say in the site map that goes to that same page without needing a password? I can let the search engines see what the users can see can't I??

So many people say that you will get banned if you do this or that, but the fact is that googles SERPs are full of high ranking examples of pages that do it all and continue to rank well for years. It seems to be a case of doing whatever the search engines say, but not what they do. I know - heresy! omg

Now before y'all get up in arms, let me say that I am totally familiar with the search engine guidelines, but perhaps am not so much in agreement with various interpretations of them.

Also I would like to think that there is enough collective wisdom in this forum to be able to think independently and, (dare I say it?) actually suggest that the search engines are not perfect and that, after discussion, perhaps we can come up with some ideas that might make for a better search engine or a better search experience for users.

But let me state first of all that I believe that the web was not developed for search engines, but for users. So lets give the users a break and try to encourage the search engines to develop ways to make the users search experience better, instead of preaching to them that the search engines should dictate how they build pages and how they surf.

Search engines provide a valuable service for users, but they are by no means altruistic or allseeing; they are all in the business to make a buck, with the possible exception of DMOZ, which is a directory anyway.




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