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Google Defines IP Delivery, Geolocation, & Cloaking
Maile Ohye at the Google Webmaster Central Blog has “defined” what Google considers to be IP delivery, geolocation, and cloaking.
On the geolocation front, Google recommends you treat “Googlebot as you would a typical user from a similar location.” So, if Googlebot’s IP is coming from California, then serve up the same page you would serve a web user from California. The same rule applies to IP delivery: serve the “same content a typical user from the same IP address would see” to Googlebot. Clearly, if you serve different content to Googlebot then you would a normal user, that would be cloaking and would go against Google’s guidelines. Finally, Google discusses the first click free program from Google News, where if you visit an article a second time, you would need to enter a password. When serving this content, you need to make sure the content is the same as when a normal user goes to the page.
Did Google really “define” what they think cloaking or IP delivery is? Well, if you consider a definition to remove any doubt or questions, then no. If you look at the related Google Groups thread, you can clearly see there is a lot of confusion and “what-ifs” in the thread. So although the post did clarify some issues to those who are unaware of the issues with IP delivery and its various forms, it did not necessarily cover every “what-if” scenario. Will it ever? I doubt it.
Here is an awesome video from Maile on IP delivery: