SEO Tip #58: Should I Serve Googlebot Content Only Pages Optimized for Load Speed?

Matt Cutts: The answer to your question is, noooooooo and if I could reach through the screen and hit the escape key and CTRL C and Break I would because that’s cloaking. You never want to do something completely different for googlebot than you’d do for regular users. That’s the definition of cloaking.

If you have something in your code saying, “If user agent equals Googlebot or if the IP address is Google, do something different” then that’s the mere definition of cloaking. So you might think the page load speed is a factor I should care about so let’s make things faster for Googlebot, but that is not the right approach.

1. We’re not only using Googlebot to determine how fast a particular page or site loads, so it wouldn’t even work.
2. If you’re changing the content that can show up people will be able to look at the cache page and see oh it’s nothing but a text page. This is something that’s so they will complain about your site cloaking.

Think about it, whenever you include CSS, JavaScript images, most of the time those are external. We’re not even going off to load those at that particular time. So knowing that external stuff exists doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re going to go off and fetch it and incorporate it all into the page.

But you do want to show the same page to users that you show to Googlebot. Don’t do anything to try and speed things up for Googlebot because that’s cloaking and that’s a much higher risk then just trying to speed things up for Googlebot.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the Author

Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson has been on the Internet since the its dawn(ie his first computer program was recorded on cassette tape) and his first hard drive cost about as much his current MacBook. His first byline was in 1993 for a local newspaper rag he eventually helmed, and his last “real job” was at a computer start up which ended when it ended. Throughout it all he’s freelanced and blogged. Now he is mesmerized by Search Engine Optimization forever trying to “rise to the top” for the right reasons. He’s been married to his wife Julia for as long as he can remember and has two lovely, wonderful children. He looks forward to sharing the latest in the technical best for all the online entrepreneurs.