Cloaking Your Hummer

While I’m generally not in the habit of outting websites who are bending or breaking the rules, when you reach the level of BMW or even Hummer the gloves are off, and you’re fair game …

I was working on a piece for a client project, and looking to link directly to a page with info about the original H1 Hummer. I kept getting stuck in a useless flash applications with no ability to directly deep link, so I did a site search [site:hummer.com h1] found the page I wanted, but everytime I clicked through I kept getting caught in the same damn flash application again. After going back to the results page I noticed they had text in the cache so I got a little curious.

Using the prefbar I found that by disabling javascript I was able to access a completely different page. Try it for yourself visit the H1 Hummer page with js on and then off.

Aside from a few minor visual issues, I actually like the text version, however I’ve worked with enough “old school” advertising people to know it’s not what they want to see. They like the “sizzle” of snazy graphics that flash applications deliver, in fact flash is pretty ubiquitous for car manufacturer websites. However I can see their point, when your selling a luxury item like a hummer you need some romance and some razzle dazzle, which straight HTML just doesn’t deliver.

So what’s the deal is hummer going to get booted from Google? While I can see the justification for using flash, it’s pretty obvious that they aren’t serving the same content to googlebot as to the humans. I’m not in charge of the Google index, but if they didn’t get some sort of penalty I’d say that’s another case of the uneven application of punishment Google is known for (*cough* wordpress-hot-nacho *cough*).

What’s the lesson here, if you’re going to cloak do it the right way via IP (thats why it’s called IP delivery folks). Using things like user-agents, JS, or some other scripting method may save you time and money up front, but they are always going to come back and bite you in the ass at some point down the road … something to think about …

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