One of the more common questions I get from people is how do I show my paid context to search engines, but not to non-paying/membership customers, and staying within search engine guidelines. The answer always comes dangerously close or steps over the cloaking line.
Despite what search engines will say, even on panels at SMX shows, I still come across examples of getting partial content locked behind registration subscrptions walls (yes it’s a lot less often but it does still happen). Also as anyone who has ever tried to fix a computer problem will and gotten a certain “experts” site which dominates tech solution searches with wikipedia like visibility will tell you,
cloaking IP delivery not only works but it works well.
So Google I know you like loosely defined things in your help and guidelines, as they give you flexibility and wiggle room, but I think the time has come to get a little more specific. Is showing everything to the search engines, but only the first subsection within your guidelines? Is it ok to show limited content if you require users to register but not pay for membership?
If you really wanted to be helpful you could offer some pseudo coding examples. No I’m not asking you to do people’s programming for free, but a simple framework or architecture, so companies could give specs to programmers and developers would be helpful.
Black hats and gray hats are going to break the rules no matter what but offering CLEAR, SIMPLE, AND EASY TO UNDERSTAND SOLUTIONS* for people who want to play by the rules is helpful.
* that doesn’t mean something written in engineer/programmer speak or patent attorney language 🙂