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I am looking to develop a functionality on our website in which i can a show user their name based on cookie data. There will be no login required. we will retrieve user's name based on the previous interaction on our website.

I am concerned if the SEO ranking may get an impact when i implement this on any of the pages which rank well on google. Will google penalize for showing user details without authentication? and will my ranking be affected for customizing the content?

  • If it is cookie based, Googlebot won't see it. Googlebot doesn't store or send cookies. Lots of sites offer to remember your user name even after your login has timed out. – Stephen Ostermiller Jun 30 '17 at 8:51
  • It's like stackoverflow, when I come back, they show login information from my cookies. – the_lotus Jun 30 '17 at 11:32
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In short: it's very unlikely you'd see a negative SEO impact, but it still might not be a good idea.

Google doesn't currently impose penalties, manual or algorithmic, for showing user details without authentication. The do punish "cloaking" (i.e. showing different content to Google than to a human user), but what you're proposing would not, in practice, be classified as such.

That policy is there to combat things that manipulate search engine rankings and/or result in poor user experience. This does neither, and in fact minor adaptations to individual users, such as showing location-related information, are now commonplace, harmless and often useful.

That being said, you might want to consider the impact on users. People are increasingly paranoid about online security, and not without reason. Would showing names without login annoy, worry or even frighten some users? That would be my primary concern with your proposal.

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Understand simple basic rule of SEO.

If the page is public (User & Googlebot can access) then present same to both.

If you would like to have better user experience based on cookie or another mechanism then limit that to the user only and do not let Google to see a different version of the same page.

What i can recommend is, have a clear distinction between public and private page. Public page, present same to all. In Private page (cookie or password based), you can do whatever you like.

Having said that, if a cookie based change in the page will be very limited then it may not have significant negative impact.

Alternatively,

Based on cookie detection, you can send the user to a URL structure which Google can't read.

Example:

If cookie detected then send to:

example.com/limited/user

And do not let Google to crawl /limited using robots.txt.

Conclusion:

Implement smart solution which will improve the user experience.

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