I have a website which contains famous and original (made by users) quotes, poetries, and such. Recently many of our users start to complain because their name is searchable on Google since we have a very good indexing of the website (for every positive thing there is a negative side...)

Now we want to offer to users a "privacy" mode in the website, while retaining indexing for most pages: their name won't be indexed but only visible to users, while their texts will be both visible and indexed. Follow me: this isn't a SEO related question, this is legitimate hiding. We don't want people to be searchable on search engines, but only their texts. Why we want texts to be searchable? Because many use our website as "central repository" of their texts, which are copied by others on Facebook without retaining the author name: people searching for "anonymous" content have to find their page on our website and see the author name there.

Obviously the author profile would be completely blocked with meta tags, the only pages where this is relevant are those by topic, like this: http://www.pensieriparole.it/aforismi/politica/pag1 and other "general" pages like those containing latest insertions: http://www.pensieriparole.it/poesie/

What do you think is the best way to hide these names?

I heard recently Google is actually rendering some js, and using a document.write directly on the page is some sort of cloaking as far as I can tell. So i thought about an iframe with the author name as document fragment (#Author+Name) and a little js that does document.write there. This way I can block that iframe from being crawled with robots.txt, while allowing browsers to cache it, no matter which name it has to print, and ask for it only the first time.

  • Another problem you might face is that by making the authors name unsearchable you are making it less accessible. iframes and images are less accessible. – MrWhite Feb 15 '12 at 19:30
  • Thanks for pointing that out... Yes that's a problem, but it's a price I'm willing to pay to make users happy. – iBobo Feb 15 '12 at 21:08

Basically you want to hide pieces of content from google right?

Indeed google has some hability to crawl javascript, so adding your content through javascript is not google bot proof, I don't think anything short of an image will be 100% google proof, it's worth checking if the image is a viable option since a jpg with caching maybe demand very little from your bandwidth.

other then that I can think of two solutions, but I'm not 100% sure of both:

you could serve different pages to crawler bots (checking the user agent) and hiding the name of the author, but it will probably hurt you as its a common cloaking technique.

you could load the names on iframes , google does crawl them, but they are not recommended by them (google faq on iframes ), then you could set the noindex and/or the robots.txt to hide the iframe pages from google.

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  • Cloaking would seem to be ideal for something small like an authors name. However, as you wisely point out, and having watched a relatively recent video from Matt Cutts on Cloaking this would be very high risk. – MrWhite Feb 15 '12 at 19:25
  • Cloaking is bad, I don't want to hurt our rankings with this... iframes still seem to be the best option, either with static text as you suggest (I will eventually generate them with php) or using javascript in them as in my original idea (that could hide the text even from scrapers). Thanks jonathan and w3d – iBobo Feb 15 '12 at 21:06

You could simply render the author name in an image which would achieve what you need to (provided you obfuscate the filename.jpg and block image crawlers) without a great deal of disruption and work.

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  • That would be good also, but I prefer if it's only text, since serving images could increase our monthly bandwidth usage bill a bit... and people won't be able to copy the author name – iBobo Feb 15 '12 at 17:24
  • @iBobo it's a fair point you make, but it's the only 100% proof thing I can think of. With the author profiles you could house them in a different directory and block that via robots but they could still leak via content scrapers and the like. What about allowing usernames rather than actual names? – toomanyairmiles Feb 15 '12 at 19:30
  • I didn't think about content scrapers... to date I'm unaware of any of them that target our website, but who knows for the future? Thanks – iBobo Feb 15 '12 at 21:02
  • @iBobo I also notice you author names are passed as plain text in the profile URL, even blocked the url on it's own may still show up in the index, which would defeat the object of your work – toomanyairmiles Feb 15 '12 at 21:11
  • People can already block their profiles, the private ones are only accessible to friends of the user. Still we didn't allow hiding author names 'til now. – iBobo Feb 15 '12 at 21:34

This should do the Trick:

<!--googleoff: index-->
<p>hide me!</p>
<!--googleon: index-->

For more information check out the link to Googles page that describes it in more depth.

Excluding Unwanted Text from the Index

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  • 2
    This is applies to Google Search Appliance (scroll up to the top of the document linked and look at the title in the breadcrumb), but doesn't apply to the Googlebot. It's often misconstrued since it applies to a Google product, but it only works for the above. – dan Nov 26 '15 at 2:07

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