Basically, I am going to be using the page referrer to display different content on a given page. It won't be the entire page depending on the referrer, but little aspects like the way titles are phrased or the topic of a feed displayed in the sidebar.

For example, let's say I have a website about animals. Now let's say someone Googles "bears" and clicks through to my page, and because the page detects that the referrer is a Google search for bears it shows more bear content. However, that same page will also show more content about lions if the referring page is a Google search for "lions". These "two" pages are located at the same web address. Can this page grow in search rankings for both topics even though it will only show one of the two types of pages based on the referring page?

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    Have you tried getting the searched keywords from the "Google referer"? See: webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/59794/…
    – MrWhite
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 1:13
  • Hmm - good point. I had no idea it was like that now! However, my question still stands, just in a more general sense I guess. Content could also be served based on intent, so in Google's case, I could show content based on the fact that the visitor was "looking for something"? Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 1:22

3 Answers 3


The only way that Google knows your page is about bears is that you give it content about bears when it crawls the page. When Google crawls the page, you have to choose whether it is about bears or lions. Then Google ranks the page for the appropriate term. When Googlebot crawls, it doesn't send a referrer, so you can't make the decisions based on the referrer for the crawler.

If you have content about bears and other content about lions, it is best for SEO to put them on two different pages.

The other problem with using the referrer from Google to power your site is "not provided" keywords. Google doesn't send a referrer with keyword in it most of the time nowdays. For most searchers, you wouldn't know if they had searched for bears or lions.

I have code in one of my sites that tries to direct users to the correct page based on their search term. I'll put a notice like this up:

I see you searched for "lions" but this page is mostly about "bears". Click here to read about lions.

The site works this way because there were a bunch of cases where Google was ranking the wrong page. Google has since improved and usually ranks the correct page on my site nowdays, so I'm not very upset that the "not provided" makes it useless.

  • Once again- an excellent answer! I was more "Yikes! Don't jump!" while you spoke of reasons why not to jump.
    – closetnoc
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 2:43

It sounds like you are on dangerous grounds.

I assume that Googlebot will always get the same page since, according to your example, there is no search involved. But please do know that Google checks pages using domain names, IP addresses and agents other than Google's own to validate that a page is not cloaked.

What you are describing falls within the cloak category.

It is always bad practice to display different content to a user than a search engine and it is likely a bad idea to do what you are describing.

Do I think there is an SEO factor in all this? Yes. Penalty.

  • Oof. Yikes! It's kind of a shame, though, because what I'm wanting to do (I think) isn't considered malicious or deceptive, but more in the sense of attempting to better-suit the visitor's goals. But you're right, I don't want to be penalized! Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 1:25
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    @JodyHeavener It was indeed a clever idea and I do like it. You get points for that! If you can use a parameter that can be reliably called upon you can in effect serve the same page with parameters to the search engines spiders and if a user search appears to be looking for lions without the parameter, perhaps then ... maybe ... insert the parameter? Not sure. There may be a work-around. I used to have a single page with parameters that would show different content depending on the parameters, but I also served the page with all of the parameters to search engine spiders.
    – closetnoc
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 1:35
  • I'm going play around with this idea and see if I can get it working without breaking the interwebz. Thanks for the pointers! Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 1:37
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    @JodyHeavener Let us know how it goes and what you come up with. I still like the idea, it just has to stay within he bounds set by the emperor G.
    – closetnoc
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 2:20

Well, I would like to tell you that Google gives credit to Niche content & niche pages. Becaue today's era Google work according to user search query. Like if user is looking for lions on search then Google will only find the exact information on the search, if you have the information about bears & lions on the same page then It will completely ignore your page & it will give preference to the exact match page who have the only Lions on the same page.

I hope you got an idea

  • Good point. One up-vote for the catch.
    – closetnoc
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 17:11

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