If a user comes to my website from an external source, the page they landed on will be modified to include all the "landing page tips and tricks that increase conversion," plus a small message pops up that tells them the rules for posting. If a user was on my website previously, the extra "landing page stuff" won't show, as it's assumed that he/she isn't new to the site anymore.

But Google thinks that I'm cloaking, for I received a message in the Search Console about this. Maybe it's because they detected the difference in content without knowing about that landing page feature.

I don't see how this is cloaking, because I'm not modifying the pages just for GoogleBot. Is it really cloaking? Should I be doing this? 'Cause I don't see anything wrong with it.

  • 3
    Are you sure about this? Do you have a penalty applied notice in Google Search Console?
    – JCL1178
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 18:38
  • 2
    Yes. It is cloaking. Google does check web pages from outside of their network to detect cloaking. Any change between what you show users and what you show Google will be considered cloaking. It is not a good idea to create pages that change as you describe.
    – closetnoc
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 22:39
  • 1
    And by "landing page", presumably you are simply detecting an external HTTP referer?
    – DocRoot
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 0:06
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    Does the message in Search Console refer to "cloaking", or something else? If it's the former, then you have your answer - Google considers it cloaking so you'll need to fix that. There's really not much more we can add since Google is the authority on its policies.
    – dan
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 1:39
  • 2
    Yes, it does say it was cloaking. I guess I'd better fix that...
    – clickbait
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 1:40

2 Answers 2


Per Google's definition, this could be considered cloaking.

It really depends on how much the content varies and if it's consistent otherwise. There's bound to be some give but Google is the only one who can tell you if you've crossed it. Check Search Console for any Manual Actions.


Based on a strict reading of Google's webmaster guidelines and definitions it is considered cloaking, it may not have been designed to present alternate content to Google over the users but as it has that effect Google needs to treat it as such.

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