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Can I serve different content depending on user location?

Can I serve different content depending on user location? - answered by Matt Cutts

Summary:

Many people confuse IP based delivery and cloaking but cloaking is a type of IP delivery when different content is showed to Googlebot but IP based delivery means that in base of user’s IP you serve him the content that you think is more suitable for that country or region. So you shouldn’t worry about using user location to provide different content. The only thing that you shouldn’t do is to make something special for Googlebot than for users.

 

Matt's answer:

A lot of people misunderstand the difference between cloaking and geo or IP based delivery. IP based delivery is delivering content based on IP address. It makes sense, right? Cloaking is showing different content to users than those shown to Googlebot.

 

Cloaking is a type of IP delivery but not all IP delivery is cloaking

Specifically, a type of IP delivery that is not cloaking is showing different content to different users from different countries. Google does this itself. If you go to a Google from France, we’re likely to take you to google.fr. If you go to Google from Germany, we’re likely to take you to google.de. So, we’re looking at the IP address of the user and we’re trying to say, “You know what? There in Germany, we think google.de is going to be more useful for that user.” Now, what’s important to realize is we’re not doing anything special for Googlebot when we do IP delivery by country.

 

You shouldn’t do anything special for Googlebot

Don’t treat it as if it’s some special country. Don’t do anything incredibly different for Googlebot. Just take whatever IP address Googlebot was coming with and treat it just like you would treat any other user from that IP address.

 

So, typically, we’ll crawl from the United States, shows that United States content. But just showing content based on the IP address of the user is not cloaking because it’s not showing different things to Googlebot than to just a regular user. A user from the United States and Googlebot coming from the United States would get the same page, and so that’s not cloaking. So, don’t be afraid of IP delivery in the sense that if you’re looking at the IP address of the user and you’re delivering an experience that’s the same for users and for Googlebot, that’s not going to be problematic, that’s not going to be a violation of our Webmaster quality guidelines.


by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team

 

Original video: