One website I visit quite often – normally through Google searches is experts-exchange. Searches on particular programming problems seem to be a covered on many different topics at the site, and I for one have found the answer to many a tough cookie. However I have one gripe / pet hate with the site, and that is the needing to register before viewing answers. Fair enough, so you may want to increase your user base, Jeremy thinks ready for sale? and not showing answers is until you register is one way of doing that- but stop trying to prevent visitors from doing what they need to do i.e. get to the results.
Experts Exchange achieves brilliant Google results. Cloaking. i.e. Serving Google the full non hidden results, and the users something else. Not a good plan, people like me take homage to this and work out that Google’s cache is going to show the full answer – without registering. Those in the search community get pissed off at you efforts – and report you to Google for cloaking. In addition to this now they try to further obsfucate the results with CSS – probably from monitoring how many cached results are being visited in their logs – so we turn CSS off with the webmaster tools in Firefox.
As visitors we still we aren’t using the site to its full capabilities, because I for one am not going to try and browse through a site which is inside Google’s cached frame. The site is also overly graphically rich, I’ve been accustomed to the huge header graphics on EE even on a broadband connection – the only reason I keep going back, is because I know the likelyhood of getting my answer is quite high.
Another superb example of security through obscurity. Better still a brilliant concept, and what could be a brilliant resource poorly executed.
So if you are a webmaster at EE – please get rid of all this cloaking malarchy. Just provide the answers on page. Restructure the site to show the benefits of registering, and structure it more like a traditional forum. Look at the size of some of those pages absolutely huge. Get rid of the huge banner and images..see the table below for how not to do it. Its so graphically rich and slow, that pageviews must be quite low, and pages per visitor would be the same.
|Connection Rate||Download Time|
|ISDN 128K||23.21 seconds|
|T1 1.44Mbps||8.22 seconds|
In fact there’s been a bit of conversation around the web on how ridiculous this cloaking policy is.
A few murmers in Matt Cutts comments on cloaking at EE. Still yet to be banned or wrist slapping from the Big G yet.
So cut it out. Before someone starts a ball rolling that you cant stop.