Google Offers Warning Page Advice

Stephen Yagielowicz
LOS ANGELES — Responsible purveyors of age-restricted materials have been given some new advice by Google that should help in their battle for online market share.

Recently, a Google Webmaster Help user asked the search giant about the Googlebot's ability to "see" past a website's age verification or "warning" page in order to be able to index the website; which in this case involves the marketing of alcohol-based products.

"As the site legally requires users to be over the legal drinking age to use the site," the webmaster said, "the first page of the client's website is a gateway page asking the user to confirm their country of residence and date of birth."

One example of online age-verification on an alcoholic beverage site can be found at the Absolut Vodka website.

One major concern among many adult webmasters offering age-restricted materials is that Googlebot and other search engine spiders may not be able to navigate beyond this gateway page; hampering organic search marketing efforts and overall profitability — a situation which is especially troublesome for users of robust age verification systems; such as the BirthDate Verifier developed by adult entertainment industry attorney Larry Walters — which can redirect visitors landing on deep-linked web pages to the site's home page for age verification.

According to Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Susan Moskwa, the topic comes up periodically for alcohol, adult entertainment and other sites that need to serve an age verification notice on every page.

"What we recommend in this case is to serve it via JavaScript," Moskwa revealed. "That way users can see the age verification any time they try to access your content, but search engines that don't run JavaScript won't see the warning and will instead be able to see your content."

The advice provides adult webmasters with practical insight as to how age-verification and organic search engine marketing can easily co-exist.

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