What is cloaking in SEO?

cloaking in SEO

Cloaking in SEO is a method that uses server content or information. It is different from what gets presented to search engine crawlers (bots or spiders).

Our webpage or website needs to rank first with the search engine results page. With this, all we need to do is optimize our website so that it seems worthy of ranking well. It can be a gradual process with search engine optimization, and certainly, we do not wish to wait.

Different types of cloaking and how it is done:

  • User-agent cloaking
  • Cloaking Java Script
  • HTTPREFERER Cloaking
  • HTTP Accept-language header cloaking. 

1 User-agent cloaking: A user-agent is a program or rather just a software agent which operates on behalf of the user. For example, a web browser acts as a user agent, which fetches the website’s information from the operating system. Once you key in the query, the browser also sends a code to the server. It distinguishes or identifies the user-agent. If the user agent gets identified by a crawler, its cloaked content gets served.

2.Java Script Cloaking: It happens when users with JavaScript-enabled browsers are served with one version of the content and also when users that have JavaScript disabled (like search engines) are served with another version of the website.

3.HTPREFERER Cloaking: In this method, the HTPREFERER header of the requester gets checked and, based on that, a cloaked or uncloaked version of the website is served.

4.HTTP Accept-language header cloaking: The technique checks the HTTP accept-language header and the user is based on the match result, which is the specific version of the website that gets presented. If we put it in simpler terms, the HTTP accept-language header is of the search engine, and then a cloaked version of the website gets served.

Read Also: What is On Page SEO

Common ways for implementing cloaking in SEO:

Let us understand how to put cloaking into action with a few easy pointers:

Invisible or hidden text: this can be done by adding text in the same color as that of the background, which makes it not visible to the human eye.

Flash-based websites: We know Flash is not recommended as per the SEO Guidelines. However, some of the websites cannot avoid it. So, using plain HTML to make a website they create a content-rich webpage and provide it to the search engine crawlers along with a flash page to the visitors.

HTML Rich websites: One of the good SEO techniques requires having a “Text to HTML ratio” to make it as high as possible. One could say that the web page should have more text content) as compared to the HTML tags. But if someone is writing posts or short articles, your text with the HTML, the ratio will be very low. Many people choose cloaking to meet SEO Guidelines to avoid having to re-design their website in such a case.

Replacement with the Java Scripts: Here, one can use JavaScript to show content to the non-JavaScript user and enable users to match the textual information within a Flash or any other multimedia element.

Does “white hat cloaking” exist?

Many people can ask if there is anything called “White Hat Cloaking.” White hat SEO leads to work with Google-approved website techniques, optimization strategies and tactics. The focus is here on providing users with the best search engine results. As a white hat, you will generally find these aspects:

  • Play by the Google rules.
  • Optimize for humans and not the search engines.
  • Creating quality content that people actively want to read and share.
  • Creating a website that stands out from the others in your niche (for the right reasons).

Also, there is black hat SEO. It is considered the opposite of white-hat SEO.

What is Google’s penalty for cloaking?

The search engine keeps updating the algorithm frequently and also if you are cloaking. They will sooner or later find it out and may also permanently ban your website if it gets indexed. In fact, Google also blacklists if bad techniques for cloaking are found.

Should cloaking be done in SEO:

Black hat techniques are considered violating of Google’s Webmaster guidelines and the Search engine optimization (SEO) industry cloaking is still considered a black hat technique.

If you ask us whether you should do the cloaking that tricks crawlers and gives a higher rank, The answer becomes NO. The search engine does not like to be tricked. Also, the website gets crawled multiple times using different IP addresses. The complex and strict algorithm gets detected by cloaking on the website if you use it. One should keep in mind the methods as mentioned in the post and what is considered as per Google’s cloaking!

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