In SEO, what is cloaking?
If you spend a lot of time learning about SEO or experimenting with various strategies, you will probably hear about black hat SEO at some point.
Black hat SEO is exactly what it says it is: a set of SEO Services, digital marketing agency techniques used to trick search engines into giving a website a higher ranking than it should have.
Shrouding is a dark cap Web optimization strategy where a site shows one variant of a URL, page, or piece of content to the web search tools for the purpose of positioning while at the same time showing one more to its real guests.
Cloaking in search engine optimization (SEO) is a serious infraction of Google’s webmaster guidelines when carried out with intent.
Because cloaking can also happen by accident, it’s important to know what it is, why you should avoid it, and what to do if you find it.
What are some ways to disguise yourself?
In SEO, cloaking can take many different forms, and they’re all considered against webmaster guidelines. Here are a few of the most common ones in greater detail.
Putting Invisible Text On Different Pages
Some website owners come up with the clever idea of putting invisible text on different pages in an effort to manipulate search engines.
User Agent Cloaking
In user agent cloaking, a specialized program known as a user agent is used in place of a traditional user to assess website visitors and select the version of a cloaked website that should be displayed to them.
A piece of code is sent directly to the server to accomplish this. At the point when a guest is distinguished as a slither bot, it is shown uniquely pre-arranged shrouded content.
This is probably the most common type of SEO cloaking.
It occurs when a user is redirected to the desired website via a secondary website with a high Google ranking. In order to smoothly redirect a variety of web users, this is accomplished by setting up.htaccess through reverse DNS records.
HTTP Accept-Language Cloaking
In this type of cloaking, a user’s HTTP Accept-Language header is checked to see if it’s a normal visitor or a web crawler.
If it is a crawler, the actual content of the website will be served ahead of the cloaked version.
There are numerous reasons why a site might choose to disguise itself. A big no-no for Google is when a website has a lot of visual elements but not much text. Another thing that Google doesn’t particularly like or recommend is its heavy reliance on Flash.
In SEO, cloaking is a simple way to avoid making a website legitimately Google-compliant. However, once more, it has serious repercussions.
Reasons Not to Use Cloaking in SEO
Techniques like cloaking in black hat SEO do not technically violate any laws, so they are unlikely to put you in jail.
They do, however, violate Google’s webmaster guidelines, which is not what you want to do if you want to achieve and keep a high SERP rank.
The reasons why it should be avoided are further delineated below.
You could be penalized
Regardless of whether you were aware of it, Google can severely penalize your website for any form of black hat SEO, including cloaking.
Once that happens, your search engine rankings go down a lot, which means that all of your hard work on your website could be gone in a flash.
Additionally, it is extremely difficult for a website to recover from Google penalties.
Before you can get back in business, you’ll need to put in a lot of hard work over many months to clean up your website and get back on your feet. However, since some sites never really recover, there are no guarantees.
Your website could be banned
Google may decide to do more than just impose a penalty on a website that is found to be cloaking. It very well may be prohibited altogether and endlessly.
A manual penalty, on the other hand, is even more difficult to reverse than an algorithmic penalty.
Since nobody will be able to locate a website that has been completely removed from Google’s indexing system any longer using keywords and key phrases, it might as well not exist.
After you fix your website, you might be able to get Google to forgive you in some cases, but there are no guarantees.
You will almost certainly be caught
Google and the other search engines are getting smarter and more effective at detecting SEO cloaking and other black hat practices.
This year, it’s easy to spot SEO ploys that a skilled professional might have been able to get away with years ago, and this trend will only get worse over time.
To put it another way, it is only a matter of time before you are discovered.
Cloaking doesn’t help Google or its users because it literally means providing a user experience that is completely different from what a searcher expects.