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Black Hat Tricks 101: Cloaking

Posted by Melanie Phung on Friday, December 9, 2005 at 7:20 pm

There are two forum threads, a current one at Crea8aSite and another one at Search Engine Watch started 2 months ago, on the merits of IP cloaking – one of the common techniques in the “black hat” SEO’s arsenal.

IP cloaking is the practice of detecting the IP address of a visitor and presenting different content to different groups. There are legitimate reasons to cloak – a search engine might present more geographically targeted results based on a user’s physical location, for example. Sometimes cloaking is also the only way to show search engines what’s on a page built in Flash (search engines can’t parse Macromedia Flash).

But usually cloaking is used to show heavily manipulated SEO pages to search engines, while users from other IP addresses are shown something entirely different. In this case “optimizing” usually involves keyword stuffing or putting content on a page you wouldn’t want a customer to see. (Or conversely, to hide from a search engine the content people are going to see.)

The discussions going on in Crea8aSite and SEW do a good job of educating on the issue, not just demonizing the tactic. In fact, some posters even go so far as to recommend the services of a particular company.

Something mentioned in the forums that I think is worth highlighting is what is often forgotten in the “white hat” versus “black hat” debate: whichever method you choose, it’s still going to require doing something to get ranked. Cloaking (or any black hat technique) isn’t a magic pill that gets you to the top of the rankings automatically. You still have to actually do some optimization work.

The general consensus among the posters seems to be – if you don’t already know what you’re doing … really know what you’re doing … cloaking is not the way to go. If you absolutely have to do it, hand it off to someone who has a really good reputation doing this sort of thing.

In other words, boys and girls, don’t try this at home.

Comments (2)

Category: Cloaking


Comment by brat8

Made Sunday, 23 of November , 2008 at 10:32 pm

This is some good reading! thanks for this! please post more!!

Comment by james

Made Sunday, 22 of March , 2009 at 4:07 pm

A great read – cloaking is interesting but if you dont do it right you will not get your expected results. Even if you do it right pick your correct market as a high vis market is more likely to get banned.

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