In terms of search engine marketing, this is the act of getting a search engine to record content for a URL that is different than what a searcher will ultimately see. It can be done in many technical ways.
SEO, Page Rank, Deep Linking, Linkage
cloaking (a black hat optimization technique)
There are two techniques to increase the searchability of a web page, White Hat and Black Hat. White Hat is the fair means where as Black Hat is the unfair one.
White Hat techniques:
- The Title Tag
- Meta Tags
- General Content
- Image Alt Tags
- Site Maps
- Bonus Points
Black Hat techniques:
- Stuffed Keywords
- Misleading Keywords
- Hiding Keywords
Black Hat SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a technique in which unfair means are used to increase the page ranking of a web site. Using Black Hat Techniques one may be benefited in relatively less time but the harm caused may cost a lot. If caught by the search engine spider the site may be penalized. The term 'Black Hat' is inspired from the western movies in which all the good or social guys wore White Hat where as the bad or the villain wore a Black Hat.
There are various methods of using Black Hat, among which Cloaking is one of them.
In Cloaking separate pointing is done to the search engine and the web site visitors. This can be understood like having two faces of a single thing. The face that is presented to search engine spiders is different from that presented to the visitors
Following are the methods of Cloaking:
- IP address cloaking:
This method is based on determining the IP addresses of the incoming request. If IP address of a search engine is observed then the Cloaked version of web site is presented else other version of the web site is presented.
- User-Agent cloaking:
In this the version of website presented depends on the User-Agent. If IP user agent is a search engine is observed then the cloaked version of web site is presented else other version of the web site is presented.
- HTTP_REFERER header cloaking:
In this technique the HTTP_REFERER header of the requester is identified and based on that cloaked or uncloaked version of web site is presented.
- HTTP Accept-Language header cloaking:
This technique identifies HTTP Accept-Language header of the user and accordingly the version of the web site is presented. That is if the HTTP Accept-Language header is of a search engine then observed then the Cloaked version of web site is presented else other version of the web site is presented.
in these technique two different versions of web site is shown to the user i.e. to the user having Java script enabled get one version while the user with Java script disabled gets another version of web site.
Disadvantages of Cloaking:
- Loss of Page Rank
- Reduction of Page Rank
- SERP'S(Search Engine Results Page) position loss
- Index banning or bar of website
Search Engines may follow following methods to detect Cloaking:
- Web spiders may visit an IP address which is not registered to their company.
- Non Spider user agent may visit the web site.
- Cache from different sources owned by a website are compared . ie. Main spider and page accelerator are used.
- Comparing cache of different sources and different websites.
- Algorithms are used to identify cloaking.
- Human editors to verify cloaking.