What is Cloaking?
A prohibited practice of tricking a search engine into indexing different content than the user actually sees. In essence, it is serving one version of a page to search engines (for intended SEO benefit) and another to humans. Often the content is entirely unrelated to the actual topic/theme of the rest of the site.
In cloaking, the search engine and the user are literally not on the same page. Both the user and the search engine are being deceived.
It takes a user to other sites than he or she expects by disguising those sites’ true content. During cloaking, the search engine spider and the browser are presented with different content for the same Web page. HTTP header information or IP addresses assist in sending the wrong Web pages. Searchers will then access websites that contain information they simply were not seeking, including pornographic sites. Website directories also offer up their share of techniques.
Several of the larger search engine companies oppose cloaking because it frustrates their users and does not comply with their standards. In the search engine optimization (SEO) industry, cloaking is considered to be a black hat technique that, while used, is frowned on by most legitimate SEO firms and Web publishers. Getting caught cloaking can result in huge penalties from the search engines, including being removed from the index altogether.
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