To Cloak or Not to Cloak

Cloaking means that you offer a version to normal site visitors and a different version to search engines.
It was mainly used to get a higher position on search engines. When a human visits a site, the pages which were designed for human visitors are shown. When a search engine visits the site, the pages which were optimized for that search engine are delivered.

The reason of doing this is that the page which was optimized for search engines may contains repeating keywords and content which do not need to be shown to human visitors. And a cloaked site can easily create a site structure easy for search engine to crawl.

Page cloaking can be implemented by some specialized cloaking scripts. To home make those scripts is very simple as well. You need to use server side script such as PHP or ASP. On that script page, you catch the value of use agent.

In ASP, the value is in request.ServerVariables(“HTTP_USER_AGENT”)

When a human visits the site, the User Agent contains the name of his/her browser, IE or Netscape, etc. When a search engine visits the site, the User Agent value contains a name specified by that search engine company. You need to prepare a list of User Agent Name search engines used.

When this value contains something like Googlebot, you know that this is a search engine whose name is Google. You then deliver the page which has been optimized for search engine. If a human (IE or Netscape) is requesting the page, you deliver the page which was designed for human
Now you understand a little about what is cloaking and how it is implemented. The question arises as to whether you should use cloaking or not? The short answer is “NO”.

1. Cloaking is against search engine’s terms of service. On Google’s home page, they ask web master to avoid using cloaking or doorway or hidden text. Google claim that they may remove entire site if it is founded out to be using cloaking. Ok, this is what Google want, probably, you do not care about terms of service or whatsoever, what you care is how many visitors go to your site from search engines. However, there is still a little risk of using cloaking.

2. Search engines may ban your site because of cloaking. Search engine can detect a cloaking site easily, they can send another spider without the identity of their company to visit the site, or they can send a human representative to check the site if your competitors report to them about your cloaking site.

3. Cloaking site takes time to maintenance as well. By the same amount of time, you can do something which can be really useful for your site and do not have the risk of being blocked or something

4. Every search engine is fighting with cloaking. Many people have created optimized page for some popular keywords and then used page cloaking to take people to a different site which has nothing to do with the keyword. If a search engine allows this to happen, their users would abandon it and go to another search engine which produce more relevant results.

However, if you go to the search engine optimization company, ask them for advice of your site, very often, they advice you to create a cloaked site.

Why is that??

1. This is a choice of business model. When they advice cloing, they will offer the service of pay per click as well. Pay per click means you need to pay out money continuously. That is how their profit comes from

2. Second, a good search engine positioning strategy is in fa site development. When you go to a search engine optimization company, you already have your site finished, you do not want to redesign your site special for search engine. If you do not want to touch your finished site, the only strategy left is using cloaking.

3. Cloaking still works a little now. Go to search on Google, you will find too many cloaked, doorway pages. And normally, cloaking is much cheaper than Google adwords or overture pay per click service.

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