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Cloaking Forum

When does cloaking make sense?

 8:49 pm on Dec 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

Cloaking in this thread is: delivering different pages to different IP's (or user agents)

Cloaking can be used to deliver optimized pages to SE's and graphically well designed pages to customers. (please keep ethics out of this discussion)
Cloaking is used by Google to deliver countryspecific pages
Cloaking hides your code from competitors
Cloaking is declared spam by Google
Cloaking requires constantly updated IP lists

This means that cloaking involves constant work (automated?) and the risk of being banned in SE's.

What are the main reasons for cloaking?



 8:53 pm on Dec 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

Cloaking is used by Google to deliver countryspecific pages

Google also use it for Ad delivery to specific countries (Geo Targeting)

So in other words although we advertise for the UK, a surfer ona UK IP address searches at Google.fr or Google.de - he/she will still see our advertisement.

I tested this the other week, when asking a contact in the USA to do a search at Google.co.uk for our serps and ads, he could see the results in Serps, but was being shown a completely different advertisement (Google.CO.UK)


[edited by: heini at 11:59 pm (utc) on Dec. 14, 2002]
[edit reason] fixed scrolling [/edit]


 8:55 pm on Dec 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

Whenever you want to
- deliver optimized pages to SE's and graphically well designed pages to customers
- deliver countryspecific pages
- hide your code from competitors
as you say yourself.

Iīm not sure that this kind of cloaking is declared spam by Google.



 8:58 pm on Dec 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

Cloaking simple means altering the page based on some variables.

Let me define the different types of cloaking. There is Dark Cloaking and Light Cloaking. Just like the Jedi force it can be used for good and evil. When you cloak to trick, that is Dark. When you cloak to Help, that is Light.

Take for example Brett's detection of what people searched for on Google. He highlights the words on the page. Isn't that nice. Cloaking but nice. It all depends on how you use it.

jeremy goodrich

 9:07 pm on Dec 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

If I do 'light cloaking' and 'dark cloaking' what does that make me? Luke Skywalker? :)

(he was on the dark side of the force for a while in some of the books...)

or perhaps that means I'm Darth Vader? he he he.

I do agree though, cloaking is all about how it's used. As long as the user gets something akin to what they were looking for, it's beneficial to the SE and the user.

Definitely the way to go. Every time I think, "I'll stop cloaking, not do it..." I end up writing more cloaking scripts, to do different things.


 9:27 pm on Dec 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

The "ofishul" WW definition of cloaking is available in the "ofishul" WW glossary at the top of your screen. Here's a link [searchengineworld.com] to it. Just to keep us all "ofishullie" on the same page. ;)


 9:39 pm on Dec 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

When cloaking makes sense -> When the benefits outweigh the risks...



 9:40 pm on Dec 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

The word Cloak comes from Star Trek where the Klingons were capable of "cloaking" their ships invisible.

While I really like Jean-Luc I have my doubts that Brett is correct on the ethymology of Cloaking. It is already contained in the 1913 edition of Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary.

Using some system to hide code or content from a user, and deliver custom content to a search engine spider.

This definition seems to be narrower than the one Lisa gave.

There are three main types of cloaking: IP based, User Agent based, and the combination of those two.

Me thinks then that there are only two main types of cloaking ;)



 9:42 pm on Dec 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

That defintion leaves out referrer cloaking.
Cloaking can use IP, UA, and Referrer. One sure mark of an of an engine is no referrer.

what does that make me?

I think that makes you Darth Jeremy


 9:47 pm on Dec 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

Great answer Nick, worthy of a real lawyer who only believes in positivism. But now counter this:

What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?



 9:50 pm on Dec 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

None. You can't appreciate the world without the correct tools.


jeremy goodrich

 9:56 pm on Dec 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

If Yahoo, Google, Ford, Honda, and countless other large coroporations are using a tool and find it useful, it makes sense for me to use the same one.

Now, as to whether or not those same corporations are on the 'light' or 'dark' side of the force, that is a seperate issue.

Fact is - they do it.

Fact is, it can help. Like anything else, it takes work.


 10:20 pm on Dec 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

Darth Jeremy is correct :)

Cloaking, its a good thing. Use it, but don't over abuse it.


 10:47 pm on Dec 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

over abuse

Isnīt that a pleonasms?


 11:54 pm on Dec 14, 2002 (gmt 0)


- didn't think cloaking was that popular...

jeremy goodrich

 12:04 am on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

For more fun, check out the way Microsoft is cloaking MSN.co.uk in the Google Cach.


As you can see, they have a very good reason for doing it - they want you to use their web browser. :)

So another reason to cloak might be if you are a large corporation with lots of money / market share at stake, and want to protect that by any means necessary....even if it means giving google a 'spider friendly' page.


 12:10 am on Dec 17, 2002 (gmt 0)

I tried unsuccessfully to get myself started on buying expired domains from DMOZ. See, I initiated a thread where most participants deterred me (scared the heck out of me) from doing it...

Could anyone gently explain to a newbie where to find scripts that would be considered safe and if possible, how to get started on... "light" cloaking? Just some tidbits.

Excuses if this is not the proper thread.


 1:08 am on Dec 17, 2002 (gmt 0)

You should start a new thread over in the domain forum [webmasterworld.com] about DMOZ expired domains. There are already some threads on it, if those don't answer your question start a new thread. Cloaking and DMOZ are two different subjects.


 3:25 am on Dec 17, 2002 (gmt 0)

Thanks Lisa. I will check that forum.

Yes, I know they are different. I was using the Dmoz statement as an example of a thread that lead me nowhere (or perhaps it did) for participants thought of buying expired domains as a bad thing , and I was hoping this thread would be different in that most participants believe 'light cloaking' to be a good and necessary thing.

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