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Cloaking Forum

This 44 message thread spans 2 pages: 44 ( [1] 2 > >     
Does Cloaking work?
Is it worth the effort?

 5:48 pm on Nov 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have been doing quite a bit of research lately into the subject of IP based cloaking/delivery. I understand the basics of how most effectively to set it up using the most up to date IP lists available and using a shadow domain and redirecting to your core domain, etc..

My question is this: Does it pay off?

One of the big players in this field, who shall remain nameless, offers a fairly expensive set of programs which will generate optimized phantom pages with "relevant content" based on your keywords that will be fed to the SEs and then redirect those pages to another domain.

One of my major reservations about using these techniques has nothing to do with ethics or risk, etc. But with the way that Google and other SEs are ostensibly ranking pages these days, I.E. link popularity, anchor text and other off-page factors. Many SEOs claim that on-page factors don't have that much weight in the algorithms of the SEs. So assuming that I got a bunch of these pages indexed, would they rank well for terms that are competitive at all? Obviously if I wanted to be #1 for “royal blue electric baby bumpers” that would be easy.

I would be very interested to hear from some of you that are actually doing this and see what your experiences are.




 6:02 pm on Nov 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

If you can't do it without cloaking, you can't do it with cloaking.

The only value of cloaking is to protect your source code.


 6:39 pm on Nov 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

Excellent point, Brett. Of course cloaking works. It keeps the source code meant for search engine spiders from being seen by your competition. That is the purpose of SEO cloaking.

However, I believe phpmaven is really asking if SEO campaigns protected by cloaking techniques can produce positive results in the SERPs, and if the results are worth the efforts involved.

I've seen a lot of recent testimonials reporting excellent results. However, I'm not exactly an unbiased source :)


 6:55 pm on Nov 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

offers a fairly expensive set of programs which will generate optimized phantom pages with "relevant content" based on your keywords

I don't think we're really talking cloaking here. We're talking spamming with doorway pages. In this case, the doorway pages might work for a period of time and then they won't work--or the site will get banned.


 8:39 pm on Nov 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

I guess one of my main questions is: Can pages like that rank well in the SEs, or are the SEs algorithms so heavily influenced by off-page factors that it would be an exercise in futility since the page would have little or no incoming links.

By the way Brett, I have a tremendous amount of respect for you and your opinions. I have used many of your suggestions to great success. However, I’ve been getting hammered quite a bit lately by some of my competitors whom I suspect are using these methods and I would like to even the playing field.


 8:41 pm on Nov 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

I can say without hesitation that a good IP cloaking system can bring results. However, to be effective you need to know what you are doing. Cloaking like SEO is as much an art as it is a science.

I tried to get #1 slots for my keywords in a certain category but could never get to the top. The reason? Competitors using hidden text, auto-generated content etc.

After cloaking (and lots of hard work) I now pick and choose the keywords I want to rank for and have no problem beating the competiton. There is a "risk" involved but if you dont want to push the envelope why bother getting into a competitive environment?

A final note: I have two very old organic sites that have been dropped in the SERPs by google and create little or no revenue - yet my cloaked site is doing very well Thank you! What is the moral here - I'll leave you to decide.


 9:28 pm on Nov 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

Great PhraSEOlogy, just the kind of response I was hoping for.

Am I correct in assuming that you are using a shadow domain and redirecting surfers to your primary domain so that you don't hose your primary domain should your site be penalized/banned?


 10:00 pm on Nov 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thats the usual way to do it.

Do I use that method?

I plead the fifth on that one ;-))


 2:57 pm on Nov 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

i have seen cloaking work now and for years in most engines (including google) ... unless the cloaked site ends up ranking for some huge keyword and gets reported by their competition, in most cases they are not banned and 'lay low' getting lots of peripheral traffic for years.


 8:35 pm on Nov 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thank you all for your comments.

I have a follow up question for those of you who are using shadow domains and then redirecting to another domain. The prevailing view seems to be that this practice cannot cause any problems on the domain being redirected to since if that were true you could hose your competitors domain by redirecting pages to his domain.

Assuming that you set this up properly so that there is no connection between your shadow domain and primary one, is there still a risk to your primary domain? Has anyone had their primary domain hosed using this method?

One of the reasons I ask is that I had a SEO company call me recently to try and sell me on their service. Basically what they do is set up pages on their server that are doorway pages that rank for your chosen keywords and then the end user has to actually click on a link to go to your site. When I asked him why they don't do a redirect so that you wouldn't lose the people that didn't want to click through to their client's site, he suggested that they would risk their client's sites getting banned.

Even GG has suggested on more than one occasion that there is nothing you can do that could affect somebody else’s site in the serps. What is your experience with this?


 6:37 pm on Nov 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

Even GG has suggested on more than one occasion that there is nothing you can do that could affect somebody else’s site in the serps. What is your experience with this?

GG is trying to keep things that should be a secret - a secret.

From Googles webmaster facts page (bold added):
There is almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index.

There is some wiggle room in that 'almost nothing' phrase.


 2:46 am on Nov 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

At least one technique to have a competitor's site removed from the SERPs has been discussed on WebmasterWorld, but it had nothing to do with cloaking. I won't link to it here because it's off-topic.


 4:14 pm on Nov 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

While I can see that it is theoretically possible that you could harm your primary domain by redirecting to it from a shadow domain, has anybody in actual practice had that happen?


 9:15 pm on Nov 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've never seen it happen in the 7 years I've been cloaking. I can't remember hearing of it either and I hear from a lot of people :)


 1:41 am on Nov 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Am I missing something, or it seems that the original question hasn't been answered?
"If cloaked 'shadow' domain has no incoming links, (is PR0), will the on-site factors alone enable it to rank competitively for relevant kwds?"

More specifically, does the 'hard work' mentioned in one of the posts relate to:
1. maintenance of the cloaked site
increasing the number of incoming links to

2. 'shadow' domain and/or
3. 'real' domain

4. something else


 8:06 pm on Nov 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

phpmaven, I'm with you. I've been reading alot lately about cloaking. I've had a top ranking site in a niche market for over a year, then suddenly I was outranked by some other sites who aren't even keyworded as well as mine is. I wonder if they cloak.

Here's my question along these same lines. (please forgive my ignorance if I'm off the beam here...)

If someone creates lots of related text pages, will they show up in Marketleap? Meaning, if someone suspects me of cloaking, can they prove it? I've looked at some of my competitors's sites and found 100s or 1000s of pages, but Google only shows about the top 200. (I may have answered my own question, but still want your input.)

I know there are ethical issues here, but the fact remains, if my competitors are taking from my revenue because they (might) cloak, do I have any other option but to try it myself?

Thanks, in advance, for any suggestions or comments.


 12:59 pm on Nov 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

*If cloaked 'shadow' domain has no incoming links, (is PR0), will the on-site factors alone enable it to rank competitively for relevant kwds?*

I wouldn't have thought so, but with both Brett and Volatilegx mentioning code protection... ;-)


 2:01 pm on Nov 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

It depends on the engine you are talking about.

In someways, we cloak here to simply give the spider, data intended for the spider (bots tags that would otherwise eat alot of bandwidth). However, I'm pretty sure that this thread wasn't interested in benign cloaking.

There is also to consider the new engines such as MSN and a couple of those in europe that still use on-the-page factors. In those cases, cloaking can go a long way to protecting your proprietary work.


 3:25 am on Nov 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

The question to "does cloaking work?" as far as I am concerned is - yes.

Set up your cloaked site - heavily themed - with lots of good inbound links then you have a winner.

Its pretty simple stuff - just high risk if you get caught. On the other side of the coin - do you want to work your @ss off for months on a site that wont get ranked anywhere and is a good organic site?



 1:18 am on Nov 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

In those cases, cloaking can go a long way to protecting your proprietary work.

How does cloaking protect your proprietary work? You are showing the user the work when they view it, you are showing the search engines the work when they spider it.

Do you mean you are cloaking to protect your site from screen scrapers, that sort of thing? Or are you talking about something different, like showing different links and keyword content to the spiders than what you show to the user?


 2:11 am on Nov 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

The proprietary work is the optimized HTML shown only to search engine spiders.


 9:22 pm on Nov 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

But can't the optimized html be viewed from the SE cache anyways?


 2:22 am on Nov 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Not if the NOARCHIVE meta tag is used, which any half-smart cloaker uses.


 4:45 pm on Dec 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

Algebrator, if I understood it correctly there's only one domain/url, but different versions of it.

So links would go to, and viewers would see, the "standard" mysite.com/index.html, while bots would get their special version of mysite.com/index.html.

"Shadow Domain" sounds more impressive though ;-)


 5:43 pm on Dec 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

From my (very limited) understanding, you can approach it in two different ways - the one you described (everything on a single domain), and then there is another one where you have your real domain and bunch of cloaked ones that redirect to real site. In this way you isolate yourself from the risk of having the real site banned, while cloaked domains are expendible.
Now, my question (and apparently the one by the original poster) relates to 'expendability' of these. If they do have to have a certain amount of PR (or incoming links) then they are not that expendable, are they? (particularly with sandbox effect and such). And it seems that they do, since on-site all by itself is not going to work, no matter how perfect


 10:02 am on Dec 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

* If they do have to have a certain amount of PR (or incoming links) then they are not that expendable, are they? *

I'd suspect the company implementing such a system has a "stable" of domains used to link to the Shadow one.

They can turn the linking on/off at any time, so in that sense the domain itself is expendable.


 4:40 am on Dec 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Is there a way to see the page that is "the cloak?"


 7:57 pm on Dec 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm a newbie here wrt cloaking. Is a shadow domain basically a copy of your site, but with the optimized SE code, and then if anyone else goes there, they get redirected to the actual site? Is there any user viewable content on the shadow domain?

Also, correct me if I am wrong, but if you were to do any sort of link exchange, which site would you link to? I'm assuming your main site. (who would link to a shadow domain site?)

I just recently got dropped from page 1 results to page 8, and I am finding that the results that replaced me aren't really better than mine, so I gotta start fighting fire with more fire.


 6:26 pm on Dec 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

A "shadow domain" is simply another website you set up on which you host your cloaked pages.

Cloaked pages typically don't "redirect" users to your main website, they actually make a HTTP request for your main website and display the results to the user, analagous to a proxy.


 7:04 pm on Dec 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Can they be on the same IP?

This 44 message thread spans 2 pages: 44 ( [1] 2 > >
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