Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from

Forum Moderators: open

Message Too Old, No Replies

Cloaking - the good, the bad, and the ugly



8:29 pm on May 15, 2001 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:Feb 10, 2000
votes: 0

The Good
When is cloaking a good thing? When you decide to bypass some limitations of search engine spiders in getting your pages indexed so that your relevant content can be found.

  • Modern browsers can interpret and render many more elements than a search engine spider can, to design an appealing page can mean condemming it to a life of poor indexability. To make it search engine friendly means you may not be able to use some of the people pleasing elements you otherwise might. Coaking let's you do both.

  • Using javascript for navigation can mean that a search engine spider cannot follow any of the links. In this case simply using cloaking to deliver the exact same page but with text links instead of javascript will be a great help.

  • You already have a great ranking page and are afraid to change navigation, images, layout, because you don't know how it will affect you ranking. By delivering the same well ranking page(s) as always to the search engines you are now free to change your design.

  • You would like to add a little flash :) to your site but now the search engines ignore it altogether, delivering a text description of your flash site gets around the problem nicely.

  • Using images for titles, links, etc. looks great but is not as effective as using plain text for search engines, ever tried to use <H1> tags around your images? :) The same page delivered with text links works great in this instance.

  • To get exact placement many pages have very complex table structures, these pages make poor spider food, they simply cannon extract relevant text from many levels of nested tables. The exact same page delivered using a simple HTML structure is happily gobbled up and indexed with the relevant text being both easy to extract and very prominent.

    The Bad
    When is cloaking a bad thing? When you decide to bypass some limitations of search engine spiders and trick them in getting irrelevant content indexed.

  • Delivering content that is irrelevant to what you will show regular visitors is a violation at all search engines (spamming), and will get your pages dropped or your site banned, depending on how far off base you are.

  • Delivering many pages that all lead to the same page is bad, bad, bad (spamming), you should optimize one keyword phrase per page, and make more pages if you want to optimize for another keyword phrase. If a single page contains many different topics, then consider isolating the more impotant topics on separate pages. This will also work for a shopping site, have less items per page so you can properly describe what the page contains.

  • Delivering other peoples content is bad10 (yes to the power of 10), this is the most sure fire way to get into trouble. Except for the ugly stuff.

    The Ugly
    When is cloaking an ugly thing? When you decide to bypass some limitations of search engine spiders and trick both them in getting irrelevant content indexed and people in arriving at sites the are offensive to them.

  • The only thing worse than delivering other people's content is to deceive a completely unsuspecting user into clicking on a link that leads to content which is completely inappropriate, and probably offensive based on the search keywords used and the SERP's returned. Everyone knows the examples so I won't mentioned them here.

  • Flooding search engines with thousands of pages all leading to the same content is pretty ugly too.

    Depending on which of these tactics you have experience with or have been subjected to, you have likey formed an opinion of cloaking which is either good, bad, or ugly.

    Which is it for you?


    Join The Conversation

    Moderators and Top Contributors

    Hot Threads This Week

    Featured Threads

    Free SEO Tools

    Hire Expert Members