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Cloaking - Myth or Fact



12:52 pm on Aug 14, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Has anyone out there had their site or client site/s banned from the Search Engines for using cloaking?
If you have which Search Engine/s was it on.


Is it just a myth put about by the Search Engines because they just cannot keep up with the various technologies?

Is it a case of we tell you not to use cloaking or you’re going to get banned. So we do not use cloaking. When in fact if you do use cloaking you are not going to get banned.

I'm on the fence with this one - please let me know about your experiences.

Kind regards


3:29 pm on Aug 14, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

It's a little bit of both. Certainly there are sites that use cloaking who have been banned. If you choose to cross the line and start sending searchers to content that doesn't really relate to what they searched on, someone will complain and your site will be reviewed, and more than likely get banned.

The myth part involes the belief that search engines dedicate any substantial resources to tracking and killing cloaking. While it is something that is technically possible, and many search engines talk about it publicly, from a cost point of view, it certainly isn't the smartest thing for them to spend money on.

The majority of spam, that contributes to the end user getting poor results is generated without the use of cloaking. Allocating the type of resources necessary to regularly run phantom bots whos whole purpose is to show up unidentified and compare file sizes, just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. That money would be much better spent on things like developing systems that can actually detect hidden text, or JS redirects.

Not only would an all out assault on cloaking not contribute much to the reduction of spam, it would also result in a great many babies being thrown out with the bathwater. Most people believe that cloaking is something only done by pornographers, gamblers and crooks, but the truth is that IP delivery is used by many fortune 1000 companies, many of which also purchase advertising at search engines on a regular basis.

Many search engines also still accept and display advertising from companies that either sell cloaking software, or are known to use cloaking technology to position clients. Inktomi has even taken it a step further and entered into partnerships with several companies that are known cloakers.


6:37 pm on Aug 14, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

INK did some research into cloaking and published their findings on their web site about 2 years ago (long gone now), the way the results were presented indicated that they were looking for the major "sources of spam."

At that time, my cloaked pages were poorly listed so I uncloaked them and immediately jumped into the top 20s on most INK partners. I had been enjoying a penalty but not a ban, my only bad experience.

I agree substantially with WebGuerrilla, busting cloakers is not cost effective, won't solve the spam problem, and will create more headaches then it solves. And the SEs KNOW all this.

Use a good script, keep your IP list up to date, don't cloak spam, and you won't have problems.


7:03 pm on Aug 14, 2001 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I've never seen anybody be truly banned but I once saw about a domain with about 2000 spammy pages in Altavista suddenly have 0 pages in the index. But, I don't consider that being banned because subsequent submissions did work. In fact, it wasn't long before those 2000 pages were back.


8:20 pm on Aug 17, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

>for using cloaking?

For cloaking itself? I've never heard of ANYONE being banned for cloaking itself - ever.

I've tested the waters thourghly (search the forum on: shopping the competition). Never did a search engine respond by deleting a site for cloaking. None of the majors will ban for cloaking itself.

They will ban the page or site if it is using decieving or keyword stuffing methods such as repetitive text or hidden text. But that's nothing to do with cloaking.


4:19 pm on Aug 20, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi Brett

Very interesting.

How sure are you that none of the SEs will ban a site for cloaking techniques.

Do you have insider information - i.e. you work or have worked for one of the SE.

I want to be 100% sure that the SE's will not look upon this as spamming.

Many thanks


10:00 pm on Aug 21, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>I want to be 100% sure that the SE's will not look upon this as spamming.


There's no way you'll ever get a 100% guarantee. Publicly, they all talk bad about it. Privately, they spend time figuring out how they can profit from it. (AV's new trusted feed program is a perfect example).

If you follow DaveAtIFG's advice, more than likely, you won't ever have any problems.


10:43 pm on Aug 21, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Exactly WG - same with Inktomi and it's back channel work with MediaDNA/Cloaking.
As long as you are using cloaking that is on topic, in context, and quality content - there is no reason for the se's to ever consider you a problem.

A few years ago there was a time that cloaking was pretty scary to use - many of us quit. Then came the wave of UA cloaking, language cloaking, and IP cloaking. The se's would be hard pressed to address even 1% of those sites that are cloaking for various reasons and methods. Just don't do anything spammy and it will be 100% a-ok.

Lastly, when you read different from those that are out fear mongering about cloaking in the SEO community (and there are several) you need to ask yourself why and what their motivations are for doing so. This is a litmus test issue.


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