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Well, to start it off, when I started to cloak I thought it was going to be a lot easier to get ranked on all the SE's out there. I thought, "Well, now I can just make a page for each search engine and be happy that I'm giving them what they want. I don't have to use one page to satisfy all of them." That's true but I didnít know then how hard it was going to be to maintain the spider database. Also optimizing for the SEís and building my cloaking program to do exactly what I wanted. Itís been a lot of work. It has taken me a little over two months to get to the level I want to be at. The SEís are just beginning to rank me well in most of the keywords I wanted to be ranked on, but I still got a lot to go. My rankings have pretty much doubled. Iím very happy with the outcome. But it has taken a lot of work.
You also have to worry about optimizing your pages without spamming. At least thatís how I do it. But all in all, itís not easy to cloak. There is a lot of time involved in doing it. In fact I feel itís a little harder to cloak then to optimize for SEís normally. Iím not trying to discourage anyone who wants to cloak, but I just want you to know that itís not a picnic in the park. There is a lot to deal with. So if your going to do it, just remember that there is a lot of work involved and you constantly have to worry about whether or not youíre doing it right. For the longest time I didnít see my rankings go up. I thought I was going about it all wrong. But I stuck to it and now Iím seeing results. Thanks to these forums and the people here. So if you want to cloak, go for it and just remember to stick with it.
Also on a personal note, please try not to spam. Keep it clean, that way one day hopefully :) we can convince search engines that cloaking is not a bad thing.
It took me a few months of pulling out my hair to get my database where I need it, too. Now that the worst is over, and my db is pretty much up to date, I don't spend a 20th of the time I first did checking for new spider IP's. I have set this forum to email a notice of new posts so whenever a "heads up" comes in I usually know about it before the spider hits my site. The few times I did get caught with my guard down didn't make any difference at all. As a matter of fact, that may be a good idea for a sub-cat. Cloaking - Stealth/Heads Up! It's been a huge help.
In short, you're right. It's a lot of work. But once you're setup, I believe the benefits outweigh the initial investment by a long shot.
Toolman makes a good point. I spent a considerable amount of time working on AV only to find that after three months as King of the Hill I was only getting 3% traffic from them. I don't waste my time on them any more.
A (possibly dumb) question:
Assume the following:
1. Its only worth concentrating on two engines - presumably Google & Ink.
2. You have achieved a good position on one already using traditional techniques; lets say, Google, for the sake of the argument.
3. IP delivery is the best means of cloaking but also the most labour intensive.
Given that you are only trying to fool one search engine, Inktomi, could you get away with using the agent delivery technique - which I understand is easier to accomplish?
Its a stab in the dark, and I may be missing some points about the problems associated with agent delivery. Or maybe I have missed the point altogether ;)
In addition, defeating UA based cloaking is fairly trivial, so your competitors could readily view your cloaked pages.
Back to building my "Flash" site that Google has said that I can cloak.
Forgive me for being dogmatic. I sound like Google and INK are the only players in town. Right now they aren't but in the near future they may be...that's where I'm coming from.
startup is right. There is a learning curve. Perhaps the hardest part is trying to optimize each page for so many different engines. Looking back, I would suggest using the same page for the se's as you do for the humans (built for Google) and then make minor tweaks from there. Concentrate on a couple instead of all the engines. Google and INK, for example :), won't let you down in the number of referrals and your time optimizing there is well spent.