What is Cloaking in SEO and How Does it Work?

Cloaking is a black hat search engine optimization (SEO) technique that involves presenting different content or URLs to human users and search engines. It is used to increase the ranking of search engine results pages (SERPs) by misleading crawlers into thinking that the content of a page is about a certain topic, when it is not. In particular, this technique involves showing keywords in content only when search engine crawlers request the page and not when a real human visitor accesses the page. This practice is a violation of search engine guidelines and if a search engine recognizes cloaking, it will penalize the website by permanently removing it from the index.

As a result, the website will no longer appear in search results. With cloaking, search engines and people never see each other's pages, while with other uses of IP delivery, both search engines and people can view the same pages. In simple terms, if the Accept-Language HTTP header is from a search engine, then a hidden version of the website is offered. If the mod_rewrite module detects that an IP address or a user agent belongs to a search engine, a server-side script delivers a different version of the web page (hidden URL).

By optimizing the use of cloaking, the focus is on improving the ranking of a website within the results list of search engines such as Google. To learn more about hacker methodologies and how you can protect your site against them, you can continue to follow holistic SEO guidelines. They adhere to a broad definition of cloaking, which returns different search results for different users based on their IP. In contrast, the crawler is usually presented with text-based page content that implements SEO methods in the best possible way, but loses design attributes.

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