For those who are unfamiliar with the term 'cloaking' in the internet world, here is a simple definition. Cloaking is when a website is programmed to provide different text to viewers than that presented to search engine crawlers. Cloaking Checker is an SEO tool that makes it simple for website owners and masters to see if a site is employing this technique.
This attempt to distort search engines ranking by changing the content presented is illegal and is known as a 'black hat' SEO technique. Website owners who employ SEOs to build their websites and to get them indexed by search engines don't know the tools that an SEO uses. The website owner may be pleased to see the site scoring well on the search engines ranking. What he or she does not know that if cloaking has been used. The search engines will eventually discover it and blacklist the site.
Some examples of cloaking are:
- Serving an HTML page to search engines while showing different page to viewers
- Inserting text into a page when the search engine robot requests it and not to human visitors.
Cloaking is done to fool the search engine robot to gain a better ranking. It tries to mislead the robot into thinking that the page it's crawling is what the viewer sees, but it's not. This is referred to as 'spamdexing' technique or search engine poisoning. It's an attempt to trick the search engine into giving the site a higher ranking than it deserves.
The question is how black hat SEO does cloaking? How are there two versions of content on a site one for search engines robot and one for viewers? On Apache servers, there's a module called 'mod_rewrite.' This module helps SEOs and webmasters to apply cloaking technique in the .htaccess file. Webmasters and SEOs gather a list of search engines crawlers IP addresses. When mod_rewrite detects that a search engine's crawler or robot is requesting the content of the site, it presents a 'cloak' version. When an ordinary visitor lands on the site and views it, the normal contents are displayed.
SEOs and webmasters who want to indulge in cloaking can use URL cloaking script or Adwords cloaking script or PHP URL cloaking script. There is also website cloaking software in circulation.
Hidden or Invisible Text is one of the most common practices used in cloaking. When webmasters apply this technique, they overstuff content with hidden keywords that are not visible to the human eye. It's like writing a page of content and writing words in it with invisible ink. Now any reader does not see the hidden text. However, with a special light, you can see the hidden words. It is pretty much the same technique used by webmasters.
The typical site visitor cannot see the hidden keywords, tags and content item but the search engine can. The search engine crawler reads the entire content and bases its ranking on it.
Cloaking Emails: This technique is used when emails are sent to a single or multiple recipients, and the name of the sender is hidden. The recipient receives the mail but is unaware of who sent it.
It’s a good SEO technique to have a high 'Text to HTML ratio.' It means that your website should have more content than HTML tags. But should a site contain short texts or posts, the text to HTML ratio will be low?
There are some websites that have been developed in a flash. As per SEO guidelines flash is not permitted. In such cases webmasters rather than rewriting everything in plain HTML, they create rich web content which is presented to search engines robots.
It's common knowledge in the SEO world that search engine crawlers do not scan images. So webmasters think they can use cloaking and place keywords on the site to gain ranking by search engines.
To use cloaking checker go to searchenginereports.net and select the Free SEO Tools. Scroll down the icons, and you will see the cloaking checker icon. Click the icon and enter the URL of the site to be checked. Click 'cloaking check' and the tool will examine the URL and if it discovers or doesn’t discover cloaking it will display it in the results.
If you find cloaking on your website, then you need to worry as your site will get blacklisted by search engines. Once a site gets blacklisted it's virtually impossible to regain any credibility with search engines. Should you discover cloaking on a competitors website, don’t get alarmed. Search engines will discover it and penalize the site.
Cloaking is frowned upon and penalized by search engines. Therefore don't indulge in it. Do the hard work of writing quality content and keeping your site clean. Don't worry about search engines indexing and ranking as that will happen in due course.
Indexing and ranking depend on the type of website that you have created and hosted on the internet. If you are selling products or services, you will be competing against several others. But if you are selling your goods and / or services in a particular area, search engines will notice and display your site in the ranking when a visitor is specifically searching in your area.
Search engines are brilliant. Google employs over two hundred math PhDs. There is no way anyone can fool them for long. They keep changing their search and ranking techniques. Sooner or later any site that’s indulging in clocking will be discovered. Once found the website owner can only close shop and forget about using the same domain name or URL to setup a website.
Google employs Webspam specialists, and they say that Google considers all cloaking techniques as 'black hat.' Googlebot is constantly being updated to find and ban any cloaking techniques being employed by website makers and SEOs. So, focus on presenting better content to visitors and search engines crawlers.