What is cloaking in SEO and should this technique be used in 2020?

Cloaking in SEO is an important technique through which content is extended to the search engine spire is different from the way it is presented to the users. It is a webserver that is programmed to present different content to users and search engines in order to distort the search engine ranking through cloak content. It is considered an illegal technique and touted as Black hat SEO.

How Cloaking is Performed?

In the internet realm, every device including mobile, computer, laptop, tablets, etc. is determined by IP address. Through cloaking the content is delivered through IP addresses or HTTP header of the user. Cloaking is performed by altering a file known as .htaccess. Basically, the Apache server consists of a module reckoned as “mod_rewrite through which you can integrate cloaking techniques to the web pages. Webmasters collect the IP addresses, and if the mo_rewrite detects that an IP address belongs to a search engine, then the server-side script extends a different version of the web page. If the IP address is not recognized as any crawler, then it implies that it is from a visitor, therefore standard web page is delivered.

White Hat Cloaking – Is the Concept Exist?

The concept of white hat cloaking has generated much debate. White hat cloaking as the name suggests is a contradiction of black hat cloaking. However, there is no exception to it and it is still considered dangerous. If any website includes a code that distinguishes the bot in terms of IP address or user agent, Google considers it as cloaking and may take necessary action. So there is no concept called white hat cloaking in Google’s guideline. 

Common Practice of Cloaking in SEO

Following are some common cloaking practice in SEO –

Flash-based websites

Instead of creating the website on plain HTML, the developer creates a web page with a lot of content and extends them to search engine crawlers and flash pages to the users.

Hidden Text

Hidden text is a technique that is performed by including text content in the same color that of the web page’s background, making it invisible to visitors.

HTML-boasted websites

For a good SEO ranking, your website should have an ideal Text to HTML ratio. When you don’t have enough content, then this ratio tends to get low. To avoid such scenarios, website owners use cloaking to adhere to the guidelines.

Java Script Replacement

In this technique, developers use JavaScript to present content to a non-JavaScrip-integrated visitor that aligns with text information within multimedia elements.

Should you Perform Cloaking in SEO?

A simple answer to this question would be no. Considering that it is a technique that tricks the search engine to improve the index, which is against the guideline; it should be avoided. Additionally, your website is crawled various times through multiple IP addresses and the complex algorithm will identify whether or not you have integrated any cloaking technique.

Google constantly updates its algorithm and if apply cloaking in the website, you are putting your website at the risk of permanently blocking.