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Google warns against cloaking: we can detect it

In a recent blog post, Google's anti-spam engineer Matt Cutts wrote about cloaking. The blog post makes several things clear:

  1. Google doesn't like cloaking.
  2. It doesn't matter if a small or a big company uses cloaking.
  3. Websites that use cloaking will be removed from Google's index.
  4. Google will detect all cloaking attempts sooner or later.

What is cloaking?

Cloaking is a search engine optimization technique in which the web page content presented to search engine spiders is different from that presented to the normal web surfers.

This is done by delivering web page content based on the IP address or the User-Agent of the user requesting the page.

When a user is identified as a search engine spider, a script on the server delivers a different version of the web page. The purpose of cloaking is to deceive search engines.

All major search engines consider cloaking to be a violation of their guidelines. For that reason, websites that use cloaking will be banned from the search results.

Google's opinion on "undetectable" cloaking

In his recent blog post, Google's Matt Cutts commented on a Danish company that offered 'undetectable' cloaking to its customers.

Google tried to check if this claim was true and they quickly found a website that used the services of the company. It turned out that their cloaking wasn't undetectable at all:

"If someone is trying to manipulate Google by deceptive cloaking, it means that a webserver is returning different content to Googlebot than to users.

That’s a condition that can be checked for by algorithms or manually, and such cloaking is certainly not 'undetectable.'"

Don't risk your search engine rankings

You might get short term results with shady SEO techniques such as cloaking but it is very likely that your site will be banned from search engines if you use them. You'll put your web business at severe risk if you use black-hat SEO methods.

If you want to get lasting results, better use ethical search engine optimization techniques.

It's not a good idea to trick search engines. They will discover this sooner or later. If you want to know how to get high search engine rankings without offending search engines, take a look at our free SEO book.

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December 2007 search engine articles