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Mosaic cloaking: a new form of search engine spam

Webmasters involved in rather shady search engine optimization methods invented a new form of cloaking. That new method has been called mosaic cloaking and it is an attempt to make cloaking less detectable.

What is cloaking?

Cloaking is a search engine optimization technique in which the content presented to the search engine spider is different from that presented to regular web surfers.

When a user is identified as a search engine spider, a server-side script delivers a different version of the web page, one that contains content not present on the visible page.

Search engines don't like cloaking because its purpose is to deceive search engines. If Google detects that a website uses cloaking, it will remove the website from the index.

What is new in mosaic cloaking?

While traditional cloaking served totally different content to search engines and human web surfers, the new cloaking method replaces only parts of the page.

For example, the blank space on a web page might be filled with keyword rich text when a search engine spider requests a page. The rest of the page remains unchanged.

Does this new cloaking method work?

It's likely that you can get short term results with this method because it's a relatively new method to which search engines might not have reacted yet.

However, we don't recommend cloaking to optimize your web pages. While you might get short-term results with cloaking, it is likely that your web site will be banned from search engines sooner or later.

Search engines know that these cloaking methods exist and they employ highly skilled engineers that try to detect spammy websites with algorithms. In addition, a competitor might manually report your website.

Google has made it very clear that these cloaking methods will get your website banned from Google's index if you use them. If you want lasting results, better use ethical search engine optimization methods to get your website to the top of Google's search results.

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January 2008 search engine articles