Cloaking

What is cloaking?
Cloaking is a technique used to serve the content of a web page to a search engine in such a way that the search engine displays different content than what is served to a normal human user. The goal of cloaking is to increase the search engine rank of a website for certain keywords.

When cloaking, the search engine and the user are literally not on the same page. Hence, both the user and the search engine are fooled.

Cloaking leads a user to different pages than he or she expects by obscuring the true content of those pages. During cloaking, the search engine spider and the browser are presented with different content for the same website. HTTP header information or IP addresses help send the wrong web pages. Searchers will then access websites that contain information they simply weren't looking for, including pornographic sites. Website directories also offer their share of camouflage techniques.

Many of the larger search engine companies oppose cloaking because it frustrates their users and does not meet their standards. In search engine optimization (SEO), cloaking is considered a black hat technique that is abused by most legitimate SEO firms and web publishers. Getting caught camouflaging can result in severe penalties from search engines, including having them removed from the index entirely.

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