Cloaking is an SEO technique that in its day became very popular among webmasters, as it offered very good results. But nowadays it is not only less and less effective, but it is severely penalized by Google. We tell you what cloaking consists of and why it is not advisable to use it on your websites.
What is cloaking?
The cloaking is a technique that relies on SEO display different content to users of a web and tracking robots like GoogleBot. In this way, the content shown to bots can be optimized for ranking (for example, repeat keywords over and over again) without worrying about providing a good user experience.
To achieve this result, different cloaking techniques are used, such as:
- Configure the server to display different content depending on the browser that made the request for the page. If the request came from the Googlebot, the highly optimized content was shown to it.
- Show different content depending on the IP address or the browser the visitor comes from.
Why you should NOT use cloaking on your website
The cloaking is considered a technique of ” black hat SEO “, that is, that violates the Google Webmaster Guidelines . The guidelines of this search engine strongly emphasize that SEO should be done naturally, ethically and with the aim of improving the user experience. Therefore, displaying content other than robots is considered a deceptive tactic.
The consequence of this is that if Google detects that you are cloaking your website, it will penalize it with a decrease in positioning or it could even eliminate it completely. It is a risk that is never worth it.
In addition, as the algorithms of Google and other search engines have evolved, cloaking is less and less effective . This is for several reasons:
- Bots have been perfected to detect the different cloaking techniques that we explained in the previous section, so it is very easy to get caught.
- The effectiveness of cloaking is based on over-optimized content, for example, with a large number of keywords. But lately Google is going in the direction of rewarding natural content and that offers a good user experience, so the excess of keywords can be easily detected and also penalized.
Despite all these drawbacks, there are still SEO professionals who use cloaking. If you want to make sure that your website doesn’t use this technique, you can do it with the “Track as Google” function of Search Console.