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What is Cloaking in SEO?

Last Updated : 13 Dec, 2023
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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques like cloaking are used for various purposes to present visitors and search engines with alternative content. To achieve this technique, one version of a webpage is displayed to users while another is shown to search engines as a result. Also, cloaking is a technique that is used to manipulate search engine rankings by delivering relevant information to search engines as per requirement and optimizing the actual content for consumers based on their query.

What is Cloaking in SEO?

In terms of search engine optimization (SEO), cloaking is the process of showing content or information to users that is different from what is shown to search engine crawlers, such as spiders or bots, to boost a website’s ranking for specific keywords. Also, by showing a version of the page to search engine bots that meets the requirements to improve ranking while displaying different material to visitors as per requirement, this technique is used to move up in the ranking against a specific keyword. Cloaking is among the numerous variations of black hat SEO like a collection of tactics intended to take some types advantage of holes in search engine optimization. Some other forms of black hat SEO include keyword stuffing, sneaky redirect, and content automation.

Different types of cloaking and how it is done?

There are several kinds of useful cloaking, and all of them include showing users and search engines alternate material for good ranking purpose. Among them are as following –

  • User-Agent Cloaking: With user-agent cloaking, various web browser versions of a website are served according to the user-agent string of each browser as per need. Usually, this is done to improve the user experience and output variations across various browser types.
  • IP based cloaking: Basically, different copies of a website are served depending on the visitor’s IP address in this kind of cloaking or IP based cloaking. This is frequently done to provide visitors from various areas to help with varied content.
  • JavaScript cloaking: With JavaScript cloaking, content that is hidden from search engines for some purpose is shown to users via JavaScript. This is typically done to show dynamic material and improve the user experience as well.
  • HTTP_REFERER cloaking: With HTTP_REFERER cloaking, the visitor’s referrer determines which material is displayed in the format. This is frequently used to send visitors from various sources for requirement to multiple landing pages.
  • HTTP Accept-language header cloaking: With HTTP Accept-language header cloaking, the content is shown differently according to the visitor’s preferred language types.

Permitted Ways to Implement Cloaking in SEO

Basically, search engines typically disapprove of cloaking, there are various types of acceptable uses of cloaking in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) technique.

  • Flash-based Websites: Usability and accessibility of the problems are common with websites built with Flash. The website can be optimized as per requirement for search engines and still offer a satisfactory user experience or output by offering an HTML version of the site.
  • Invisible or Hidden text: This is keeping text on a webpage hidden from search engines for some reason yet visible to users. This is frequently done to give search engines more required data without degrading the external user experience.
  • HTML Rich Websites: In order to conceal the content from search engines, this can be done by using CSS. This is frequently carried out to enhance user experience or output preference and speed up page loads.
  • Replacement of Java Scripts: To display the required content that search engines cannot see, other markup languages like HTML are used to solve. This is frequently done to improve the user experience or output preference and maintain search engine optimization for the website.

What is Google Penalty for Clocking?

In this technique, cloaking is strongly discouraged by Google, who views it as against their Webmaster Guidelines for specific reasons. A website may be subject to fines, such as removal from search engine results pages (SERPs) or even permanent ban from Google, if it is discovered that it is utilizing cloaking to manipulate search engine rankings which involves on its overall growth. Cloaking carries serious consequences as per requirement, therefore it’s best to stay away from it altogether. Rather, concentrate on delivering excellent and much useful experience, pertinent material that is search engine and user-friendly optimized.

Why Should You Avoid Cloaking in SEO?

Cloaking is against the search engine guidelines for much reasons, including Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, just like all other black hat SEO tactics. If a major search engine, like Google, finds out that a website is using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) cloaking techniques to trick the search engine into giving it a higher ranking position, it is likely to penalise the website as required by downgrading its ranking, banning the website, or even removing it from the search engine index. Search engines employ a range of useful techniques to identify cloaking and regularly upgrade their specific algorithms. Basically, these factors make SEO masking a bad strategy for sustained the company growth. Instead of improving a site’s ranking, it can also end up decreasing it. Additionally, it could irritate the consumers by bringing up irrelevant stuff again and again.

Clocking falls under which technique?

Basically, the cloaking is regarded in the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) community as a black hat tactic that goes beyond Google’s Webmaster Guidelines for maintain the overall process.

How to find out whether a website is Cloaking?

The webmasters can find out if a website is utilizing cloaking in a few different useful methods. They may, for instance, contrast the actual web page as per requirement with the result from a search engine. The text from the web page that was searched should match the bolded text sample that Google displays based on the search query to achieve the ranking. Additionally, there are various types of useful online tools for site inspection, such as DupliChecker, Small SEO Tools, and Sitechecker. While some of these tools have paid plans, some give a limited number of inspections at no actual cost . These tools check the URL of the mentioned page for hidden scripts and other code problems as well, and they notify the user if cloaking is being used by the webpage or not.

How to avoid Cloaking?

Since the technique of cloaking negatively affects a website’s authority and performance, it’s important to monitor it and make sure user not violating any laws such as –

  • Check the website for any JavaScript-hidden text. This needs to be completed by hand. If detected, take it out and replace it with HTML for better result.
  • Check to see if any text on the given website is CSS-hidden. There are resources available to assist the problem, such as Screaming Frog.
  • Need to examine the website’s components to make sure that the contrast ratio on each page is 4.5 to 1.


Cloaking is basically a black hat search engine optimization (SEO) tactic where the server presents the search engines with material and context that differs from what visitors view as per requirement. Both of the search engine and the users are tricked into thinking that the website’s content is what it seems to be as per ranking. Cloaking is a real technique. This tactic is employed by the certain websites to increase required traffic at the price of user experience or output preference. So, this method or technique should not be used on websites.

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