The Pitfalls Of Cloaking

Clive Lobo

While reading my feeds this morning I came across a simple but concise blog post at SearchLight Digital on the subject of cloacking and how to do it. For those of you don’t know what cloaking is, it’s the practice of detecting by IP or User-Agent “who” is visiting your site and then showing them different content from everyone else. You may wish to do this for example to show different languages of your site based on where the visitors IP Address is. Or you may be trying to fool GoogleBot for SEO purposes.  I found the article interesting for a couple of reasons. First it’s simple to do and second it can be very dangerous if your relying on the search engines for your business.

Let me explain my point – and then if you want to know how to cloak you can follow the link to Teifions post at SearchLight Digital.

Why is Cloaking so dangerous?

Cloaking is dangerous because as Teifion wrote, it’s easy to do and Google can’t determine your intent. If you’re cloaking and Google Bot figures that you can suffer a penalty which will hurt your rankings.

What can you do instead?

Keep it simple! First – don’t cloak to try and fool Google Bot. Second, build websites that are intuitive for end users. If you have sites that are meant to serve residents of different countries than you should build websites in their language on that countries top level domain (TLD) and preferably host in that country. Then you don’t have to do any fancy and dangerous cloaking to get visitors into the right website.

More importantly, people are smart. More often than not they can get themselves into the right place if you give them an opportunity to do that. For example – I may be in Germany but that does not mean I speak German and want to go the German version of your site – your cloaking may in fact hurt my user experience!


If you care about getting traffic from search engines and want to provide a good user experience for your visitors don’t cloak. Use traditional methods and strategies to allow visitors to get where they want to go and let the search engines determine what the best place is based on the visitors search. Everyone wins in this case!

Now if you still want to cloak go to the SearchLight Digital post “Cloaking: All You Ever Wanted to Know (But Were too Afraid of Google to Ask)

Clive Lobo

Spark’s resident boss man, Clive possesses the very nature of an entrepreneurial spirit.

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