Web page cloaking is an SEO technique that companies have been using over the course of the last decade. At Dreamscape Marketing, we want to make one thing about web page cloaking abundantly clear: it’s unethical. It’s a blackhat technique that Google expressly forbids, yet it remains a popular practice at hundreds of companies worldwide. However, shady techniques never stand the test of time. If you’re looking for someone to help you in SEO campaign management, you will want someone who does so ethically.
At Dreamscape, we believe that the ethical method isn’t just morally right, but also more practical.
What is Web Page Cloaking?
Google defines web page cloaking as “a website that returns altered webpages to search engines crawling the site.” When Google’s bots (aka spiders) sift through your site, they return to Google with information like keywords, backlinks, and meta descriptions in order to properly “index” your site. If your site has a lot of content or credibility on a certain topic or keyword, Google will rank it higher on the search results page, resulting in more traffic for the site. Cloaking is, in short, a way of lying to the Google bots to artificially improve your webpage indexing optimization.
In other words, what a reader sees on your site would be different than what a bot sees. The bot sends Google this false information and Google may in turn give you an inflated ranking. This technique has been used as a sort of shortcut by companies who want better SEO but don’t want to put in the time and effort.
Some people argue that web page cloaking is not inherently illegal or unethical. They say that the different uses of web page cloaking fall on a spectrum of whitehat to blackhat. While it’s true that some companies use cloaking for landing page optimization as opposed to full out lying to users, cloaking is never necessary and almost never worth it.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Cloaking
The biggest reason you should not use web page cloaking is the one we’ve already discussed: ethics. As a general rule of thumb, if Google prohibits something, you shouldn’t do it. Moreover, you’re essentially lying to the users who you want to interact with your site. For people who are looking for helpful or valuable content, cloaking is an obstacle and a disruption.
However, morality aside, web page cloaking is extremely impractical as well. Google gets better at detecting guideline violations every year. At this point, their ability to find and penalize sites that use cloaking is uncanny. And trust us when we say that you do NOT want Google to penalize your site.
If Google penalizes you, you will lose all of your ranking. Your traffic will irreversibly plummet. Any SEO work that you’ve done will be for naught. What’s even worse is that Google can blacklist you, meaning that other search engines will also stop ranking you well. So if you’re considering cloaking, you would have to both ignore the ethical implications and avoid being caught by Google.
This risk makes web page cloaking utterly impractical. If Google doesn’t catch you at first, it will eventually. Cloaking is only ever a short term play. Don’t shortchange yourself and sacrifice your company’s integrity.
Organic Growth at Dreamscape Marketing
At Dreamscape, we believe in growing your web presence honestly and organically. This method isn’t just ethical, it’s the only way to ensure that your growth will last. We don’t use blackhat methods like web page cloaking, we work through intelligent content marketing, brand management, and ethical SEO campaigns. If you’re ready to take your digital presence to the next level, contact Dreamscape Marketing today at 888.307.7304.