What is Cloaking in SEO?

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Search engine results are a big part of your business. If a customer can’t find you online, it is as if you do not exist. There are a lot of things that go into SEO and your content ranking well. Doing the wrong things can get your content banned from search engine results. These things include stuffing, cloaking, and other black hat techniques. So what is cloaking in SEO? 

To understand cloaking you need to understand the basic practices you need to follow for SEO standards. Like with any operations, there are good and bad SEO standard practices that will either help or hurt you. Any practice that is meet the best practice standard is called white hat techniques. But those that fail to follow the SEO standard practices are called black hat techniques.

There are specific reasons why different methods are black hat and white hat techniques. Let’s jump into why black hat practices are unsuitable for your online content.

Cloaking as a Black Hat Technique 

Cloaking in SEO is a black hat technique because it deceives both the viewer of the web page and the search engine crawlers. The main reason why a web page qualifies for cloaking in SEO is that what is shown to the viewer is different than what the search engine crawlers see.

An example of this would be a viewer pulling up a web page. They may see images and some content. With cloaking in place, the search engine crawlers are seeing things that the viewer can’t see. This could be things like hidden text, hidden tags, and not enough color contrast on a web page. 

Cloaking Technique

There are different ways you can use cloaking in SEO on your website. The first would be the typical technique of keyword stuffing. This is when you get a bunch of keywords and make it the same color as the background. The viewer will not see it, only the background, while the search engine crawlers will read it as a bunch of keywords.

While there are other techniques, this is an extremely popular one. It used to be a great workaround until search engine platforms made changes to their algorithm. Now your website can get a mark if your text does not have enough contrast in color. 

Text-to-HTML Ratio 

Ideally, you should have a high text-to-HTML ratio. It makes sense when you step back and think about it. When you are writing content, you make sentences and paragraphs. That is a lot of text compared to the HTML tags that are put around titles and paragraphs. 

Some creators think it is a good idea to use a lot of HTML tags on their webpage. If these HTML tags are not surrounding text, they impact your text-to-HTML ratio. When you have a low text-to-HTML ratio, your content is flagged. Prevent this by making sure you have enough text and the right HTML tags around your content.

Search Engine

A search engine is a website that gives you different websites. Think of sites like Google and Yahoo. These sites store a lot of data on websites. They are all compiled into something called a website index. 

The search engine needs a way to sort and filter through all the websites. An algorithm is what pulls the top results which are what viewers see on the search results page. SEO experts keep track of what the algorithm rewards and what it penalizes.

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Search Engine Crawlers

The fascinating thing about search engines is that they use search engine crawlers. Crawlers will take a website page and “crawl” through the page. They are able to see content, word choice, images, videos, links, etc. They then take this information and rank it compared to other web pages.

This is where your content can get flagged. If you have too many red flags your website can get scrubbed. When this happens to your website, it means that it will not show up on search engine results.

SEO Strategy 

Every person who works in SEO is going to have a different strategy when it comes to ranking. The reason ranking is so important is that the top results get the most clicks. When was the last time you took a look at the second page of Google? 

When you rank on the first page, you are likely to get more traffic, which may mean more business for your company. SEO strategy allows you to rank higher and get more customers. 

Posting regularly, creating quality content, and using keywords organically are the staples when it comes to creating an SEO strategy. 

User Experience  

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Another big factor that search engines take into consideration is user experience. If a user is not able to easily get to the page they want or find what they want, it is not a good user experience. 

The number of clicks a person has to use before getting to the desired web page is a good way to see how accessible the website is. If there is too much to sift through on your website it is not good for SEO. 

A good user experience allows people to find what they with a few clicks. They can easily purchase or scroll through items. Fun designs and aesthetics also create a great user experience.

Results Page 

At the end of the day, you want your content to rank on the first page of the search engine results page. Having your content in the top five results is a goal that requires a lot of care and attention. Ranking typically does not happen by accident but by careful planning.

With the right SEO strategy, consistency, and correct keywords, you can see your content start to rank. While it may seem impossible at the moment, the right SEO practices and white hat techniques make it possible. 

Other Black Hat SEO Techniques like Cloaking

Keyword stuffing is a major player in black hat techniques. Changing IP addresses is another tricky move that is a black hat technique. Any setup that has a viewer seeing one thing and the search engine seeing another thing is considered a black hat technique.

A few more techniques that are common are redirects for links. Link farms are also common and not a best practice. 

While these techniques should not be used, it does not make them illegal. So you can still use these techniques but it will not score you any points with search engine results. Usually, the goal of using SEO plans is to rank well on search engine results.

White Hat Techniques 

Now that you know the basics about black hat SEO techniques, what are white hat techniques? You know what to avoid and now you want to know what to use. 

Doing the opposite of the things listed above is a great place to start. Have a low text-to-HTML ratio, use keywords sparingly, and use links correctly. Publish quality content that is interesting and relevant. Try to be as organic as you can when it comes to finding keywords and ranking on search result pages.

The best thing that you can do for your online content is to get rid of any black hat practices you are using and switch to white hat practices. This can take some time but is worth the time and effort. 

Need help with your business’s online presence and content? If you want some direction on your company’s SEO strategy, give Reborn Consultants a call. We understand that each company is unique and offers different services. This means we can tailor your SEO plan to match your company’s vision and goal.

About the Author

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Kameron Conley

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