SEO Glossary - The Searchmetrics Dictionary of Search Engine Optimization

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Cloaking

Cloaking is a method which gives search engines the impression that a website carries content that is different to what users actually see:

  • Visitors see a user friendly, visually appealing website which may, for example, contain little text and plenty of graphic or multimedia elements.
  • Search engines are limited in their ability to recognize graphic and multimedia elements, which is why they are presented with a different website (that has the same URL).

 

Most notably, this website contains text that is optimized for search engines. Cloaking is a violation of search engine guidelines. If a search engine recognizes cloaking it will penalize the website by permanently removing it from the search engine index. The website will no longer appear in search results.

A note of advice: if a website has been constructed differently to fit computers and mobile devices, this does not count as cloaking. Search engines will make allowances for websites with a mobile version.