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Keyword cloaking is a blackhat technique targeting to display different content on a page to human users than the search engines.
Cloaked pages are usually packed with other keywords that are not relevant to the actual discussion on a page.
Here is with Google’s definition of cloaking:
Serving up different results based on user agent may cause your site to be perceived as deceptive and removed from the Google index.
The keywords are hidden by using different techniques.
In general, the version shown to the search engines is stuffed with the keywords that human users cannot see.
Here Matt Cutts explains it in more details,
What Techniques Implemented To Achieve It?
I cannot give you an entire list of the techniques implemented for this goal.
If you really wonder you can visit old forums to learn the technical details of how it works.
However, some of the most common implemented techniques are:
- Using a very small font size than the actual font size on a page.
- Using footer or some less noticeable places to include content or keywords.
- Hiding text by using the same font color with the background color of a page.
Are Keyword Stuffing and Keyword Cloaking the same thing?
They both have similar characteristics although they are different things.
Keyword stuffing is using a certain keyword more than it is necessary to obtain a higher search engine position.
Similarly, keyword cloaking also targets stuffing keywords on a page although it is naturally would not be necessary to do so.
Does Keyword Cloaking Work Today?
Modern search engines are very well equipped to find out these types of manipulative actions trying to deceive their algorithms.
Keyword cloaking today is just a legacy blackhat technique that stopped working already a long time ago.
It is sad to see there are still people trying to include hidden text on their pages even today.
It screams loud the importance of the right SEO education.
Implementing the shady blackhat techniques is not only a waste of time but also very dangerous for SEO.
Google takes very strict actions against the websites trying to take advantage of its algorithm.
All the above-mentioned techniques are usually very easy to spot for the search engines today.
Risks Associated With Cloaking
Here are the potential risks and penalties waiting for the websites committing cloaking practices.
- Loss in search engine ranking positions
- Ban of IP address and/or the authors on the website
- Deindexing from the search results permanently
Websites using these techniques are not even likely to go through a manual review process.
Google may stop the traffic for cloaking websites altogether relying on what its algorithm suggests.
All in all, keyword cloaking is a very dangerous practice to be avoided at all costs. It really doesn’t worth the time while there are so many other white hat SEO practices that may help to rank a website.