Search Engine Cloaking - Don't Do It

Search engine cloaking will get you a penalty…no question about it. In this video Matt Cutts goes into detail about what exactly cloaking is and how bad it is to use it. To learn more about cloaking visit the official Google cloaking page and you will know everything you need to know about this technical issue.

What is cloaking?

“Cloaking refers to the practice of presenting different content or URLs to users and search engines. Serving up different results based on user agent may cause your site to be perceived as deceptive and removed from the Google index.

Some examples of cloaking include:

  • Serving a page of HTML text to search engines, while showing a page of images or Flash to users.
  • Serving different content to search engines than to users.

If your site contains elements that aren’t crawlable by search engines (such as rich media files other than Flash, JavaScript, or images), you shouldn’t provide cloaked content to search engines. Rather, you should consider visitors to your site who are unable to view these elements as well. For instance:

  • Provide alt text that describes images for visitors with screen readers or images turned off in their browsers.
  • Provide the textual contents of JavaScript in a noscript tag.

Ensure that you provide the same content in both elements (for instance, provide the same text in the JavaScript as in the noscript tag). Including substantially different content in the alternate element may cause Google to take action on the site.”

Matt Cutts cloaking video