Cloaking Definition & Meaning

What Is Cloaking?

Cloaking is a search engine optimization technique where the content presented to the search engine crawler is different than the content presented to the user. The cloaking process is considered a black hat SEO tactic that violates search engine guidelines.

Cloaking on a website is programmed at the server level to manipulate search engine crawlers that visit a web page. HTTP header information or IP addresses aid in the transmission of incorrect web pages to search engine users. With cloaking, searchers are directed to web pages that contain information that is different than what they were looking for online.

This SEO technique is called cloaking because it hides the content people see on the web page while serving different content to the crawlers to index and rank in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Cloaking is often used for phishing, hacking, or other manipulative practices.

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Websites that use cloaking for SEO can receive a manual or algorithmic penalty which results in loss of rankings or deindexing of the content and/or the entire domain.

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Go to the SEO Glossary to find more terms and definitions that relate to the field of search engine optimization.