Yesterday we covered how hiding text from your audience can be perceived as untrustworthy and lead to a rankings violation. Today we are going one step further and cook at violations cloaking.
So let’s discuss cloaking following this premise: What’s the difference between hiding text and cloaking?
A simplistic way of looking at the two is that hiding text could have happened accidentally. The many departments it takes to run a website, a novice web developer, or even someone who didn’t know any better could have mistakenly hid text on a website. Cloaking is more sophisticated and never an accident. Hence the greater ranking penalty.
Cloaking allows you to show search engines something completely different than what your audience sees. Examples taken from Google Webmaster Tools:
- Serving a page of HTML text to search engines, while showing a page of images or Flash to others
- Serving different content to search engines than to users
If you are cloaking, stop. If you think you can get away with it, you won’t. If you think they won’t catch you, they will and you will get banned.
Taking preventative steps will ensure you from committing violations against Google, Bing, and others. Putting in a little more effort in your SEO campaign will be time well spent rather than taking a shortcut and getting banned later.