Cloaking in SEO

  • January 12, 2023
  • 6 Mins Read

Cloaking in SEO is a black hat SEO technique that involves presenting different content or URLs to search engine crawlers than a website’s visitors see. It is used to offer search engines a different version of a website that is intended to manipulate its ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs). So, what is the meaning of Cloaking in SEO? It is considered a form of search engine manipulation and is an unethical practice that could result in a website being banned from appearing in SERPs.

In this blog, we will explore the practice of SEO cloaking and discuss the potential risks and benefits of using it. We will also look at some of the most common cloaking techniques and discuss best practices for avoiding search engine penalties.

The different types of Cloaking in SEO

  • User-Agent Cloaking
  • IP-based cloaking
  • JavaScript cloaking
  • HTTP_REFERER cloaking
  • HTTP Accept-language header cloaking

How’s it done?

 User-Agent Cloaking

A user agent is a software agent that operates on behalf of a user. For example, a web browser acts on behalf of the user by fetching website information and displaying it on an operating system. When you key in a query, the browser sends a code to the server that will identify the user-agent. If the user-agent is identified as a crawler, cloaked content is served.

IP based cloaking

Website users are redirected to the page they want to see based on their location and internet service, which is determined by their IP address. If you want to cloak your website, the most preferred method is to use reverse DNS records. These records are available in the cPanel of your hosting company and they will help you identify the IP address. Once you have done that, you can set rule in your .htaccess file to redirect the user to the desired page.

JavaScript cloaking

This happens when users with JavaScript-enabled browsers are served a different version of the content than users who have JavaScript disabled. For example, search engines are typically served a different version of a website than users with JavaScript-enabled browsers.


This method checks the HTTP_REFERER header of the requester and serves a cloaked or uncloaked version of the website based on that information.

HTTP Accept-language header cloaking

This technique uses the user’s HTTP Accept-Language header to determine which version of the website to present. If the HTTP Accept-Language header is for a search engine, then a cloaked version of the website is served.

This is a simple but effective way to make sure that your site’s content is being seen by the people who are most likely to be interested in it.


Cloaking in SEO is a search engine optimization (SEO) technique used to provide different content to search engine crawlers than to regular users to manipulate search engine rankings. Common ways to implement cloaking include using IP detection to serve different content to different users, using JavaScript redirects to serve different content, and using HTTP referrer headers to serve different content. Let’s know about them ahead.

Invisible or Hidden text

This can be done by adding text in the same color as that of the background so that it is not visible to the human eye.

Flash-based Websites

Some websites cannot avoid using Flash, even though we know it is not recommended as per SEO guidelines. Rather than remaking the entire website in plain HTML, they create content-rich webpages and provide them to search engine crawlers and flash pages to visitors. This way, everyone can still access the important information on the website, even if the Flash elements are not visible to some users.

Rich HTML Websites

One effective SEO technique is to maintain a high “TEXT to HTML ratio” on your web page – in other words, there should be more text (content) than HTML tags. However, if someone is writing short articles or posts, the text-to-HTML ratio will be very low. To avoid having to re-design their website in such scenarios, people choose cloaking to meet SEO guidelines.

Replacing Java Scripts 

If you want to show content to a non-JavaScript-enabled user that matches the information within a Flash or other multimedia element, you can use JavaScript.

⚠️The search engine keeps updating its algorithm frequently, so if you use cloaking, it will eventually find out and may permanently ban your website from being indexed. 

 In conclusion, cloaking in SEO is not recommended as it can lead to severe penalties, such as being removed from the search engine results, or having your site blacklisted. Also, cloaking can be difficult to implement correctly, and if done wrong, it can damage your search engine rankings. Additionally, using cloaking can give your site an artificial advantage over competitors, which is unfair and can lead to penalty from search engines.

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