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Old 05-19-2005   #1
glengara
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Cloaking, load of BS?

Does anyone come across cloaked sites in the SERPs anymore, 'cos I don't seem to.

Granted I live a fairly sheltered existence, no gambling, no sex, no drugs, no travel, no real estate.

So is it confined to these areas, am I just not detecting it, or has it fallen in usage?
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Old 05-19-2005   #2
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I'm sure Fanto will be along shortly to throw himself bodily across this thread, hhh, but my perception is that the small-time cloakers are giving it up as too dangerous (their decision to do so largely based on FUD) but the big dogs -good & bad- are using high-grade cloaking as much or more than ever.
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Old 05-19-2005   #3
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Thing is RC, is G not moving away from valuing the factors that made cloaking successful?

it seemed to start with on page factors, then moved to disposable domains with spurious linkage, is the "area of operations" for cloaking not becoming increasingly constricted?
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Old 05-19-2005   #4
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Ok, RC, duck!

Like everything SEO, cloaking has developed steadily. On site factors are still as important as ever, if you organize cloaked sites' overall environmental parameters accordingly.

And yes, RC:
Quote:
the big dogs -good & bad- are using high-grade cloaking as much or more than ever
This reflects our everyday experience precisely - actually, demand has been on a steep rise and if current figures are anything to go by, we for our part expect to double our cloaking products and services related revenue this year.

glengara, what's important to realize is that you just won't recognize cloaked pages in the SERPs, provided they are crafted properly. Sure, you may have a hunch perhaps, but it will never be more than guesswork - simply being redirected to another domain, while admittedly a typical feature of cloaking, is no proof: lots of uncloaked sites are doing it for various reasons.
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Old 05-19-2005   #5
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disclaimer: I'm not shilling for Fanto, though we have been seen in the the same pub on occassion.

>is G not moving

I'm assuming the return of a 3-way SE marketplace has brought some previously Google-only sites back to cloaking.
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Old 05-20-2005   #6
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Quote:
glengara, what's important to realize is that you just won't recognize cloaked pages in the SERPs, provided they are crafted properly. Sure, you may have a hunch perhaps, but it will never be more than guesswork - simply being redirected to another domain, while admittedly a typical feature of cloaking, is no proof: lots of uncloaked sites are doing it for various reasons.
Fanto,

I know that you advocate NOT using the nocache tag as it might flag your site for scrutiny in the SEs when you are cloaking. How hard is it for someone to disable JavaScript and then check out the cached version of your page to detect that you are cloaking? Especially if one uses your product to generate the pages, which I do, the pages are obviously machine generated and easy to spot when you look at the cached version.

Last edited by phpmaven : 05-20-2005 at 01:44 AM.
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Old 05-20-2005   #7
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Cloaking is definately still around - I know for a fact -And, there are many good reasons to still cloak.

I've been involved in high level cloaking of over 1000 domains over time and I must say I lost fewer domains this way that any non-cloaked spam. The risk is there but is HIGHLY overrated. If done well the risk is, in my experience, not bad. The claims the engines are making about how well they detect cloaking today is simply not true - they don't. As long as you don't mess too much with user experience the engines don't seem to care. Why should they?

The main reasons my clients chose cloaking is because they are either too lazy or restricted to change their own site and work, because they want to target keyword vairations or miss spellings they are not allowed to have on the website, or because the entire site is graphic or miltimedia based.
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Old 05-20-2005   #8
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Full d'accord

Full d'accord with Mikkel - the risk is real but extremely remote and thus worth taking, if (and that's a very big if!) what he outlines applies to your (or your clients') sites.

phpmaven: we offer that cache buster of ours as an option for those who are leery about using the NOCACHE attribute for fear that it may raise a red flag or two.

Yes, it's detectable if you turn off JavaScript, though there are some tricks I won't flaunt in public to at least achieve some damage control. If you want to know about it, I suggest you contact me off list via Skype during our business hours. (Sorry, but this is for registered clients only - even a cloaker's got to live, heh ...)

But then again: ever tried to get a meaningful reaction out of any search engine when snitching on a competitor?

While we haven't ever resorted to that sort of tactics ourselves, we know a lot of very frustrated people who actually have - to no avail at all.

The search engine are being flooded with that sort of complaint and though I can't present any hard, verifiable data to prove it, I'd assume that more often than not these messages are so downright clueless and easy to discern vicissitudes, they probably simply can't be bothered because if they do, it will kick off yet another avalanche of complaints from the victims ...
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Old 05-20-2005   #9
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Yes, it's detectable if you turn off JavaScript, though there are some tricks I won't flaunt in public to at least achieve some damage control.
Oh yes, there are quite a few good tricks to get around it. It's actually quite entertaining once you grab the idea - Also, this may also be one of the reasons most people don't see cloaking - we double trick
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Old 05-20-2005   #10
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I assume you are talking about using frames. I've seen that done and it would probably fool most people. Of course if somebody is really determined, they will get past that.

I'm curious Mikkel, do you normally just use nocache on your cloaked pages or do you resort to using a "cache-buster" of some kind?
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Old 05-20-2005   #11
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Look me up in a bar one night, buy me a couple of drinks and I may tell you some more - but I really don't like discussing the details of what exactly I do on my cloaked pages in public. Only when it's stuff I no longer do
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Old 05-20-2005   #12
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Old 05-20-2005   #13
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LOL, Fair enough. The next time I'm in Copenhagen I'll look you up and we can knock back a few. Maybe we can even get Ralph to come up and we can all get hammered and I can learn all your secrets
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Old 05-20-2005   #14
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Of course, there'll be a pact to sign in blood first ...
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Old 05-20-2005   #15
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Old 05-20-2005   #16
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Smile Interesting question

Normally, this is the sort of thread that I'd enjoy really getting into, but I'm about to go out of town for a week. So I'll keep it short.

Quote:
Does anyone come across cloaked sites in the SERPs anymore, 'cos I don't seem to.
There's hardly any question in my mind, glengara. In my experience there's fewer cloaked domains in SERPs these days. It's not completely gone though; there are still some sites that cloak, especially when the owner views the domain as disposable.

That's just my experience at one search engine though; it's always good to listen to different points of view, which I'm sure Mikkel and fantomaster will be happy to provide.
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Old 05-20-2005   #17
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RC
Quote:
I'm assuming the return of a 3-way SE marketplace has brought some previously Google-only sites back to cloaking.
Speaking of a 3-way market, I've been wondering about something related to just this.

I sort of "collect" spam and suspicious looking pages to check out what they're doing. It's been in bookmarks, now it's been easier to just save them to Yahoo's MyWeb, as well as many other types of pages for other reasons - which saves an actual copy of the page I saw, as I saw it in the browser, right on their server. It kind of got me thinking about what Yahoo could do with that.

So when there are enough pages collected in all of MyWeb by enough people, what's to stop Yahoo from starting to fetch those pages and compare them with what was served up to their crawlers? Wouldn't that catch some of the otherwise undetectable cloaked sites and maybe give a trail to follow to find related or associated sites?

Last edited by Marcia : 05-20-2005 at 12:44 PM.
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Old 05-20-2005   #18
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Marcia, the problem for the engines has never been to de-cloak pages - thats easy, but to compare billions of documents with each other (that is a LOT of tests!) is just not realistic. So they have to rely on only partial testing where they find it most likely to find cloaking that disturb the user experience.

> In my experience there's fewer cloaked domains in SERPs these days.

I think there might be a big differnce between how many cloaked pages you, or anyone else, see in the SERPS these days and how many are actualy there I agree on whats been said before here that you probably see less newbie-cloaking and more cloaking from advanced and experienced SEOs and this kind of cloaking is A) Better hidden and B) Better targeted, so most users won't even notice - because they find what they are really looking for.

So, I think it is ight to say that cloaking is less of a problem today - but there is not less cloaked pages. But then again, thats just what I see
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Old 05-20-2005   #19
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most users won't even notice - because they find what they are really looking for
That's the whole point! Because contrary to popular misconception cloaking isn't just all about misleading, spammy content - we have always stated that this is dumb, braindead marketing in the first place. After all, it's the user experience that counts (quite literally, too, namely by way of conversions), not what webmasters or search engines may want.

Where cloaking helps improve that user experience (isn't that a favorite term of Google's? I must be getting old and wimpy ... ), possibly better than search engines can achieve, it's a) more than justified (if it needed any justification in the first place, which I deny), and b) hardly detectable.

Last edited by fantomaster : 05-20-2005 at 01:17 PM. Reason: Typo correction
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Old 05-20-2005   #20
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If your not using an IP based cloaking system like fantomaster's then you will be spotted.

Yes, you still see cloaked sites in the SERPS. I found a competitors for one of my sites using a crappy user-agent based cloaking system yesterday.

Folks, if your going to cloak, do it right. Spend the few bucks for Ralphs IP based list.
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