Todays date: 5/19/2024
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Cloaking : White Hat Seo vs the "disciples of spam"

The other day Webmaster T was on the forums and reading some articles on cloaking. It was evident to Webmaster T that there are two groups in the SEO industry "the White Hats" and the "disciples of spam". The editor has divided Webmaster T's comment into the two separate "issues". Interpreting Search Engine content guidelines and the defining of Cloaking for the purposes of explaining it to clients and laypersons.

The White Hats

Allan Perkins' article originally appeared in Jill Whalen's great RankWrite newsletter. Jill asked Allan to explain cloaking in terms which a layperson or client could understand. Allan did a great job!

 Alan Perkin's article on cloaking is helpful in that it provides an easily understood set of criteria a non-professional can use when purchasing SEO services. It provides an understanding of what is potentially **risky** and what is potentially acceptable.

As a "definition" it is lacking as are all "definitions" of spam because spam is subjective with intent being one of those subjective criteria. It depends on who is making the determination. What Google says is spam isn't spam to all SE. "best practices" are "best practices" within the context of the results they are found in.

IMHO, the SEO industry will never be able to "define" cloaking. It depends on the implementation of the application. This is mentioned to some degree in Alan's article when he talks about cloaking being an application. I agree, cloaking isn't a technology, it is an **application of the technology**. How it is implemented indicates whether intent is to "deceive", with subversive intent, content relevancy.

Allan's article clearly provides criteria to decide whether it is an acceptable usage of the "application and technology". A "definition" isn't subjective, so, in the case of all "best practices" techniques it is likely impossible to "define" them. At best, they provide further guidelines which can be used within the context of the "application" being accessed by a consumer.

the "disciples of spam"

Also, according to Brett, some engines publish nothing against cloaking. AV is one that he mentioned. So nobody can say that cloaking for AV is wrong if AV don't say it themselves. Maybe they've said it at a conference but that's not quite the same thing.

The "disciples of spam" use all kinds of half truths and garbage to keep everyone confused. They use half baked truths about technology and content guidelines in an effort to *legitimize* cloaking. If it were legitimate, would it have to be defended with half truths and attempts to use SE content guidelines in such literal, and narrow terms?

The "disciples of spam" are clutching at straws and the smaller that haystack becomes the better for all parties concerned. Alan's definition does do an excellent job of clearing things up and I fully support it in both its spirit and principle. Brett's comment is meant to do the opposite. It is meant to confuse and reduce the competency level expected of a professional in the industry.

Personally, SE can do whatever they please, and their implementation of their "applications of technology" shouldn't be used to legitimize an implementation they don't want used to manipulate their results. They are using it in an acceptable **application of the technology** because they decide what is **acceptable**.

My dad used to say "do as I say, not as I do". It was always a good idea to follow that advice or I paid the consequences!;) SE are our benefactors, it is best we understand, as it was **understood** by the majority, in the good old days, this is often free advertising, and to a large extent, SEO's are living in SE's homes rent free. Ignoring the rules of that home is disrespectful. SEOs' would be wise to remember respect is earned. If you want respect and standards from SE.................

SE pay the freight so they have the right to decide what is acceptable to them. If that is **doorways** and content of "suspect value" in their feeds then that is their right. Is it a good idea, probably not, but..............

In the end, the users will speak volumes when they use another SE providing results that are relevant and useful. Google is reaching monopolistic proportions because they understand the golden rule, "user experience". It is the basis, or seems to be, the basis for all decisions, they are not slaves to monetization of results. Not to say that full monetization of results would be a bad thing, only that it shouldn't seem to be the **only** concern.

SE's, or some at least, are realizing that improving their results actually provides more revenue than allowing crap into the results. More users = more clicks = increased revenue$. Google controls over 60% of the searches for a reason. The users have spoken, only an engine that provides comparable results is going to take share from it.

Others would do well to heed the users voice, they don't, and with each new revenue grab they loose more "share" and SEO's willing to pay for their "less than effective" services. Some SEO's, IMHO, purchase these with a "hit-ho" mentality, which provide less than stellar performance and may not be a wise use of the budgets clients entrust them with. But if they keep buying them.................

Final point, and something to consider carefully, ask yourself, what would the SERP's look like if everyone cloaked? Ask yourself, that being the case, why would anyone bother to develop good content? What would that do to the overall quality of the content on the web? That being the case, isn't all this moot?

Cloaking isn't good for the "big picture" unfortunately those that use, promote, and defend it have a picture about the size of a postage stamp! Their picture is no bigger than their own self interests and agendas. And that's all I got ta' say on that!

........... and the foot print grows.

Da' Tmeister, Editor
[Note, Danny Sullivan wrote an insightful article on cloaking and XML Feeds, providing yet another article worthy of a careful read. Alan Perkin's article on cloaking and Danny's article are in the links archive under the "best practices" links. The other is not for obvious reasons. T isn't a disciple and will not promote such self serving.......................... shite, meant solely to confuse the "issue". Webmaster T wonders why access to the "spamworld" temple/forums requires a logon? Could the "disciples" have something to hide? possibly!]

............... see ya at the top!
Da' Tmeister, Editor

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