What is Link Cloaking?
Many different techniques can be used to boost your visibility online, though they are not all considered best practice. Link cloaking is among some of the most common black hat SEO techniques.
When you create a website, you want to be found. If anything, that is your primary goal. Without being found online, how are you going to sell your services and products? SEO techniques are essential to ensure that you are discovered by engines, allowing potential customers to access your website.
However, the SEO world is an incredibly competitive place. In fact, it’s sometimes so cut-throat that people look for an edge to help drive more sales and commissions. Those marketers are reckless. They want results now, not in three hours, not tomorrow. Now.
The problem here?
SEO takes time and is an investment. If you start looking for ways to cheat the system, then you are going to get caught. Legitimate get rich quick schemes do not exist in the world of online marketing. Techniques such as keyword stuffing, hidden text and link cloaking are all designed to trick Google into ranking sites higher in the search results.
If you practice a little patience, we promise it will pay off.
What is black hat SEO?
Black-hat SEO refers to practices used to increase a web page’s ranking in search engines that are against the terms of service. The opposite of white-hat SEO, black-hat techniques are seen as a deceptive and fast way to get your website ranking online.
Marketers often resort to black-hat SEO techniques because they are short of time and lack the dedication needed to sustain results.
What is meant by link cloaking?
The definition of link cloaking in SEO is changing a URL to hide the original content. The structure of a URL will shift entirely to present a more attractive link. This is a common practice in affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketers will often use this technique to protect their hard-earned money. Imagine you have spent a lot of time and money working on an affiliate site. You are primed to place an affiliate link so that people buy your promoted product. But, wait! What if the link you are using puts people off clicking?
Let’s say, the URL you are given is www.linkcloaking.com=?veiuuvebnikebuserjnvindiv. People are not going to click. Why? Because it’s ugly and looks super spammy.
But if the link was www.linkcloaking.com/link-cloaking-methods, you will generate some interest for sure. The solution is link cloaking.
How is cloaking used in SEO?
URL link cloaking involves changing the structure and altering the text, making it more visually pleasing and easy to remember.
URL link cloaking means that visitors to your domain will be forwarded to your website, though the URL in the browser bar will not change. This is done by creating a ‘dummy page’ with a frame. When your domain is visited, the dummy webpage loads with the frame from your actual website, rather than redirecting them to your web page.
Cloaking is used to show a different version of your website to the public than is seen by search engine crawlers, using the same URL to cloak the overly-optimised site. It is called cloaking as the content created to appeal to users, which is written to be appealing and user-friendly, is cloaked with content specifically used to earn a higher ranking on search engines.
Explained simply, when a genuine customer visits the cloaked site, the user-friendly version will be visible. If a search engine bot is crawling the site, they will be shown a higher optimised site that would not be understandable for a general audience.
Problems with Link Cloaking
If you are caught using spammy techniques, such as link cloaking, search engines will penalise you as these techniques are seen as disingenuous and the ‘easy way to rank.’ Search engines don’t like it when you use SEO techniques to rank instead of making your website user-friendly and accessible.
Black-hat SEO tactics are generally used as an attempt to trick search engines and get to the top the quick and easy way. As search engines disapprove of practising SEO in this way, using them could risk you being removed from Google’s index.
Not only do search engines not react well to link cloaking, but online searchers can also be wary of clicking on shortened links. Often there is no clear indicator of where the link is going which can make them unsure if it is a legitimate website.
Although it is not challenging to cloak a link, it can be seen as deceptive and is therefore discouraged. There are ways to use link cloaking without it being dishonest. However, the tools available are abused and now recognised as encouraging deceptive links.
Is your website using any black hat techniques? Don’t put it off. Find out here:
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Need help with your SEO?
Bigfoot Digital have a dedicated team of enthusiastic SEO experts with a proven track record for ranking success. We don’t touch fast track black-hat routes such as link cloaking. Our dedicated team are happy to spend the time necessary to get you ranking the right way.
We specialise in all things SEO and work hard to deliver page one rankings for all of our clients. As a business with a successful track record, you can trust us to make your business visible online. We will get you the exposure needed for your company to succeed.
If you have any questions regarding SEO, give us a call on 01226 720 755 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re happy to help you with anything (and everything) digital marketing, no matter the business size or industry.