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#1 Guzman

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 08:08 AM

I am responsible for SEO on our company e-commerce site and senior management have given me a sizeable budget to specifically implement a Cloaking campaign as we have recently been badly affected by the "jagger" update.

I am researching the best Cloaking service provider and so far have only found www.fantomaster-services.com who seem to offer such a service.

Has anyone ever heard of Fantomaster?
Do they have good reputation? Any comments would be appreciated.

#2 nuthin

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 09:15 AM

does your management not desire nor care about long term sustainable results for there business / website / domain ?

does it also not care about the potential embarrassment to the brand of there business ?

hopefully you have a throw-away domain name to play with & it's not the be-all-end-all to your companies business & marketing/branding online or.. whats that saying, your eventually going to "be up **** creek without a paddle" :cry:

i would seek and get some alternative advice before implentation of your managements plans.

#3 Adrian

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 09:22 AM

If you're going to do cloaking, the fantomaster way is probably as good as any :P

Very knowledgable, pretty well known. I met Ralph briefly last year and I know some of the other forum members/mods know him/them a lot better.

Cloaking is the kind of thing you want to do a lot of research on before implimenting I'd suggest, it's the kind of thing you can get penalties for if caught.

#4 nuthin

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 09:26 AM

theres always an alternative to cloaking.
if this is the last resort for this particular company, kill me now plz? :)
so you got "hit" boo, hoo.
go back and see why you got hit, don't take even more drastic measures which will send you deeper into the black hole.
but hey, if your only after short term results and don't care about the domain, i'm all for it! good luck :)

#5 kensplace

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 09:43 AM

Cloaking is a difficult topic,

There are different types of cloaking, there are the often used examples of delivering targeted ads according to the visitors country (from there i.p address) or altering the content according to which country the visitor is from.

Then there is "nasty" (in my opinion) cloaking, for example, I could

Cloak so pages always load "fast" if alexa visits to get a better loading time shown on alexa.

Change title and h1 etc tags if a bot visits.

Both are "nasty" as they are NOT what a real life visitor would get if they visit the site, they are faking what the site is, or how it performs.
In effect they are cheating to get a higher search engine ranking, which is unfair on other sites that dont cheat.

Search engines base part of the rank algo on what the visitor would see, if you fake that, and optimise it for bots, then they are seeing something other than what the visitor would see, so you are lying to them.

Thats risky, and easy to spot, just takes a competitor, or a manual check at a search engine company, or even a bot under a fake referrer name to notice that the spider results differ from the natural webpage.

Sure google and the like "cloak" by showing country specific pages when people visit, but thats not really cloaking as such, its just delivery a different page to the user depending on there location.

If the user was a search engine, or a real visitor, they would BOTH get the same results from spidering or using a browser - unlike dodgy cloaking which would give the bot a fake page to read.

Delivering better content by "cloaking" is fine, and a good thing to do, as long as the content you deliver is the same for users as well as bots.
But once you start to spit out pages "just for googlebot" etc which are different from what a human would see, then thats trying to cheat the system, imagine the chaos if all sites did that.
I noticed on the othe site that it mentions "it is highly unlikely that you will get penalized or banned with more than one search engine at a time" when talking about possible bans if caught - I disagree with that, after all if a competitor took the trouble to spot a site cloaking, do you really think they would only report it to one search engine.... Nope they would probably report it to every one they could find.

#6 nuthin

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 10:04 AM

theres the lag effect.
a cloaked site on Google depending on the type of cloaking utilized is likely going to removed quicker than that of Yahoo! &/or MSN.
i would be more concerned and worried about the "management" not caring about there company brand &/or long term sustainable results.
tells me there looking for a quick buck & if this is anything to go by, would you want to work for such a company with no long term aspirations in regards to there online advertising? not me.

#7 Ron Carnell

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 01:16 PM

There are multiple potential reasons to cloak, but when the primary one is to rank in the engines better, I think there's one question that first has to be answered.

"What are you going to put on the cloaked page that you can't put on the uncloaked page?"

Being unable to rank a page well is a problem that will never be solved simply by cloaking the page.

#8 mcs

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 02:51 PM

I am responsible for SEO on our company e-commerce site and senior management have given me a sizeable budget to specifically implement a Cloaking campaign as we have recently been badly affected by the "jagger" update.


Blimey, is it April 1st already?

Nice try Guzman, nearly got me there ;)

If it isn't April 1st, your company might need the servcies of a psychiatrist - assuming that it's a successful company which desires a future?

If I were in your shoes I'd take them for a walk to the nearest employment agency...

A budget for cloaking? That's fantastic ;)

#9 DamnedIfIdont

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 04:48 PM

Ohhh so so many self proclaimed experts!!

OK, hands up everyone that has ever commissioned or constructed one single Cloaking campaign in the past five years!

Ho hum, thought so!

#10 Ron Carnell

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 05:49 PM

Waving hand ... :D

And I can practically guarantee you, I won't be the only one here.

#11 DamnedIfIdont

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 06:12 PM

Considering the statements you made......

"What are you going to put on the cloaked page that you can't put on the uncloaked page?"

Being unable to rank a page well is a problem that will never be solved simply by cloaking the page.


.....It just seems to me that there is a total misunderstanding as to the very basics of a cloaking structure. I aplogize if this sounds rude, as it is not meant to be. However, its very annoying to read so much misinformation on forums clearly from persons who do not have the slightest concept as to how cloaking is meant to work, let alone what can or cannot be handed out by the search engines in the way of panalties if caught. If one was to take for real the hype out there, we should be able to find a web site that would list thousands of banned core sites for cloaking. I challenge anyone to name but five!!

#12 Wit

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 06:15 PM

Why not "educate" people then (instead of rant)?

Thanks in advance m8... :D

#13 Jammer

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 06:19 PM

If one was to take for real the hype out there, we should be able to find a web site that would list thousands of banned core sites for cloaking. I challenge anyone to name but five!!


I tried to Google for this list but it was banned from the index, "linking to bad neighbourhoods"... Whatever that means :D

Now seriously, if you can't make your initial page work for you in Google then you shouldn't even be putting pages on the web. You guys are the ones that make my job sound bad...

#14 Respree

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 06:35 PM

Welcome to Cre8asite DamnedIfIdont.

I don't know too much about the subject of cloaking, but would love to learn more.

I think many who are uneducating on the subject may infer a negative connotation, just as one might automatically infer a knife is 'bad' because could be used to kill people. On the other hand, it could be used to prepare a sumptuous meal.

Love to an objective discussion on the subject.

#15 Ron Carnell

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 06:46 PM

Considering the statements you made......

In my rush to raise my hand, I guess I neglected to welcome you to the forums, DamnedIfIdont, so let me get that little pleasantry out of the way first.

Welcome. :D

Now, I think what my statement implied was that if you take a page that fails to rank well and cloak it, it will STILL fail to rank well. And I stand by that statement entirely. Cloaking has absolutely nothing to do with optimizing a page.

There are, I think, a lot of people who think cloaking is a panacea. They think, because their visitors can't see the web page, they can get away with throwing a whole bunch of keyword-gibberish on a page and automatically get a good ranking. Sorry, but I honestly don't believe it works that way, except perhaps in fields with little or no competition (in which case, cloaking is a silly risk any way).

Unless you already have a pretty fair idea what it takes to rank a page well, cloaking isn't going to help you. If you DO have a fair idea what it takes, chances are you don't really need to cloak. You "probably" just need a really competent copywriter. In either case, however, the answer isn't going to surface unless the question is first asked.

#16 DamnedIfIdont

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 07:05 PM

Thank you for the welcome greetings.......

Cloaking has absolutely nothing to do with the core pages of your web site. There is no direct tie whatsoever. A cloaking campaign is run independently using KWs and content relevant to the business of the core site. The only tie between the two is that the highly optimized pages of the cloaking campaign are re-directed to the core site.

You core site continues to be SEO'd as normal. You dont substitute one for the other and cloaking has nothing to do with getting your core site ranked. The only objective of a cloaking campaign is to drive extra qualified traffic to your core site.

I just cannot understand the chat about someone cloaking becuase the are too lazy to properly SEO a core site. That's not what cloaking is about.

#17 bwelford

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 07:18 PM

Hi DamnedIfIdont. Welcome to the Forums, :wave:

I'm certainly not an expert in these matters, but what you described in your last post sound like doorway pages rather than cloaking. In other words, you would create a whole group of other pages, each one optimized for a particular search engine and with an automatic redirect to the core website. Is that what you're talking about or is there another way of arranging this type of functionality?

#18 DamnedIfIdont

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 07:21 PM

No, its cloaking....well, actually the better term is IP Delivery (otherwise known as cloaking). Nothing to do with doorway pages.

#19 Jammer

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 07:28 PM

Nah, sounds like you're off a bit now. What you described are doorway pages and/or landingpages whatever you call them.

Cloaking is based on IP, useragent or whatever data you can substract from the http headers. It delivers different content to different users. In the case of cloaking you edit your normal pages to deliver a different content (or even a different site) to different visitors

#20 Ron Carnell

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 07:30 PM

Cloaking has absolutely nothing to do with the core pages of your web site. There is no direct tie whatsoever.

Just for the sake of clarity, Damned (I hope you don't mind if I'm informal -- feel free to call me Ron in return), are you saying that the cloaked page and the destination page don't share the same URL? "No direct tie whatsoever" sounds like you're suggesting they don't even sit on the same domain? I know I must be confused, because that rather old bait-and-switch tactic doesn't even require cloaking.

#21 DamnedIfIdont

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 07:31 PM

How many cloaking campaigns do you operate?

#22 DamnedIfIdont

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 07:33 PM

A cloaking campaign uses shadow domains.....multiple domains housing the optimized pages re-directed back to the core site for a visitor but visible to a spider bot.

#23 Jammer

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 07:39 PM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloaking

I rest my case...

#24 DamnedIfIdont

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 07:41 PM

Jammer.....please answer my question. How many cloaking campaigns do you operate?

#25 Jammer

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 07:49 PM

What does that have to do with it?
Do numbers tell you how good my linguistics are?

To be honest, at the moment, none. I don't need them, I can make a proper website so I don't need to.

I do however used cloaking on my spamdomains, back in the time Y and G had whole different ways of indexing pages. If you need numbers: I guess a few hundred domains all together.

#26 Ron Carnell

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 07:52 PM

Okay, understood. In my opinion, Damned, the shadow domains are an unnecessary complication for sake of discussing cloaking. They need only exist when the person implementing the cloaking and the person reaping the reward are not the same. That extra level simply allows the programmer to maintain control and keep the money flowing in his direction. If you were cloaking your own site, there would never be a need for the shadow domain.

In either case, however, the point remains the same. The cloaked page has to be optimized to rank well. Do you disagree?

#27 Jammer

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 07:57 PM

Here's a nice example of a cloaked domain to finish this discussion:
http://www.google.co...btnG=Zoeken&lr=

If you check the root you'll find a whole other page (check Google cache) then the redirect an actual visitor gets.

#28 DamnedIfIdont

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 08:06 PM

Ron, IP Delivery (cloaking) done correctly requires many shadow domains (10 to 200 plus!) in order to achieve the qualified traffic. Each shadow domain can have hundreds if not thousands of pages and each page has algorithmically correct content for one keyphrase only and each keyphrase can have multiple pages each one algorythmically varied.

Nothing to do with pages on your core site. Nothing!!

#29 Jammer

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 08:17 PM

I get what you are doing but how is this cloaking or IP delivery?

Let's say we have www.domain.com which we would like to get more traffic through cloaking / IP delivery. How do you do that?

From what I get you do something like buy another domain, www.domain2.com on which you have an optimized page for SE's. As soon as a regular visitor hits www.domain2.com it gets redirected to www.domain.com

Correct?

#30 DamnedIfIdont

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 08:26 PM

Exactly! The visitor is re-directed but the spider remains on the optimized pages, crawls, indexes and ranks them accordingly. Becasue the optimized pages represent pure spider fodder (algorythmically speaking) for that particular keyphrase it will achieve a high ranking.

#31 Ron Carnell

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 08:29 PM

LOL. I guess the question, Damned, is how many kinds of cloaking have you implemented in the past. What you're describing is only one way of doing it, a way dating back to about 1999, and having much more to do with automated content generation than with cloaking. In your example, cloaking is just a tool for hiding doorway pages, and you seem to be mistaking the tool for the technology. That is not cloaking, it is only a single implementation of cloaking.

You've essentially got a shotgun full of buckshot, albeit a lot of hidden buckshot, with no real desire or anticipation (or hope) of optimizing a page. And, yea, you're probably going to hit something if you shoot it off enough times. I don't have any problem with that, but personally prefer the feel of a sniper's rifle in my hands. Brute force tactics rarely appeal to me, but that's just me.

To each their own, by all means. The important thing is that you're not really talking about cloaking. You're just talking about one potential way to use cloaking. Big difference.

#32 DamnedIfIdont

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 08:38 PM

Ron, to answer the original post from Guzman, I run several very large and successful cloaking campaigns constructed and managed for me by Fantomaster. These guys in Belgium are at the forefront of cloaking technology and Ralph Tegtmeir is the renowned authority on cloaking. The technology used is far from old, is highly effective and makes me a hell of a lot of money. Something normal SEO could never achieve!

#33 Jammer

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 08:40 PM

Yups, Ron is right on this one.
I guessed you were mistaking the tool for the way of it a few posts back. In my example you're more cloaking domain2.com then the actual domain.com

I think there's better use with those 100's of domains if you use them as so-called DIP's (directory index pages). If you put some relevant content on them with a backlink to the targetted domain, link all those domains together (in a not too easy to detect way) they make one hell of a domain-kicker.

But cloaking is still: serving different kinds of content to different kinds of visitors.

#34 Bompa

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 09:19 PM

Damnedifidont, some ppl will not "get" what you are saying cuz they really don't
want to get it, better to leave them where they are :)

But I can see that two different things are being addressed here.


My question is does IP cloaking actually work?

Cus if it does NOT work, why would a SE ban a site using it?

I mean, if IP cloaking is totally ineffective and makes absolutely no difference
to the SE's ranking, why would they care and then ban a site/page?

So, IP cloaking must be effective and the white-hatters don't like it
cuz they're goodie-two-shoes hehehe


Bompa

#35 bragadocchio

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 09:40 PM

Has anyone ever heard of Fantomaster?  
Do they have good reputation? Any comments would be appreciated.


I've never worked with Fantomaster or used his services, but he does have a reputation for knowing what he is talking about, and has been friendly and helpful to this forum when we had a problem with hackers a few years ago. Nice guy.

#36 Ron Carnell

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 10:16 PM

I'm sure they're both effective and lucrative, Damn, and I'm equally sure Ralph would concur it's an effective use of cloaking. But it's still just one way to use cloaking technology.

In the mid- to late-Nineties, all of those page would have simply had a JavaScript redirect embedded in them. Since search engines don't execute JS, they would have indexed the auto-generated content without question, usually resulting in at least a few decent rankings. However, as soon as a visitor found the page (assuming they were among the 80 percent with JS enabled), they would have been whisked to the "real" destination without ever having seen the machine-generated gibberish lurking just beneath the surface. Those, too, were effective and lucrative.

The rise of link popularity pretty much rang the death knell for doorway pages, though. No matter what content is on the web page, it became increasingly difficult to get a page to rank well without incoming links. And getting links to pages filled with gibberish can be a real challenge.

Enter cloaking.

I'm lousy with dates, but it was around 1999-2000 that the first documented case of cloaking was unearthed. It was for a big-name insurance company, in California, if I remember it correctly, and the SEO firm that implemented the pages got busted big time. Turned out they were using cloaking for a lot of their clients, and even then, it was pretty obvious the technology had been in use for at least a year or more.

When you combine auto-generated doorway pages with cloaking and a little DNS magic, the result is gibberish that can hide behind the link popularity of real pages. It's a new twist to an old dance, and the only non-incremental advance is likely the script that generates the gibberish. Page scraping and huge databases have advanced that part of the technology a bit further.

And that, I guess, brings us to Bompa's, uh, question.

Yes, cloaking works, both IP delivery and the much easier to implement and maintain agent delivery methods. Combating it successfully is amazingly easy to do, but horrendously hard to automate. Personally, I suspect the engines don't bother with trying too hard as long as relevance isn't sacrificed and the cloaking doesn't publicly embarrass them by flying too high over the radar. The trouble is, doorway pages with JavaScript redirects used to work, too. They worked well enough to get a lot of domains banned, until one day they suddenly stopped working so well.

In my opinion, cloaking has its uses, but as long as it -- or any other SEO technique -- is sitting on some engineer's to-do list, it's going to be a short-term solution.

Here's the rub.

Most of the techniques that worked well eight or nine years ago, but were frowned upon by the search engines, no longer work today. Doorways, hidden text, sneaky redirects, almost all of the old ways have lost their zing. However, most of the techniques that worked eight or nine years, and were NOT on an engineer's to-do list, seem to work just as well today as they did for Alta Vista and Excite. I suspect that's a pattern that isn't likely to change in the future.

#37 nuthin

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 10:20 PM

So, IP cloaking must be effective and the white-hatters don't like it  
cuz they're goodie-two-shoes hehehe


cloaking effectively on Google would still require the person to build up the domain to authority status so it's able to be positioned under keyword phrases that are competitive anyway.

some people just don't see the point of building up a domain to become an authority and then killing it.

serious cloakers/webmasters i couldn't care less about it, it's a business for them, so be it. but when there employing cloaking on mom and pop businesses and small to medium enterprises slowly but surely proceeding to kill there domain which alot of companies do care about, thats where the line would need to be drawn.

cloaking could be effective for the short term if done right, but theres no point cloaking for a serious business who is after a long term strategy.

#38 projectphp

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 11:14 PM

I mean, if IP cloaking is totally ineffective and makes absolutely no difference to the SE's ranking, why would they care and then ban a site/page?  

So, IP cloaking must be effective and the white-hatters don't like it  
cuz they're goodie-two-shoes hehehe

There are several flaws in such an argument. The most obvious being that "work" has no definition.

If by "work" you mean "drives extra traffic today", then yes, it does "work" in some cases. If you mean "drive traffic to a website into the future", the answer is very different. If you mean "is the most (or even more) effective than other SEO strategies", I think you are probably way off.

We also haven't defined when IP delivery works. Try this search: http://www.google.com/search?q=book. The top ranked sites are not cloaking, and that is a big ticket search. Ditto most every big ticket search.

So, when does IP delivery "work"? Mostly in the tail of search, that is the 50-655 of searches that are uncommon like "cheap mortgage fixed interest rate dubbo australia". The tail is, no doubt, valuable, but not a complete SEO strategy. IP delivery is a possible part of an SEO strategy, but not the whole thing, and no replacement for other strategies.

Most of business is risk management. A business I know went belly-up because it was insured by HIH, an Aussie insurer that went bust. As HIH insured the business's credit, suppliers refused further credit until outstanding credit was paid for, effectively killing the business's ability to trade.

My point being that exposing a business to risk is something one needs to manage and understand, irrespective of anythign else. Cloaking is a major risk, and needs serious risk analysis irrespective of whether it "works", and needs to have firm ROI goals applied.

#39 DamnedIfIdont

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 01:36 AM

Really?

My shadow domains rank on pages 1 to 3 on 37 of the top 100 search terms for the category I am marketing in. It's a medium competitive category where the top search term shows up 20M results. I then have shadow domains ranking on pages 1 to 3 on thousands of other search terms.

What you are saying is correct as the whole concept of IP Delivery is to engage tens of thousands of search terms accross multiple domains, thus achieving qualified traffic not only for the top search terms, but also the many other terms such as mispelt words and obscure keyphrases. However, to suggest that you will not achieve rankings in the top 5 pages is simply very wrong!

Risk? I put out a challenge earlier in this thread which no one has answered. Name five core sites that have been banned for cloaking. Everyone rants about being banned and being penalized if caught cloaking......whom??? Tell me (apart from two well known cases....one being Google themselves!) who has been banned?

Real simple question ladies and gentlemen.....who has been banned for cloaking? Doom and gloomers out there have always got so much to say about the "risks" of cloaking but does anyone EVER back up their statements with facts?

I ask everyone that unless you have operated large cloaking campaigns for several years and can be considered a true expert, stop passing yourselves off as experts and doing nothing more then adding to the totally misguided hysteria and misinformation on a technology which the search engines do not consider as a threat and are not trying to wipe out with new algorythms as they are with certain linking strategies and blogs.

#40 projectphp

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 02:10 AM

I ask everyone that unless you have operated large cloaking campaigns for several years and can be considered a true expert, stop passing yourselves off as experts and doing nothing more then adding to the totally misguided hysteria and misinformation...

You seem pretty adamant that the risk of banning either doesn't exist, or is hysteria. So lets see you prove it. How about you submit your site to Google in a spam report, or put up the URL here and we can see what happens. If there is no risk, there is no risk to doing either of those things, and there is no risk associated with IP delivery / cloaking and I will gladly admit you were unequivically correct.

If, however, you don't feel that is the best thing to do, that means you accept there is some risk.

Personally, I think you are also confusing risk with accepting risk. Of course there is risk. There is risk in everything. There was risk in choosing a host that has servers in New Orleans, the World Trade Center or in fact pretty much anywhere. If you rely upon your server for your livelihood, you better make sure the servers are well backed up, in a geologically safe area with good redundancy.

Even then, stuff can go wrong. That is what risk analysis is about: takinga situation and seeing the risk associate and deciding how concerned to be. The World Trade Center probably seemed a better location for a server than San Francisco for lots of reasons.

All we can do in life is make decisions with the best information presented to us, and in the case of IP delivery, I am comfortable that there are (in the most part) better solutions. YMMV of course.



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