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#41 DamnedIfIdont

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 02:31 AM

What a totally absurd statement! Why dont you go stand in the middle of the freeway and see if you get hit? It amounts to the same thing.

I dont have to prove anything as you are the one making the bold but unsupported statements.

#42 projectphp

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 02:44 AM

I am making no claim except that cloaking has risk, as you yourself just pointed out with your analogy to standing in the middle of the road. No matter how small you judge the risk, there is risk.

If you personally accept the risk, that is your decision, and I want in no way to judge that decision. You are a grown up (I assume, as ages on forums are never certain), and you, not I, bare the brunt of responsibility for your actions. Therfore, you should make any decision you feel comfortable with.

But advice on a forum isn't specific, it is general. Other people may find the cloaking risk, and cost, to be too great. It is like the Stock market. Some people like Blue Chips only, and to plod away building a portfolio over a lifetime. Others want the biggest return as fast as possible, and accept all sorts of risks. neither is "right", both are valid, and the choice rests with an individual.

With a website, not everyone wants, or needs, to take on any risk at all, and the level of risk one exposes oneself to varies based upon a number of factors. One has to decide whether to accept taking the risk and proceed with any action, as you have done with cloaking / IP delivery, or to reject a course of idea because of the risk. In either case, ignoring, underestimating or overestimating the risk are far greater concerns IMHO than the final decision.

#43 DamnedIfIdont

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 02:57 AM

Tell that to the hundreds of thousands of web sites and once profitable businesses that just got sadboxed by Google!!! If you believe that simply owning a web site and conducting yourself to SEO standards dictated by search engines (who steal your copywrited material to make profits mind you) is risk free, you are delusional.

I will go as far to say (based on years of hands on experience) that the risk factor is exactly the same if not in favour of cloaking!! You face the same risks cloaking as you do being a good little boy doing what daddy Google wants you to do. At least with cloaking you have an advantage and have a much better probability factor of comming out in front of the competition, which is what business is all about.

It is wrong to suggest that a web site SEO'd by the book is risk free and cloaking has risks, without looking at the facts. I can however tell you that the facts are clear.....hundreds of thousands of web sites have been sandboxed.....who do you know that has been banned for cloaking?

#44 randfish

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 03:07 AM

DIId - I believe we've answered the original question of Guzman's - the purpose of the post. Ralph/Fantomaster offers good services in this arena, but one should be aware that there are good options for those who seek to cloak (whether by IP delivery, doorway pages or what-have-you) in the white-hat arena that carry a lower risk of being banned by the search engines.

I'm a little confused about what it is, at this point, you are attempting to prove... Is it that cloaking carries little risk? Or that cloaking a site is preferable to not cloaking it?

I believe that a rational person who has operated sites in SEO would argue that no matter your knowledge and tactics, neither of those have convincing arguments to back them up. When the authorities (like Ralph himself, Oilman, Webguerilla, G-man, etc.) themselves note that they have hundreds of sites banned by Google each year, it's hard to believe they have a reason to lie... Spamming (and cloaking) is generally about churn-and-burn - ranking for a short period of time very well, then losing the site and getting another.

I would also say that your statement about potential profits from spamming being greater than not spamming is also ludicrous. While I know many of the high profile spammers personally, and know that they're doing well, they're nowhere near the level of wealth or profitability that can be garnered by the owners of large scale, successful, non-cloaked sites like Amazon, Buy.com, Craigslist, Ebay, Gawker Media, etc.

My suggestion is that we move on to other, more productive topics.

#45 DamnedIfIdont

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 03:20 AM

The likes of Amazon, Buy.com, Craigslist, Ebay, Gawker Media, etc. have spent hundres of millions if not billions of dollars achieving their position on the Internet. If you want to compare wealth based on ROI, you will find the likes of Ralph, Oilman, Webguerilla, G-man, etc., are well in front. It's all relative.

However, your point is well taken. I am not trying to prove anything in particular except that too many people on these forums pretend to be experts and simply mislead and create hysteria based on what? Certainley not facts!

I have been a client of Fantomaster for several years now and know the success cloaking can bring to an online business. I at least have some experience on the subject.

Having said that, I thank everyone that has participated in the discussion and I will leave it at that.

#46 folex

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 12:48 PM

I can also claim to have some experience in this subject and I am well aware of shadow maker as I was using it almost 2 years ago. If you do decide to go down this route and you have no real experience/knowledge of the methods of cloaking, I would suggest you do the same as DIID and employ Ralph and Dirks services and let them do it for you.

The system they have developed will by no means give you the top positions you so desire by just doing it yourself.

If you are not sure, give them a call, they are very approachable and have a wealth of knowledge between them, the support is also very good.

I went this route as a quick fix option and it was semi successful with a bit of testing. I may also use the system again in the future, but some of my sites don't need it.

F.

#47 Wit

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 01:10 PM

Hmmm, I thought this thread was closed. Anyway.... I think this is all rather interesting.
{Mod comment: Thread reopened, based on a vote behind the scenes. Respree.}

Of course , DIID is right in that cloaking can be beneficial on occasion. However, there's no denying (by both "parties" - I believe) that cloaking* in itself won't do you much good (and that it has to be combined with doorway pages and whathaveyou to be of value nowadays), and that cloaking --even if used legitimately (think "WMW")-- could hurt your site even if the penalty were undeserved.

Fact remains that cloaking is NOT for newbies. Especially not if they're doing it on their main/only -otherwise whitehat- website. Let's please keep the cloaking and stuff to the seasoned blackhats and the genuinely fearless :)


* = (sec) coughing up a different page for bots and humans!!!

#48 folex

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 01:36 PM

Wit_ DIID may of chosen to close his part of this thread but the originator did not, and as such I was responding to the original question.

Best Regards

F.

#49 kensplace

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 01:46 PM

Quality Guidelines - Basic principles:

   * Make pages for users, not for search engines. Don't deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as "cloaking."
   * Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you'd feel comfortable explaining what you've done to a website that competes with you


Qouted directly from google itself.

If you feel uncomfortable publishing your sites URL, or asking google, then you would also feel uncomfortable explaining what you are doing to a competitor, as you know they would probably report you.

If what you are doing is not carrying a HUGE risk, then why would you feel uncomfortable? If on the other hand it was not risky, and had no major problems attached to doing it, you would have no problems with letting a competitor know, or asking google if your site was breaking the rules, or even letting other people decide by publishing the URL

The fact is, you know what you are doing is risky, it just takes one person to notice what you are doing, send in a detailed report, and bang, all your hard work, and income derived from the search engine rankings disapears overnight...

Is that worth the risk? Bet whenu.com thought it was, but they were banned for cloaking, when someone reported them. Now they may come back up in the searches, but so does lots and lots of bad publicity.....

Lots of sites have probably been banned for cloaking, but most of the time, we dont hear about it, after all the site itself is not going to publicly shout about getting banned for cheating is it? Nope they will keep quiet about it, and hope no one notices.

#50 Jammer

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 02:33 PM

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 or is this simply a case of a lot of parrots in a forum cage?


Several months ago Google banned a bunch of Dutch insurance companies from her index. Among these were FBTO, AMEV, Centraal Beheer, OZ, OHRA, Levob and Polis direct. These were all clients of a 'so called' SEO company named Checkit, one of the largest of The Netherlands.

All these clients were banned for cloaking. There was quite a big rush about it back then because these were the main players in the Dutch insurance world (probably a shared marketshare of over 80%).

So to answer your question: Yes, I do back my statements up. I don't know why you are being so hostile, I know my facts before I start yelling all kinds of crzay things, do you?

#51 mcs

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 02:48 PM

I still think it's funny that directors can sit around a board table and discuss the cloaking budget - it just paints a crazy picture in my mind :)

I wonder what they could be doing to improve business - where the "budget" could be better spent?

If these are just online, throwaway companies / domains, then it could be understood (I'll leave the logic to Wit and Geoff - because I know them) but if these are "normal" companies, their directors should wake up to the idea that this is the 21st century - the network has changed...

Just look at Jammer's examples - what more do you need to understand? I wouldn't like to think of the dollar (euro) loss - but I bet some smaller financial services companies are smiling ;)

"Cloaking budget" - it's just so nice - so cute! :)

#52 Black_Knight

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 05:55 PM

Sorry to come late to this discussion, especially when it is on one of my favourite topics.

DamnedIfIdont you seem to have experience of only one cloaking product, which while a very good one, is not the only one, and therefore does not define all cloaking, nor even all the cloaking that fantomaster have performed professionally.

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.

What you are referring to here is the method known as shadow domains. Shadow domains are cloaked pages applied to disposable domains so that they can get banned without hurting the core site. This is what I refer to most commonly as risk management. Not to deny that there is a risk of cloaking being detected, but rather to limit what will be lost if the risk should go bad.

Why do you think that was an important development for Ralph to pursue?

Nothing to do with doorway pages.

Doorway pages are the old term for what you are calling 'optimised pages' in your own earlier quote. The two mean exactly the same thing. Any page that ranks well and can therefore act as the 'doorway' to your site, whether visibly or by any means of redirection, is a doorway page. Just thought you should know the correct definition.

A cloaking campaign uses shadow domains

Nearly.

A cloaking campaign that uses Shadow Domains ™ uses shadow domains.

Cloaking however is simply the act of showing something to one group of IP addresses, and something else to another group of IP addresses. Only Fantomaster products use his trademarked Shadow Domains.

Ron, who is about as old in the SEO game as either myself or Fantomaster, which makes him positively ancient as we are, already tried to explain this to you

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.


NB: Some claim that user-agent delivery can be called user-agent cloaking, but to be honest that is really just an attempt at browser-based delivery, and not really the core concept of what we were referring to as 'cloaking' even back in the 90s.

Ralph's pioneering work in Shadow Domains was essentially just as Ron has encapsulated it, (tho this didn't exist anywhere outside of the Adult/Gambling industries in 1999), was to marry together the idea of cloaking with automatic content generation, with inbuilt risk management in that the sites the cloaking is deployed on are not the ones that matter, and are effectively disposable.

It is clever stuff, make no mistake, but that is not to say that there isn't even clever stuff involved in not cloaking sometimes.

As for the issues of what cloaking is for, well I think a friend of mine explained what others are saying here very well indeed.

Ok, so there may be different views on just how effective (and efficient, with the one not necessarily always translating into the other ...) cloaking or IP delivery actually is. However, I fully agree that it's nothing "magical" - alas, no push-a-button-and-you-will-be-number-one-on-Google-and-everywhere-else-till-kingdom-come solution!

So if that client of yours is so desperate indeed and truly believes that cloaking will solve all his problems, I'd positively advise him against going for it because he's obviously quite clueless regarding the SEO game in general. For as Mikkel and Ammon and so many others have already pointed out: it's about business - and it's about the correct use of tools.


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 or is this simply a case of a lot of parrots in a forum cage?

I have personally seen a very powerful media company (known primarily for printed media, with a globally known brand) get banned for 'poor man's cloaking' using JavaScript redirects where they should have used Shadow Domains.

I have also seen many domains in which cloaking has been used eventually get caught and banned. These were not by any means always the core domain.

I will name them for you privately the minute you hire me to do so, and sign an NDA for the priviliged information. For free, you simply get warned it can happen, and does happen. :D

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

I haven't operated any truly large cloaking campaigns, so I guess I can't be an expert... :roll:

But perhaps you'd like to ask Ralph himself?

Ammon Johns has been a prominent figure in the world of search engine optimization and marketing for many years. A prolific advisor on all things related to SEO/SEM issues, he's made a well-deserved name for himself on various online fora: I have known him in this capacity longer than I care to remember and never once have I experienced him to be less than openminded, outgoing and incredibly generous in his advice to anyone asking for it.

Nor is he content to simply repeat all those pedestrian tips and tricks you'll find cheaper by the dozen on every corner: while quite unassuming in posture, his knowledgeable, no-nonsense approach is rooted in a very brilliant and flexible mind indeed, making his public and private reflections a veritable gold mine of inspiration to the beginner and the old hand alike.
(If I remember correctly, it was actually Ammon who first publicly coined the expression "search engine marketing" - which really says it all ...)

Anyway, it's a pleasure knowing him and he's always a very good - and very sound! - read.

I guess what this shows is that professional people with excellent products and reputations, such as Ralph, and such as myself, don't need to oversimplify things, make cloaking into a simple solution to all ills, or try to pretend that cloaking is the only way. There is no time ever that any one approach is right for all cases.

There was an informative discussion at the SEW Forums a while back I recall well on the topic of cloaking, and of Fantomaster in particular that has a lot of great insights.
http://forums.search...read.php?t=8113

Of particular relevance to several of your recent posts, DIID, are several concerning the risks:

do WHATEVER you can to seperate your crap domains from your brand domains, such as

- Use a different IP (preferably a seperate C-class)
- Use a different registrar
- Use a different DNS
- Book the domain in a different name (or use a privacy service)

Don't leave any traces behind you

Couldn't agree more: about 75% of the cloaking effort is about not creating or leaving tracks and discernible patterns to pursue.

And yes, we definitely don't recommend cloaking the core domain or even mixing cloaked and non-cloaked content on the same site. While this may still work on many web sites, the overall risks are plain too big to make this acceptable.

Still, perhaps they just don't realise they are "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".

#53 Wit

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 12:08 AM

Pfff. So-called experts :roll:

Heheheh

#54 randfish

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 02:00 AM

Excellent post, Ammon, as always. We were all hoping you could make it :)

Based on this, would what sites like Salon.com, NYTimes.com, WSJ.com, etc. do (allowing Googlebot to view articles, but users to register) be considered cloaking? Or is there another term for that type of bait-and-switch?

#55 Black_Knight

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 07:36 AM

would what sites like Salon.com, NYTimes.com, WSJ.com, etc. do (allowing Googlebot to view articles, but users to register) be considered cloaking?

That's an excellent question. What I particularly like about the question is that it requires us to examine several perspectives.

You see, the question, as phrased, certainly as regards the NYT, takes the perspective of an unregistered person visiting the NYT, and makes the assumption that googlebot must also be unregistered. If Googlebot were a registered user of the NYT, would there be any bait and switch at all? Since registration is free, has it ever occurred that just maybe, someone at the NYT offered Googlebot a free registration and it was accepted?

That second perspective does change things just enough to make the question a lot more interesting I think. Is this cloaking from the perspective of a registered user? They will see exactly what googlebot indexed.

Personally, yes I would still regard it as cloaking, without a doubt. There's no such thing as a free lunch, and to make the registration truly free, you'd have to create a throwaway email address and disposable registration details or it would not be free, but would instead cost you your anonymity and privacy.

However, my personal perspective obviously isn't the one that Google engineers went with. You can be sure they know about it, thought about the issues, and made a judgement call. Google doesn't ban it, and therefore decided it wasn't cloaking in the forbidden sense.

What ought to be worrying the NYT though is that such a judgement call can later be revised and reversed. Perhaps today will be the day that someone at Google will reexamine the issue and come down on the other side of that judgement call, and the entire contents of the NYT disappear from Google. I guess the NYT feels that they are too important for Google to do that. They would not be the first to be wrong in that assumption though.

#56 Adrian

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 07:53 AM

Spread even wider, that could include any site hiding sid's from the engines to improve crawability?

#57 JohnMu

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 08:20 AM

.... or any page that has a javascript clock displayed :-)...

However, the issue of these magazine / press sites that let Google look at the content but force everyone else to either buy a subscription or at least register, has bothered me for a long time.... If theres one thing I hate it is having sites listed with snippets matching exactly what I'm looking for, only to find out I can't even see the context of the snippet! <grrrr> I understand that spammy gibberish sites can produce the same results, but when you see something like WSJ, NYT, etc. as the site name, you might actually be interested in looking at the article Google is showing you part of... without having to go through a registration process, etc.

I don't care if they donated a free account to the Googlebot - I just want access to the page and expect to see the snippet somewhere on the page that is linked.

IMHO it's worse when an authoritive site cloaks like that than when a spammer does so - at least you know the spammer is trying to trick you and has nothing interesting to show to you....

<sigh>

#58 kensplace

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 11:40 AM

If a site that requires registration is letting google spider the pages, then
you should be able to view the cached version of the page to see the article without registering.

#59 Wit

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 12:08 PM

Or pose as Googlebot. Most spiders/registration-only site I have come across cloak based on User-Agent string. Something that is easily fixed using Firefox and the UA Switcher extension :)

#60 Ruud

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 12:30 PM

you should be able to view the cached version of the page


Having your pages cached is optional.

#61 Black_Knight

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 05:05 PM

Yes, I have to agree. Just as I said, an issue like this is always a judgement call, as are a lot of dealing with issues such as spam, cloaking, etc. I have a strong suspicion that the decision over indexing the NYT content was made back when Google wanted to spider 'the invisible web' very strongly, and let that influence their judgement in the decision. Today they might decide differently, that setting a clear line over how they regard cloaking is more important than Google being able to boast that it has indexed the NYT...

I would certainly hope that to be the case, because it really does annoy users to be tantalised with snippets that they cannot access without making a deal, selling their privacy, or shelling out cash.

Google has made itself a part of deceptive listings with this issue, and deceptive listings are the most common base-line definition of spammy SEO.

#62 bwelford

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 05:56 PM

Excellent point, Ammon. It's all part of the writhings as the pre-Internet dinosaurs, such as the print 'heavies', try to figure out how to live in the post-Internet world. I don't think there are any easy answers for them.

#63 projectphp

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 06:07 PM

The question is tougher again with subscription based content that is available free for a period of time, e.g. Google grabs a page and you can access it staight away, but before a re-crawl, it is no longer visible.

Personally, I am OK with the subscription info being crawled, as long as it is labelled as such. Google News does that, and IMHO that puts the decision on me as to whether or not to click through and jump through hoops, without needing to remove from the index what is oft times valuable content.

#64 Ruud

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Posted 09 December 2005 - 12:46 AM

Google News will label certain sites as (subscription) but some of them when clicked on offer complete access to the page. Reached via another link they don't. Referrer "cloaking"?



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