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IP Cloaking – The Blackest of Black Hat SEO - Way Back Wednesday #8

Adrian Bredeson
by Adrian Bredeson on Aug 3, 2011 12:05:00 PM

IP Cloaking is a technical trick where Website servers feed a highly optimized Web page to search engine crawlers, but when human visitors arrived, the server fed them the real Home page. The server did this by identifying the IP address of the visitor. If it was a known IP address of a search engine crawler, the server fed the IP Cloaked page. If it was not, the server delivered the Home page of the client. This meant that the highly optimized Web Page for search crawlers was not seen by humans.

The highly search optimized Web page for search crawlers used huge fonts with software generating content that had precise keyword densities. This was back when keyword density mattered. The software-generated content was nonsense. But it did not matter since humans did not see the page.

E-Power Marketing President, Larry Stopa, explains further:

IP Cloaking was once a highly effective and lucrative search engine optimization technique. Before starting E-Power Marketing in 1998, I worked with a Web developer who used a search marketing partner. This search marketer did IP Cloaking, charging $600 for each keyword for each search engine plus $1.25 a click. They could charge that because it worked. The search marketer achieved #1 search positions for competitive keywords and the traffic flowed in.

Then suddenly the traffic stopped. The search engines identified the practice of IP Cloaking and banned domains practicing it. The search marketer would burn through domains. They used domains such as g1f632.com so they had no long-term value. When one domain was banned, they simply started a new one.

To minimize disruptions to the program, IP Cloakers spent a lot of time keeping track of search crawler IP addresses. But they had a hard time keeping up because search crawlers continued to multiply with new IP addresses.

So even in the 1990s, search engines could identify IP Cloaking and ban the domain. Today search engines are even more effective at discovering IP Cloaking and are even quicker at dishing out harsh punishments to the offender.

IP Cloaking apparently still happens today. It remains riskier than ever and much harder to be effective because of changing search engine algorithms. If the IP Cloaking is on a corporate domain, search engines will ban that domain resulting in considerable financial loss. If the IP Cloaking uses a new, throw-away domain, then that domain must first establish a number of inbound links and wait. It takes time for new domains to achieve search visibility. But the biggest reason IP Cloaking is not effective today is that keyword density is no longer important to search positioning. When high keyword density was important to search positioning, the resulting content was rough to read. IP Cloaking solved that by hiding the content.

If you want search visibility today, you will have to earn it with quality search optimized content that attracts links from other Websites. Paying for Black Hat SEO does not work in the long term. IP Cloaking has a huge downside with no chance for long-term search visibility.

What are your experiences with IP Cloaking? Have you been approached by an SEO that might have been doing this? They won't tell you that they will use IP Cloaking. Too many know it is the Blackest of Black Hat SEO to publicize it. Maybe you recognized this because program had incredible effectiveness to begin with, then nothing.

Follow the @EPowerMarketing Twitter account and use the #WayBackSEM hashtag to get in on the discussion!

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Adrian Bredeson
Written by Adrian Bredeson
As Director, SEO and Social Media at E-Power Marketing, Adrian is primarily focused on the organic success of client programs through SEO, social media and content marketing. Adrian also heads up the agency's marketing initiatives. With a background in psychology and PR, her passion for telling a brand's story by understanding and engaging with their target audiences has been put to good use at E-Power!

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