Cloaking is a technique by which a website serves different content to users based on their IP addresses. This is done by delivering content based on the IP addresses or the User-Agent HTTP header of the user requesting the page. Cloaking has been debated quite numerous times, as to whether it can be seen as a black hat or a white hat seo technique.
Let’s try to see it from both sides:
Scenario A where Cloaking can be seen as a white hat technique:
A website needs to present their content based on the nationality or language of the user, which the site determines based on the IP address from where the request reaches the web server. There are certain websites which wish to show different type of content to its readers (especially online news papers).
Eg: Google search engines offers localized versions of its search engine showing up based on which country the user try to access it from, even if he tries opening google.com website.
Scenario B where Cloaking can be seen as a black hat technique.
When a user is identified as a search engine spider, a server-side script delivers a different version of the web page, one that contains content not present on the visible page. The purpose of cloaking is to deceive search engines so they display the webpage when it would not otherwise be displayed.
Assume that my search in Google for “Honda Civic” returned a listing of a page that looked like it had all the information I was looking for and upon reaching the website I realize that they actually sell pornography.
For a webpage without natural popularity in the search engines, webmasters may be tempted to design pages solely for the search engines. Its certainly cloaking as how search engines see it, no matter how pure your intentions where while you designed your website. Search engines have to always stand by the user’s side and safeguard their best interest in finding out a website that could provide them with relevant, useful information or service.
Link farming as the name says can be seen as a farm to raise links to websites.
As for Search Engines, they assume that if more websites link to yours, the higher should be your rank in their results since more inbound links indicate a higher level of popularity for your website in the Internet space.
Imagine you create a website and allow other websites to place a link on your website, no matter what they service or sell from their website, where there will be no categories or groupings of any sort, just thousands of links all placed serially into the same page, the whole idea being to just provide inbound links to websites which pay for this service, thereby tricking search engines by making them believe these to be genuine inbound links for those third party websites. A link farm does not have any content or useful information anywhere on their site. They are there just for the sake of providing links for other websites. This certainly is a black hat seo technique that was prevalent for quite some time, but has now been mostly withdrawn since search engines are now aware of it and has started banning websites that are listed with such farm websites.
Adding a link to your website on a link farm can cause your site to be penalized by the search engines as well.
Inbound link analysis has been followed by major search engines to measure a site’s popularity in the internet. Every inbound link would add as a vote to that website. However the quality of the website which provides the links also matters. Certainly link farms come under black hat seo technique and by any means avoid getting your website listed with such illicit sites.
Any text on your website, that carries the same color as its background (or anything closer!), or carries too low a font size that makes it barely visible to human eyes, qualify to be called as ‘invisible’ text.
Invisible Text has been used for keyword spamming and ever since search engines detected it, this method has been treated to be unethical SEO. Every Search Engine has now refined its algorithm to detect spam text and they blacklist any websites found to be following such unethical practices. Hence Invisible Texting is rarely practiced by any websites these days.