For SEO, cloaking is a technique used to deceive search engine algorithms into ranking a website higher. In the past, unethical techniques such as hidden text and links were used, but they are no longer effective. Nowadays, administrators use specific cloaking applications and plugins or manually modify the .htaccess file. After changing this file, administrators can configure the mod_rewrite module to detect IP addresses that belong to a search engine bot.
When the crawler scans the page, it will see content that is optimized with keywords to rank higher in the SERPs.
Search enginesstrongly discourage cloaking and will penalize or even blacklist a website if they catch it using cloaking techniques. Some webmasters and programmers mistakenly think that they need to use cloaking to protect the source code of their website. However, search engines don't care why someone chooses to use cloaking; they just see it as a form of deception and will penalize accordingly.
A good SEO practice is to have the highest possible “TEXT to HTML” ratio, meaning that there should be more text (content) compared to HTML tags. If someone is writing short articles or posts, the text-to-HTML ratio will be very low. To avoid redesigning the website, people may choose to cloak in order to comply with SEO guidelines. When it comes to SEO, there are also some misconceptions about white hat SEO.
White-hat SEO is good, but white-hat cloaking isn't considered good practice. Cloaking at its core is bad and is a black hat technique in which a website presents different URLs or content to users and search engine crawlers. This is an attempt to trick search engines into ranking the website higher in the SERPs. Search engines will penalize or blacklist a website if they catch it using cloaking techniques.
Cloaking is also used as a traffic boosting technique in which a site's honor manipulates the search engine to display different descriptions of your web page in Google search results. This technique is used to manipulate both the search engine and the user, which is why SEO cloaking is also known as black hat SEO. Cloaking involves providing users with content or information that is different from what search engine crawlers see. For example, if a normal Joe the Plumber were to visit a cloaked website, they would see something different from what search crawlers would encounter when they visit the same site.
To sum up, cloaking is an SEO technique in which users are provided with content or information that is different from what search engine crawlers see. It is an attempt to trick search engines into ranking the website higher in the SERPs and should be avoided at all costs as it can lead to penalties or blacklisting from Google or other search engines.