What is Cloaking?


Changing landing page

Cloaking means you show one landing page to a certain percentage of the audience, and a different landing page to the rest.

  • Banned Offer – bypass reviewers
    • For Bing, the cloaker will detect if someone is working for Microsoft, and it sends them to another page of your choosing. You can send to any page, but we’ll go with an iPhone slots game. However, the cloaker sends everyone else to your “real” landing page which is the gambling website.
  • Banned Landing Page Techniques
    • Exit pops or GEOIP scripts
  • Fenced off other affiliates
    • Avoid copying to visit IP log – took down the top IP addresses that visited my landing page.

Google, Bing, and Facebook are the most popular traffic sources for cloaking because the volume’s the highest. You can write a cloaker for any traffic source though.

  • Fake Facebook Accounts
  • Write your own Cloaker as it is underground technique

Mask Affiliate URL

Why we mask my affiliate link?

  • The “historical” reason for this is hiding from search engines that you’re an affiliate.
  • Ease of management – single place to change it
  • Affiliate links are ads and should be nofollowed or otherwise altered to prevent leaking PageRank to the advertiser.
  • Clean links

Someone uses cloaking technique just to hide their affiliate link. For example:

  • Affiliate link: http://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=588471&u=528889&m=48436&urllink=&afftrack=
  • Cloak link: http://crunchify.com/i/godaddy

How to cloak it?

  • Create a folder from where you’ll serve your redirects. We can use /i/.
  • Block the /i/ folder in your robots.txt file by adding “Disallow /i/”.

  • Create an index.php, redirects.txt and .htaccess under the folder /i/. The index.php script will read the redirects.txt file and perform 302 redirect that can preserve its PageRank, MozRank, Page Authority and Traffic Value. The .htaccess is here to prettify the cloaked url so you can do /i/[name] rather than /i?id=name. Below the author of Yoast plugin shows you how to write those files:

  • If you are using nginx instead of apache, you need to change your nginx conf rather than .htaccess like below:

  • Alternatively, for apache based web server, you can simply put this .htaccess under the home folder to achieve the same result.
  • If you are wordpress users, you could use plugins like Redirection, ThirstyAffiliate, etc. However, those needs to be booted with WordPress and those are not as fast as .htaccess or script redirection.

  • After your redirection is setup, you need to make sure your cloaked urls don’t leak out Google juice to the advertisers via rel=nofollow. For more detailed about nofollow, you can read this

References


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What is Cloaking?

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