Cloaking  (from English "to cloak" - a mask, hide) is one of the methods of hiding or substituting the content of the site pages based on pre-created rules for different categories of visitors.

At the dawn of site building, cloaking was extremely primitive and was used in doorways to show optimized content to search bots, and visitors to redirect directly to sponsors.
For this we used simple PHP scripts or rules in .htaccess, based on the visitor's IP address and his User Agent.

Over time, the functionality of cloaking has increased steadily. Also, the scope of its application expanded. At the moment, modern cloaking systems for functionality, practically no different from the systems of traffic distribution TDS (Traffic Delivery System).

At the moment, cloaking is used in many areas:

  • Cloaking in doorways. Traditional use of cloaking using modern functionality.
  • Cloaking when working with social networks (Facebook, Vkontakte, Instagram, etc.). Allows to advertise in these networks of goods and services, advertising is limited by the administration of these networks.
  • Cloaking in traffic arbitrage. Allows you to increase the effectiveness of advertising for different categories of visitors.
  • And also, in many other areas of webmaster activity, where it is necessary to issue different content based on pre-created rules.

The result of cloaking can be:

  • Redirect the visitor to another URL.
  • Full replacement of page content.
  • Partial replacement of page content, for example text in ad units.

The principle of cloaking is very simple:

  • The webmaster makes the rules of cloaking.
  • The cloaking script embedded in the page collects the maximum possible information about the visitor before giving out content to the visitor and passes it to the decision module.
  • This module, based on pre-compiled rules and received information about the visitor, decides whether to implement cloaking for this visitor or not and returns this solution to the cloaking script on the page, which performs the necessary actions described above.

By type, the cloaking system can be:

  • Service of cloaking. In this case, the decision module, the database and the statistics are located on a separate server. Access to statistics and management of cloaking is usually done through the web interface. And cloaking scripts located on different sites send requests and receive decisions about the production of cloaking from the central service script. The advantage of this type of cloaking is that it's easy to connect multiple sites to the cloaking service and manage cloaking on all these sites from a single control panel.
  • Cloaking script. In this case, the decision module is built into the cloaking script and the whole system is located directly on the site.


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