Review of Peter Bray’s Search Engine Cloaker – Part 1

By | December 9, 2005

UPDATE: This review is now outdated, and I no longer recommend this product or these methods. I am leaving it here for informational purposes only. The experiment was short-lived for me. Did cloaking work? Yes it brought a little extra traffic, but I was not willing to commit to it as a part of my business, and I ended up getting rid of those domains. I also found that those who get good rankings for their shadow domains are in many cases using very spammy link building methods, which is another tactic that I’ve decided not to pursue. While some marketers have made a lot of money as a result of cloaking, those who spent their time on white hat SEO are a lot better off today than the black hatters. For the most up-to-date information and recommendations, please join my free newsletter.

Edition #10 – 12/09/2005

I’ve decided to give cloaking a try. I was somewhat inspired by reading the Rich Jerk ebook, in which he says he’s moved beyond “whitehat” SEO strategies because he doesn’t have time for them. He basically says cloaking is the way to go, if your conscience can handle it.

First of all, it’s definitely not illegal, so you can rest easy…I’m not going to jail. As far as being ethical, I’d say it’s really up for debate.

The search engines are highly against it for obvious reasons (it messes up their business plan), and in some respect I’m not a big fan of it either (it pollutes the web). Let’s just say I wish it weren’t necessary. If there was a fair system which guaranteed good and legitimate websites better rankings than bad ones, and if there were a system that guaranteed hard working entrepreneurs better rankings than slackers, then none of this would be necessary.

If you use the cloaker according to its indended purpose, it should be possible to drive traffic to a site from cloaked pages, and to do it in a way which does not create a negative experience for web users. In other words, if a user is looking for “dog houses” and your cloaked page comes up in the search results, it will take them to your real site about dog houses. Now if you took cloaking to the extreme and tried capturing traffic from totally unrelated topics and keywords, users would obviously be annoyed. For example, if they click on a dog house link and they arrive at a porn site they will be ticked off.

I paid $159.95 for the cloaker, and then I bought all the extras ($120.00 for unlimited domain license, $79.95 for the Extractor, $59.95 for the add-on templates, $59.95 for the static pages option, and $49.97 for another feature). So all-in-all I spent $530.00, which I figured was a much easier pill to swallow than $2,280 for the fantomas shadowMaker, which was the Rich Jerk’s other recommended cloaker.

For my test, I will use the cloaker responsibly, and only target keywords which are relevent to my site. I will be using the “shadow domain” technique, where I set up the cloaked pages on a seperate domain from the real site. When search engine bots visit the shadow domain, they see pages and pages of content which they will hopefully index. When a real person tries to access any page on the shadow domain, they will be silently redirected to the real domain.

This is done through the use of htaccess. It’s a little complicated, so I won’t get into the details here, but basically it’s supposed to be pretty safe as long as you keep your “bots list” up to date (which the program does automatically), and as long as you don’t abuse the system.

I have set up 10 shadow domains, and created links to them for the bots to follow. For obvious reasons, I’m not going to mention the actual domains. After about a month, I will post a follow up review and let you know how the program works.

8 thoughts on “Review of Peter Bray’s Search Engine Cloaker – Part 1

  1. robert

    Hi Eric,

    Cloaking takes a lot of time and effort to learn how to do it well. It is not as bad as the rap it has been getting, that is for sure. I think the webmasters that say its evil do so because they do not want anyone else to get in on their trip. Why else would they harp on it so hard?

    I know the big companies use cloaking. After you come to understand how it works and the way it is used, it is not very hard to spot websites that do it. When a webpage ranks well for a phrase that it is not optimized for, that is a good clue it is cloaked.

    As far as which cloaking software is the best, there is no question about it. I have them all and use two of them at present. Peter has a real good system, but it is more than just cloaking. Search Engine Cloaker or SEC builds the pages in real-time and cloakes them too. I use it as an error page script for when a human or a spider requests a page that is missing in action. A real friendly, if kind of newbie group of followers and a nice forum support the product.

    However, when it is time to get serious, the Fantomas Shadowmaker is the way to go. They also have a product called the Shadow Sniper that is more in the price range of the SEC product. Both are state of the art cloaking scripts and perform without a hitch. The Shadowmaker not only cloaks but generates the content as well. The Sniper is just for cloaking your own content.

    The thing that sets the Fantom Masters products apart is the Spider Spy IP Database that they offer. It is a service that updates the spider IP database used to sort out spiders from humans. It is updated everyday and plays an important part in any serious cloaking effort. In my option, it is necessary if you are going to cloak anything that matters.

    The key to cloaking is to understand the how everything works together. Log files also provide a great deal of information and understanding them really helps. In addition, one more thing, no mistakes! Even a tiny slip-up and you can really fall on your face.

    Overall, I think cloaking is a great way to promote a website. Nevertheless, do not think you can just buy a script and dive into it without doing your homework. In addition, do not use it on an important website until you gain some understanding of how it works. Book knowledge is almost worthless in this case. You have to learn the hard way, by doing it yourself. That is not easy when you consider there is no school for black hat seo.

    Now I do not want to link spam here because that is a lame way of doing things. Therefore, I will leave my URL so it cannot be spidered. If anyone wants to know more about cloaking, I am glad to help them learn. I am anti spam of any kind so please do not bother me if that is what you want to do. My site is http://rpm dot ods dot org. Remove the spaces and replace the dot with a .


    Robert McCulloch

  2. Eric Post author


    Thank you very much for your comments. I think you provided enough good info for us to realize you’re not a link spammer 😉

    I’ve read in the forums that Fanto Master is technically much more difficult to understand and run. Would you say that’s true?

    Also, you say that book knowledge about cloaking is worthless, probably because there’s no good books about it. Hmmm…. maybe we should write one?


  3. Roger

    Ditto…What were the results of your case study?

    I guess it worked too well! 😉

  4. Eric Post author

    The result was that it did bring some additional traffic, so it does work. But I decided not to continue building shadow sites, as I prefer a few whitehat methods of traffic generation that are working well for me.

  5. Nik

    I have to say good on you Eric! The web is an important part of the human evolution. If we all went on a cloaking parade there may as well not be search engines to convey the most relevant content to match our needs. In my opinion Google do their best to create a fully integrated system with many opportunities. Unfortunately money will always entice some to take shortcuts and compromise things for their own personal needs. Whitehat methods aren’t for people who dont have time to learn cloaking… they’re for people who give a sh#t about keeping the web top notch for generations to come.


  6. Dan Walter

    I love this product and I’ve bought a license good for all my sites. The way I see it, the search engines are doing pretty much the same thing anyhow. They aren’t coming up with content.. we are.. and they are making their fortunes on OUR backs.

    The problem now is, Search Engine Cloaker is no longer being supported. It hasn’t been updated in a year or more. They are offering a monthly deal on some other thing they’ve dreamt up to suckup the money, but I think an intelligent person can find a better way around all of this and pocket that expense.

    Personally, I’m playing with this thing while I work up my own version for my sites.


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