You have to then follow an elaborate remedy process using the Fetch as Google Tool in Webmaster Tools. It is all about narrowing down and detecting that part of your site which looks different to the search bot compared with what is seen by the naked eye. The problem content has to be then removed.
You are also believed to cloak if your site redirects users to a different page than what Google saw. Here the remedy is to identify those URLs doing the redirect and have them removed.
Once these remedies are done, a site owner has to use the Reconsideration Tool and ask Google to remove the penalty. It’s a long process and one has to have lots of patience. It’s much better to make sure that the penalty is never slapped on your website in the first place.
Because of Google’s no-nonsense stance, popular sentiment is against cloaking, which is considered a criminal activity. But please remember that site owners may have have their innocent reasons for why they did cloaking. So a blanket labeling of cloaking as ‘criminal’ is not the right approach.
NETSCAPE KICKED OFF CLOAKING
Recently, while reading an interview with Greg Boser, one of the pioneers in the field of Search Engine Optimisation, I got a totally different view on cloaking.
According to him, cloaking began as a well-intentioned, perfectly legitimate activity. It goes like this. At one time, Netscape was warring with Microsoft for survival after the Redmond giant released its own version of a user-friendly browser (Internet Explorer) and distributed it free with its operating system. The intention was to kill Netscape, which it eventually did. Netscape was a pioneer which made Net access easy for the masses by creating a easy-to-use browser, which it had given away free.
It is difficult to believe now that before Netscape came along, a user had to type in a series of code to access the World Wide Web. The Web would have remained a plaything of the nerds if a browser like Netscape hadn’t come along.
To cut the story short, Netscape worried that folks at Redmond were accessing its site and doing competitive analysis constantly to find out what it was up to. To prevent this, engineers at Netscape identified the series of IP addresses used by Microsoft and prepared a dumbed down version of its website exclusively for Microsoft folks opening its website.
This was how cloaking began as a perfectly legitimate activity according to Greg Boser. But of course, it was later misused a lot.