Have you ever looked at a set of very competitive search results and wondered how in the world a certain website was ranking so well? The link profile just didn’t support their position. There’s a chance that website was using link cloaking to hide some of their links and prevent fellow SEOs from reverse engineering their rankings.
Link cloaking is the practice of linking to one site, an intermediary if you will, while sending bots, humans, or both to a completely different site. This has several benefits depending on how you setup your redirects.
So that the following examples are uniform and a little easier to understand, I will use the following terminology:
- Site A – The website containing a link to Site B.
- Site B – Website being linked to from Site A that may or may not redirect users and / or search engine bots to Site C.
- Site C – Website receiving web traffic and / or search engine bots from Site B through 301 redirects.
All Inclusive 301 Redirect
The most common form of link cloaking is a simple 301 redirect. Both bots and humans who click on a link from Site A to Site B are forwarded onto Site C through a 301 redirect. The link juice and anchor text are attributed to Site C while the link itself does not show up in a backlink search for Site C. This allows you the ability to send link juice and traffic to a bad neighborhood without actually linking to it.