Next: Duplicate Content
Previous: Directories

Domain Cloaking

Many individuals and small companies have webspace as part of their Internet connection. However they don't want to run a site called something like:, because it doesn't look professional and it causes problems if the person moves their Internet Service Provider (ISP). A cheap and cheerful solution is to buy a domain from a domain registry. When a user connects to the website:, the domain registry sends a special message to the browser called a Moved Temporarily redirect containing the address of the real webserver. The browser will then connect to this address.

The Uniform Resource Locator in the browser's address toolbar will be that of the ISP hosted website, not the domain hosted by the registry. This has a number of disadvantages. Search engines will see two domains, anyone linking to the site will be confused as to which domain to use and for businesses it looks unprofessional. Most domain registries offer a solution called Domain Cloaking, Masked or Stealth Redirection. The term Domain Cloaking often causes confusion with Page Cloaking.

Domain Cloaking uses HTML Framesets. These split a page into separate panes that obtain their contents from other web pages. These pages can be on the local or remote server. The framed page itself is hosted by the domain registry and it is normally possible to specify the page title and some keywords and a description.

<frameset rows="100%,*" border="0" frameborder="0">
<frame name="__main" src="" noresize frameborder="0">

The problem is that the amount of content that can be included in the Frameset is a long way from what we would want a search engine optimizer. Worse still, it is generic for the whole site. Some search engines won't understand the Frame element and won't index the real site content. Other search engines that do understand Frames will index the content, but at its real address. In addition users will not be able to bookmark pages and will have trouble deep linking to your website as the URL shown in the browser address bar will always be the homepage.

Anyone serious about Search Engine Optimization will get proper web hosting. By all means forward other domains to this account but avoid this type of stealthy redirection.

Search Engine Optimization Book            

See Also

Uniform Resource Locators

Home ] Table of Contents ] Start ]