Detecting Semantic Cloaking on the Web

Baoning Wu and Brian D. Davison

Full Paper (10 pages)
Official ACM published version:
Author's version: PDF (198KB)

By supplying different versions of a web page to search engines and to browsers, a content provider attempts to cloak the real content from the view of the search engine. Semantic cloaking refers to differences in meaning between pages which have the effect of deceiving search engine ranking algorithms. In this paper, we propose an automated two-step method to detect semantic cloaking pages based on different copies of the same page downloaded by a web crawler and a web browser. The first step is a filtering step, which generates a candidate list of semantic cloaking pages. In the second step, a classifier is used to detect semantic cloaking pages from the candidates generated by the filtering step. Experiments on manually labeled data sets show that we can generate a classifier with a precision of 93% and a recall of 85%. We apply our approach to links from the dmoz Open Directory Project and estimate that more than 50,000 of these pages employ semantic cloaking.

In Proceedings of the 15th International World Wide Web Conference, pages 819-828, Edinburgh, Scotland, May 2006.

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Last modified: 7 July 2011
Brian D. Davison