Sometimes an image or a change in content can impact in gaining a huge website conversion. With A/B testing, the above is possible and it’s one fantastic way for online marketers to convert the just visitors to customers.
On the other hand, Google checks for non-indexable information and considers it as one of the greatest sins in the rules of SEO.
So, does A/B testing with Freshmarketer create a negative impact on my website ranking? No.
Though Googlebots strictly penalize the act of cloaking the website content, Google still suggests a few best practices under their guidelines and supports A/B testing of a website.
"Cloaking refers to the practice of presenting different content or URLs to human users and search engines. Cloaking is considered a violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines because it provides our users with different results than they expected.“ - By definition of Google.
According to Google, ethical use of testing tools for content experimentation is not considered as cloaking. Google might charge you if the spirit of the content in the original page is varied.
This article discusses four ways you can make sure of running an A/B test on your site without a drop of worry on SEO ranking.
- Use rel= “canonical” link attribute: Duplicate versions of page(s) might be created to undergo testing. Use this tag to make Google algorithm understand it’s a duplicate page and not to be indexed. The canonical tag on duplicate URL(s) will prevent the pages from getting indexed.
Usage: In split URL testing, when you have several variation pages (different URL) with the duplicate content, then mentioning each variation as “canonical” will make Google crawlers point the original page(which does not have canonical attribute). This helps Google index your original page and not any of the variations.
Example: Consider the webpage http://example.com/index1.html. This webpage also has a variation page http://example.com/index2.html. While running split or A/B test experiment, there is a fair chance that Google might index both the web pages and perceive it to be data cloaking. To avoid this, use canonical tag on the variation page(s) so that Google discards those pages, paving way for the Google crawlers to index the original page (index1.html).
<html> <head> <link rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com/index1.html" /> </head> </html>
Add rel=”canonical” in the tag of the HTML in the non-canonical page.
- Use 301 redirect from original to variation page: Usage of 301 and 302 redirect depends on how long it takes for you to change the original page with the experiment results. It is always a best practice to use 301 redirect, a permanent redirect that preserves 90% of link juice. A 302 redirect literally means that the move is temporary. If a 302 redirect is used instead of 301 then, Google might continue to index the old URL and mark the new URL as the content duplicate.
- Don’t run a test longer than necessary: Experts recommend you to remove the variations from the test and update the website with the content of the winning variation as soon as possible. When a test is run longer than the expected, Google might interpret it as a disguised method of data cloaking. This is confirmed when a variation page is shown for a longer period to a larger group of users.
- Snippet loading time: According to Google webmaster, a website’s speed is one factor considered for website ranking. Since Freshmarketer snippet is recommended to be loaded synchronously, it should not have any impact on the search ranking of a website.