Almost all business owners today have knowledge of online marketing. As this is the era of internet and most users do purchases, shopping etc using online methods so business get to know how important is to get online presence of their business.
So when almost every big or small industry is having presence in online world so their next concern always remains to attract more visitors. For enhancing their sales they keep on experimenting new things on their websites by making changes to content or layout or graphics etc. However due to the various steps taken by Google against duplicacy the most of website owners are scared of implementing A/B or multivariate testing. No doubt they know that they are not going to perform the testing for getting better ranks but better sales, yet they are scared of the myth that their site can get penalized by Google affecting their Google ranking really badly.
However Google in a very recent post declared that if webmasters take care of some guidelines then they won’t have to get worried about having impact on their Google rankings while performing tests on their sites.
However before proceeding, I would like to clear the concept of A/B & Multivariate Testing:
What is A/B Testing?
This form of testing deals with creating different URLs for a webpage, the page that we want to test with different formats. So when your visitors visit to your original URL, you then redirect some users to the other version of the page which is having different URL. This testing helps you in comparing the user behavior on both the different pages.
What is Multivariate Testing?
Unlike the A/B, Multivariate testing doesn’t deal with different URLs of a page but more precisely testing the different elements inside the page. For this you basically use a program to change some elements in the page and offering the same page with little modifications in page elements to different users. For example is you are testing whether having a small image can perform better or a large one, then you can configures the software program to present the same page to a visitor with small image and presenting the same page with big image to the other visitors and the software program will be recording the behavior for both users for later comparisons. It is usually done on different URL’s so that it can be recorded that which page has better Conversion rate.
Google presented some important guidelines to give some relief to the webmasters who are having myths about testing effects on website ranking:
As always Google mentions in its quality Guidelines – a big no to cloaking – even while performing tests on your site. Cloaking basically means presenting a different content to crawler and offering a totally different one to the users. Google strictly repeated that you must offer the real page to the crawler when you are performing the testing.
Make Use of rel=”canonical” Tag
As in A/B testing more than one URL is made for a page which you want to test so you would definitely getting confused over whether Google will count other versions of the page ( created for testing) as duplicated ones. Well Google has clarified advising to use rel=”canonical” tag for all the other URLs of a page you created for testing purpose only. You have to use your original page’s URL as canonical URL in all other versions of that page.
Use Temporary Redirect ( 302 ) for Experiments
Also many a times in A/B testing we required to redirect some visitors to variation page URL rather than original page URL so in that case you might be confused over using Permanent or Temporary redirection. Well Google next clarifies the concept by advocating use of temporary redirects in case of such testing.
Run the Tests for actually required time
The last point which Google includes in its post is to take care of the time the testing should run. The official article states that one should always study the factors driving the testing to calculate the time needed and then should stop testing to lead to making changes to your site as per the testing results and comparisons. Google has made it completely clear that It will be going to take action against the sites which will lead to testing for long times than expected.
So most of the webmasters now would be relieved as Google post said that if one is going to follow the mentioned guidelines while opting for site testing then there will be very little or may be no impact on the site’s ranking at all in SERPs.