Google posts guidelines for conducting A/B or multivariate tests on your website
If you are tasked with managing or maintaining your company’s web presence, at some point you might want to test various versions of your site to find which one works the best. Luckily, Google provides clear guidelines on how you can conduct A/B or multivariate testing and stay clear of any search engine optimization (SEO) issues. Here are the four tips provided by the search engine company.
1.) Don’t cloak – Make sure that you’re not deciding whether to serve the test, or which version to serve, based on user-agent. For example, don’t serve the original content when you see the user-agent “Googlebot.”
2.) Use rel=canonical – Instead of using a noindex meta tag, you should use rel=canonical options because they match your intent more closely in testing situations. If you’re testing variations of your homepage, you don’t want search engines to not index your original site, and using rel=canonical can help make this possible.
3.) 302 – A 302 is a temporary direction method that tells search engines that this redirect is temporary, and bots should treat your variants as such when ranking content.
4.) Update content – When your tests are completed, update the content immediately. If you don’t remove the temporary content in a timely manner, your website may suffer from specific SEO penalties.
Following these steps can help you improve your online marketing tests and make the most of your web presence.