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I want to do an A B test of an entire site for a new design and UX with only slight changes in content (a big brand site that has good Google rankings for many generic keywords.

My idea of implementation is doing a 302 redirect to the new version (placing it on www1 subdomain) and allowing only user agents of known browsers to pass. The test version will have disallow all in the robots text.

Will Google treat this favorably or do I have to use Google Website Optimizer (which will give me tracking headaches)?

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3 Answers 3

Why wouldn't you use Google Website Optimizer? On dynamic pages such as big ecommerce sites with template systems and SEF URL's I use the multivariate option with a single variation rather than the A/B test which forces a redirect to a static page. I've also ran multivariate tests with 8 variations of a single pages content. I would use GWO as Google will know what your original page is vs test pages. And once you have a significant steady lead of conversions from one of the variations end the test select the winner and change your code. GWO is easy to use, what you're planning seems overkill for a simple A/B test to mess with redirecting certain user agents. And it's possible if Google finds out through some automated system it may look like your trying to trick Google bot into seeing one version of your site while others are seeing another. Go with Google Website Optimizer

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I have used GetClicky.com for this. They have the ability to set goals and have user actions trigger the goals. What I do is serve up different content to the page and use a server side trigger to log the action on clicky and then if the user takes an action I can use a server side trigger to log the goal. You can do the logging with Javascript too, but I found the server side logging to be more accurate.

I found this much simpler than Google's Website Optimizer.

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This should not affect as you are clearly indicating the redirect is temporary with 302.

The site redirected to is blocked in robots.txt which should be fine as logically a 302 and blocked robots.txt does indicate a temporary arrangement. Many sites go through such transitions especially during redesigns and Google should be familiar with this by now.

Google will retain the original site and ignore the temporary new one.

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