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Will This Kind Of Testing Hurt My Ranks?

     
7:25 pm on Sep 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I rank very high in certain retail related keywords in Google. If I want to run a test on my site for certain reasons and create dulpicate pages for the entire site and put the rel no follow no index on them will they def. not appear as indexed and mess up the regular site's organic ranks, for example.

www.example.com/product is the current well indexed and highly ranked site.

www.example.com/test/product .. if I put rel no follow no index on everything with these URLs that start www.example.com/test/ will that harm my regular site at all or is it fine? I need to make sure.

Thanks very much in advance.

[edited by: tedster at 7:44 pm (utc) on Sep. 19, 2008]
[edit reason] switch to example.com - it can never be owned [/edit]

8:32 pm on Sept 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

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The nofollow attribute for links is to exclude individual links from being used for content discovery (so if there are no other links than the one you nofollow, theoretically none of it will get indexed by search engines that support the attribute.

To exclude volumes of content, and in particular a subdirectory, the Robots Exclusion Protocol is what you need. A robots.txt file can exclude all spiders from your test directory with the content below:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /test/

Naturally, you're also well advised to ensure there are no links to your test content.

Some people (myself included) prefer password-protecting development pages via HTTP authentication - while you can exclude spiders, that doesn't stop your pages being publicly available.

If you're split testing or similar, robots exclusion is the way to go. You can also use a meta robots element if it's only a few pages, e.g. <meta name="robots" content="none">.

8:55 pm on Sept 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

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There will links going to the test section from Pay Per Click advertising, none from natural organic traffic. That is part of the test to see which pages make more money ones with pay per click adsense or Yahoo advertsing on them on those without. I just don't want to damage my natural ranks in the process of running pages with ads on them that that have the same content otherwise.

So knowing that, what do you advise and how confidant are you that the regualar, real site won't get penalized for having a /Test section of dup pages showing yahoo ppc feeds for example.

Thanks so much.

9:15 pm on Sept 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

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If you robots exclude the pages, you'll have no issues. That's pretty much standard practice, and I do the same for testing all the time.

In addition, the vast majority of pay per click URLs (Yahoo's included) go through a redirect that is it itself robots excluded, so it is quite hard for search engines to even discover URLs used there. They can still pick them up occasionally, but it still won't affect your organic search results (as long the test is conducted on excluded pages).