joined:Apr 1, 2016
I completing work on big project that I have been doing for a client. We have fully rebuilt the website from A-Z. The content has remained the same but the way the content is delivered and managed is completely new. The new version resides on a new server. The old site was mostly static content and the new version will be dynamically served. The current website gets a lot of traffic and generates good revenue.
The last time I did something like this, with my own website, I simply pulled the plug on the old and plugged it into the new. The transition went pretty well from a technical perspective. There were a few bugs but they were quickly ironed out. But there was something that I did that did not go over well with Google, or it was bad timing. My update happened at the same time as Google's March update. The new site took a nose dive only a few days after going live. Was it the signals from the old site that caused the dive or the design of the new version? No one knows.
This time the stakes are higher. I don't want to cause my client's site to take a plunge in the rankings.
After my experience it was suggested to me by Google that I should have transitioned to the new version. To progressively move from one version to the next.
It is worth mentioning here that the website in question is large in terms of pages, tens of millions of pages.
My initial thought is to handle this like an A/B test. I plan on using a Clouflare Worker to route a small percentage of the traffic to the new version and then progressively ramp up. This will allow me to test the server infrastructure to ensure it can handle the load and test the functioning of the site with real users while still giving me the ability to revert back fully to the old version with a flick of a switch.
My worry and the reason for this post is how does this impact Google?
I have read some of the recommendations for A/B testing like:
- use 302 redirect (temp) not a 301 (permanent),
- use rel=canonical tag,
- don't let the test run too long [it's not a test and how long is too long?],
- don't direct Google to one version and user to the other.
Is that it, what else should I be worrying about?