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Testing different homepages - Potential Google Problem?

     
3:34 pm on Jul 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

we have a website and will be trying out showing a user one of three different homepages at random which then stores a cookie on their machine and shows them the same page for 24 hours.

The pages will be quite different from each other, can any one see any issues Google may have with this, and if so are there any solutions?

Cheers

7:28 pm on July 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator phranque is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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i have just a few of brief comments to give you some things to think about:

this probably won't cause any cloaking-related issues since the behavior is not based on user agent.

the googlebot won't store a cookie but it probably won't make multiple homepage url requests within 24 hours either.

not sure what the seo issues would be with multiple pages for a url request and it probably also depends on whether this is an internal rewrite or external redirect.
if it is external you should also consider canonicalization issues.

3:34 pm on July 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

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There was a video on google by Matt Cutts replying to some questions. In it he said that if googlebot reads a page more than once, and every time it gets something different that this will raise suspicious.

One idea to avoid changing the content of the page is to present the different content in an IFrame, and once the user likes it store the cookie and present the formatted page. After all, robots don't store cookies (at least till today).

Of course this depends on how large is the different part. If it is too large IFrames won't be a practical solution.

3:49 pm on July 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

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You should probably set your server to return a status of 503 wich will tell googlebot to return later, once your experiment if terminated. Of course is a risky practice...