Ian Lurie // Apr 10 2007
Google Website Optimizer lets you test various headlines, product shots and other page elements against each other. And it’s free. Wouldn’t you always want to use it?
No – ironically, Google’s Website Optimizer engages in a practice that some call ‘cloaking’. That practice may lead to search ranking penalties from – you guessed it – Google. Google’s own Matt Cutts has a great summary of the tactic here.
Optimizer causes your web browser to replace parts of the page you’re viewing, like so:
So, by using Google Website Optimizer, you can actually end up being penalized by Google, as well as Yahoo and MSN.
However, all is not lost. Here’s how you can use the optimizer without getting into trouble:
Everything I’ve seen so far tells me Google’s Website Optimizer is a fantastic tool. But like all tools, it makes sense to use it judiciously. Be mindful of the potential issues, protect yourself against potential cloaking penalties, and you’ll be fine.
Ian Lurie is founder and CEO of Portent Inc., an internet marketing agency that has provided internet marketing, including PPC, SEO, social and analytics services, since 1995. Read More