Google Website Optimizer May Be A “Stormy Teacup”

Not everyone is excited about Google’s Website Optimizer. Google uses AdBot, a version of GoogleBot, to spider through the landing pages that are entered with AdWords Campaigns. AdBot judges the contents of the landing pages and assigns them a Quality Score. The higher your score, the lower your minimum bids and the better position your ads achieve. So in order for your Pay-Per-Click Campaigns to work well, you better be doing Search Engine Optimization well.

According to this analysis by Andrew Girdwood at e-Consultancy, the way that Google’s Website Optimizer changes the content on your page in order to increase conversion, conflicts at a very basic level with the things you should be doing for your long-term SEO.

On the list of concerns:

  • Google dislikes pages that present one set of content to GoogleBot, but which appear to say something else to users
  • Probable heavy use of javascript to run the optimizer does not play well with long-term SEO objectives
  • Creating seperate PPC landing pages creates duplicate content on your site which means your own internal pages are competing with each other for rank in the Google search result

One possible solution is to protect the URLs to your PPC landing pages from GoogleBot through use of the robots.txt file while still allowing AdBot to get to them. That way you can create duplicate SEO friendly content for your PPC pages (remember, you want a good Quality Score) without conflicting with your other long-term SEO goals.

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  • Jon Fredkove


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  • Jeff Horsager

    Danny Sullivan (Search Engine Land) has a great post on the first concern — is it cloaking? I think eventually, after getting statistically significant results, you would stop testing landing pages with GWO. So I’m personally not concerned about it effecting long term SEO strategies. Also, as a marketer I keep landing pages for PPC campaigns completely seperate from the main site. Landing pages are sales copy, not seo copy. Trying to accomplish both objectives with a landing page guarantees you’ll come up short in both categories. I think that this should be an online marketing best practice. I don’t think page rank should even be a concern with landing pages — just conversion. I have written an article on the GWO at