A thread at HackerNews has Google's Matt Cutts defending itself over accusations that a split A/B test has allegedly caused Google to delist a site from the search engine.
The site claimed that when it added a split test, Google issued a warning that the site has been compromised and removed the site from the index. The truth is, the split test had nothing to do with it - the site was indeed compromised and because of that, Google had to secure the search results and remove the site from the index.
Google's Matt Cutts over the weekend replied to the thread saying:
There's a simpler explanation, which is that the site really was hacked as we claimed. Here's an example cached page that we crawled on May 2nd.
I count the name of one drug repeated over 100+ times.
I've been quite clear that there's nothing wrong with A/B testing. In fact, less than a month ago I tweeted that "A/B testing can be really helpful" and included a link to best practices: https://twitter.com/#!/mattcutts/statuses/191658511149711360
After more questions, Cutts even gave more details:
- some pages on the domain were definitely hacked across multiple pages for weeks.
- we detected hacked pages on the site both manually and algorithmically based on our hacked site classifier.
- we sent a message via the webmaster console on May 5th to alert the site owner so they'd have a heads-up.
- it looks like this has nothing at all to do with A/B testing (which as I've said before is perfectly fine to do).
So A/B or split testing or other forms of testing web sites is okay by Google as long as you don't test GoogleBot or don't treat GoogleBot differently.
Forum discussion at HackerNews.
Image credit to ShutterStock for testing images