If you’re running variations for A/B testing, personalization, or any digital experimentation, you’re probably dealing with the pain of redirects. They seem like a necessary evil, but they cause all sorts of problems, like slow page performance, poor SEO, and flicker — hits that can dramatically offset any conversion benefit you’re getting from testing and personalization in the first place. The reason you’re stuck in this no-win situation is because your optimization platform depends on a bunch of code rendered in the browser to do its job. This means, a given page has to actually reach the browser before it even knows to redirect. SiteSpect bypasses this issue by not using redirects at all, we use rewrites instead. This is how it works.
The Problem With Redirects
To execute a redirect, a tag-based optimization tool will create two URLs, and then use either a 301 or 302 redirect to split traffic. That means that in order for the correct experience to load, your browser needs to make an extra jump — which leads to slower page load times and flicker. This not only creates a slow user experience, which research shows hurts conversions, but also hurts SEO. Search engines penalize redirects for cloaking ( cloaking (presenting different content to the user and the browser), slower sites perform worse in search results, and overall redirects lower page authority.
Marketers tend to think of redirects as a necessary evil, and in fact with most optimization tools it is. However, SiteSpect has a different method that saves you time, pain, and money.
How Rewrites Work
We know that a redirect is a two-step process where a new page gets delivered before the original loads. A rewrite only delivers the correct page, streamlining the process and improving the experience. Here’s how it works.
When SiteSpect is in your traffic flow, it sits between the browser and the server.
Instead of executing a 301 or 302 redirect, SiteSpect segments and implements the change before the request gets to the server. So what does that mean for you?
First of all, it eliminates that second stop your browser makes to provide the correct content. Or, as most marketers call it, the bane of your marketing existence. That simple difference solves all kinds of problems. For the end user, it eliminates any risk of flicker because there is only one experience to load. It also dramatically speeds up the page load time, which on its own will increase conversions.
For search engines, rewriting the URL means you’re not displaying any contradictory information. There are no red flags for search engines. Again, you can provide several versions of a page and not see a hit to your SEO.
If you are looking to optimize your site, and personalize or test various experiences, rewrites solve the pains that redirects cause.