How to Fix a 403 Error When Running A Google Content Experiment
This is something I thought I’d share as it’s probably going to be an issue for a couple of reasons.
[blockquote]403 Error When Running A Google Content Experiment or Split A-B Test[/blockquote] 1) Google is weighting pagespeed into it’s ranking algorithms
2) Lots of people are now Split A/B testing their websites for speed / and/or other conversion optimisation goals.
In this case, MangoPublic had set up a simple experiment to speed up the homepage, and simplify the options presented to the visitor, by removing the slider at the top of the homepage.
Simple enough experiment right?
We’ve added our IP to a filter so that no office activity affects the result of the Content Experiment. But just to be extra safe, I want to give the search results page a wide berth 😉
Coming back to the office Monday, what do you know, another check I had to do on a SERP, led to me testing the link from Google.
BOOM. 403. Obviously we want this fixed.
Turns out that to run the Content Experiment, you have to whitelist timthumb (this allows the requesting of external elements into a script). Blocked by Apache mod_security, but needs whitelisting for this situation.
You can do this yourself, or have your server support guys do it for you, and that solves the problem.
Note* – in this situation, we’re running WordPress with the Google Content Experiments plugin enabled.
Hope that helps some of you out there trying to improve your own websites.