There are many good blog posts out there about SEO considerations when launching a new website — and for good reason. One of the largest problems that clients bring to us is, “we paid all of this money for a new site and our rankings have dropped…” Often times the transition of an old site to a new site is a mine field of problems when Google comes back to visit.
This is very important and without making sure your new site transitions well with SEO can result in a drastic drop in rankings and traffic. However, what about the forgotten child here – your PPC campaigns? Not addressing your paid search campaign within your website launch can also have disastrous impacts. Ads can be disapproved, or worse yet, visitors you are paying for can end up at dead or 404 pages. Traffic and conversion reporting can go awry. Sharks with lasers may attack your office. Well, no. But you get the idea.
Over the last 7 years and dozens of these transitions later, here is my checklist for projects and one you may want to keep in mind.
- Site launch timing. The actual site launch itself is important. Knowing the timing and exact date are two critical components. Often times, it is not a bad idea to pause your campaigns for an interim time to make sure all of the punch list items of the new site have been looked after. Think Murphy’s Law. Make sure contact pages are working and make sure all landing pages and pre-fixed domains are working properly.
- Destination URLs. The most basic and important check is to make sure that all ads have destination URLs that are going to live pages. Any of your ads going to your home page should be safe (unless your domain is changing). However, any ads that are going to internal pages covering specific products or services, which is a good practice, should be looked to and adjusted to go to your new URLs. Don’t rely on your redirects because you don’t want to risk clicks going to dead pages, or ad disapprovals based on invalid response codes.
- Messaging in ad copy. If your site has been redesigned, chances are your brand positioning may have been transformed as well. Be sure your ad copy mirrors this messaging. This is very important in search text ads and even more critical for banner ads that you may be running in your managed placement or remarketing campaigns.
- Extensions. When editing destination URLs, don’t forget about your sitelink extensions. Sending these to dead links or 404s, or the wrong section of the site can have very bad results.
- Google Analytics code. This is a very common culprit. DON’T ASSUME THIS IS JUST GOING TO MIGRATE OVER. Be sure to check with your development team to ensure that the GA code is going to be migrated over and that you don’t want or need the new code. Use the same previous code from the site so that using historical analyses are efficient and easy to do.
- Google Remarketing code. Same as above, never assume! Be sure that your remarketing tag is migrated over so that your audience keeps building. Additionally, if you had custom tags set up for audiences based on specific viewed pages, those need to be adjusted as well with your new page URLs.
- Conversion and goal tracking. When a user submits a contact form for you, your /thanks.html page is now /thank_you.php. That’s a big deal and can result in a sudden drop in conversion tracking, which usually leads to a major panic. Make sure you edit these pages right at launch to make sure there aren’t any gaps in conversion data.
- Keyword ideas. Does your new site incorporate more keyword clusters? Is it deeper and have more detail on products or services? This can lend itself to more possible ad groups to test, so don’t forget to look at the new information architecture of the site for keyword possibilities.
A new website is always exciting and stressful. Hopefully this checklist helps you launch your site and ensures a smooth transition for your PPC campaign.