If you are changing the URLs of your website, please, please, please read this blog! Tell your web people to read it too! Your Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing & Bing results will thank you.
Twice in the last month I’ve had clients change their website URLs without telling me (and one of the other PPC account managers here had it happen to them just yesterday). I either find it because PPC ads start getting declined at Google AdWords or Yahoo, or conversions drop off, or something happens that I go snooping around to check.
There’s very little that’s worse than clicking on a PPC ad and seeing “Server Error: 404 – File or directory not found.” And it’s so easy to prevent it.
If you are changing your URLs, please, at the very least, do a 404 error redirect to your home page or site map. Another better option is to create a Custom 404 page. Or better yet, do a redirect to the correct new page, so a searcher lands on what they expect to see.
A 404 error redirect will send a person right on to your homepage instead of landing on the dreaded stock 404 page. A custom redirect can even communicate more information like a “personal” message and how they can solve it (By the way, having a custom 404 Error page is a good practice, regardless if you change your URLs or not. In fact, I previously wrote a blog called “404 Errors – Save Those Clicks” ). And the best way of all is redirecting each old URL to the new, correct URL, so that the searcher doesn’t even know there was anything wrong.
And of course, please let your PPC Management Company know – preferably BEFORE the change happens. If we have access to the new site mapping, we can have your change-over ads ready to go when the site change happens. Or at least know that it’s happening so we can fix everything fast instead of spending money on wasted PPC advertising clicks.