4 Paid Search Tips for Website Redesigns

You’ve made the decision to redesign your site but want to know what you need to do to prevent as little disruption to your SEO and paid advertising as possible. My colleague Jill wrote an entire blog about the SEO end of it, which I encourage you to read. But from a paid advertising perspective, there are four key areas you’ll need to tackle if you are redesigning your website: ad URLs, Shopping Feeds, ad copy, and site coding.

Before we dive in, here are the questions to ask yourself:

  1. Are my URLs changing? In an ideal world, your page URLs would not change. But nine times out of ten, they will be different, especially if you switch platforms. That’s where the bulk of the work comes in because that will affect your ads including your ad extensions, and your shopping feeds.
  2. Is my site messaging changing?
  3. Have I thought about all that site code that allows for conversion tracking?

If your URLs will be different on the new site design, then setting up 301 redirects is the first step. This is extremely important for both SEO and paid search. You’ll see it covered in Jill’s SEO blog, as well as learn more about it here. 301 redirects, in a nutshell, will save your organic rankings and will allow any ads that point to your old URLs to move to your new URLs. 

But from a paid search standpoint, just allowing the 301 redirects to do all the work isn’t optimal because you can lose valuable tracking when a URL is redirected. Google Analytics doesn’t always play nice with redirects. So what do you do?

Update Your Ad URLs

When a JumpFly client lets us know that they are redesigning their site with new URLs, we give them a list of the URLs being used in their ads and request them to give us the new URLs. This should theoretically be easy since 301 redirects will have been set up to point from old to new.

Then, we take that new list and find all instances of the old URL and create a copied version of the ad, pointing at the new URL. Once the site goes live, we can run both the old and new ads at the same time (because you have 301 redirects in place) until the new ads have been approved and have started to collect data. This helps mitigate some of the disruptions that can take place when you launch all new ads. Other things you’ll need to remember to change:

  • Site Link Extension URLs
  • Price Extension URLs
  • Promotion Extension URLs
  • Double-check that if you use the search function on your website to produce URLs that you use in ad copy, that the format for that is still the same. They are easy to overlook.

Update Your Shopping Feeds

If you are an ecommerce company and run Shopping ads, the next piece to consider is the feed that you submit to various platforms like Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising. Ask yourself: Are you redesigning your site on your existing ecommerce platform, or are you switching to a whole new platform?

If the answer is an existing platform, and you connect directly to the Merchant Centers or use a feed management system, very likely, the move will be seamless. Your ecommerce platform will automatically update, like the URL or the title or description. (Note for Magento users: if you are upgrading from 1.9 to 2, consider this a platform change – it’s so extensive that it requires a new setup.)

But if you are changing platforms, that’s when planning is required. A lot of planning. When you switch platforms, almost everything will be different, including product IDs, URLs, even the names of attributes. Give yourself plenty of time to make the adjustments. Ideally, you’ll be able to set up the feed using your dev site so that it’s staged and ready to push live once the site is ready for advertising. 

If you’ve been using a manual feed using an Excel spreadsheet or a Google Sheet, you’ll need to update your URLs, your descriptions, your titles, and anything else that might be different than it was. Have that ready to go live when the site switches to the new design.

Depending on your current Shopping campaign setup, you’ll also most likely need to create new campaigns, unless you are only doing one campaign with all products in it or you are using very simple campaign setups that don’t rely on things like product type or SKUs. (You will not be able to do this until the new feed has gone live in Google Merchant Center and then been synced up with Google Ads.)

Note: if your product IDs will be changing, you could experience a big shift in your Shopping campaign results – IDs are the unique identifier that Google ties data to. If the same product exists in your new and old feed but with a different ID, Google sees the new ID as a new product, with no relation to the old. 

Site Messaging

The next part to consider is the messaging on the redesigned site. Are you making substantial edits to the text that’s on your site? Because if you are, you’ll want to make sure that’s reflected in the ads. The ad copy should reflect what someone will see on your website, so if you are pushing low prices and free shipping in your ads but highlight your customer service and high quality on the landing page, the messages will be misaligned, and people will bounce.

If you’ve duplicated your ads because of a URL switch, you can update the copy in those ads.

Site Coding

Redesigning a website, particularly if you are moving to a new platform, requires lots of technical setup, which includes all the tracking code on the site that lets you see how the site and campaigns are performing. Depending on what ad platforms you are on, you’ll need to make sure to include:

  • Google Ads Remarketing tag
  • Google Ads conversion tags
  • Microsoft Ads UET tag
  • Microsoft Ads conversion tags
  • Yahoo Ads DOT tag
  • Facebook Ads Pixel tag
  • Facebook Ads conversion tags
  • TikTok, Pinterest, Amazon, Criteo, AdRoll, Steelhouse, etc.
  • And regardless of what ad platforms you are on, getting Google Analytics

Having all these updated ahead of time so that you can test them is essential. Even websites that are staying on the same platform need to make sure all these codes are in place, all triggers are updated, and everything is working properly.

The easiest way is to use Google Tag Manager, a free product from Google that allows you to deploy one set of code on your website and multiple third-party codes via GTM containers.

Don’t Wait

A site redesign takes a lot of forethought. From our standpoint, nothing is worse than getting a flurry of ad disapprovals from Google and Microsoft and then finding out that a client changed their website! It requires a lot of emergency work – from code redeployment to ad fixing and new campaign setups – and causes problems with account performance that could have been managed with proper planning.

That’s not to say that preparation will prevent any account performance dips, but it can help mitigate and prevent any downtime. Plan, plan and plan, and do it early.

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