June 24, 2009
You should think of this article as a “what to expect when you’re expecting” in regards to launching a new website. More to the point, I will focus on the effects that launching a new website will have on your pay-per-click campaign.
Okay, I’ll just say it: you may break your PPC account. However, I want to discuss why making a global change to your PPC account is a big deal; what will happen when you change all of your destination and display URLs at the same time; some tips to mitigate the initial shock to the PPC system; as well as some tips to get your performance back up to speed.
As you learn how to better engage your audience, provide a more rewarding user experience, and increase your conversion rate, your website will evolve over time. And sometimes your website will make an even bigger leap to a new name and URL. If you’ve done your research and have a great team in place, then launching a new website is probably the best decision for the launch haul. But expect some bumps when it comes time to make the switch in your PPC campaign.
Launching a new website is one of the global changes you can make to a PPC campaign that can severely effect your performance. Here are a few reasons why this is such a major change:
- You will have to update all of the display and destination URLs within every PPC ad. This means you’ll either need to pause all of your old ads and launch new ads with your updated website info. Or you’ll alter all of your current ads with this new information. Either way, Google AdWords will see these ads as new submissions. This means you’ll have to re-build your AdWords Quality Score and historical performance for these ads.
- Google AdWords will have to evaluate this new website site/landing page. I don’t have any time frames set in stone from AdWords as to how long this takes, but it can take a while to re-build this trust.
- Any time you make a global change to a PPC campaign, this sends up a red flag. The search engines prefer slow, gradual changes over time as you optimize and enhance your campaign’s performance. Changing all of your ads at once definitely shocks the system.
Those are a few reasons why launching a new website is a big change for your PPC campaign. However, what should you expect when you change all of your ad texts at once in order to send users to your site? This what I’ve seen in the past as a result of this global account change (keep in mind, these symptoms my not always occur, but they occur frequently and you should plan accordingly):
- Your Quality Score can take a hit. By this I mean your Quality Score could decrease. This is because your ads and keywords have a symbiotic relationship that has accrued a performance history, and when you sever that relationship, it can negatively affect your account.
- This means that your ad positions on the search and content networks will decrease.
- If you ad positions decline, your impression share will decline on the search network. And your impression/click volume on the content network can decrease due to lower positions.
In a sense, you’re shocking your Quality Score and your account may see a deflation in volume due to the changes. But this doesn’t mean that you should never re-launch your website or make major changes that may negatively effect your PPC campaign. But while you’re in the development stage of your new website, you need to plan for a fluctuation in your PPC performance when the change occurs.
So, how do you mitigate this performance fluctuation and how do you get your account back on track when this does occur? Those are some good questions. First, let’s discuss some actions you can take before you launch the new website in your account:
Set the proper expectations
Let everyone know (who needs to know) what to expect when this change occurs. This will help preserve your sanity. If everyone knows that you’ll have to re-build your performance history and Quality Score beforehand, that will make your life much easier.
Optimize your account structure
Optimizing your account structure can create tighter ad groups with more focused and relevant ad texts. The result of these efforts can be a higher click-through rate. You should review/tweak your account structure and make changes a few weeks before your new website launches. You should do this step a few weeks in advance because you’ll need to give your account time to adjust to these restructuring changes.
Keep in mind that restructuring an account can also shock your Quality Score. So, you will need to make these changes gradually a few weeks before the new website launches.
Pause your old ads, write new ads
Your old ads with the old website information have a history built up with your keywords. Even if these ads are paused AdWords can still recognize their presence and this can help re-build your Quality Score after a global change. So, instead of changing all of your current ads, you should pause these old ads and upload new ones.
Utilizing AdWords Editor can help you can be methodical and careful in these changes. I use AdWords Editor for almost everything so anytime you’re making a global change, this is the way to do it.
Increase bids a few days before the launch
Let me say this: I don’t believe in haphazardly throwing money at a PPC problem. That’s not how I roll. But if you can anticipate a short term drop in ad position after the website switch, you can preemptively increase your rankings before the change.
Those are a few tactics you can employ before launching the global change in your account. When you launch your new site your performance will dip as the account re-adjusts to the changes. The decreased ad position and performance should be short term, but here a few things you can do help your account gain back its Quality Score and overall volume:
Conduct keyword research
If you find that you need more search volume, conduct keyword research in order to add new terms. You can do this before the launch as well.
Temporarily increase keyword bids
Stop griping. Of course you don’t want to increase your CPC, but this tactic can help. If you drop in ad position and you need to increase volume, this is a great way to do it. Also, temporarily increasing bids can help enhance your click-through rate. Keep in mind that Google is smart. Google takes into account increased bids simply to improve ad position and CTR. Raising bids can help increase your ad position and gain back some of your lost traffic. But this change won’t necessarily improve your Quality Score (that will take time to heal).
And then it just takes time for your account to acclimate to the big changes you’ve been making. This means that time heals all wounds. AdWords will eventually begin to look normal again.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to panic and restructure your account and make even more major changes in order to fix your performance right away. These will be more alterations that AdWords will have to review and acclimate to and this can make the healing process take even longer!
Unfortunately, I can’t predict exactly when you’re account will be back to its old self. This process usually takes a few weeks, at least. This is where the patience part and the setting of proper expectations comes into play.
So, when should you start panicking because your performance isn’t picking back up? That’s a good question. If things aren’t starting to pick back up around the three week mark, you should contact your Google Representative to make sure everything with the account is solid. But this will be different for each account.
These challenges shouldn’t deter you from launching a new website, but you should know what to expect when you make a big change to your PPC account (like altering all of your ads at once).