Relaunch is an important online marketing topic as the course for the next few years is set here. However, the go-live of the new website can cause damage if certain aspects are not implemented optimally.
Relaunch is primarily an SEO topic, because many problems can arise with this channel and because it is precisely there that you need to think strategically. How will Google change in the next few months? Which aspects will become more important – and which will lose their relevance?
And yet relaunch is not just an SEO topic. Problems can also arise with the other online marketing channels (Google Ads, Social Ads …) – especially if the URL and / or domain change during a relaunch.
In this article, our experts therefore provide an overview of the most important channels and their special features.
Check this extensive guide about SEO.
What can happen with a relaunch in terms of SEO?
- If the URL paths change during a relaunch, it is essential to set up 301 redirects so that the rankings are transferred from the old to the new URL. But if you, for example, forget some 301 redirects or set them up incorrectly, the rankings are not transferred, so that valuable rankings are lost as a result. This also happens, for example, if the content of the old and the new page differ significantly.
- If the domain changes during a relaunch, this can also lead to problems. The history of the new domain should definitely be checked, since previous use of the domain for certain subject areas (“porn, pills, casino”) can have negative effects on the rankings. There are also a few things to consider when changing the domain. If it exists – a so-called disavow file can be transferred from the old to the new website, otherwise it does not apply to the new domain and penalties could result as a result.
- Anyone who has a new website created by an agency runs the risk that agencies inexperienced in SEO will implement important features incorrectly or not at all – and that important potential will remain unused. SEO has become very complex in recent years, so it’s easy to overlook something if you don’t focus on it. For this purpose Markup, variant handling, crawl budget optimization, page speed or certain Google verticals count.
- The requirements of search engines – above all Google – for the quality of the content are constantly increasing. If you only copy the content over during a relaunch, you can run the risk that the content will no longer meet the requirements at some point and valuable rankings will be lost as a result. It is therefore important to deal with topics such as Search Intent and the Quality Rater Guidelines in order to understand the search engines’ demand for optimal content. But also User Generated Content (UGC) or non-HTML content – e.g. through PDF files – are definitely relevant topics that are often forgotten during a relaunch. Because: content is still king.
What follows from this?
With regard to SEO, it is particularly important that concrete specifications are created for the new website – in terms of content, structure and technology. This is the only way for the website to gain rankings after the relaunch.
And of course, all requirements must also be checked before the new website goes live. If 301 redirects are not implemented optimally, you can usually no longer repair them if you discover them a few days / weeks after the go-live. So there are definitely aspects in which errors cannot happen, as these can have a lasting negative impact on the development of the website.
What does our SEO specialist say?
“Above all, it is important that the relaunch issue is taken absolutely seriously with regard to SEO. Unfortunately, I’ve seen many relaunches that had a devastating impact on the organic visibility of websites. And that can usually not be repaired afterwards, so that organic traffic often suffers for weeks and months.
With some tools (Screaming Frog SEO Spider, Google Search Console …) and the necessary experience, most risks can be eliminated. But one thing you have to know: Unfortunately, there is always a residual risk – especially if the changes during the relaunch are very large. “
Check this extensive guide about SEA.
What can happen with a relaunch in relation to SEA?
- During a relaunch, the focus is first on the URLs. 301 redirects can cushion some problems, but are not an ideal solution. If redirects can increase the loading time of the final target page, old target URLs should be replaced with the new final URLs if possible.
- It can become critical if old URLs no longer lead to the desired target page, but also do not deliver an HTTP error code. While a 404 error usually quickly leads to a rejection, a general redirect to the start page, for example, can go unnoticed.
- If the domain changes during a relaunch, a smooth transition is no longer possible, even with redirects. Google does not allow forwarding to another domain, nor does it allow different domains to coexist.
- Reviews on relevant portals can be affected by changing the domain. If no countermeasures are taken, the result is a loss of Google seller ratings (“asterisks”).
- Dynamic search ads deserve special attention, in which the target pages are used to automatically decide which search terms should be advertised. Alignments based on URL paths can be stored here, which must be checked in the course of a relaunch.
- The tracking concept has to work even after a relaunch. This applies to both tracking codes on the website and the handling of tracking parameters in URLs. Failures are reflected in missing data, which can lead to incorrect control in connection with automatic bids.
- Automatic bids, such as Google’s “Smart Bidding”, work on the basis of learned user behavior. However, this usually changes in the course of a relaunch, so that the systems sometimes have to relearn. Even if the change is positive overall, old users have to find their way around first. Suboptimal results are to be expected during this transition phase.
What follows from this?
URLs also play a major role in the relaunch for search engine advertising. It should be noted that URLs have long played a role not only in advertisements, but also in many other places (e.g. in data feeds, at the keyword level, in settings). With regard to tracking, it should also be known which tags must be present where in which form. In addition to a certain manual component, an overview is particularly important.
If the SEA measures are adjusted according to plan, a largely uninterrupted transition is possible during the relaunch. Without good planning, longer interruptions or costly transition times are the result.
What does our SEA specialist say?
“Those responsible for SEA usually only provide a few specifications in the relaunch process and are not at the table with many details. But it is important that they are still involved and heard. Otherwise, parts of the infrastructure required for SEA are often forgotten during the relaunch. In the worst case, it will take a while before someone notices this.
With the adaptation of campaigns, a large part of the preparations can be carried out within the responsible SEA team. Above all, it is important to plan enough time and to communicate important information in good time.
In any case, it is advisable to keep capacity free on day X in order to be able to intervene if necessary – surprises can never be completely ruled out. “
Check the following article about: successful social media marketing:
What can happen with a relaunch in terms of social media?
- If the URLs change during a relaunch, they should be exchanged in advertisements. Longer waiting times for 301 redirects can have a negative impact on the quality rating, because the loading time of the target page is a factor in the evaluation.
- It must be ensured that the tracking continues to work properly – especially when events fire at buttons or are dependent on URL parameters. Errors not only occur here in the performance of the campaigns. Problems can also arise with regard to custom audiences. If, for example, all buyers are recorded, the target group can become smaller due to URL errors or even be completely empty.
- If product IDs, categories, links or the like change after a relaunch, the data feed for catalog ads must be updated. If these no longer match, this can quickly be reflected in a falling matching rate – which can lead to a significantly poorer display of ads on Facebook.
- Target groups that were created on the basis of URLs or URL parameters must be controlled. It is possible that these can no longer be retrieved correctly.
In addition, the results of campaigns with lookalike target groups can fluctuate, as user behavior on the website may change.
What follows from this?
In summary, one can say that URLs also play an important role in the social ads area after a relaunch. Because these are not only used in ads, but can also be found in data feeds, during tracking and when creating different target groups.
Close consultation and a well-structured ads setup make the transition during a relaunch safe and largely uninterrupted. Otherwise, advertisements can go nowhere and cause unnecessary costs.
What does our social media specialist say?
“With a well-structured ads setup and close cooperation with the person responsible for data feed and tracking, it can be ensured very precisely where data needs to be adjusted. This is the only way to ensure a smooth transition without loss of performance.
Nevertheless, capacities should be kept free on the changeover day. On the one hand, to test randomly whether everything is working properly. On the other hand, to be able to act as quickly as possible if something was overlooked. “
What can happen with a relaunch in terms of web analysis?
- The success of a website – and of course that of a relaunch – can be measured with web analysis. It is therefore important that, on the one hand, web analysis is carried out at all and, on the other hand, comparability can be guaranteed before and after the relaunch.
- The prerequisite is the correct implementation of the tracking code . Nowadays this is mostly done using a tag management system, which should also be implemented correctly on all pages. It must be ensured that the tracking of the current page is not built into the staging and thus the tests falsify the data in the master data view.
- If the tracking code is not available on all pages, you get the wrong picture of the success of your website. It can quickly happen that the tracking code is forgotten on a domain or subdomain. It must therefore be ensured that the implementation takes place on all relevant sides.
- The configuration of tracking and tag management systems should also be considered: the cross-domain or subdomain tracking must be set up.
- If the GTM is already being used for tracking, changes to the page content (URL, click text etc.) can lead to errors in tracking, as tags are no longer triggered correctly and / or no longer collect the correct data. Therefore, all tags should be checked and adjusted if necessary. If the data and triggers run over a data layer, you only have to pay attention to the correct installation of the data layer, as this information is displayed independently of the content of the page.
- In order to be able to measure the success of the different marketing channels, the ads tracking must be set up. If, for example, it is forgotten that a trigger to trigger an ads tag has changed, this leads to performance drops and increased costs, as the algorithm of the respective tool cannot work correctly.
- A relaunch is often used to expand and refine the previous tracking. For example, a data layer is added which transfers information from a database to the web analysis tool. The relaunch can generally be a good time for such an expansion. However, appropriate resources should be planned for implementation and testing.
- Furthermore, it should be ensured that techniques that make tracking more difficult are avoided if possible (Ajax, Iframes, CMS change, etc.).
- It is worth setting up error reports and notifications that are sent from a web analysis tool. That can be messages about accidentally collected personal-identified data or error messages on pages that send a 404 status code.
What follows from this?
With a well-developed tracking concept, you can avoid many errors from the outset. It’s important to think about what tracking setup you have before and after the relaunch. The success of the relaunch can also be measured with an appropriate concept and good documentation. Many settings and configurations can also be tested on the staging server and any errors can be fixed.
After the relaunch, it is essential to continue testing in the live system to ensure data quality and avoid unnecessary costs.
What does our web analysis specialist say?
“Good planning of the web analysis is extremely important for a relaunch. Appropriate teams should therefore be included in the planning at an early stage. Errors can also be recognized and fixed early during development. Extensive testing on the staging server and – after the relaunch – in the live system is a must. It is therefore better to send a test order or fill out a lead form. “
The following video explains in detail “how to plan and manage a website relaunch without any problems:
As you can see: relaunch is not just an SEO issue. You should also be careful with other disciplines such as SEA or social media so that the relaunch goes as smoothly as possible. With the right preparation and a lot of experience, this should be possible without any problems.