Setting up a new Christian blog can be so exciting – and also very overwhelming! Whoever said that starting a blog was easy CLEARLY didn't do theirs right!
Aside from simply building out the site and writing great content, there are some other important steps that are often overlooked that can really help you in the long-run as far as growing your ministry.
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Setting Up Analytics Tracking
In order to see exactly how your blog is doing as far as traffic, it is important that you have your Google Analytics and Google Search Console set up and installed on your site. Many new bloggers do get the Google Analytics set up but don't even know they need Google Search Console (or what it is).
Both are important for monitoring your site traffic so you can work on your growth strategy.
If you are like most new bloggers, all this tech stuff can be a bit overwhelming so I'm going to walk you through exactly how to set each one up on your Christian blog (with a video).
How to Set Up and Connect Analytics Tracking
In order to monitor the traffic to your site to see where visitors are coming from and what search terms they are using to find you, you must have your analytics tracking codes installed into the head tag on your site.
This tutorial will explain exactly where and how to add your tracking codes.
Also, you may need to install a tracking code for other things such as to verify your Pinterest account, to begin displaying ad networks on your site, and certain other plugins. If you have a program that is asking you to place a piece of code just before the head tag, you can follow these instructions to do that.
Where to Install Tracking Codes
Regardless of what type of tracking code you are needing to install on your site, the instructions will tell you to place the code right before the head tag for your site. The actual place will depend on your theme so, the first thing you need to do is figure out exactly where YOUR tracking codes will go.
There are 2 primary ways to install your tracking code: directly into the customizer or with a headers/footers plugin.
If you are using a Genesis theme for your blog, your customizer section will often have a place under “theme settings” for you to enter header and footer scripts. You can go to APPEARANCE – CUSTOMIZER over on the left side of your WordPress dashboard. This will open up your Customizer dashboard. Look for “theme settings” and then scroll down to “header/footer scripts“. (If you don't have this option, then you'll need to follow the instructions for using a plugin.)
For any code that needs to be added before your head tag, you will paste it into the top box as shown below. Once you have pasted it into the box, click “published” then click the “x” and it will save.
Install Using a Plugin
If you don't have the headers/footers script option in your theme settings, then you can install a free “Headers and Footers” plugin. Simply go to plugins and do a search for one. Ensure the one you choose says it is compatible with your version of WordPress. Once it is installed, you will find it when you hover over SETTINGS over on the left side of your dashboard. Simply paste the code into that top box and hit the save button.
Set Up and Connect Google Analytics
Now that you know exactly where to paste your tracking codes, let get to setting everything up!
Google Analytics will track every single visit to your site! It lets you know exactly where your visitors are coming from (organic, Pinterest, social media, etc) as well as other demographic information. This information enables you to monitor the health and effectiveness of your site.
You may have seen a plugin for Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress or Monster Insights. I don't recommend using those because adding your code manually is a better way to do it. Too many plugins can slow down your site and/or cause conflicts with other plugins.
If you do install one of these plugins, then DO NOT install your tracking code manually because it will duplicate the code and cause false traffic data.
To install the tracking code manually, you will first go to Google Analytics to create an account. It is a pretty straight-forward process (just follow the prompts for creating your account).
** When you get to the part where you type in your blog address, be sure to verify 2 things:
- that your domain is https (not http)
- whether or not your URL includes “www” in it
To check on the “www” issue, simply go to where you purchased your domain and verify whether the URL you purchased has the “www” on it or not. Many do not!! This is important because you want to ensure you are using the correct version on all tracking that you set up.
Once you get the account information entered, it will direct you to install the tracking code. You will install the “Global Site Tag” code into your head tag section.
Filter Out Your IP Address
While you are still in the Google Analytics Website, you'll want to go ahead and filter out your own IP address so you don't register your own visits to your site. Nothing like getting excited over seeing traffic – only to find out it was you!
Set Up and Connect Google Search Console
Google Search Console (also known as Google Webmaster Tools) tracks all activity that stems from Google (not other sources). This is also where you will submit your Sitemap once you have completed all of your Backend SEO settings.
To get started, go to Google Search Console and create an account. You will follow the prompts for setting up your profile and creating and adding a property. Be sure to use the correct version of your domain address.
Part of the setup process will ask you to install a tracking code into your head tag (the same way you did for Google Analytics). Choose the option for “html tag” and simply scroll to the end of the code that is currently showing in the head tags sections and paste this code after it.
Connect Google Analytics to Google Search Console
Once you have completed all of the steps for creating each of these accounts, you'll now want to connect them together.
To do this, go into Google Analytics. Go to ACQUISITION – SEARCH CONSOLE – QUERIES and click the button there to connect your search console to your Google Analytics account. This will enable you to see the keywords that your site is currently being found in search results without having to go over to the Search Console website directly.
Track Your Progress so You Can Improve!
Having Google Analytics and Google Search Console installed on your site enables you to track everything that happens there. You can get real-time tracking of exactly where your traffic is coming from so you can see what is working and what isn't in your strategy.
Just remember that if you use one of the plugins for installing Google Analytics on your site, do NOT install the code manually in your head tag. Also, if you get everything all set up and aren't seeing any movement on your traffic graph (even though you've shared your posts in Facebook groups), go back and verify that everything is installed correctly and that you are tracking the correct version of your domain on each one.
Be sure to visit the Blogging Tips Index Page where you'll find helpful tips broken down by category to make it easier to find exactly what you are needing help with!