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Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | RSSIn Episode 20 of the Niche Site Tools Podcast, I talk about why you should be utilizing a child theme, discuss the latest results from my AdWords campaign and bring you our second installment of the tool/plugin of the week!
Importance of Having a Child Theme
What the heck is a child theme? “A child theme is a theme that inherits the functionality of another theme, called the parent theme. Child themes allow you to modify, or add to the functionality of the parent theme.” – Source codex.wordpress.com
Ok, I get sorta get that, but why do I need a child theme? Having a child theme, allows you to make customizations to your theme, while still being able to upgrade your theme down the road, without losing those changes.
A practical example that I’ve already utilized is modifying the footer of my test site at cravingtravel.com. I installed the Divi 2.0 theme, from Elegant Themes, this past week and wanted to modify the footer that said “Designed by Elegant Themes | Powered by WordPress”.
In order to make sure that the change is permanent and will not be lost when I upgrade my theme in the future, I created a child theme before doing any modifications.
Creating a Child Theme
I first installed the Divi 2.0 theme, activated it, then installed the One Click Child Theme WP plugin, activated that, went to the WP Dashboard -> Appearance -> Child Theme, named it divi-child, put a description and my name and then clicked Create Child.
At that point, you now have a child theme created. When you navigate to Appearance -> Themes, your child theme should now be active and any changes that you make in the WordPress dashboard should be done there.
The one click child theme plugin also creates a sub-directory in your themes directory of your hosting account and it will copy a file or two, like style.css into that sub-directory and it will tell your parent theme to look in that sub-directory for any modifications.
So when I needed to modify the footer.php file, I had to go into the themes directory within cpanel for my hosting account and I then copied the footer.php file from the wp-content/themes/Divi folder to the wp-content/themes/divi-child folder and then modified the appropriate line, as per this post.
Here are some more specific details from Elegant Themes, on the use of Child Themes in general.
Test Site Migration to Divi 2.0
In the Podcast, I mentioned that I took some before/after screenshots of my CravingTravel.com test site on the old Thesis theme and then on the new Divi 2.0 theme.
I did that, but I made some modifications to the sidebar beforehand, to make it look very similar to my sidebar here.
I wanted to test and see how long it would take me to switch Craving Travel from Thesis to Divi 2.0, while keeping the look and feel as close to the same as possible.
Here are the before and after pictures and it took me 25-30 minutes max and that was my first experience with Elegant Themes.
AdWords Campaign Update
Since a lot of folks have been following along with my first AdWords campaign, I wanted to do a quick follow-up. If you will recall, I paid $25 to start a new AdWords campaign and then utilized a $100 promo code from Google, for a total budget of $125.
As of the moment that I am typing this, I have 10,896 total impressions (slightly more than mentioned in the Podcast, since I recorded that a few hours prior).
That means my ad has been displayed 10,896 times at the top or side of the page, when someone has searched for any of the particular keyword phrases that I am targeting.
Those 10,896 impressions have resulted in 157 total clicks on my ads, resulting in 157 visitors to my site.
Those 157 clicks cost $117.47, with an average cost per click (CPC) of 75 cents. In another day or two, I should hit my $125 total spend budget.
Of those 157 clicks, I have received no additional sales of the affiliate product that I am promoting.
As far as rankings go, I have not noticed a significant increase in rankings for the keyword phrases that I was targeting.
In some cases I went from approximately position 75 to 57, but in most cases the rankings either remained the same or only went up a position or two.
I cannot directly correlate the 157 clicks to my site, with any significant increase in rankings.
So on all measurable accounts, this first AdWords campaign was unsuccessful.
However, it was a great learning experience and I may try utilizing the 25/100 promo again in the future, on a different site.
Tool Of The Week – Free Rank Checker Firefox Plugin
This week’s tool/plugin of the week is the free browser plugin called Rank Checker. When I recorded the Podcast episode I mentioned that I thought it was available for different browsers, but it appears that it might be specific to Firefox.
It is an excellent tool for your online adventurer tool chest and one that allows you to quickly/easily check your entire site to see what posts (if any) are ranking for particular keyword phrases.
For example, prior to upgrading from Thesis to Divi on my test site, cravingtravel.com, I wanted to see what terms I might be ranking for to do a little before/after comparison.
So I first went into Google Analytics to see what phrases folks had been searching for by clicking on that site, going to Acquisitions, Search Engine Optimization and then Queries and here is what I saw:
So I plugged some of those terms, along with a few of my own and here are the results in Rank Checker:
As you can see, I’m only ranking for 4 of those phrases and the highest is “20 dollar trick bellagio” at position 24. (By the way, if you are planning a trip to Vegas, check out that post, it is a cool little trick.) I cropped out the results from Yahoo/Bing, since they were “-“, which means I’m basically not ranking at all for those terms.
I now have a quick snapshot of a few phrases I’m ranking for, just to be able to do a quick before/after comparison, after switching to the new theme. In that way, I can see if there is any material effect from the theme itself, assuming nothing else changes.
That is the same process that you can utilize to see what search terms folks are using to arrive at your site organically via Google/Yahoo/Bing. You can then use Rank Checker to see how well you’re ranking for those terms/phrases or for any other words/phrases you’d like to try out.
You can either take a screenshot like I did here, or save off the results as a CSV file for later comparison.
It is great to use rank checker at least once a month, to see how you are ranking over time.
A certain level of fluctuation is normal, but if, for example, you are ranking for a term/phrase on the first page of Google for a few months and then all of a sudden you drop down several pages, there may be something worth investigating further.
Hopefully you can now see the value/benefit of doing all of your customizations inside a child theme, as opposed to your main/parent theme.
In addition, if you weren’t sure how to find out how folks are arriving on your site organically and how to see where you are ranking for those terms or phrases in Google/Yahoo/Bing, hopefully now you know exactly how to do so and for free!
Do you utilize any tools similar to Rank Checker, that are free and available on platforms/browsers other than Firefox? It would be great if you could share the results with the group, for anyone that isn’t a FireFox user. Thanks ahead of time and have a great week!
3 thoughts on “Importance of Using a Child Theme, Adwords Update and Tool of The Week – Rank Checker (Ep 20)”
Chris, great info as always. Never knew about child themes but this episode explained it to me in a better way.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on them, and the update on your Adsense experiment.
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I was aware of the term child theme, but I didn’t fully understand it until Crystal mentioned it and I looked into it further. When you upgrade to Divi 2.0 from Elegant Themes in a few months, I’d definitely recommend you setup your child theme then and do all your edits from there. Thanks for the comment!
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