Log File Analysis And SEO

Log File Analysis And SEO

Log File Analysis and SEO

If you​ own or​ manage a​ website,​ you​ are probably already aware of​ the​
importance of​ your log files or​ site statistics .​
Such data can give you​ insights
about your site's usability,​ errors in​ your HTML code,​ the​ popularity of​ your
site pages and the​ type of​ visitors your site attracts .​
But did you​ know it​ can
also highlight the​ success or​ failure of​ your search engine optimization

There is​ specific data about your web site that you​ should be looking at​ in​
your log files on​ a​ regular basis .​
Several variables should be examined monthly
or even weekly to​ ensure your site design and page optimization is​ on​ the​ right

1 .​
Entry Paths

Most sites can be developed and analysed around the​ concept of​ visitor
pathways .​
If,​ for example,​ your site is​ a​ Business to​ Business (B2B) site and
you service small,​ medium and large businesses,​ there should be pathways through
your site designed for each class of​ visitor .​
An extremely simplified example
would be:

Clients coming to​ the​ site through an​ optimized home page:

home page ---> small business page ---> order page ---> order confirmation
home page ---> medium business page ---> order page ---> order confirmation page

home page ---> large business page ---> order page ---> order confirmation page

The site entry pages for these pathways are often optimized home pages or​
optimized content pages .​
The final page of​ this route is​ often the​ action that
you want clients to​ take on​ your site (e.g.,​ sign up for your newsletter,​ buy
your products online or​ contact you​ for further information) .​
You can easily
determine how effective your pathways are by tracking the​ entry paths on​ a​
regular basis via your site stats .​

You should have some idea of​ the​ main pathways that clients take through your
site,​ both for monitoring the​ effectiveness of​ your page optimization and
conversions,​ and for the​ purpose of​ subsequent site redesign(s) .​
a​ good starting
point to​ track the​ pathways through your site is​ via the​ graph or​ chart called
Entry Paths in​ your log files / site statistics .​

2 .​
Top Exit Pages

These are pages from which most visitors click away from your site .​
Why is​ it​
useful to​ track these? Because exit pages can tell you:

a .​
If there is​ a​ technical problem with the​ page that is​ causing visitors to​
leave your site .​
For example,​ if​ there are broken links,​ or​ the​ form on​ the​ page
is not working properly etc .​

b .​
If your site design is​ breaking the​ strategic pathway,​ for example,​ you​
may have links to​ external sites that are inducing clients to​ click away before
buying your product or​ signing up for your newsletter .​

c .​
If there is​ something on​ these pages that is​ encouraging visitors to​ leave
your site .​
For example,​ an​ unprofessional design or​ confusing layout .​

In your log files / site statistics,​ the​ graph or​ chart called Top Exit
Pages is​ the​ place to​ learn why visitors are leaving your site .​

3 .​
Single Access Pages

These are entry pages that are viewed once before the​ visitor clicks away
from your site .​
Similar to​ Top Exit Pages,​ Single Access Pages can tell you​ a​
lot about why people are not staying on​ your site for long .​

Have a​ close look at​ the​ search terms used to​ find your site .​
Single Access
Pages can often indicate that your target search terms are too broad .​
example,​ you​ may be getting a​ lot of​ traffic by targeting printer cartridges
but if​ you​ only stock a​ particular brand of​ cartridge,​ then people seeking other
brands are not going to​ find what they truly seek when they arrive at​ your site
so they will leave immediately .​
This can be resolved by narrowing down your
search terms to​ be more targeted and focused on​ your niche products and
services,​ for example,​ by changing printer cartridges to​ HP printer
cartridges and so on​ .​

To see what pages of​ your site are viewed once,​ look for the​ graph or​ chart
called Single Access Pages in​ your log files / site statistics .​

4 .​
Most Requested Page(s) and Top Entry Pages.

Tracking these pages is​ key to​ measuring the​ success of​ your SEO campaign .​
your optimization is​ effective,​ the​ Top Entry Pages and Most Requested Pages
should be those that you​ have optimized for target keywords .​
The Top Entry Pages
are particularly relevant as​ you​ consider the​ pathways through your site .​
Do the​
most popular entry pages have any relationship to​ the​ start pages for your
plotted visitor pathways? Or are visitors entering and navigating your site via
ways you​ didn't intend? you​ can use this information to​ continually tweak your
page optimization to​ guide visitors to​ the​ right pathways .​

To see your most requested pages,​ look for the​ graph or​ chart titled Most
Requested Pages in​ your log files / site statistics .​
Also look for Top Entry
Pages .​

5 .​
Page refreshes

Why are visitors refreshing pages on​ your site? Are the​ pages not loading
properly? the​ Page Refreshes variable is​ another one to​ monitor on​ a​ monthly
basis via your site stats to​ ensure that there are not site usability issues for
visitors .​

6 .​
Referring Domains and Referring URLs

Where are your visitors coming from? Are they coming from sites that are
linked to​ yours? Are blog authors or​ forum members talking about your site?
Referring Domains will tell you​ what sites are linking to​ yours,​ while Referring
URLs will list the​ actual pages where the​ links are located .​
These can be little
gold mines because you​ can often find valuable sources of​ traffic via links to​
your site that you​ didn't even know existed .​

In terms of​ an​ SEO campaign,​ these links can all add to​ your site's overall
link popularity,​ an​ important factor in​ the​ ranking algorithms of​ many search
engines,​ particularly Google .​
Monitoring these metrics can tell you​ if​ your site
requires a​ link-building campaign or​ help you​ measure the​ effectiveness of​
various online and offline advertising campaigns .​

In your log files / site statistics,​ Look for the​ graph or​ chart titled
Referring Domains and Referring URLs .​

7 .​
Search Engine Referrals

How many of​ your visitors are coming directly from search engines? What
percentage of​ overall traffic does this represent? This is​ a​ good variable to​
track to​ help you​ keep up with how many search engines are listing your site
(both free submission and paid submissions),​ how much traffic they bring and
whether to​ renew your paid submissions .​
It can also tell you​ whether you​ need to​
increase the​ number of​ search engines your site is​ submitted to​ in​ order to​
build on​ your link popularity .​
As a​ a​ very rough guide,​ you​ should be receiving
at least 30 percent of​ your site traffic via search engine referrals .​

To see search engine referrals,​ look for a​ chart or​ graph called Search
Engines within your site statistics .​

8 .​
Search Phrases

This topic is​ related to​ search engine referrals generally,​ but gives added
insight into what terms you​ were actually found for in​ the​ search engines .​
these terms match what your site was optimized for? Are there any surprising
terms that you​ might want to​ develop site content for? Some log file analysis
programs will even break down what specific phrases your site was found for in​
which particular search engines .​
The more detailed the​ data you​ have,​ the​ more
closely you​ can tweak your optimization campaign to​ your precise market .​

To see the​ search phrases your site was found for,​ look for Search Phrases
or Search Phrases by Search Engine .​

9 .​
Landing pages for Pat-Per-Click Campaigns,​ etc.

If you​ run a​ pay-per-click campaign or​ dedicate specific pages to​ advertising
product specials,​ you​ may use special landing pages or​ tracking ids to​ monitor
your traffic and conversions .​
Your site logs can help you​ track these by showing
you how many visitors they each had and what they did after they visited those
pages .​

10 .​
Metric values that show a​ radical change from developing trends

Any site metrics that show a​ dramatic change from one month to​ the​ next could
pin-point a​ problem with your site or​ with your optimization campaign .​
example,​ if​ your search engine referrals have dropped dramatically,​ it​ could
indicate that you​ have been penalized in​ a​ search engine (or more than one) .​
Noticing changing trends early gives you​ the​ chance to​ investigate problem areas
and make adjustments if​ necessary .​

Please note that all log file analysis and site statistics programs are
different and use slightly different terms to​ describe the​ metrics listed above .​
If you're confused,​ ask your site admin or​ hosting provider to​ highlight these
for you​ .​

Remember,​ your log files are gold mines filled with nuggets of​ information
about your optimized web site .​
If you​ keep digging on​ a​ regular basis,​ you'll
eventually strike it​ rich with success .​

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