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Log_File_Analysis_and_SEO

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					Log File Analysis and SEO

Word Count:
1577

Summary:
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 campaign?


Keywords:
seo, searchengines, optimosation, web


Article Body:
<p>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
campaign? </p>
<p>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
track: </p>
<p><b>1. Entry Paths</b> </p>
<p>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: </p>
<p>Clients coming to the site through an optimized home page: </p>
<p>home page ---> small business page ---> order page ---> order
confirmation
page <br>
home page ---> medium business page ---> order page ---> order
confirmation page
<br>
home page ---> large business page ---> order page ---> order
confirmation page
</p>
<p>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. </p>
<p>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. </p>
<p><b>2. Top Exit Pages</b> </p>
<p>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: </p>
<p>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. </p>
<p>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. </p>
<p>c. If there is something on these pages that is encouraging visitors
to leave
your site. For example, an unprofessional design or confusing layout.
</p>
<p>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. </p>
<p><b>3. Single Access Pages</b> </p>
<p>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. </p>
<p>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. For
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. </p>
<p>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. </p>
<p><b>4. Most Requested Page(s) and Top Entry Pages.</b> </p>
<p>Tracking these pages is key to measuring the success of your SEO
campaign. If
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. </p>
<p>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". </p>
<p><b>5. Page refreshes</b> </p>
<p>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. </p>
<p><b>6. Referring Domains and Referring URLs</b> </p>
<p>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. </p>
<p>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. </p>
<p>In your log files / site statistics, Look for the graph or chart
titled
"Referring Domains" and "Referring URLs". </p>
<p><b>7. Search Engine Referrals</b> </p>
<p>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.
</p>
<p>To see search engine referrals, look for a chart or graph called
"Search
Engines" within your site statistics. </p>
<p><b>8. Search Phrases</b> </p>
<p>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. Do
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.
</p>
<p>To see the search phrases your site was found for, look for "Search
Phrases"
or "Search Phrases by "Search Engine". </p>
<p><b>9. Landing pages for Pat-Per-Click Campaigns, etc.</b> </p>
<p>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. </p>
<p><b>10. Metric values that show a radical change from developing
trends</b>
</p>
<p>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.
For
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. </p>
<p>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. </p>
<p>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. </p>
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posted:3/2/2010
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