In order to improve their SEO performance, SEOs go to log file analysis to have a better knowledge of what search engines are actually doing on their websites.
Analysing your log files is similar to analysing Google Analytics data in that you’ll waste a lot of time without learning anything if you don’t know what you’re looking at and what to search for. You must have a purpose in mind.
Why is Log File Analysis Important in SEO?
Log files are crucial to understanding how crawlers browse your website since they are the only ones that accurately depict their behaviour. This is something we frequently observe:
The way search engines really crawl is not accurately reflected by legacy crawlers or even monitoring platforms like Digital Edge. To be clear, neither does Google Search Console disclose their crawling strategy.
By analysing log files, you may, for instance, find out about significant problems like:
Unlucky crawl priority for search engines: your logs will show you which sites (and portions) are most frequently crawled. Additionally, you’ll frequently notice that search engines spend a lot of time indexing pages that are of little to no value, especially with huge sites. Then you can take action and modify things like your faceted navigation, internal link structure, and robots.txt file.
5xx errors: Your log files can assist you determine the 5xx error response codes, which you can utilise as a jumping-off point for more research.
Orphaned pages are pages that don’t belong in your site’s hierarchy and don’t have any internal connections from other pages. Because of this, the majority of crawl simulations won’t be able to find these pages, making them simple to overlook.
Your log files will show this if search engines are crawling them. Furthermore, search engines seldom “forget” about URLs because of their excellent memory. The next step is to take action, such as adding the orphaned pages to the site structure, redirecting them, or deleting them altogether.
If you’re wondering if that’s it, yes. No, we’ll go into great length later on in this post on the most typical log file analysis use cases. No problem. Let’s go on now!
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How Can We Use Log File Analysis for SEO?
Although the technical process of log data analysis might be complicated, it can be distilled into three simple steps:
- Gather/export the appropriate log data over the broadest time range available (often filtered for search engine crawler User Agents only).
- Parse log data to make it readable for data analysis software (often tabular format for use in databases or spreadsheets).
- As appropriate, group and display log data, then examine it for problems and possibilities.
Even when filtered for queries from search engine crawlers in a short amount of time, log data can quickly accumulate to terabytes of data while having a typically basic structure. Frequently, this data is too big for desktop analytic programmes like Excel.
To process, arrange, and display log data, specialist log analysis software is frequently the most effective method.
How to Access your Log Files?
Most of the time, you must first ask a developer for access to log files in order to analyse them.
After that, it’s possible that the developer will have a few problems, which they’ll discuss with you. These consist of:
Partial data: Log files may contain fragments of data dispersed over several servers. This typically occurs when developers employ a variety of servers, including a CDN, a load balancer, and an origin server. Compiling the access logs from all servers will probably be necessary to get a complete view of all logs.
File size: Access log files for busy websites can grow to be terabytes or even petabytes in size, making them challenging to transmit.
Log files contain user IP addresses, which are personally identifying information (PII). It might be necessary to remove user information before sharing it with you.
Storage history – Because of the size of the files, developers may have configured access logs to be kept for just a short period of time, rendering them ineffective for identifying patterns and problems.
These problems raise the question of whether keeping, merging, filtering, and transmitting log data is worthwhile for developers, especially if they already have a full plate of tasks to do.
Some Data Included in Log Files
Typically, log files just include the most fundamental of data:
- The requested resource’s URL path
- The resource request’s query string
- The User Agent asking for the resource
- The User Agent’s IP address (or physical location)
- A timestamp (when the request was received)
- Request kind (GET or POST, indicating whether the request is to receive or provide data)
- HTTP, also known as the server response status code
Why use Log Analysis for your SEO?
Since log analysis is an accurate representation of what occurs on your site. Any action taking place on your website, including visitor trips, crawl dates, crawled pages, and blocked resources, will be recorded in the log file.
Monitoring the robot visits of Google
The pages it considers essential appear to be routinely crawled by the Googlebot, who also ensures that they remain significant. This implies that your strategic pages won’t rank highly in the SERPs if they haven’t been crawled frequently.
View your website as it appears to Google
The only method to discover how Google’s algorithm views your site is to run a log analysis. We are all aware that this individual is extremely unique and needs our undivided attention. Crawl frequencies, status codes, crawl/visit efficiency, and log file analysis all provide invaluable indications that may be used to enhance your organic referencing.
Clear up SEO stumbling blocks
Log analysis makes it feasible to foresee what can result in a decline in your positioning. You may resolve the problem, optimise your website’s referencing, and improve your website’s ranking in the SERP by removing the blocking element found in the log analysis.
Conduct a thorough technical SEO audit.
A log analysis must be part of a technical SEO audit carried out by an SEO professional. This study can help you decide what needs to be optimised to attract traffic during a redesign. Not everyone should include a log analysis in their technical SEO audit. It calls for the expertise of a seasoned data scientist with a solid technical SEO background who can comprehend search engine behaviour.
Log analysis gives you the ability to pinpoint possible growth drivers for a redesign, an SEO audit, or as part of routine monthly maintenance, which significantly raises your online exposure. This study calls for technical knowledge of organic referencing-related technological pillars as well as analytical skills. If you need assistance with your SEO log analysis, don’t hesitate to contact our SEO agency.