To improve technical and on-page search engine optimisation, log file analysis is important. Log files carry data which is accurate and help you to understand exactly what search engines crawl for your website. You can use insights gained from this data to rank higher, boost traffic, conversions, and then, sales. This blog talks about what is log file analysis and how you can use it to leverage your SEO efforts.
A web server log is a log file which is created and maintained by a server. It consists of the activities which the web server performed. You can see exactly which resources the search engines crawls. To do that, you just have to export the data and filter requests made by Googlebot.
When a user types a url, the browser translates it into 3 components: protocol, server name and file name. The structure of a log file depends on the type of server and configurations. However, some common attributes include server IP, user-agent, timestamp, http status code, method and some additional attributes like host name, time taken, client IP etc.
Why to do a log file analysis for SEO?
Log file analysis gives you the ability to understand how search engines crawl your website. This is because every request made on the hosting server is saved. You just need to filter the user agent and client IP to access the details.
You can analyse crawlers’ behaviour and know about any errors or crawl deficiency. Also, you can check the optimisation of site architecture to know if there are any performance issues. Performance issues might relate to page load speed, or unfriendly mobile website.
Click here to see how you can enable HTTP2 to induce the communication between browsers and servers, by reducing the load times. And, the ultimate solution to make your website mobile friendly is to ensure mobile first indexing. For that purpose, do check our next blog on ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MOBILE FIRST INDEXING IN SEO.
Other than log file analysis, here are some of the MOST IMPORTANT AND EFFECTIVE ON PAGE SEO TECHNIQUES FOR SEO SPECIALISTS to boost your SEO.
Log file analysis tools
By using a log file analysis tool, you can analyse large number of data with ease and export the data to excel. Some log file analysis tools used by our professional team are screaming frog log analyser, GamutLogAnalyser, Splunk, and command line. Command line is free, while Splunk provides a 60 day free trial after which you have to pay. To use the other two analysers you have to pay for subscription.
The steps to do log file analysis include running an analysis with a tool and importing the files to excel for easy auditing. Also, do check our next blog on 8 STEPS TO A BETTER TECHNICAL SEO AUDIT which guides you step-wise to conduct SEO audit.
SEO insights that can be gained from log data
- Response code error: Log files help you to know about any status code errors. Namely, errors like 4xx and 5xx can negatively impact SEO.
- Duplicate url crawling: Sometimes search engines crawl different urls having the same content because of filters or tracking. As a result, it wastes your crawl budget. Once you know the duplicate URLs, you can use canonical tags or redirects to fix this.
- Crawl budget: Crawl budget is the number of pages a search engine crawls each time it visits a website. The crawl budget is linked to the authority of a website and is proportional to the flow of link equity. To avoid the wastage of crawl budget on pages that you do not want to get crawled, you can check where the crawl budget is being spent through log analysis.
- Bot crawl volume: This is the number of requests made by bots of various search engines over a period of time. This can allow you to know which search engine has crawled your website.
In brief, log files can show information related to SEO issues like incorrect crawling, code errors, temporary redirects, etc. A log file is a powerful resource to improve overall search engine optimisation. Hopefully you now know what is log file analysis and how to use it to leverage SEO efforts.